Monday, May 21, 2018

The crew is planning to go to the Christian school today to help the teachers with anything they’d like. The school is K-9, and adding a grade every year as the students age, so they’ll be K-12 in 3 more years. The school is in high demand in the community; there’s a lengthy waiting list, and about 60% of the students are from Muslim homes. The parents know it’s a Christian school and teaches the Bible, but they want the academic rigor and character development, so they’re happy to pay. That means that the administration can pay its teachers a living wage, and that attracts good teachers, and the cycle continues.

Anyhow, they head out at 8 am, planning to be back in time for lunch. I spend the morning reading, preparing for class, and cleaning up. When Mary arrives to prepare lunch, she comments on how neat the kitchen is; I tell her I used to cook for a living, and we understand one another. She’s fixing fried potatoes and chicken for lunch; the crew will like that. She comments that she’d like to feed us more salad, but Timothy has told her not to give us anything fresh like that, and he’s right. Westerners here shouldn’t eat anything that’s not cooked, unless it’s been peeled (and washed before peeling), or thoroughly disinfected. Salad is just too risky. I have had it, but every leaf has to be carefully washed with disinfectant (as I recall, they were using potassium permanganate) and then thoroughly rinsed with potable water. You could starve to death waiting for the prep to be done. So we get lots of hot meals, and that’s fine with us.

Yesterday afternoon Simon the house fixer-upper came by to work on the clogged drain. Fortunately we found the clog in a fairly easily accessible spot—a short ell-pipe that passes through the exterior wall. With him poking from outside and me poking from under the sink, we got it cleared and flowing freely pretty quickly. Working drains are a very good thing. And this morning there’s tap water too. Could this be the Millennium? Am I going to have to change my eschatology? Stay tuned.

Simon’s a young fella—looks about 18 or 19 to me—and he’s new at the job, but he works hard and gives evidence of knowing what he’s doing. But I’ll confess that I miss his predecessor. Abraham was an older man, patient and cheerful and godly, who pastored one of the village churches and made a little extra money by helping around the house. Last year, when I was here alone, he was a daily companion and conversation partner, gracious to me when I did stupid things like run the washing machine with the drain open. Several months ago he died suddenly, and people from all over the area went through the trouble of coming to his funeral and paying their respects.

The place doesn’t seem the same without him.

The kids are back in time for lunch. Turns out they just grabbed a couple of kambus, those little yellow tricycle cabs, and got out to the school on their own. Audrey and Lauren get put to work grading papers; everybody else is in a classroom observing or helping, and Karen even gets to teach a little. We’ll plan to continue with that as they say they could use us.

Most of the crew spends the early afternoon communicating with home or keeping up their journals. The pickup call for VBS is earlier than usual, 3 pm, because Diesi is a ways out there. Pastor Gabriel does the initial leading in songs and such, because few if any of the children know any English. Brigitta tells the story of creation, fall, and redemption through an interpreter (Simon). Game time was soccer for the older kids—the universal language. Cam reports that everyone had a wonderful time, even with the language barrier. Gabriel introduced Pastor Joshua, pastor of the church plant there, for follow-up questions. We’ll see what kinds of contacts materialize from the event.

The key purpose of these VBSes is to open up the village for the church plant. I’ve had village parents in the past tell me, “Thank you for playing with our children.” They see our folks picking up the children and showing them affection, and they comment that the imams don’t do that. Once the parents see that we love their children, the doorway for the church plant opens much wider.

Class goes well; we’re starting on the Reformation, and that’s good news for everybody—even the martyrs, eventually. J

After class the girls work with David on another special number for next Sunday, and Cam stays behind to wash the girls’ towels—by hand, since the water’s exhausted for the day and so the washing machine doesn’t work. So, Cam’s Mom, Cam knows how to do hand laundry now. I figure you can exploit that in the future.

When the girls get back, we sit around the dinner table talking and socializing, then have the team devotional meeting—singing seems particularly good tonight—and then play a couple rounds of hands—the first time we’ve played a game together on this trip. Then they start talking about watching a movie Cam’s downloaded, and it’s 11 pm, and I’m done.

Good night, all.

Avatar photo

Dan Olinger

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

Related Posts