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Sunday, June 23, 2019

A few minutes after we settle in to our overnight crash pad, airport staff tells us we can’t lie on the floor, so those folks climb back up into the seats. Which are not really comfortable enough to sleep in. Most of us feel like walking around. Doha is a beautiful airport, full of snooty shops—rated one of the best airports in the world—so it’s a great place to explore. I tell everybody to do what they want, with just 2 rules: 1) nobody alone, groups of 2 or more, and 2) regather here at 6 am to confirm our gate and plan for departure. If you’re not here, you’re on your own to get on the flight, and if you’re not on the flight, we leave without you.

At 6 am we’re all back, some with half-empty food containers. (I’m telling you, the amount of food these people can eat … ) The gate (E-3) has been posted, so we head over—taking the airport train just for fun—and sit outside security for a bit. There are no toilets at the gate itself, so we take care of business here. When the security line’s pretty short, we head in. Security is tighter here; they wand us for explosive residue, make me take my tablet out of its case for wanding, give me the pat-down.

The westbound flight is shorter than the eastbound, because of the prevailing winds in the northern hemisphere (and especially, I assume, the jet stream), so this flight is scheduled for just 13 hours and 20 minutes. But that’s still plenty long.

The A350-900 takes off from runway 34L at 8.58. We head north from Doha over the Arabian (or Persian) Gulf (whichever you prefer to call it), then over Iran, the Caucasus, Cappadocia, the Black Sea, Rumania (where Sam’s from! we fly right near his hometown!), Germany, England, Ireland, and then the Big Water south of Greenland; enter North America at Newfoundland, enter the US at Presque Isle, then across New York and down the Shenandoah Valley to Atlanta.

Just 15 minutes out of Atlanta, the pilot tersely announces that we’re being diverted to Charlotte because of weather at ATL.

Well. That’s a big change, right here at the last minute. Gonna need to text the driver of the van who’s meeting us. OK, get an hour of the onboard wifi. I figure there are two possibilities: either we sit at Charlotte until the weather clears in ATL and then get in there late, or they choose to terminate the flight at CLT, in which case the simplest thing for me to do is 1) get the 2 transit passengers (Michaela and Shelbie) rescheduled on flights out of CLT, and 2) rent a 15-passenger van and drive everybody else to Greenville, probably still getting home before midnight. At this point, my only job is to get these kids home (and keep them alive in the process).

I text the Transportation folks at BJU and let them know more info is coming as soon as I know which option we’re dealing with. Shortly one team member finds a notice on the Qatar Airways site that the plan is to sit an hour at CLT and then resume the flight to ATL. Good. Simplest option.

Well, it turns out to be 2 hours on the tarmac, but it’s relatively pleasant. Everybody’s standing around on the plane chatting, and the cabin crew is circulating with trays of snacks to keep everybody reasonably happy. And it’s OK to use the toilets while the plane is sitting there, so no real problems.

Have I mentioned that it was 2 hours, not the announced 1? OK then. I entertain myself by watching the ground crew on the forward camera, standing around the nose wheel, and when they all leave, and then one guy pulls the chocks, I know we’re getting ready to go.

So we start taxiing at 5.35, about 2 hours after we were originally scheduled to land in Atlanta. Off runway 36C at 6.32, land ATL on runway 27C at 7.12, with no complications.

Now our problem is that Michaela and Shelbie have outgoing flights in an hour, and we have to go through immigration and customs, which in ATL I’ve seen get pretty chaotic, especially when there’s a lot of people going through right after multiple wide-bodies land at about the same time.

As we’re taxing to the terminal, both girls learn that their outgoing flights have been delayed 20 minutes or so. OK, that gives us some breathing room, but it’s still gonna be close. I tell them to get ahead of us, don’t wait, and book it straight to immigration, then tell the line watchers there that they have a tight connection and could use the help; if their luggage isn’t at the carousel, don’t wait for it, the airline can get it to you in a day or so. So off they go. Keep us informed by text.

When we get to immigration—on the way we hustle past most of the others in our flight—the lines are surprisingly short, the booths are well staffed, and the place is humming. We’re all through in 15 minutes. I’ve never seen it happen that fast.

