Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Still confined, staring at my foot. But the crew had a profitable day.

Liv got up early to help make chapati at 7 am for chai. They had the dough made when she arrived (it’s just flour, water, and salt), so she spent 3 hours of her morning rolling it out into a thick tortilla shape and frying it in oil. You have no idea how important that is.

Our meal schedule has assumed a routine: we eat lunch with the missionaries, and the food is more American. Today’s lunch is stew, a salad, and a brownie. Salad’s a big deal here; you have to wash, carefully, every item that goes into it, since it’s not cooked. There are commercial vegetable washes that you can buy in bottles at the store. Every leaf of lettuce, every tomato, every cucumber, every pepper … It’s a lot of work. So yeah, salad’s a big deal.

The crew had their final Swahili lesson today—they feel completely overwhelmed—and after lunch the other 4—Gabby, Jess, Katlyn, and Janis—went into town as the others did yesterday—pikipikis, then daladalas at the Pavement, then purchasing food and souvenirs at the chaos that is an African market. The place is filled with colors, noises, smells, and people; it’s sensory overload of a major kind. I always like the fish smells, but not everyone agrees.

A significant cultural difference here is that the single men—and some of the married ones—feel free to flirt pretty aggressively with white women, even touching their hair or briefly grabbing an arm. I’ve told the girls that if they just push back (figuratively speaking), the guys will back off. You look ‘em in the eye and say, “Don’t touch me!” and they’ve learned their limits. When I’m with the crew, I’ve noticed that the frequency of that sort of thing drops significantly. I wish it didn’t happen at all, of course, but this culture is not American, especially American in the #metoo era.

Back at the ranch, the rest of the crew takes the girls on a hike—not the same one the boys went on yesterday, but a much longer one to a larger hill northwest of the compound. It’s not steep, but it’s long, and the sun bears down on you. The view from the top is even better than the one from the ridge—you see a long ways down the gulf, and much farther to the north as well.

Supper’s eaten with the children, and we have whatever they have. Today is chunks of fried fish with cooked greens (collard, maybe?) and ugali, an East African staple made from corn. Think of it as very thick grits, or polenta, about the consistency of mashed potatoes without milk. The kids eat it with their fingers; we use forks or spoons. It’s pretty much tasteless, you combine each bite with whatever else is on the plate, tonight the greens or the broth with the fish.

My foot’s improving, not as quickly as I’d like, but enough that I walk over to the older boys’ house—it’s the farthest one from my room—without crutches tonight. Maybe tomorrow night without a limp.

After house devotions we gather, as usual, at HQ for team devotions. We pray for the tutoring, which starts tomorrow. I remind them that this is not heavily academic; we want the children to enjoy learning whatever they learn, and we want to build relationships with them. It’s not about the worksheet.

I notice that they’re already well familiar with the children; those sharing a certain section are already talking about what this child or that child is like, and the classes haven’t even met yet. They’ve used these startup days well.

And that’s the news from Lake Victoria, where all the men are handsome, all the women are beautiful, and all the children are above average. Thanks for your prayers. See you tomorrow.

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Dan Olinger

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

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