The Gift of Presence
For nearly two weeks, those of us in the Saint Paul Area Synod have been blessed by the presence of ou[...]
We were shown the avocado tree during a break in the rain on our first afternoon in Idete. Surrounded by a rough-hewn timber fence on a triangle of land between the District Pastor's house, the Parish Pastor's house, and the church office building, the seedling is right out in the open -in the middle of everything. And yet, if you aren't looking, it is easy walk right on by.
Pastor Mangulisa is proud of his avocado tree - rightly so in my opinion. At the top of the rootstock, wrapped in plastic (for now) is his latest experiment in grafting budding branches from a mature tree onto a new seedling. If successful it'll cut the time it takes for the tree to bear fruit down to 3-4 years instead of 5-10 for trees grown straight from a seed.
The project is one of many that the pastor and the parish are pursuing. Seeking to improve the economic development of their mountaintop hamlet, one day they'd like to have an orchard of one thousand avocado trees. Currently they have two hundred. In and amongst the trees they envision buzzing bees and hives flowing with honey; they've already built fourteen of the two hundred that they aspire to have. Similarly, they'd like to raise a couple hundred chickens for the parish to keep - many for egg-laying and others for the occasional meal.
Being an agricultural community without a lot of cash flow or daily cash transactions doesn't hold them back from pursuing their bigger dreams of an expanded church building at the main station and an evangelist's house at the Lukosi preaching point. Instead, using the resources available in their location, the skills of their members, and their collective imagination they are flipping the script that says "we can't." Together, with God, "Tunaweza," they say. "We can and we will."
As guests and companions from the United States, this is where we are invited to walk along side - not to impose or to dictate - but to join them in achieving their goals. Concrete ring beams, iron sheets, and pikipikis all require significant amounts of cash; a friendly financial assist is always appreciated.
At the same time, our instinct to help shouldn't override our need to tread light and -occasionally- stop to consider a seedling. What other assets and innovations do we blindly walk by at home and abroad? What opportunities might lay before us to flip our own scripts that say "We can't" to "We can?" Together, with God, what dreams might we dare dream and what might we aspire to do?
With joy and gratitude,
The Rev. Peter Harrits
Director of Bega Kwa Bega & Assistant to the Bishop