We catch up to Michaela and Shelbie at the luggage carousel; immigration was so fast that the luggage hasn’t arrived yet. Soon it starts trickling in. When the two transients get theirs, off they go to catch the bus to the domestic side of the airport and maybe catch their flights. By my calculation they have an hour; I’m confident they’ll both make it.

A few minutes later Michaela texts us that she made her connection. That’s good; she has jury duty at 8 am Monday (PDT). That’s cutting it close.

Soon Shelbie tells us she missed her connection; she didn’t arrive at the gate before 20 minutes before flight time, and despite the fact that her incoming flight was delayed, and her outgoing flight was delayed too, they apparently calculate by the originally scheduled departure time. That strikes me as just crazy, but what do I know? Anyway, she’s standby on a couple later flights tonight, so I start praying that she gets on one of those. She has access to money if she needs to stay overnight here, so that’s about the best we can ask for.

Blake tells me his parents are here, so he’ll head out with them instead of taking the van to Greenville. OK. Now we’re 8.

When we all have our bags—and we do—I text Dave Versnick, the driver, who’s been waiting patiently for our late arrival, that we’ll be at the curb in 10 minutes. We breeze through customs—they basically just wave at us—and out through the crowded terminal lobby to the Atlanta sunshine, which I’m pretty sure is hotter than anything we experienced in Africa. Soon the van pulls up, and in we go.

The crew had been talking during the trip about eating a last meal together at a nice sit-down restaurant on the way to Greenville; they were thinking Texas Roadhouse, and I’d identified one near I-85 in Buford, GA. But with the flight delay, we’re looking at arriving in Greenville after 11 if we don’t stop at all, and they decide they’d rather not take an hour or more to stop for dinner, even if it means missing steak. Kinda surprises me. 🙂 So we say we’ll hit a fast-food place somewhere and eat in the van to save time.

It’s about 8.30 when we leave the airport, and the first place we stop (at 9.01) has just closed the dining room at 9, and ordering for 9 people (including the driver) is pretty inefficient at a drive-through, so we continue driving and looking. As we come to an exit, I call out the names of the fast-food places, and we wait for agreement.

Eventually they go for a McDonald’s.


The dining room’s open till 10. We order at the counter for our last meal of the trip.

Away we go.

After the food is eaten, the van gets quiet as most of them fall asleep. Since it’s after 10, I figure falling asleep now won’t short-circuit their jet-lag recovery.

We stop at an exit just a few miles short of Greenville to drop Cathryn at a 7-Eleven where her Mom is waiting. It’s good to see her sister Jessica, who was on the team in 2015.

Then on to Greenville. We arrive about midnight at the place where we gathered to leave, behind Nell Sunday. Seems as though it was longer than just 3 weeks ago. Abbie walks to her ride out in front of the dorm; Peter and Sam head off the same direction; everybody else meets her ride here. Kat, it should be noted, almost leaves her carry-on sitting in the parking lot. 🙂

All the remaining 7 distributed to safe care.

Job done.

Dave drops me off at my house, which is right next to where he’s taking the van. I tell him thanks and good night, and my dear wife, who is, shall we say, not a night person, opens the door to let me in.


Soli deo gloria.

The blog—which, to speak truthfully, I finish late the next afternoon—runs 58 pages and 34,853 words.

Good night.

Saturday, June 22, 2019

Time to go. I do the morning ablutions and then finish packing, thinking carefully about what goes in the checked bag and what goes in the carry-on. Both bags are well under weight limits. Strip the bed, put the linens and towels into the laundry basket. Look around—is the place as clean as when I moved in? Yep. Looks good and neat.

Over to HQ at 8. To my surprise, the guys have already shut down their place and are waiting here, and the girls are all ready to go. They’re outside taking photos with the children. Beth has asked us to move the recliner from my place back to HQ, so I call the guys to do that. While we’re at our place, I inspect their quarters, which look good. Then back to HQ for the inspection there. Looks like we’re ready to go. These kids are awesome.

I pull a bunch of stuff out of the team’s first aid kit that they can use here, and leave all that on the counter, then pack the kit, the last item, in my checked bag. Drop off the mobile router. We all officially turn in the 3 house keys. And we’re done. Katie brings by some fresh-baked scones—maple bacon and lemon—and the crew goes to work on them.

