6:50am. Wake up. I prepare my bucket shower. I go to the bottom floor of the house and fill up the electric tea kettle with water. Put it on for a few minutes, and it is boiling. Pour it into the plastic basin that I have in the downstairs shower/bathroom. In the areas of the world like this, it’s a space saving measure to put the shower in the bathroom with no dividing curtain or glass. It’s basically a tile room with a ceramic indentation in the floor for squatting and using the restroom. A stylish version of the squatty potty. The showerhead sticks awkwardly out of the wall and has a large plastic attachment with some uncomfortably exposed wires which serve as the heater. At this point, I haven’t figured out how to use it, so I revert to the comfortable bucket shower method which I picked up last time I was in Africa. Five minutes and a liter and a half of water later, I’m squeaky clean.
7:20am. Breakfast. I cook some eggs in the skillet over the gas stove. They’re scrambled, the only way I know how to make them. I give some to my roommate. After eating, he cleans the skillet and gets rebuked by a teammate for using the metal spatula to scrape the coated pan. It’ll mess up the coating. I’d actually done the very same earlier. I don’t say a word 😉 …
7:55am. Two other teammates and I leave the house to go across town to the prayer room. Most private houses are their own miniature compounds with stone or fenced in walls, often with shards of glass put into the masonry on the top, along with a nightguard for security, household chores, and errands. Ours is no exception. The night guard has already unlocked the gate, so we walk right out of the door and up the dirt road to one of the few paved roads in the county, which locals call a “tarmac.” We pass children, dogs, and street vendors selling everything from toiletries and tea to tomatoes. The three of us hop onto motorcycle taxis, called boda bodas. They are quick, inexpensive, generally safe, and best of all, available almost everywhere. As the ride begins, my eyes are immediately treated to a gorgeous view of the valley-plane sloping downward just below us, where I can see tiny dots of thin sheet metal roofs and farms stretching to the horizon and the mountains that the sun is beginning to illuminate. I’m not exactly sure why, but this driver doesn’t quite have the grip on his tires that others do, so as we are heading into the neighborhood where the ministry is, the bike becomes unstable, we nearly come to a stop, and the thing slowly and frighteningly slides out from under the three of us. Fortunately, no one was hurt. I come out without a scratch. We arrive at the ministry a few minutes later, and I pay the driver the standard fare, the equivalent of about one US dollar.
8:10 The three of us arrive to prayer room about 10 minutes late. It’s the meeting hall of an old Cru ministry base built in the 1980s, a room about 25′ x 25′ with the sloping sheet-metal of the roof directly exposed above us, suspended amidst wooden rafters. The floor is solid concrete slab, intentionally left undecorated because it’s much easier to sweep dust out that way. There are about eight tables and some benches near the opposite walls covered in windows, facing inward with plastic and metal chairs that look far older than me. Banners line the walls with scriptures and images the local Africans selected to encourage one another to pray for the sending of workers to the harvest field, etc. To the front of the room, a sound system is set up on a table, with a large speaker in one corner and a monitor speaker near the other corner. The devotional set has just started as one of my teammates is ‘pickin’ on the acoustic guitar. I enjoy the ambient tunes as I go to meditate on the names of Jesus as revealed in Revelation. It’s a struggle even then, though. The enemy knows where our buttons are, and he will not hesitate to accuse us in areas where we feel weak. I found my mind, as I tried to focus, continually drifting back to the pain of unanswered promises in my life. Fortunately, today, my guard was up, so I quickly and decisively made up my mind to take a deep breath, give it to God, and to refocus on his nature and character.
9:10 I decide it’s time to start grading papers. While I hear the chorus of “How Great is our God” in the room sang by several people, I pull out the tests from the weeklong class module I recently taught the native African ministers here. Even in Africa, grading is still the worst part of teaching. I hold that for the skilled practitioner, informal assessments can be more useful than formative assessments, but I still concede old-school tests are of some value.
10:00 The first two hour set, considered a devotional, finishes, and next begins an intercession set. One of my teammates leads on the guitar, and other provides back up locals and keyboard, and I serve as another background vocalist. I didn’t do a lot of singing growing up, but I’ve come to really enjoy the opportunity to harmonize voices in praise and worship songs with my teammates. I felt a little awkward at first, but after about 30 minutes, it felt like we were all on the same page and worshiping in the same spirit. I knew nearly all of the songs, so it came quite naturally. Halfway through, we began intercession, praying specifically for the country as it approaches a potentially tumultuous election soon. All of our team seem deeply engaged in the prayer, and with great intensity we were able to lift up our voices as an appeal to the God of heaven to have mercy on this country. A serious bout of drowsiness hit me about two thirds of the way through, and I stood to avoid falling asleep. Nevertheless, I pushed through, and our team ended on a high note… metaphorically speaking.
12:00 here we have a 30 minute break before the next set in the prayer room, so as a team, we go over some logistical details. To be continued…