Wednesday, February 22, 2017

The World's Greatest Treasures!

We made it home from Africa, safe and sound. What an ADVENTURE it was! One of our days there was spent exploring the Indian Ocean and a deserted island nearby. 

The engine of the boat fell off TWICE (and was also thankfully caught twice before sinking into the water). The tide was really low because of a full moon. A storm was also brewing off of the coast of Madagascar which made for gusts of winds and extra waves. I gripped the board that I was sitting on in the boat and whispered to Sam, "What do I do if we tip over?"

Our kids were excited to hear of our adventures and see the little shells that we had brought them back from that island. Things are in full swing at home and getting back to normal one load of laundry at a time. Yet even now my heart is still stirring with thoughts and feelings from all that we saw and experienced while we were in Mozambique.

I hesitate to share or even write about our experience because I don't want to come off as the white American who visited one small part of Africa for 12 days and now has everything figured out. It is quite the opposite. I came home from Mozambique with lots of questions and a deep desire to learn and listen to those who are pouring out their lives into areas, like the one that we saw, ones that have been decimated by civil war. 

Areas that are full of people who need food and water and hope!  

What I share today are a few of the thoughts that flooded my mind as I saw first hand a culture and landscape that is so very different from my own. Prior to visiting Africa I had heard many times people talk about living in "the bush." And to many of us it might sound attractive the thought of living off of the land. But what I never stopped to think about was what people living in remote areas actually experienced day to day. With no electricity their day begins and ends with the rising and setting of the sun. With no transportation many have never ventured north the hour and thirty minutes to the closest city. With no employers there are no hired jobs which means that even the smallest amount of income isn't coming in. They rely on their surroundings to grow crops to feed the many hungry bellies. With no river or water source nearby my mind can't even grasp how life continues. Their clothes are tattered and their feet are calloused. Many have shaved heads or keep their hair extremely short because of the heat, itchiness, and constant appearance of lice. 

We were surrounded by many beautiful people...young children, mothers with babies, teenagers and young men, yet there was something missing. There were hardly any older, wiser men and women around. One person estimated that the average life expectancy in that area is 35 or 40. I think of how I turn 35 next week, and tears come to my eyes. Sickness runs wild and malaria is a normal occurrence. Complications from giving birth are the norm and take many women's lives in the process. 

Homes are created out of wood and mud. With no closed windows or screens people are constantly coming in contact with mosquitoes and other harsh elements around them. And the strangest thing was that there was no wildlife around, none! All of the animals were driven out or eaten out of starvation when the war was going on almost 25 years ago.

But the children were still smiling. They were still laughing! 

Our first visit to the very first Garden Well brought a roar of laughter when the children saw Sam take off his hat and reveal that the large white man had a shaved head, just like many of them.

I looked around at the innocence that surrounded me and I actually felt a small glimpse of relief. Relief that many of them have not been exposed to the world surrounding them far in the distance. With no electricity, there were no TVs in that village. For many of us in other parts of the world we are surrounded by everything that we could possibly need and still we are discontent, still we often want more. 

But how much is enough? 

How much more do we really need?

One of our days there we gathered with a group of people who are teachers, farmers, and medical staff. People who left their lives in their countries of origin and have been living in Mozambique for many years now. They didn't sugarcoat the situation there. They talked about the numerous difficulties they face, which seemed unending really. They talked about how it wasn't easy. They talked about how most days the challenges were simply overwhelming.  

As one person shared with me the challenges and how the process for change has been so slow, I could hear the tiredness in his voice. And coming from everything that I have ever known I thought to myself, but you are on the other side. The side that is hard, the side that is full of challenges, the side that seems so desperate for breakthrough

But nonetheless the other side! 

The side that is focusing on pouring out your life for others. It seems like such a short distance between the two sides. One step forward instead of one step back. But in the world that we live in the obstacle many times can simply be that one person standing in the middle of those two sides:


Are we always going to be taking one step back and focusing on making our own lives better?