At 8.30 we gather on the front porch of the big house for a photo of all of us with the children, Ferdinand, Beth, and Katie. It goes remarkably well; the children are much more cooperative about getting their picture taken than they have been in the past.

Abel shows up with another taxi driver, and it’s time to board. Roll the luggage from HQ down the dirt pathway to the laundry building, with the children helping all along the way. Load the big stuff in one van; Blake jumps in with Abel, and away they go.

Lots of hugs and tears and good-byes. Dan and Jana and their kids come up to join in, and we say our farewells.

“Everybody put your hand on your passport.” Count the crew into the two remaining vans, and it’s time to go. The children wave us up the drive and left, one last time, up the bumpy dusty road to The Pavement, then Mwanza, then north past the mall to the airport. I’m in Beth’s van, where she takes great delight in regaling the crew with the story of how I almost killed them all at Dias Beach at the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa in 2016. I tell her I like her version of the story better than mine.

Regather at the departures terminal. Everybody grab your own luggage. They’re checking in for our flight, so we go through security, get our bags weighed, get boarding passes, go through emigration (fill out another form, I guess so they can be sure we left), and through security a second time to get to the gate. (For the life of me I don’t know why we have to do that.)

There’s a little snack bar at the gate—there’s only 1 gate here—and I let the crew stock up on sodas and samosas and other pastries. 14 bucks for 11 people. I love this country.

This whole process has gone completely smoothly, no wrinkles at all. We’re seated at the gate and munching before 11 for a 12.10 flight. That’s happened before, but sometimes the process here is chaotic, and it’s pretty foolish not to plan for a full 2 hours.

So now the crew is looking at photos and videos on their phones, passing the time.

When the boarding call comes, we all squeeze into the bus for the short ride across the tarmac to the ATR 42/72-500 twin turboprop. The propellers start turning, and we begin taxiing at 12 noon precisely, taking off from runway 12 just 5 minutes later, 5 minutes early. Ah, the good life at small airports.

(I should note that we were notified last week that our flight time, originally scheduled for 1 pm, had been changed to 12.10, which gives us a longer transfer time in Nairobi, which in turn is a Good Thing.)

We’re all seated together in the center of the plane, which has 4 seats across. Kat, Blake, and Peter are just ahead of the wing; Rebekah, Shelbie, Abbie, and Cheyenne are just behind them; then I, Michaela, Sam, and Cathryn are just under the wing.

On takeoff we turn left toward Kilimanjaro, within moments arriving at the north end of the Mwanza Gulf, from where (on the left) we can see—or more correctly, can’t see—how big Lake Victoria, the largest lake in Africa, really is. No end in sight, just like the ocean. We skirt the southeast shore for a few minutes before moving out across the savannah.

It’s a short flight, just over an hour. We can see the base of Mount Kilimanjaro on the left through the haze, but the summit is enveloped in clouds. Not very scenic today.

We land at JRO runway 9 at 1.10. There are no taxiways where we need to turn back to the terminal, so the pilot does a U-turn (reminds me of groceries, somehow) and taxis back on the runway. Routine here.

Our JRO passengers disembark. We stay on the plane, though Shelbie wants to get off when I tell her there’s a hamburger joint in the terminal. Ah, well. Maybe there’ll be time to eat in Nairobi, with the earlier arrival.

After sitting on the plane for about an hour, we restart and take off from runway 9 at 2.25. It’s hazy—the plentiful wood fires put a lot of smoke into the air here—but only 45 minutes’ flight time to Nairobi, where we land on runway 6 at 3.13. We exit at the rear and walk a ways across the ramp to the bus that takes us to Terminal 1C. Up the loooong escalator—we’re not in Tanzania anymore—and through security and the duty-free shop to the food court. We’ve had Katie’s scones before leaving Tumaini, and a light snack at the Mwanza airport, and a little package of cookies on the Precision Air flight, and now it’s pushing 4 pm and these kids are hungry. There’s a Hardee’s—a Hardee’s!—in the food court, where we all get a burger and a drink. 11 people, $168. No, indeed, we’re not in Tanzania anymore.

