Tuesday, May 22, 2018

There’s tap water in the girls’ house this morning, but not in the guys’ house. Good enough.

Two of the girls—Karen and Lauren—are going back to the school this morning. The others would like to go to the market; we need some paper goods, and the girls want to make a mango pie. They figure they can use biscuits (cookies) for the crust; not sure if they can get corn starch or not, but we’ll give it the old college try.

The market group leaves first. We catch a couple of kambus, 1 guy and 2 girls in each, and it’s 5 cedis for 3 people all the way Melkom. Check the bags at the security station outside the front door, and in we go. Everyone has a task. The 4 girls start grabbing groceries; Cam carries the basket; and I, of course, they invited along to pay for everything. I don’t mind; it’s their money. J Cam buys another bottle of carbonated mango, kind of like Martinelli’s back home. It’s actually mostly white grape juice with mango flavoring, but it’s very tasty. Some of the others pick up some things of their own—they’re developing favorite local foods. I think that’s great. I’ve introduced them to things they’re going to pine for when they get home.

Back to the market for the produce. We get several mangoes, and they pick up a sour fruit that the locals tell us is called “greenberry,” because Americans can’t seem to pronounce the local word. It’s supposed to be otherworldly sour. I hope they have fun with it.

The girls want some cinnamon and corn starch for the pie. I take them by some spice booths; the first several don’t have cinnamon. I suggest cloves, but Brigitta doesn’t think that’ll work. Finally a booth proprietor runs up with a small plastic jar of cinnamon. Excellent. I’m looking around for something that looks like corn starch. I see plastic bags of finely ground white powder (no this is not that kind of market) and ask the boss what it is. “Corn flour,” she says. Doesn’t look like corn meal; looks more like corn starch. How much? 1 cedi. Minimal risk. Sold.

When we get back to the house, I ask Mary if corn flour can be used to thicken juice in a pie. “Yes,” she says. Perfect.

As we’re waiting for lunch to be ready, Cam’s doing his laundry by hand in the back shower. Soon the 2 girls get back from school. Their kambu driver ran out of gas—twice. Twice?! On the same trip?! Yep. Ran out in the middle of a traffic circle, so they pushed it through, and the guy bought a Coke bottle of gas there by the side of the road. Wasn’t enough to get them all the way there, apparently, so he had to stop at a gas station to fill up. But they arrived safely and enjoyed helping. Arrived home with lots of videos of kids having a ridiculously good time.

Lunch is beans, fried plantains, and fried chicken. We like Mary’s fried chicken a lot, and she figures she’ll stick with what we like.

The afternoon is slow. Several take naps, rebuilding energy for this afternoon’s evangelistic outreach. The heat does that; you just feel extra tired all the time. Add to that the psychological pressure of being in an unfamiliar culture and daily environment, and you find that you need more rest. It’s a phenomenon well known to missiologists.

The kids head out at 4, and I head out at 5. Zwingli, Calvin and the Anabaptists tonight. Just 3 nights left, and one of them will probably give up an hour for the traditional closing party. So we gotta keep movin’ along, just like Old Man River.

On return to the house, I find that Lauren is losing her braids, with help from Brigitta, Karen, and Flavia. Simon the house fixer is hanging out with the crew, and we invite him to stay for team devotions, the debraiders reading the songbook over Lauren’s shoulder as they keep working. We typically have some singing, some sharing of things learned during the day, a salvation testimony from one of the crew, a brief thought from me from Ephesians 1, and prayer requests and prayer. They share tonight that a family made a profession of faith under Pastor John’s guidance—it was all in Waali, so they’re unsure of the details—and we pray for effective follow-up for them.

Afterwards I give them a word of warning from past teams. Our health has been quite good—just a couple of brief bouts of nausea. We’re 12 days in country, into the 10- to 14-day incubation period for malaria, and no sign of the pesky mosquito bite yet. In my experience, though, it’s about this time that team members start to get overconfident: they’re somewhat familiar with the environment, they’re healthy, and they think perhaps all those health warnings were overblown. And then they get careless. I note that we’re flying home in a week, and “you do not want to be sick on that flight.” I take the liberty of being a little graphic about the signs and symptoms of both fecal-oral contamination and malaria, and I think I put a little respect for the process into their optimistic little minds. Good work so far, my friends. Don’t get sloppy on the way out.

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Dan Olinger

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

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