MOUNTPOTTINGER PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH
MOUNTPOTTINGER PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH

Thursday 26th July

I think I have found the answer!  Drink the tap water! I had no ill effects – so far – of this mistake, but having gone to bed even a little earlier than normal, neither rooster, the infernal birds cheeping, the bus drivers stereo nor the dogs woke me, despite their best efforts.  (Craig tells me that the dogs were fighting and chasing each other around the compound making a right racket from about 6am – well, not in my sleep!)  I still needed the cold shower to bring any life into me, but you take lifes victories were you find them and this one’s mine Africa!

Today would be our last real kids4school planned work – Friday is our own football tournament.  We packed up our songs, our scripts for the little talk we do, our memory verse, our craft and our sweets.  We didn’t know exactly how many children would make up our bible clubs in Nzasa school, but we had 100 craft sets prepared, with another 40 on standby and we had sweets for around the same number.  Off we set on our journey.  Nzasa is in the same area as Chihanga school, except at the fork in the road where going straight takes you to Chihanga, you turn right and out to Nzasa.  It is more rural and remote, because at the fork, you have another 30minutes drive down a dusty road to Nzasa, another dusty village in a very dusty country. 

Just as we got to the school, our driver David stopped the jeep claiming he had seen a snake in the middle of the road.  Its not clear whether the snake was already dead when he saw it, but given he’d driven over it and then for our information and viewing pleasure reversed back over it, it was fairly dead now – still twitching though.  He decided to do the decent thing and remove it from the road, but as the snake was still moving/twitching (dear knows how as most of the business end of the snake – I’m trying to be polite and not paint too vivid a picture of the scene – was a smear in the road) he was understandably cautious.  The snake in question was a puff adder – extremely poisonous and responsible for more deaths in Africa than any other snake because its preference is to lie close to or on paths to warm up, but then attacks anything/anybody that comes close to it.

So with the snake thrown into the ditch at the side of the road, we continued into the school.  The now usual scene unfolded of a few curious eyes peering out windows or around an open door, quickly followed by an exodus to see the Wasungu.  Having signed autographs for a few minutes for the crowd (not really!) we headed for a few classrooms as Jackie arranged children for food distribution. 

Classroom number 1. 

Thomas:  “Mambo!”
Class:  “Poa!”
Thomas:  (louder) “Mambo!”
Class:  (louder again) “Poa!”

We then thanked them and moved on to the next classroom .  These guys turned out to be pure gold!  We walked in….

“Gud Moahning, Teeecha”,  “How aah yu toeday”

We stood around then looking at what they were doing in the class (from the blackboard) and it was English!  We then set into an impromptu lesson on the words on the board.

“Spoon” – response en masse– “Spooon”
“little” – response en masse – “Leetle”, and so on with every word we could find on the board.   – Chanting time- let’s see how lively they really are.  So we led the tune - “na nana nananana nanana nana, na nana nananana nanana nana, ..” actioned to them to join in (which encouragement they didn’t need!) and within a few bars we have 100+ kids in the class bouncing up and down to the chorus of “Will Griggs on fire!”.  And they really liked it and didn’t want to stop.  Check out the videos when you see them – this is gold!  You really cant take us anywhere.

We silenced them and then decided to see how much English they knew.  As they were all standing we told them to sit down.  We then gestured and repeated “Seet doawn” and they did.  “Thank yu teeecha, we are seeting doawn!”  We told them to stand up and they did.  “Seet doawn”  and they did, but this started the best chain reaction yet seen. The whole class broke into song (as loud as Will Griggs on fire was)– “stand up, seet doawn, stand up, seet doawn, jump, jump, jump!” (including actions) and then repeated… and then repeated… and then repeated.  How do we turn this off?  It was like we were facing the home crowd at the ultra fan end of a ground in Europe. 

Another round of Will Griggs and then we thanked them, left and tried another classroom.  Same greeting as we walked in “Gud moahning, teeecha!”, but these guy’s English wasn’t quite as developed despite indications from some of the phrases they had on the board, one of which we did go through with them – “I demand to know the truth!”.  Picture a 12 year old saying this to you!