Down the long arc of the concourse to check in at the Qatar Airways desk and pick up our boarding passes to Doha and then to Atlanta. Gate 9, where, yep, we have to go through security again—what’s with this?! Fortunately, they decide to send our group through the priority boarding line, and we’re in the seating area with 10 or 15 minutes to spare.

The NBO / DOH leg is on an A330. 6 of us—Sam and I, Cathryn and Michaela, Rebekah and Cheyenne—are along the right aisle in the front coach section; the rest are further back on the left aisle.

They serve dinner about 6. I thought they would, but I still didn’t hesitate to grab the burgers at NBO; not doing so would have made our first meal of the day supper, and traveling is hard enough without pulling a stunt like that.

I have the beef with rice and peas, and a nice cucumber and tomato salad with olives and feta cheese.

At 7.30 they take the cabin lights down so we can doze. We’re not changing time zones on this leg, but the early dimming still seems welcome. Sam’s seat is the only one occupied on his row of 4; it’s not long before he’s lying down and sound asleep. The equivalent of a $3000 business-class upgrade. 🙂

We entertain ourselves in the usual ways until half an hour out of Doha, when landing prep begins. The approach pattern is a little convoluted, through the Strait of Hormuz—isn’t that where the Iranians just shot down an American drone?—before we set down on runway 34 at 11.05.

Down the stairs—no jetway this time—to the waiting buses. The front 6 get on one bus, and the back 5 on another, and we rejoin after the usual security screening. I comment that since we had dinner on the plane, I assume nobody needs to eat tonight, and the group unanimously disagrees with me. OK. Off to the food court. 7 of ‘em get something at the Italian place—pizza or stromboli—and 3 go to Burger King. Me? I get a Greek salad without any lettuce or Kalamata olives. But it has feta cheese, so I guess that makes it Greek. It’s mostly cucumbers.

Airport food.

Bellies full, we head over to Concourse B, where there’s a spot before Gate 1 where last year’s team set up for the night. A whole bunch of chairs, but since it’s not a gate, it’ll be quiet all night. Toilets right there, and power plugs in the seats. Armrests, unfortunately, so you can’t stretch out on the chairs. Four of the girls settle down on the terrazzo floor under the seats, as does Blake, with his hat over his face to block the light. The other two guys are on the floor too, but using their computers. I’ve gone with the chair option, knocking out this blog entry.

It’s 1 am now—technically the day ended while we were eating at the food court—but this seems like the sensible place to call the post finished.

See you tomorrow.

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.

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Morning at Tumaini.

The night has been typical. Dogs have been howling intermittently; the Alarm Rooster starts going off around 4, and the birds bring their more musical tones to the chorus between 5 and 6.

Get up, crawl out from inside the mosquito netting. Minimize use of electricity, so use light only where you need it. First, over the sink. Get drinking water out of the fridge (I like to keep mine cold, even though it’s not unduly hot here) and use it to brush and floss the teeth. Tap water to shave. Sink light off, shower light on. Shower using the running water. Comes out of the showerhead, falls all over you. What a delightful concept. It’s gravity fed, so the pressure’s not as high as back home, and it’s not heated, but it gets you just as clean. And it honestly is refreshing. Though my first shower when I get home will be hot. 🙂

Personal devotions. Nehemiah’s building the wall today, with all the workers holding weapons in one hand and working with the other. Everybody’s organized so the wall’s getting rebuilt, all the way around the city. What’s the big idea? God keeps his promises, and he uses willing people–among others–to do it. I ought to be one of those today, and let’s just see what comes of it. God’s gathering a people for his name, from all places and all times. Here, and now. Work, watch, and trust him for the results.

Well, that’s a good place to start the day.

Head over toward the house about 8.30, to allow time for the greetings, highly significant here. The lizards, bright red heads and blue tails, are sunning on the boulders outside the guys’ house. (There are lots of rocks here—more than you can imagine. I’ve never seen anyplace like it. They call Mwanza Rock City, which explains the name of the mall.) The pungent smell of smoke tells me that someone has already burned some trash down at the incinerator.

First person I see is the staff lady at the laundry center, working on the large pile for the day, as they always do first thing. There are usually two, but the one who’s already started is the younger one. Younger than I am. She’s supposed to initiate the greeting, so I walk into her line of sight. “Shikamoo!” she says. “Malahaba! Habari za asubuhi?” “Nzuri. Karibu.” “Asante.”

