Monday, June 11, 2018

I should warn you that the daily posts are going to develop something of a routine at this point. Monday through Friday this week, and Monday through Wednesday next week, we’re doing the same things: 3 tutoring sessions with the children, punctuated by chai at 10, lunch at 1, and dinner at 6, followed by house devotions at 7.30 and team devotions at 8.30, followed by bed, with occasional hijinks thrown in. I’ll make a point of telling you about interesting things that come up, but the days will exhibit a certain sameness.

The sessions go reasonably well today; the children alternate between just precious and completely uncooperative, kind of like children anywhere in the world. The team is sharing ideas and encouraging one another, and the fact that each child has at least 2 different tutors helps.

A couple of sessions have involved science experiments. Olivia drops an unbroken egg into various liquids—water, salt water, oil, who knows what else—and the children guess whether it will float or not. If you want to be very specific, it was about gravity. And Jana suspends various objects from a spring to see how mass effects the length that the spring stretches. The spring was from a pen, so she says it wasn’t exactly highly responsive, but it got the job done.

We’ve had some leftovers accumulate during the lunches with the missionaries, so we heat all that up at HQ today and give the missionaries the day off. I have some of that shepherd’s pie from last night, and there’s spaghetti and fruit and various other stuff, enough to go around. And everybody gets something she likes, more or less.

After lunch I walk into the house to find 3 team members sitting around the counter looking, well, guilty. I assume it’s because they’re sitting inside when the children would like them to be outside playing with them. I start into some reassuring words about how sometimes you just need a break from the little cherubs, when suddenly I notice that there are spoons in their hands. And there’s a tub of ice cream between them. They’re eating the ice cream. Without anybody else knowing about it.

Houston, we have a unit cohesion problem.

They do leave some and put the tub back in the freezer.

Sometimes you just need a break from the little cherubs. And ice cream.

Late afternoon Gabby and Katlyn work on turning leftover chapati into chips. It’s not difficult; you cut them into wedges, like pizza slices, and soak them in lime water, then let them dry, then fry ‘em, and salt ‘em as soon as they come out of the oil. Spectacular.

We typically finish our house devotions at slightly different times, and since I’m the only team member with the older boys, I usually walk back across the compound to HQ by myself in the darkness. Tumaini at night seems quiet—except for the sounds of nature—and relaxed, calm. I especially enjoy the stars, which are more easily visible here that at my home in Greenville. Mwanza is a large city, with a night life, so there’s some light pollution, but you still get a pretty good show. Behind me as I walk south is the Big Dipper, upside down, of course, since we’re south of the equator, with the 2 pointer stars implying a Polaris that’s just below the horizon. Straight ahead of me is the Southern Cross, actually a diamond—one team member called it a kite—and just to its left 2 bright stars, the farther being Alpha Centauri, the closest star system to us. I see these asterisms only when I’m here, so they’re like my Tumaini friends.

After team devotions Gabby gets to work on more chapati chips, and as tempting as that seems, I head for home.

I’m answering an email that requires me to read my health insurance card, which I can’t, blast it, so I pop next door to ask for a younger set of eyes. Annalee offers hers. As she’s reading the info to me, I hear a scream from inside, “It’s behind my bed!” Annalee says matter-of-factly, “There’s a lizard in her bed.” Ah, they’re adapting. Good.


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Dan Olinger

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

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