Thursday, June 6, 2019

This is the 75th anniversary of D-Day. I’m grateful.

First full day of camp. I drop by HQ a little after 8.30, and the team is there, getting ready for the morning’s activities. At 9 Ferdinand blows the air horn to assemble the children, who come running faster than they did yesterday. Peter explains what they’ll be doing in devotions: they’ll gather in groups, with a leader from the team, and read a passage from Genesis about Joseph. Blake has put together some questions from the story, some simple factual recall and others requiring more thought. The leader will help them think through and answer the questions. He reads the names of each leader and the members of his/her group, and within minutes the groups are scattered across the grass, discussing the passage. The whole thing goes remarkably smoothly.

Chai at 10 is mandazi and uji. Many of the team members find mandazi particularly delicious; it’s basically the same as a simple cake donut, but in a different shape, with a dark golden brown, very slightly crispy crust.

For the game time at 11, Peter calls the children into the dining area of the Big House and speaks to them from the far end of the room, so they’re all standing with their backs to the door. The other team members move quickly around the property, hiding brightly colored uninflated balloons. When the balloons are all hidden, Peter finishes up his instructions, and the children spread out across the property looking for the balloons. When they find one, they need to inflate it and bring it back to their team captain for tallying. Obviously, the team with the most balloons wins.

Once the balloons are all in (we don’t want litter lying around afterwards), they divide the children into 4 groups—younger and older girls, and younger and older boys—and toss a balloon into each group. The children have to keep it from hitting the ground. Every few seconds, a team member tosses in another balloon, making the game more complex as time goes on.

The first Bible story time is at noon. Sam begins the story of Joseph, emphasizing Joseph’s trust in God through unfair and difficult experiences. These children will relate well to that theme.

While that’s going on, 2 of the girls and I leave for town. One of the girls has a relatively minor medical problem that will require some medication, and we want to jump on it early to keep it simple.

A word about health issues. For privacy reasons, I’m not going to report sickness or injuries on this blog. The team members are able to contact their parents individually, and they will report any health issues at their own discretion. If you haven’t heard about this situation, it’s not your kid. 🙂

So for privacy reasons, I’ll call this girl The Patient. I tell her to bring along a female team member of her choosing, and we jump on pikipikis for a quick ride to the pavement, then catch a daladala the rest of the way into town.

At the daladala terminal it’s a couple of blocks to the chemist. (There are several shops available; we start with the one we know best, which is most likely to have what we need.) The Patient explains her symptoms, and the chemist returns with a medication that she can use. And in ten minutes, we’ve gotten what we need.

Nothing ever happens that fast here.

Assuming that we might have to visit several chemists to get what we need, we had allowed a lot more time than this. We’re supposed to meet Katie at the mall at 3.30 to return to Tumaini together. (Katie’s in town on another errand.) We got done so fast that it seems silly to wait 2 or more hours to connect with Katie. I try to contact Katie by phone, but for some reason the call isn’t going through. We’re thinking about heading directly back so we can go on the hike, scheduled for 3pm. But we had agreed ahead of time that Katie would wait for us at the mall unless she heard otherwise, so we need to contact her first.

Because we’re missing lunch back at the compound, I suggest we get a bite at a pizza shop nearby while we try to solve the connection problem. Good idea, they say. Off we go.

The pizza shop is essentially in an old vacant lot that that they’ve covered with awnings, and in which they’ve built a few minimalist structures for toilets and a kitchen. The Patient has a cheese pizza; her friend has an egg sandwich; and I have a cheese omelet. All of them are good.

By the end of the meal we’ve been able to contact Katie, and it’s late enough that we wouldn’t be able to get back in time for the hike. I ask the girls if they’d like to go to the mall just for fun. Sure.

Out of the pizza shop, looking for a taxi. I see a taxi driver who looks familiar—it’s the one who brought our luggage to Tumaini from the airport when we first arrived. Can you take us to Rock City Mall? Sure. And off we go again.

We’ve arranged to meet Katie at Café Mambo, up on the fourth floor. They have a full menu; it occurs to us that this would have been a better place to eat lunch than the pizza shop, but at that time we didn’t know for sure whether we’d be coming to the mall. I order a decaf latte; The Patient orders a fudge sundae, and her friend orders banana fritters with strawberry ice cream. All three are just delightful.

As we’re eating, Katie arrives. Connection completed. When we’re finished, we hire pikipikis to take us over to the daladala terminal, then reverse our course out of town, arriving home just as the team and the children are returning from their hike, glowing, panting, and smiling.

There are two destinations for our hikes here. The easier, and the one they did today, is a ridge just across the road to the east. It’s rocky (everything here is rocky; it’s the rockiest place I’ve ever seen, and I’ve been through the Rocky Mountains more than once) and steep, but not too high. There are some nice overlooks at the top, and there’s a second ridge just to the east if the hikers feel like tackling it.

The second hike destination is a taller hill just to the northwest of the property, which is further away but accessible by a less steep gravel roadway—or you can climb straight up the steep sides if you want to. I’m sure we’ll do that hike at some point.

As I return to my place to write up this portion of the day for the blog, I realize the power is out. Not sure when that happened, but during the day it makes pretty much no difference at all—as long as your electronics are charged up.

The boys are playing football, as they often do in the afternoons, and our guys are in there with them. It’s good to see that our guys are good enough that they have the respect of the children.

Supper is rice and beans, cooked spinach, and watermelon. In boys’ house devotions, Peter comments on the verses about ants in Proverbs 6. The boys listen well during these times.

With the power still out, I bring the ice cream back to HQ so the crew can have some more before it’s all completely melted. I ask them to fill in the parts of the afternoon that I missed due to the town trip. You’ll recall that they were in the midst of the balloon game when the 3 of us left. When I ask for details, The Patient’s friend speaks up and start describing the hike; I’m listening intently until she starts laughing and says, “I was with you this afternoon.”

I’m too old for this, I tell you. Too old.

Several of the crew fill me in, especially on the hike. They saw a crocodile in the lake—from some distance, which is the only way you want to see them—and had a number of stories about the interworkings of the children and team members on the hike. When a drunk man approached them as they were just setting out, the Tumaini boys got between him and our girls and disarmed the problem. Apparently this guy is something of a regular. Later on the hike, when some of the girls fell behind the rest, several of the Tumaini boys ran back to ensure that they were OK and then accompanied them. Over the years, the Tumaini boys have been very protective of the girls on our teams; I’m not sure they’re the same way with the Tumaini girls, but I do appreciate their attentiveness.

As the evening wears on, the crew gets sillier and sillier. They’re laughing and telling several stories at once and getting louder and louder. I can tell that they’re really tired, especially since everything they say strikes them as funny. Boy, have they bonded. We have a brief time of prayer, and I ask what needs to be done for tomorrow. It’s relatively little, so I encourage them to get on it while I return to my place to write this little missive.

Executive summary: Team doing a great job. Tired. One slightly sick, but medication in hand to address that. God’s in his heaven; all’s right with the world.

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Dan Olinger

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

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