We moved on the last classroom in the block where it was clear these folks were older (either standard 6 or 7).  They didn’t go through the “Gud moahning, teeecha!” routine that the younger ones had.  There was science on the blackboard so we couldn’t resist this opportunity.  A physics moments balancing question was on the board, which we pointed out and asked if anyone knew the answer of the added mass should be to balance the system.  In unison the class cry out “12”.  Deeply impressed we applauded, only to discover on the right hand side of the blackboard which we didn’t look at, all the working out had been completed for them.  OK, smarty pants class – and we made up a new (similar) question changing the original masses and then asked what the new added mass had to be to balance everything.  All of a sudden silence.  Ha!  Not so clever now, eh!  Then amid a bunch of nudging and cajoling, one brave engineer of the future came to the blackboard and proceeded to perform a textbook analysis and gave us the correct answer!  Fist bump required! 

As I said before, large classes, poor resources, still performing at a high level.  We had a look at Nzasa’s class/year breakdown later on at lunch and in total including a 73 child kindergarten, they have 1163 children in the school – 200+ in each of the first four standards.  This is more than Grosvenor Grammar school, but Nzasa has this in a total of 11 classrooms and one office, all of which would fit into Grosvenor’s main hall and canteen!”

Having done our tour and given all our lessons, it was time to get down to what we were here for – bible clubs and food distribution.  So, in a reversal of normal practice, Craigs group were up first this morning for the bible club as Prisca, sponsored by Cilla Taylor was on the morning food distribution list and we had a gift for her, and because Matthew and Ellie were on my team, we were up first.  So we went round all of the childrens houses – guided by them, even though by now David knows where each lives, delivering either a mattress or Ugali or both. We then included our gifts, which were rapidly running out.  Along the way you see cases of pretty basic living conditions, albeit both children and parents seem happy enough.

With all the 7 children in the back of the landrover during our journey, entertainment was provided by selfies on our phones and various snapchat filters (I speak as if I know what I’m talking about!) which the kids loved.

At lunchtime, we learned that the morning team had 61 in their bible club!  How much craft is left, how many sweets?  Still, we had resource available for up to 140, we should be OK.  I went over to the room where our kids were waiting.  “How many are in here?”  A quick count revealed that that would be 83 Dr. Wilson – what??!!  Lets start prepping that extra craft.  All done, still not enough.  Ok, what else have we got similar – what about the make your own jigsaw craft sets we have?  OK, that should see us through.  Lets go!

“Mambo!”
“Poa!”

“MAMBO!”
“POA!”

“MAMBO!”
“POA!”

We go through our normal routine of songs, talk and into the craft.  OK, we have some people doing stuff slightly different to the rest of the class because of the resource issue, which when you don’t speak the language means unnecessary difficulties, but hey!  Hand out sweets – not enough L  Hand out balloons – not enoughL.  So we make up for loss of either of the first two with bubbles.

A point on the craft with some of the kids that have the craft jigsaws to work with instead of plates.  They coloured in their jigsaws very nicely, just as the other plates had been.  I then went up to this one child to show him what he could do since he had a jigsaw and not a plate and started separating the elements of the jigsaw puzzle. While doing this I asked Constellata our insterpreter would children here have jigsaws at home or have seen jigsaws.  She informed me that she had only first seen one at university!  Uh Oh!  That would explain the look of concern on this fine fellow in front of me as he watches the Masungo destroying his work of art right in front of him.  I mean how heartless can he be?  So I showed him that you can put it back together again and that this something he can try at home.  Normal face returned – phew!

As we got to the end of our session and into the parachutes – which these guys loved as much as every other school, we were feeling a little frayed.  83 children for games activities with 5 leaders really isn’t enough, even though half of them are boys and playing football really doesn’t require much encouragement or supervision.  We left the skipping ropes and football with the school, although schools in Tanzania really don’t have any organised games activities or class periods – its only during breaktime.

Another of the highlights of Nzasa school was the girls dancing/playing/bully circle. A circle is formed there is much singing (which they all know the words of) and then the person in the middle has to select a dance partner from around the circle. A quick dance is performed – usually to the embarrassment of whoever is in the circle and the person selected and then it is all done again.  And its not just girls dancing in the circle. Turns out these boys can twerk just as well as the girls.  But for the real low-down, ask Chloe. Another victim in the wrong place at the wrong time!

We returned home, tired because of this day’s activities, tired because its nearing the end of a couple of hard weeks and also tired because this is the fifth repeat of our bible club.  If you had to do this for longer, for your own sanity, you need to change up the routine and keep it fresh.

After another fine dinner, we had our devotions on the gifts of the Spirit and for many it was off for an early night.  Tomorrow will be a big day – the Mountpottinger trophy, which all three schools who are participating are looking forward to.  We are expecting partisan crowds, keen competition, some questionable challenges with the possibility of it all kicking off – if other competitions between schools here are to be believed.  But sure, not different to the 82nd vs Granshaw!

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