As far as I know, she speaks no English at all, but we’ve done the morning ritual. All’s well.

It’s a bright, sunny day, not a cloud in the sky. The birds singing actively. All the easier to say “Nzuri” (“good”). One of the staff men is trimming the hedge along the path toward the house. Another set of greetings. Everybody’s fine. (As far as I can tell, everybody’s always fine, even when they’re not. Kind of like in the States.)

I can see one of the mamas over in the kibanda, where a couple of the boys are already kicking the requisite football. She’s younger than I am too, so as I walk by she initiates the greeting sequence, and I respond.

There’s something civilizing about being expected to go around and greet everybody within sight first thing in the morning. We barbarians ought to do that more often. Walk over, go a few steps out of your way, and do the morning ritual. Civilized.

Back to the house. Everybody’s there; several, as usual, eating some breakfast, including scrambled eggs—we’re buying a lot from the staff lady  who sells them, and she’s happy for it—and toast made on the griddle. I learn that one of the girls is nauseated this morning; she’s basically OK but just needs to take at least the morning off. With a bucket of water nearby. The crew has already arranged to cover her tutoring sessions for the morning. We’ve got this.

They’re discussing what could have caused it. What did you eat? Well, we all tend to eat pretty much the same stuff, so if nobody else is sick, it’s not likely to be food. It could be as simple as opening a door and then rubbing your eye or your nose with the same hand. You’ll never isolate the culprit. So stay near the bucket, drink water, and rest. We’ll take care of your business for you.

The air horn blows for the 9 am session. The crew, minus 1, heads out with their teaching materials and ideas. Within a few minutes each of the 6 locations is populated. I wander by just to see what’s going on. The children are usually better behaved in this first session, before they get tired, cranky, and uncooperative—as is a typical characteristic of children all around the world.

Later in the hour I make a second round. On the nearest dorm porch site, one of our girls, who’s subbing for the sick one, is working with a girl who’s very smart but has significant issues with motivation. She tells me, “She did all of the multiplication flash cards in under 2 minutes! Now we’re cutting out letters.” Multimodal instruction. Good choice. On the second porch Peter is reading with one of the boys who is easily frustrated and sensitive to making mistakes. Peter’s sitting by his side, and they’re reading together out of Proverbs. Peter’s explaining what each verse means, and the boy is understanding. On the last porch Blake and one of the girls (I’m not naming them so you can’t figure out who the sick one is) are double-teaming one of the most challenging boys, who has significant behavioral issues. Dog Samuel is dozing nearby, and Bunny is frolicking with her puppy, Kiala, on the other side of the porch.

Over in the kibanda, one of our girls is sitting on the floor playing Bananagrams™ with 2 of the youngest boys while one of the mamas watches. On the Big House porch another of our girls is working patiently with one of the most difficult girls, who’s in upper elementary officially—and several grades behind her age at that—but still can’t read. Inside, the kitchen staff already have the uji and mandazi set up for us, 15 minutes early. Up the path comes Sam with a couple more boys. Sometimes you just have to get out of the classroom and go for a walk. The boys both greet me, this time in the British tradition. “Good morning, Dr. Dan.” “Good morning! How are you?” “I am fine.” Formulaic, again, but civilized.

At the house, a second of our girls is lying on the couch by the bucket. Says she feels “nauseous.” Uh-oh. Hope this isn’t the start of something big. Nothing like 11 nauseated people on a 15-hour flight. But the first sick one is up and eating some bread to see how that goes. I turn into Mom: small bites, chewed thoroughly. I point out that technically nobody is “nauseous,” because that means “causing nausea.” What they’re feeling is “nauseated,” which means “feeling nausea.”

They don’t seem to care about the distinction.

Then one of the guys is feeling poorly, then another one. OK, we have an infirmary here. Best treatment is just water and rest.

The crew—the remaining ones—go to work. #3, the first of the guys, is scheduled to handle Bible time today. The girl who’s scheduled tomorrow takes over, and we figure he’ll be well enough to do the swap for tomorrow. The remaining crew recalculates all the 11 am tutoring sessions, combining some and shifting people around until everybody’s covered. #4, the second guy, feels well enough to take his session. So 3 in the house, and everybody else being flexible. Let me tell you, these kids are really good on the flexibility front.

