Thursday, November 10, 2011

Survivor Bere

Disclaimer: This will be far more interesting to parents of our SMs than to most others. (Even then, only 37 percent of those polled said this was an interesting blog. Which would actually be a high enough percent approval rating to win you the Republican nomination.)

Welcome to Survivor: Bere

Travel across the world with us...

Meet the contestants. Thirteen who no longer know just exactly where in the Sahel they are. They come from far and wide. One from the Philipines, one from South Africa by way of the UK, one from Canada, one who claims Canada when it’s convenient and nine from the good old USA. Now they are here (for better or worse) in this place we call home, Bere, Tchad.

Cory, will his vast experience serve him to the end?
Brichelle, will the strong and silent type succeed?
Minnie, with the power of awesome dried Philippino mangos.
Linden, will all his education be practical here?
Matt, can fancy guitar fingers start a fire with a magnifying glass?
Dani, shorn for speed.
Amanda, a military training couldn’t work against her, could it?
Bronwyn, like that accent’s even real.
Anna, now with antibodies to malaria, can she regain her form?
Adam, we know he can build a hut, but will he be able to eat at Samedi’s?
Janna, the only one with a license to heal, will others’ jealousy take her down?
Mayline, is she a physically weak specimen, or is the so-called malaria just a ploy?
Marci, last to arrive, will she be the freshest in the long run?

While Danae and I are the only two church-employed missionaries here, there are 21 self-supporting long and short-term missionaries; Jonathan and Melody (pilot and nurse), Gary and Wendy (pilot/nurse and nurse), Jamie and Tammy (maintenance director and community helper guru), Darryl and Joanna (the newly arrived South African pilot and nutritionist) and the thirteen listed above. The thirteen listed above are the brave young volunteers who are part of Survivor: Bere.

Episode 1: Water and Fire. Recap.

The unlucky 13 find themselves lost in the Sahel. Not yet adjusted to African Standard Time, most competitors arrive for the scheduled 3pm start at, well, 3pm. Novices. The experienced know that African Standard Time dictates that things get underway about 4:30pm. With the two most experienced (also the two youngest), Cory and Brichelle, as captains, the teams are drawn from a hat. Team Cory seems to have the best team spirit, but Team Brichelle has experience, education and raw muscle.

We know that watering holes are where the action happens in Africa. It’s also where survival of the fittest is most evident. All animals must share water for survival, but all the while, keep a keen eye on each other, distrusting every moment.

We brave the wild animals and head for the Bere watering hole, a plastic inflatable pool about seven feet in diameter. Dangers here include Lyol’s inflatable crocodile and the fact that a two-year-old struggling to gain urinary continence has been playing in the pool all day. Here the teams will compete to see which team can hold their breath the longest.

Head-to-head, literally, the first member of each team plunges their head under the surface. Team Brichelle pops up almost immediately, forcing the second member of their team to start their turn early. Things aren’t looking up for Team Brichelle. Team Brichelle even goes through several more team members while Matt holds out for Team Cory. Finally, Matt’s gills beg for mercy and he surfaces. Team Brichelle quickly comes to their last two members, Linden and then Adam. Linden, the dark horse and the breath-holding shark plunges his face down with vigor. The ex-competitive swimmer begins to settle in for the long hall. Team member after team member of Team Cory runs out of air. At long last, Linden runs out of air just before Team Cory runs down to their last team member. It’s up to Adam now, starting out with only a few seconds of disadvantage. In the end, Adam and Team Brichelle come away with a 90-second victory.

The 90 seconds get carried over to the next challenge. The teams are sent off the compound to collect all supplies necessary to boil a half liter of water. A charcoal stove, charcoal, matches, kindling and lungs doubling as bellows. The minute and a half proves to be more than enough for Team Brichelle. They quickly reappear with the necessary supplies and bring the water to a nice, rolling boil.

Team Brichelle noshes victoriously on massive brownies, rarer than a November rainstorm in Tchad, while Team Cory is left with the scraps.

Then the teams receive their projects for the week: To create an English class. Each team is left with the open instruction. The teams can decide the time, location, cost, structure, supplies, etc for their English class. They are put on notice that they will be judged in two weeks time, based on a presentation they give representing attendance, mission spirit and several other factors. The game is on...

Episode 2: Now That’s Using Your Head! Recap.

This episode opens a full two hours late, due to multiple motorcycle victims arriving at the hospital and requiring emergency attention literally minutes before our regularly scheduled program was set to begin. Nine lacerations sutured, two broken bones set, and one blown pupil assessed later, we begin.

The teams report on their successes. Both teams had attendance in excess of forty students and both reported students desiring continuation of the classes. Team Brichelle continues their winning streak and wins the right to drink smoothies Friday night at the hands of Team Cory’s smoothie-making labors.

The first challenge of this week is an intellectual challenge of recalling minutiae from an informational packing list sent to them before their departure from their native lands. Remarkably, both teams show impressive long-term recall. But alas, there can be only one winner and it is Team Cory, with their first success of the season.

Going from intellectual noggin’-usage to physical skull labors, we move to the brickyard. The teams are lined up for a classic African carry-stuff-on-your-head race. Team Cory has the benefit of first pick of bucket and head padding. The teams pick their brick to put into their bucket. The major advantage is that Team Cory gets to choose two Africans to help them in their quest.

Cory and Brichelle, brave captains, race off at the starting bell, twenty yards down the field, around the lit latern and back again, neither dropping their bucket o’ bricks, Brichelle crossing the line just ahead of Cory. Quickly Brichelle passes off the bucket to the next team member, but troubles start. Even finding the initial balance before starting forward progress proves to be a challenge. Team Cory doesn’t fair much better, but after several failed attempts and restarts, Team Cory gets their second team member across the line. Team Brichelle catches up. After each team has four members successfully across, it’s still neck-and-neck. But them Team Cory brings out their two final team members. The newly drafted Africans, fairly substituted, run, literally down and back while balancing their bucket o’ bricks on their heads. Game over.

This time, it’s Team Cory victoriously noshing chocolate cake while Team Brichelle only has a meager morsel of tasty chocolate each.

And finally, well after the last glimmer of dusk is past, the teams receive their challenge for the next two weeks. They are to create a 30-second radio commercial advocating breastfeeding only for the first six months of life.

And how will they do? Who has been born with the advertisers gift? Will the cream rise to the top? (Sorry, couldn’t let that last one go. Just too good. Get it? Breastfeeding? Cream? Aw, come on. That’s funny!)

Stay tuned.

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