We live in Mwanza, Tanzania, serving with Emmanuel International helping local churches in physical and spiritual ministry.

Thursday, 22 August 2013

The Desest and the Parched Land will be Glad

Yes, this week we felt like we were in a parched land! The water point by our house which has been working only at night, this week stopped altogether for a few days. At first this just meant that we drove to the new water system down the road with all our buckets. It was tedious, but possible. We then use and reuse every drop so carefully! But then one day, the new system virtually dribbled dry. We managed that day with the dribble we were able to get and the next day there was more water. But many were struggling. It is a long walk to the river. People are worried. Our concern is that the grab for water will ruin the new system that until now has been an adequate supply. With desperation and greed, things can easily go wrong. A parched land.
Walking from the village to the river
But before I go further with my thoughts here... I must answer a question! How many papayas can I carry on my head? No one hazarded a guess on the last blog, but it was a whopping ten! And also three green peppers and heaps and heaps of spinach. And yes, I thought my head would get squashed down my neck.  I was coming back from the river with Jesca and the girls, with the fruit from Mama Christina’s garden, much of which was actually gifts for us!  Halfway home, Jesca, who had been carrying the load on her head, was dripping with sweat and I thought I really should offer to help, while hoping my help wouldn’t actually be necessary! But Jesca was glad for the offer and while outwardly I was confidently accepting the load, I was inwardly horrified at the weight of the bucket and apprehensively calculating the distance yet to go! But even despite getting a bit tangled up in the branches of a thorn tree, I made it!

But on a serious note, this garden, now that is truly amazing. Kimande is such a hot, dry and dusty place. The brown ground is hard and thorns abound. Yet walking down to the river, suddenly out of the flat barren landscape, a lush green line ahead is a beautiful surprise! And in that lush, green line by the river, Mama Christina has planted the most incredible garden.  We call her Mama Sungura (Mama Rabbit!) because that is how Mendriad (her brother-in-law) referred to her and it is how we got to know her… the lady who keeps rabbits, which is rather unusual there! She has planted fruit trees, spinach, tomatoes, peppers and other vegetables on a grand scale and uses a generator and pump to water the garden from the river. Really, my mouth dropped open in amazement the first time I stepped in this oasis of green with moist, cooler air. It is like the Garden of Eden, a paradise in the desert.  We are thrilled to have this hard-working, entrepreneurial woman in our stoves group.  She is an exemplary woman who we believe has much to offer and teach others in this community. We are hoping to work with her, with more seeds and trying new things that would benefit the community as a whole.

Mama Christina with her baby, harvesting vegetables

Mama Christina's garden
As we talk with the Stoves Group about God’s Story, and our part in His Story we have talked about gardens. The story starts in a garden. But Adam and Eve, in their sin, left that garden for a desert. God’s people, Israel, were later led (by Moses) through the desert to a new garden; a land flowing with milk and honey, the “Promised Land.” But still thorns abound.  It’s a world where sin has touched and tainted everything. But then God sent his Son, Jesus, to lead us, from the desert we find ourselves in, to a garden city. Jesus started his work in the desert. In the place where humanity first fell, where Israel fell, he defied Satan. And then as his hour of death approached, he accepted will of the Father in a garden.  And then... new life! A new creation was begun. In a garden. And Jesus himself was taken for the gardener.

How much hope we find wrapped up in this picture of being led from a parched, dry desert to a lush and fruitful land where rivers flow.  And in Kimande, we can all grasp a piece of this picture of hope in Mama Christina’s garden. Yes, there are still weeds and thorns in her garden. And yes, the monkeys create havoc in her fruit trees. But through working in the garden, she can help to meet the needs of today while being a signpost to hope, to God’s future.

Pastor Castory and Mendriad in the garden

Gladness and joy will overtake them,
and sorrow and sighing will flee away.
Isaiah 35
... Now later, as I was thinking about the middle bit in this Isaiah chapter "Strengthen the feeble hands, steady the knees that give way; say to those with fearful hearts, 'Be strong, do not fear.'" I just listened to this song by Kari Jobe called "Steady My Heart." Are you in a "parched desert?" Or if not you, where are the "desert" areas near you? Let's go with the Gardener and plant some seeds in the desert!

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