Morning at Tumaini. Natural beauty, social interaction, sickness, behavioral challenges. Delight and depravity, all at the same time. Like everywhere. Even if you’ve never been here, the experience is familiar.

I make a quick round in the 11.00 session. With all the combining, there are a bunch of empty sites. One of our girls and one of our guys are working with 5 children, who are usually in 3 or 4 classes, in the classroom down in the office building. Good times.

For Bible time, as I’ve said, #3 was scheduled but is sawing logs on a couch at HQ, so the girl scheduled for tomorrow brings the devotional. She speaks from Philippians 1, focusing on the need for discernment, which derives from knowledge, which we get from God’s word. She does a good job.

Afterwards I check on #4, who’s sawing logs on a couch in the guys’ house. OK. 4 down, all resting and stable, nobody violently ill. This is workable.

Lunch at Beth’s porch is tortillas stuffed with meat and other things, you know, that word we say only to make our Swahili instructor laugh herself to tears. To my surprise, everyone shows up, even the sick ones, and everyone eats at least a little something. Only one of the four has had, shall I say, consequences of the nausea, and that was very early this morning. So we’ll take things a little easy and see if this clears up.

For some time now the girls have wanted to get their hair braided, as all previous teams have done. Beth has made arrangements, and the lady shows up right after lunch and sets up shop on the porch of the Big House. All the girls but Rebekah gather there immediately, and Abbie is the first to get worked on. After Peter, that is, who has the lady corn-row his hair just to see what it would look like.

Allen Iverson, he’s not.

By suppertime (rice, beans, cabbage, pineapple) Abbie and Cheyenne are both done, Grace is in the chair, and Shelbie’s waiting her turn.

On the healthcare front, #1, #3, and #4 are all up and active. #2 and #5 (yes, there is a #5 now) are resting quietly at HQ.

By end of the night, #2 is in the worst shape, but she’s actually feeling pretty good. She thinks a good night’s sleep will have her back in action. Shelbie is the last one having her hair braided; it’ll probably be 10 pm or so before she’s done. I’ll try to post a picture of the whole crew tomorrow, when there’s daylight.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

A bright, sunny day, in the morning at least, and lots to be thankful for. But the children continue to be difficult—not all of them, of course, but enough to make it noteworthy.

We have a bit of a breakthrough this evening. One of the stated goals for the trip is that the team members would get a realistic view of missions. Frankly, that’s very difficult to do in 3 weeks, because adrenaline can take you that far, and kids can come home still all flush with excitement about how “great” missions is—“Just awesome! Life-changing!” and be convinced that God has called them to be missionaries to whatever field it was they so briefly and artificially visited.

That’s a little bit like falling in love with that little red-haired girl at Camp Wanamucket the third week of July.

Could happen. But not likely.

I prefer the 8-week trips I used to do, because they’re longer and more tiring, and they get you past the adrenaline phase.

Well, Camp Tumaini 🙂 has gotten this group through the adrenaline phase in less than three weeks.


There are a few children here who are particularly challenging—for different reasons—and our tutoring schedule this time has had most of the tutors with the same child(ren) pretty much every session. If you have one of those particularly challenging ones, that can wear you down.

The team is feeling that tonight.

Now. You can respond to that in one of two ways.

You can grit your teeth and just hang on, do whatever’s necessary to get through the next 48 hours and get home to a steak and tap water you can drink and Dr. Pepper and “normal” life.

Or you can finish well. You can persevere, knowing that hard stuff brings endurance, and endurance brings experience, and experience brings more confidence next time, and confidence brings victory (Rom 5.4-6).

But you can’t do that by gritting your teeth. In fact, you can’t do it at all, most obviously when your strength is gone.

God has to do that. It’s supernatural.

And so the next two days are the climax of the trip, the time when the most lasting and intense spiritual growth occurs.

Would you join us in praying that that would happen? Enduring through to the end has great benefit, both now and in the future. We’d love to see that demonstrated in us by our gracious God.

Many thanks.