Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Up at the normal time today; didn’t hear any roosters, but then I might have been sleeping with my deaf side up.

I drop by HQ around 8.30 to see how last night’s planning went. Almost everybody is there, and Peter gives me the report. They’ve done a good job; the schedule and program structure look good. There are a couple of things we’ll need to check with Beth, but overall good for them. I ask how late they were up. 10.40. Excellent.

(Last night they had asked if the 10 pm curfew on guys in the girls’ house could be waived so they could get this work done. I said fine, and I’m delighted that they buckled down and got the work done at a reasonable hour.)

We meet with Beth at 9 for a few final things from her, but mostly to show her the plans for camp. She likes what Peter lays out, and gives us some advice on potential trouble spots. I think we’re ready to go.

Chai is chapati and tea, and the guys spend a good portion of the time kicking a football around with the Tumaini boys. The rest of the week all the children are out of school, so we have more time to make those connections.

At 11 we have our last Swahili lesson with Faith. We cover introductions: what is your name, where are you from, how old are you.

There’s a pretty funny moment. She is teaching us how to say what state we’re from:

“Ninatoka [I am from] jimbo la [the state of] ______ .”

One of the team members reverses the vowels in the verb to say,

“Ninatako jimbo la Alaska.”

(I’ve changed the state so you can’t identify the student.)

Well, I’ve already told you what the word tako means. The situation is compounded by the fact that nina by itself means “I have.” So what he/she said was essentially

“I have a butt from the state of Alaska”

or, as Matt joked when I told him about it later,

“I have a butt the size of the state of Alaska.”

Well, all the crew knows what tako means, so we all burst into laughter. And then we look at Faith, who is standing partially turned away from us, wiping tears from her eyes.

Teaching, my friends, is a highly rewarding profession. Don’t ever let anybody tell you otherwise.

Lunch is on Dan & Jana’s porch; we set up tables to make one long table big enough to seat everybody. Today Jana has prepared burgers with all the fixin’s: cheese slices, lettuce, tomato, pickles, mayo, ketchup, mustard, plus pasta salad and potato salad. The patties themselves are huge, with buns to match—buns the size of the state of Alaska, you might say. That’s a lot of work. This team is exceedingly well fed. The scheduled team members take care of cleanup.

A free hour until 3, when we plan to roll out the camp program to the children. At the appointed time, one of the children gets the plastic air horn from Pius, one of the house fathers, and begins to blow it. As it sounds out across the compound, the children begin to come from all directions to gather at the kibanda. There are always a few stragglers, which Tumaini staff roust out and shoo in the intended direction. Eventually everyone who isn’t sick is here.

Peter, camp director, welcomes the children and explains what lies ahead for the next two days. (He has a clipboard and everything!) There will be two teams, Red and Blue, and everyone wants to get as many points as possible for his team. If your team wins a game, that brings points. So does cleaning your dormitory every morning, or correctly answering questions about the Bible lesson. (We’ll have a 2-day series on the life of Joseph.) But the most points—far and away the most—come from memorizing Scripture. One team member can offset his team’s loss in a game by memorizing 5 verses.

Beth and Katie have created two team rosters with a view to balancing them by age, sex, academic ability, and athletic ability. The Red team leaders, Sam and Shelbie, and the Blue team leaders, Blake and Kathryn, stand on opposite sides of the kibanda; as each child’s name is read, he goes to the appropriate team location. When all are assigned, the leaders begin teaching the cheers. I notice that the children seem to enter into the spirit of cheering more quickly than in some previous years, though as usual the older boys are less likely to throw themselves into it. One must maintain an aura of coolness, you know.

After the teams have established some identity, we regather for the first competition. Michaela calls an equal number of children from each team and tells them to get something. The first item is a bucket. In a flash, the 6 competitors race headlong for their dormitories. It occurs to me that since the nearest 2 dormitories are for girls, the girls seem to have the advantage; but Michaela reminds me that the boys can probably run faster, so it’s probably even. And since both teams have an equal number of each sex, the distinction probably doesn’t matter.

Six children come running with empty buckets, and the first one to hand the bucket to Cheyenne wins the round. The second item, with different children appointed, is a toothbrush. Off they go. Five of them return with toothbrushes, while one, who is one of the younger boys, returns with a bucket.

Oh, well.

It occurs to me that several of the toothbrushes look identical. How are we going to get them back to the right person? Hey. It’s camp. We’ll deal with that later.

The game continues for several rounds, and the children are into it, cheering on their teammates, who are running as fast as they can around the compound.

Play continues until almost 5, when we declare free time until supper.

This first partial day, in my view, is a complete success. The children have embraced the concept and identified with their teams; the team leaders are effectively energizing and directing their charges, a task that’s a lot like herding cats; the choice of first game is excellent, pulling everybody in but keeping each round’s competition to just a few participants, thereby avoiding chaos.

Well done, guys. You’ve pulled this thing together in a remarkably short time.

As we’re waiting for supper I ask them how they decided that Peter would be the camp director. Peter says, “I decided,” and everybody laughs. Abbie says, “Last night he took leadership, and he wasn’t a jerk about it.”

One of the things I most like about leading teams is the way they meld from essentially strangers into a real team. Typically this happens in the first few days, as they face various responsibilities and figure out who has what abilities. Last night I left them intentionally to work this out by themselves, hoping they’d do exactly what they did. This team is right on schedule.

By the way, Abbie tells me that every night she and Cheyenne play a game they call “Tan or Dirt?” They take their shoes off and try to interpret what they see.

These kids just crack me up.

Supper is beef cubes in a flavorful tomato sauce, ugali, and watermelon. For house devotions Peter brings a devotional on Gideon with an emphasis on obedience; providentially, before the boys know what the devotional is about, they ask to sing “Obedience.” That works really well. And after the devotional, they ask to sing “Gideon,” so they’re right in step with the emphasis of the night.

We gather at HQ for team devotions when house devotions are over. In the context of prayer for thanksgiving, I express my appreciation to them for how they’ve done today. When I left them last night, they were teetering between success and failure on camp planning, and I intentionally left them to work it out. (I was pretty sure they were going to succeed, based on my experience with them so far.) I told them tonight that they had hit it out of the park—and that God had done that, given that factors throughout the day involved things they couldn’t have planned.

We have some more of the winners’ ice cream—8.5 liters is a lot—with Hershey’s syrup, and runny peanut butter, and whatever else is available. Abbie likes to take a bite of passion fruit with a bite of vanilla ice cream. The possibilities are endless.

We talk through the plan for tomorrow and enjoy a little wifi before the mobile router and I head for home to write the very thing you’re reading. Home a little after 10, after a powerfully good day and with similar prospects for tomorrow.

Usiku mwema [Good night]!

Avatar photo

Dan Olinger

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

Related Posts