Or, are we going to take that one step forward and pour our time, energy, and resources into this world's GREATEST treasures?

The world's GREATEST treasures...people!

Our friends Josh & Sarah Hardie have been farming in North Dakota for years. They never dreamed of going to Mozambique one day to farm there as well, but through a number of unexpected circumstances they found themselves doing just that. Now they are juggling traveling back and forth as they run their farm in the States and now run one in Mozambique as well.

Deep Roots is the name of their farm in Mozambique. They currently employee 17 workers to keep the daily tasks running on the farm. Which means that 17 people have a source of steady income. They believe in working hard and creating a business that can lift people up and empower the community around them for change. But every day is filled with new challenges.

A simple part on a piece of equipment breaks down with no local parts store nearby.

They've spent four years testing out various crops trying to find out what will grow successfully in that soil.

Trying to figure out how the climate works here. 

But with no river nearby they have no source of regular irrigation. Which means that they rely heavily on the rain to come to bring life to the large scale crops. 

They pray for the rain to come.

Rain came one day while we were there. 

Will it be enough for the corn to grow? 

When the corn has grown in the past, theft has always been an issue.

Will they have enough to harvest?

From everything that we saw, it would seem that the challenges of farming in Mozambique far outweigh the benefits. Why would they keep coming back? 

Why would they keep trying?

It is because they see hope

Hope to encourage a community to not just survive but to thrive!

The Garden Well Project was birthed out of that hope.  

The first step was providing a source of water so that people didn't have to rely on holes in the ground that filled with rain water.

Research was done, lots of questions were asked and some wells were dug in key areas in the community where the most people could benefit from them. 

The next step was purchasing simple irrigation kits that would allow people to irrigate their own gardens, using the garden wells, to provide food for their family all year long rather than having to rely on irregular rain. 

Now they are working on figuring out the best way to get these kits into people's hands in a way that people can be fully invested into their own future, even when their resources are so limited.

Josh and Sarah don't just want to see water bring life to a community, they want to see the gospel bring life as well! While we were there, one of the local pastors who is connected to the Garden Wells came to the farm to ask for help obtaining Bibles for his and other congregations in the local language.

"How many do you need?"

"Ten," he replied.

To which Sam and I both had the thought, "We have access to ten bibles in our house alone."

Josh and Sarah believe, just like Sam and I, that the word of God changes things. That the word of God brings life and transformation and hope! So we brainstormed that day on how to get Bibles, not only for this one pastor's congregation, but for the other churches in the area as well. 

Those Bibles will be delivered in the coming weeks!

When the challenges seem unending why not turn and run the other way?

Because there is hope.

The current challenge is finding the best way to transport simple garden irrigation kits to Mozambique. Nine hundred kits can fill a 20 foot container plum full, but the shipping cost to send the container over is around $6,000.00.

I came back home from our trip to find myself fully thrown back into the swing of things here with a week of great buy-one-get-one-free sales being offered through the essential oil company that I sell essential oils with. It means working extra hours this week on top of the writing that I am doing for the eBook as well as attending rescheduled parent/teacher conferences that we missed while we were gone. 

We have been using the income from my essential oil business to save up towards gutting and remodeling our upstairs bathroom. The tub faucet leaks quite a bit when the water is running and the tiles and tub are needing to be replaced.

But I couldn't shake this one thought that perhaps the income that I'll make from orders this month could be used in a better way for something else.

Because after all, we have a perfectly good leaky faucet where running water comes straight into our home, up some pipes and into our upstairs bathroom. 

A remodeled bathroom isn't this world's greatest treasure...

People are.

Josh and Sarah can't do this alone. The challenges are too great. But we can join together and help...and no amount is too small or too big.

This month 100% of my essential oil profits will go towards The Garden Well Project. Will you join us? You can go here to help!

                                                          Photo Credit: Sarah Hardie Photography

1 comment:

  1. May God continue to teach us to store our treasures up in heaven and not here on this temporary earth! Our earthly possessions are so worthless compared to knowing God and spreading His truth. This post made me happy! :)


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