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

Friday, 9 October 2015

Coming Out of Dry, Hard Ground ...

"This year, the rains will be early and they will be heavy!" So we were told. And so we were prepared. Group formed, teaching done, seeds ready, fields mulched. But still we are waiting for rain! We have had a little rain here in the city, but the ground in both Kayenze and Kisesa remains dry and hard.

I am always amazed at what can come out of dry, hard ground. Seemingly against the odds, the seedlings planted in Kisesa as we left in March are still alive. They have had very little rain in that time and I would not have been surprised to see them all dead. But hanging on to life, although small, they are surviving! The tree seedlings we planted in November are also growing. And as they hang on to life, as they grow and spread their roots, they are in their own small way, slowly transforming the situation there. There is something encouraging for all of us demonstrated here!
A Neem tree planted last year
Seedlings planted a few months ago
And as for the pigeon peas ... again despite the lack of water, they have more than survived! They too are transforming the soil with their rich roots and providing a harvest to eat and replant.
The pigeon peas
We went today with Joseph and Peter to Kisesa to plant with the students at the Church Planting School. (Tim and Esther earlier gave two-days classroom training on conservation agriculture.) The students have now completed their four months of courses and are ready to return to their respective homes. Therefore rain or no rain, it was our last opportunity to do the practical teaching ... planting.

Beans would have to wait for the rain. But maize can be "dry-planted" whereby the seed waits in the dry ground for the rain to come. This is something we have never tried, and neither had any of the students! But despite the doubts, together after morning uji (runny porridge), we went ahead and just planted a few rows for teaching purposes and also to see how it works!
Some classroom review before planting
Working together, the rows were measured, the small holes dug. The compost was added and the seeds were planted two by two. And then all was re-covered with mulch to wait ... wait for the rains. There is no water here. Just fetching water to drink is a time-consuming and difficult task.

Measuring the rows and spacing

Women get busy planting seeds


Actively watching!
As we finished, we gathered to pray. To pray for the rain, to pray for the harvest. It is at times like this, we realise how fragile and dependent we are. We cannot make it rain. We cannot make a seed sprout or a shoot bear fruit. But we know our Creator, the Giver of Life.
Praying for the rains and harvest
We hope that these students as they go on to start churches, will work with their communities to help them practically as well as spiritually. That the seeds sown would reap multiple harvests and communities would see transformation. If even one pastor of all these 28 students grasps what we are teaching, it will all be worthwhile. We are ready to go and support; another group of 15 from his or her village could be trained!
Taking notes on the field
And meanwhile at Kisesa, our hope is to have a vibrant "Demonstration Shamba" where all the students who pass through, as well as the local villagers, will see and learn something rather transformational! Here, in this dry and barren land, which receives very little rainfall per year, there will be trees of different varieties, there will be enriched, good soil bearing a variety of crops. There will be piles of compost, hives of bees, fuel-efficient stoves to cook fresh bread (we had several requests for bread-making lessons again today!) and food from a healthy kitchen garden. There will be water. There will be life!

Yes, this could take years ... with many failures on the way! But years of continual thankfulness for everything that springs miraculously from that which once was dry and hard!
Top-Bar Hive is hung

Talking to Pastor Baraka about the upcoming bee project!

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