Friday, June 22, 2018

Last full day at Tumaini.

Nothing is scheduled before chai, but the kids are reporting in with memory verses. Lots of ‘em.

After chai we had planned on playing “Cat in the Hat,” but we realize we don’t have enough buckets. It’s a form of “Musical Chairs,” but camps routinely use 5-gallon plastic buckets because unlike chairs, they’re virtually indestructible. Anyway, we don’t have enough, so we cancel the game, and the kids are perfectly happy to have summer winter vacation instead.

Lunch is leftovers; I go with the chili, but I add a little honey, a little vinegar, and a touch of salt. Not bad.

In the afternoon we have a couple games—soccer at 3 and volleyball at 4. Turns out the kids are a LOT better at soccer than volleyball, so we don’t even keep score for the latter. Cheetahs win the football game, 10-4. It’s really fun to watch them play: they’re in bare feet or sandals, on an unmowed grass field, with a half-inflated old ball, and their dribbling, passing, and trapping skills are quite good.

At 5 we have a talent show. There are 10 acts lined up, singing, dancing, acrobatics, Bible memory. Some acts involve team members, but most are just the children. I’m concerned that when show time comes, the kids are going to go all shy on us—they used to put their hands in front of their faces in group photographs—but nothing of the sort occurs. At the appointed time, each act stands and delivers, and there’s applause all around. It’s a hoot. We don’t vote on a winner; each acts gets participation points for their team just for performing.

After the last act Jana and Paige announce the winning team—cheetahs, by a whisker. (Heh, heh.) Lots of cheering, and then we wait for supper.

Which is delayed a bit, because Ferdinand’s wife, Mama Nestori, is wanting to prepare us a special meal, pilau, a spiced rice dish that is classic here and fairly complicated to make. And worth waiting for. Mama serves it with a side of peas and green beans, and a very spicy sauce made from ghost peppers. Not me, thanks. All very tasty, and much appreciated; Mama and her crew have gone to a lot of trouble to make this special meal.

After supper, the farewell ceremony. This is a tradition here, where our hosts thank us for coming, wish us a safe journey, and formally tell us good-bye. Since it’s after dark by the time we get started, we meet in the big house, which has light. Ferdinand speaks graciously for several minutes; then one of the children and one of the staff pray for our journey. Ferdinand kindly gives me a moment to say a few words of appreciation, and then the staff and children file by the team, shaking hands with each one.

Odd thing. Remember how we have some criers? Yeah, they cry, but in general, this “receiving line” is considerably more upbeat than any of the previous ones. Then we step out to the front porch and talk in the relative darkness until the children slowly head back to their houses.

It’s after 9, and the crew is tired from camp and emotionally beat up from the ceremony. But I do need to take a few minutes to talk to them about the good job they’ve done and about some of the pitfalls of returning to the States from even a short-term mission trip. I tell them that they’re the most diverse team I’ve brought—which seems surprising, since it’s all girls, but that really shouldn’t be a surprise at all. Diversity can be a strength or a very significant weakness, and they’ve made it a strength; they’ve worked well together and gotten the job done. Good for them.

Contract completed.

Now we just need to get up in time tomorrow to leave at 9 am without complete chaos.

The flight itinerary is Mwanza to Kilimanjaro to Doha to Atlanta. We arrive in Doha at midnight tomorrow night and fly out at 8 am Sunday, which means we’ll just stay at the airport all night. No time to check into a hotel, get any significant amount of sleep, and be back at the airport at 6 am. Not to mention the visa question.

Doha was the 2018 best airport of the year. They have some lounges, like the one we stayed in at Nairobi on the way in, but they’re fairly pricey. They also have “Quiet Rooms” with recliners at various locations around the airport, which are segregated by sex, so we’ll look those over first.

As always, connectivity during travel may be iffy, so if I don’t post Saturday night, #freakoutthounot. We’ll certainly be directly in touch with parents if something significant comes up. Prayers appreciated, especially for that 15-hour monstrosity of a flight from Doha to Atlanta. J

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Dan Olinger

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

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