Thursday, May 17, 2018

Up at 7; another bright, sunny, beautiful day. With running water. Can life possibly get any better than this?

After devotions I pop over to the chapel to pick up some wifi. I get most of my online duties done when suddenly response gets very slow. And then I notice that the fan over my head is slowing down. Power’s out.

This is a regular occurrence here. In years past it’s been because we’ve let our power run out. I guess I should explain that. Here there’s no billing; you don’t get a monthly bill for your power or whatever. Companies would be fighting high rates of default. So you go down to the power office with your card, and you pay them, and they put the money on the card, and you take it home and insert it into the electric meter, and the power keeps flowing. It’s fairly easy to forget to keep an eye on how much you have left, until the lights go out, and you have to run downtown and fill up again.

Anyway, this year that hasn’t been the problem; the city power supply has simply been going down a lot. Last year they had a countrywide problem with demand outstripping the grid capacity, but folks in Accra told me this year that that problem has been solved. I assume this is just a local infrastructure problem.

I decide to take some time to take care of an ongoing problem I’m having with phone service; can’t get the iPhone to work here. Nobody else is having any difficulty. I drop by the house and tell the crew that I’m making a quick trip into town. Cam’s on his feet immediately. There’s something about going into town that this kid really enjoys.

We walk out onto Tuma Road and down to the corner of the compound, where taxis tend to gather. We flag a guy down and get a ride in. 2 cedis. 50 cents, for 2 people. Nice.

As we were leaving, the girls asked if we could pick up some popcorn. I don’t think we’re going to find any at Melkom; you can buy it loose in the market, but it’s of very poor quality—maybe 1 of 15 kernels will pop. So we hit an ATM and then Melkom. No popcorn. Cam says that the girls would like some more Alvaro too. I’ve gotten the poor creatures hooked on the stuff. There’s none on the shelf; we’ve wiped them out.

So Melkom’s a bust on both counts. No groceries to carry home.

I see a Vodafone shop, so I pop in. She can’t get the phone to work either. OK, there’s a big Vodafone complex down at the other end of the street; we can hit that on the way back. It takes a while, but they finally get it to work. Apparently, the other SIM cards were too thin, and the contacts weren’t, well, contacting. Now I have a phone that’s good for more than a flashlight.

We arrive back at the house to find Lauren and Kait in the chairs, and the 5 ladies braiding away. A few minutes later there’s a real gullywasher of a rainstorm—I didn’t even notice its approach when we were out—and it’s a relatively long one. These things are great. Temp drops 20 degrees; wind is gusting; doors are slamming all over the house. We take the water barrels outside and place them under the downspouts to collect all the water we can—and get several barrels full. Sure, we have tap water for now, but you never know how long that’ll last, and having half a dozen barrels for backup is just a great place to be.

Mary’s cooking chicken-fried steak for lunch. The smell just fills the—well, you know how that works. We take a break from the braiding to enjoy the meal.

Soon the last two customers, Kait and Audrey, are underway. Cam, Lauren, and Brigitta want to go into town, so I send them off with my blessing. Cam went by himself yesterday, and he’s really enjoying the cultural immersion. In a bit they come back with Cam’s backpack full of sodas, and chips, and some Oreo knockoffs. You know, just the necessities.

In the meantime, everybody but Audrey is done with the braiding, so they go under the boiling water treatment to set the braids. And just when they’re done, Aquila arrives to take them to an outreach activity in their first village, prep for tomorrow’s VBS there. Each girl pays the hairdressers 40 cedis—about $9 for 4 or 5 hours’ work. They’re happy, the hairdressers are happy, and that means I’m happy.

Off to the chapel for final class preparations. Tonight we’re finishing our discussion of the early Christological controversies and the Nicene fathers. There’s lots of good stuff in there.

Class goes well, and the students are remembering the big ideas from earlier in the class. That’s really encouraging.

Back at the house, I eat supper alone while the team rehearses for Sunday’s special music. Soon they come thumping in, boisterous and energetic. I ask about their outreach activity, and they tell me of going door to door in groups, each with a pastor and a young person from the church. Two people made professions of faith; the church will follow up, of course. I ask how successful they would have been without any help from the Faith folks. “Not at all,” they say. Bingo. They get it.

After some singing and prayer the girls start experimenting with their braids. Several comment that they have an extra 5 pounds of fake hair on their heads, and it gets hard to hold it all up. Believe it or not, hair experiments provide a lot of entertainment until I decide to head off to bed at 11.30.

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Dan Olinger

Chair, Division of Bible in the BJU School of Religion.

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