Friday, June 21, 2019

This, our last full day here at Tumaini, begins like any other. The crew is quiet at the house, some because that’s how they are in the morning, and some because it’s the last day here. I make my rounds during the 9 am session, and everyone is doing something profitable.

We’ve decided to take a team photo right after chai, with everyone wearing African clothes and the three girls in their braids. (Abbie’s going to take hers out before we head home.) Thought you might like to see the results. (By the way, Clifford’s on the left, and Dog Samuel’s on the right. Sorry about cutting the latter’s head completely out of the shot.)

By the way, the hair lady finished with Shelbie about midnight. That’s a long day.

The 11 am session is going to be the last one, since we’ve decided to reprise the camp games at 3. As I walk through the compound, Michaela, Peter, and Sam are playing hide and seek with their charges. I joke that that’s what they’ve been doing pretty much every day.

Remember how #3 from yesterday traded with today’s speaker for Bible time? Well, #3 is feeling unwell again today, so I volunteer to take the 12 pm. I talk about how we’re leaving, as every team before us has done, and every team yet to come will do. But there is someone who will never leave them—if they know him. So it’s a gospel presentation to close out the series.

It’s hard to say how much of it the children hear and comprehend. For some reason, I find their faces harder to read than those of my students back at school. In the end, you lay the word out there and let it do its work.

Last lunch, this being Friday, is leftovers. We have quite a bit of variety and pretty well knock it all out.

I spend the afternoon cleaning my apartment. As I’ve said, the team turns the 3 pm session into game time, and the children want—you guessed it—a gagaball tournament. We’ve unleashed a monster.

At 5 we execute a long-time team tradition by walking next door to Faulu Beach Resort, climbing up the hill, ordering sodas, and enjoying the view. Clifford and Dog Samuel come along, as usual.

While we’re waiting for supper, Beth decides to have the traditional farewell ceremony in the kibanda. Ferdinand speaks in Swahili, thanking us for coming, and Beth follows in English. A couple of the children express their thanks, and then 2 more pray for our journey home.

In past years they’ve had all the children file past us in sort of a receiving line. I’m kinda glad they don’t do that this time; it gets pretty maudlin. 🙂

Sam does the last house devotions with the boys, who surprise us by singing comparatively well. Sam speaks about pride going before a fall.

It takes the girls a little longer to extract themselves from the girls’ house. I’m sure there’s a lot of hugging and clinging and you know, stuff like that.

Well. All the team assignments are done. Contract complete.

Except for one thing—Blake’s proctoring the Form 4 testing tonight until about 9.30. So he’ll be the last one working.

We gather for our final meeting as a team. I talk a little about repatriation—there are pitfalls to be aware of—and then I tell them what I think of the job they’ve done. In short, they’ve been a good team. They’ve handled a full schedule while battling some sickness, and they’ve been particularly strong at 3 things: handling their responsibilities efficiently by setting up schedules to ensure that everything gets done; dealing calmly and effectively with changes to the plan; and working together harmoniously as a diverse group of personalities. I thought yesterday’s response to the mild “epidemic” was exemplary.

A little wifi time to end the evening. We still have some cleaning and packing to do. We start with a TCH photo at 8.30 am tomorrow and then head for the airport at 9.

The usual warning: wifi is unpredictable while we’re en route. I’ll try to get a post up tomorrow evening, but I can’t promise that.

The current plan is to arrive in Atlanta around 4 pm Sunday, where Shelbie and Michaela will catch flights home. The rest of us will meet the van and head for Greenville. The team is talking about stopping for a nice meal along the way; if we do, my rough guess for arrival on campus is 10 pm. But I’ll observe that last year everybody was so wiped out that we all fell asleep in the van and just wanted to go straight to Greenville. If that happens, then my rough guess is 9 pm.

But of course, your kids will be texting you like mad as soon as we land.

See you soon.

Dan Olinger

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

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