The days all start alike. It’s sunny, there are the delightful background noises of the local fauna, whether wild (songbirds) or domestic (sheep, goats, roosters), and while we’re all thrilled to have running water in the taps, we have to remember not to use it orally (brushing the teeth or drinking). We have that routine down pretty well now, and the health shows it. While we’ve had an occasional case of digestive trouble, each one has been mild and brief. The kids are paying attention and doing what they need to do.
We’re also benefited by the general safety of the civil environment. Yes, there are people who will try to overcharge you because you’re a nasala (and therefore rich), and it seems that every single male would like to convince an American woman to be his bride and take him to America (and the word “American” is literally their only standard), but we don’t have any difficulty tasking those things in stride. There’s good civil order here; people are generally respectful and helpful and kind; and the dominance of Islam here doesn’t generate any problems for us. In fact, I suspect that the dominance of Islam has a good deal to do with the general civil order.
After my typical morning duties I take quick trip into town to try to solve my ongoing phone problem. We got the SIM working yesterday, but it quit as soon as I got back home. Today we manage to get some time onto the account, but again by the time I get back it’s just searching for service and finding none.
Phooey. Don’t really need a working phone anyway, since pretty much everyone else on the team has one. And the phone does make a good flashlight.
I stop at Lamin’s roadside booth on the way back, just to chat. Her son, Buffalo, is taking civil engineering courses at Wa Polytechnic, something that should allow him to support his mother well in future days. I pick out a small package of biscuits (cookies/crackers) to give her a little revenue, and to my dismay she won’t let me pay for it. Drat. But she does have 2 other customers in the few minutes I’m there, so that’s a good sign.
Back at the house, everybody’s up, and the girls want to go to town to get money to pay for the dresses that should be ready Saturday. Cam’s always up for a trip to town, so I send them off—all but Kait—with encouragement to stop by Lamin’s booth and everybody buy something. Mary’s arrived and is working on today’s lunch: rice and beans with some beef.
It’s amazing how much of the world subsists on rice and beans. You get carbs, protein, and fiber in an inexpensive dish that’s easy to prepare: just put it on the fire, stir occasionally, and let it simmer. It’ll keep a child going for a long time. Add to that the American continent’s contribution of corn (which they call maize here), and you have solid evidence that God has filled the earth with good things for our sustenance. We add our human creativity by using different combinations of herbs and spices to ramp up the flavor, and you have the perfect combination of the practical, the enjoyable, and the affordable.
I spend the rest of the morning on class prep. Tonight we have a quiz on the 7 universally recognized ecumenical councils; I’ve asked them to know the name of the city, the century in which the council occurred, and the topic addressed. And I’ve given them a little instruction on the difference between memorization (which works) and cramming (which doesn’t). We’ll see how they do.
After the quiz we’ll be off into the Middle Ages, including all the opportunities scholasticism offers to shake our heads, so that should be entertaining as well as informative.
So far we’ve had some good discussions. For example, we’ve noted how easy it is to move from accountability to penance—how a pastor might well want to hold a repentant church member accountable by giving him books to read or Bible studies or counseling sessions to attend—all good and reasonable expectations—and how easily that could become a list of things you have to do in order to be forgiven. Little changes in practice—especially attempts to mechanize it (“say 50 ‘Our Fathers’ ”)—can lead to great theological error.
Some of the crew takes a walk after lunch, exploring some of the areas around the compound, and claims that they heard what sounded like rattlesnakes, and got out of there. I have no idea what they heard, but I’m glad they were paying attention and acted prudently. They leave for the second evangelism outreach in the neighborhood where they were yesterday, while I head for class at the usual time. Hope to finish the Middle Ages, or get close, tonight. It goes well, and we get perilously close to where we are scheduled to be. I’m quite pleasantly satisfied with progress for the first half of the course.
When the team comes into the classroom for music rehearsal, they say something about the kitchen, and it’s not their fault. Well, OK. I head down to the house to get supper. Yeah, it’s a situation. The short of it is that the sink drains are clogged, and while they were looking for tools to open the drains they found a nest of ants in one of the cabinets, and they got the nest taken care of before having to run to rehearsal, but the cabinet hasn’t been put away, and the dishes haven’t been done, and the sinks are full of dirty water, and the food’s still sitting out from supper.
So I sit down and eat.
Then I work on emptying the sinks and throwing the dirty water out on the yard, and I’ve made pretty good progress when they come in looking to help.
OK, sinks are empty. Use these plastic tubs in the sinks to get the dishes done. That’s 2 people. Let’s get the cabinets cleaned up and refilled. That’s 2 more. Let’s get the food put away and the refrigerator organized. 1 more. And the floor. 2 more.
No sweat. Soon the place looks great, and all the health risks are taken care of. Still have clogged sinks, but if we throw the tub water in various other drains, we’re fully functional. And maybe somebody will be able to clear the drain tomorrow. It empties out into the yard, above ground, so access should be reasonably easy.
I talk to the crew about the fact that for missionaries in a developing country, an unexpectedly high percentage of your time is spent just trying to live. Things break more often, and they take longer to fix, and before you know it, the day’s just gone.
Pray for your missionaries.
We’ve got something special set up for tomorrow, that involves an early start. Stay tuned.