Friday, June 7, 2019

Late last night, after I had left, the girls discovered that the tap water was back on at their house. (It’s still out at the guys’ place and mine.) Someone took video of them running around filling buckets, flushing toilets, and otherwise rejoicing. (We conserve water by not flushing unless there’s some #2 involved. We have a snappy little rhyme to help us remember, but I won’t inflict that on you.)

It’s amazing how much joy a simple thing like running water brings. Too bad we appreciate it only after it’s been gone for a while.

Second and last full day of camp. Same schedule as yesterday, so the first scheduled activity is Bible study at 9 am. They gather into their groups from yesterday, read the story of Joseph and his brothers in Egypt, and answer questions that Blake has written up for them. The group leaders say the good interaction from yesterday continues.

Chai is chapati and tea and lots of just sitting around and talking. Most of the team members are interacting with one or more children.

At 11 they split the children into boys’ and girls’ groups for games. The boys play gagaball, which I hadn’t seen before. I call it “unfootball,” because you’re allowed to touch the ball with everything except your feet. I think it’s a good choice for a game in a football country, being so counterinstinctual. The boys gather inside the kibanda and try to hit the ball with their hand at the feet of someone on the opposite team. If you hit your target below the knee, he’s out. If the ball goes over the 3-foot-high kibanda wall, you’re out. If you touch the ball twice in a row, you’re out—but if you bounce it against the wall, you can hit it again. When all the players remaining are on the same team, that team wins the round. The boys get into it pretty deeply; I suspect this is a game they’ll continue to play after we’ve left.

The girls are on the football field playing fruit basket, which is basically musical chairs with subgroups. Halfway through the game period, the girls and boys swap games and locations. Lots of participation, lots of noise, lots of energy. It’s a rousing success.

For Bible story hour at noon, Sam leads in some singing before Peter tells the story of Joseph that they read this morning. Afterwards Michaela asks content questions of each team alternately, and they know the answers to each of the questions. I’d call that a successful presentation.

Mondays and Fridays the team is on our own for lunch. That gives us an opportunity to finish up leftovers so nothing goes to waste. Today we pull from the fridge veggie salad, potato salad, pasta salad, and cold enchiladas. Plenty for everyone. And of course there are those 2 half-kilo blocks of dark chocolate, as well as plenty of fruit. One of the girls has never cut a mango, so I give her a quick lesson on doing the best you can with that infernal seed, and she does a good job. I have a Mexican friend who cuts a small “x” in the fruit at the end opposite the stem and then peels it like a banana, but when you do it that way you eat it by scraping the flesh off the seed with your teeth, and you spend the next three days digging mango strings out of your mouth. No thanks.

Remember the “ninatako” incident from yesterday? The team member in question tells me at lunch that his/her entire family said, “That was you, wasn’t it?”

Come on, people. How about a little support from the home front? 🙂

By the way, I told Maiwe, the staff member here who was the Swahili instructor for the previous teams, and the story entertained him well. Especially when I described Faith’s reaction.

I’ve been napping more here than I normally do—not a lot, but I usually get one or two sessions of 15 minutes or so each. I’m not working exceedingly hard—this crew takes responsibility and executes well—but I suspect I’m still feeling a bit of jet lag. The rule of thumb is that it takes 1 day to adjust for each hour of time change. Since this is a 7-hour change for those of us who came in from the East Coast, I guess today should about do it. We’ll see.

At the beginning of camp we said that there would be an opportunity to help in ways that get your team points. The team wanted to include something that would be a help to the overall ministry—sort of a community-service project, you might say. They had asked Beth what sorts of things she needed done, and she came up with spreading new dirt over the pathways at the center of the compound, the ones most well traveled. So yesterday a couple of dump-truck loads of dirt appeared, one down by the office building and laundry complex, and one out on the road by the walk-in gate. Anyone who helps on the project will earn 200 points for his team. So it’s physical labor—moving dirt—but it’s voluntary, subject to a little peer pressure. Pretty much everyone participates—our team members are right in the middle of it—as they use rice sacks, cement sacks, and contractor buckets, the bigger boys carrying loads themselves, and the others teaming up two to a load—to distribute the dirt across the playground and along the paths in front of the Big House and down to the office building and laundry facility. Then they use their feet to spread the dirt out evenly. I comment to Cathryn that there’s nothing better than playing in the dirt in your bare feet (and she agrees), and to Abbie that their round of “Tan or Dirt?” tonight will be extra fun. It begins to rain lightly just as we finish.

We’ve promised the children a skit this afternoon. It’s the classic where one person stands behind another and insert his arms through the other’s, so it looks like his arms are the arms of the one in front. And then they get ready in the morning, washing the face, combing the hair, shaving, putting on makeup, eating breakfast. The one in back can’t really see what his arms are doing, so there’s plenty of humor potential. The children have seen this skit from several of the previous teams, and it’s one of their favorites. When they see the setup, there’s plenty of anticipation. The missionary kids come up from their houses to see it as well.

One pair is Abbie (front) and Cheyenne (back), and the other is Peter (front) and Sam (back). Michaela narrates the story, which is that they’re a couple getting ready for a date. Sam manages to get shaving cream all over Peter’s face, and Cheyenne uses bright red lipstick and nail polish on Abbie.

The plan is to have a football tournament after the skit, but during the skit it continues to rain, and it’s raining pretty hard by the end, so they cancel the football and announce that at 5 they’ll announce the winning team. On the positive side, the rain does a nice job of tamping down the new dirt without washing any of it away.

We retire to HQ to get a little rest. When it’s time to announce the winner, all 5 seats in the sitting area have sleeping people in them (and I’m one of those). Everybody else wakes up to head out, and though they opt to let me sleep, the ensuing silence wakes me up, and I join the festivities.

The scoring has been pretty even in the games, but the difference, as we had hoped, is in the verse memorization. Two of the girls memorized the entire book of James—in two days—and since they were both on the red team, that made the score not even close. Good for them.

For the hour before supper, with the rain stopping, we all just hang out together. Blake and several of the boys in the kibanda are playing football keep-away with a small plastic ball about the size of a baseball. Peter, Sam, Shelbie, Michaela, and Cheyenne are tossing a Frisbee out on the football field with several other boys. Katie is singing with some of the girls. Abbie and Kathryn and Cathryn and Rebekah are sitting on the kibanda wall talking to some girls. Looks to me like this team has bonded well with a broad spectrum of the children. I suspect that having camp first—which we’ve never done before—has helped considerably with that. Off to a really good start.

Supper is fried fish (watch out for bones!), cabbage, ugali, and watermelon. Watermelon is pretty much the default dessert here. When I was in China, I noticed that that was the case there as well. I don’t know why. Easy to serve, non-messy eating, relatively inexpensive. Maybe that’s it.

In boys’ house devotions Sam brings some thoughts from Ephesians 6, including the “armor of God” passage. The boys listen pretty well, but for some odd reason one boy is playing with Sam’s leg hair and another with Blake’s. Lunacy runs in cycles, I guess. But tonight’s not a full moon, so that can’t be it.

Back at HQ I can tell the crew is pretty well wiped out from two days of camp. I spend a few minutes recounting their victories and congratulating them on a job well done, and then a quick review of the weekend’s (reduced level of) activities, and then turn them loose. Some turn in, and others discuss the children and recount their interactions, laughing and enjoying what’s happening here. At 9 I head out to write the blog. Early night for us, and certainly needed.

Note: for those of you with Facebook accounts, Beth Roark has posted some pretty good photos and a couple of videos, including one of gagaball.

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Dan Olinger

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

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