Monthly Archives: November 2014

Our Papaya Tree

Recently David transplanted a papaya tree that was growing on the side of our house and the roots were growing into the foundation of our house. The tree had popped up during rainy season while we were gone and there was a ton of brush by our house so we didn’t see it until recently.
We have a friend, Immanuel, who has a disease where it causes him to not be able to walk very well or talk well, but we hired him to clear the brush from our house. He is a great worker. He is always on time and despite his disability he does a great job at clearing brush. Out of all things you would never guess that is what he would be good at, but it is. His tool of choice is a machete. He does his job in plastic shoes which are cracked open and they expose a couple of his toes, but this is normal here.

After Immanuel finished his job we found the papaya tree and David told Immanuel not to chop it down because we wanted to transplant it. The tree was relatively young so it had a shot at surviving a transplant. David decided to plant it in front of the kitchen window so I had something else to see besides the wall while I did the dishes. If you know me and David, we don’t have much gardening experience (it’s a shame, I know, but it’s unfortunately reality). We didn’t think it would be a hard task so he dug it up and reburied the tree and put a bunch of water on it. It didn’t seem like rocket science.

The next day we saw our papaya tree bent down and the leaves were looking like withered lettuce. Great, I thought… every time I do the dishes I will have to see our poor tree die a slow death. I watered the tree because I didn’t know what else to do.

The next day it looked even worse! The leaves were all brown and it was bent even more. I just resigned that the tree was going to die. Our neighbors, who have the biggest green thumb I’ve ever seen (they got radishes to grow here! A plant already tried by other missionaries that failed before) came over and said, yeah it probably was just a little too big to survive the transplant. I gave up on watering the tree if it was going to die anyway. So I slowly watched the tree lose every branch it had. Every day I would wonder when the tree would just shrivel and wither away. After it’s last branch fell off I was guessing it would only be a couple more days until it would die. It had been a week or so since I had watered it. It’s dry season now so all the once green grass surrounding our house and neighboring the papaya tree is now brown and withering away.

I enjoy papaya, especially with a hint of lime, and I like the idea of papaya growing where I don’t have to pay for it! I was bummed because if only this tree had started out a couple feet away from our house it would be healthy and thriving and we might have had papayas eventually.

A couple days ago the tree started growing brand new bright green leaves on top of it. It doesn’t have branches like it did before, but it’s starting back at the beginning of it’s leaf growing process (sorry for my extremely technical gardening terms… just kidding).

Today I did the dishes and now the bright green leaves are a dark green color that my neighbor says is very good and the tree will probably survive. I started watering and dreaming about papayas again.

I learn a lot from nature. Sometimes nature doesn’t make sense to me, but those are the times when I stop and think about how it could possibly be that way. Like my papaya tree still growing in the middle of Africa during dry season without water for more than a week. Of course, the tree had to sacrifice for the greater good of things. It’s almost like it knew the goal was to survive and so it knew it didn’t have the root system yet to support all the branches and leaves. Then it had to start from the beginning again. It looks really funny with such a tall trunk and just a small tuft of leaves on top of it, but it’s still alive.

Nature always brings me back to God and what lessons He is trying to tell me now. Often times I feel transplanted by growing up in one place and one culture and then being moved to a different place with a totally different culture. I have to grow my root system again and sometimes I get caught up in complaining about losing my branches and everything I remember as being familiar and forget the point of it all. I am growing where God wants me. Spiritually we all go through this when we accept Jesus’ plan for our lives. We leave the old and shed it off so to speak and start fresh again. Its hard, but rewarding. I’m thankful for our Papaya tree outside our kitchen window reminding me of the lessons God is teaching me.


With love,

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Sabbath rest has been much needed… We tried our first round of in-house kids this week. The last several weeks we’ve been trying to get someone who needs the in-house services, but for one of several reasons, it hasn’t worked out. Either they came in to the center too late and died, or we took them to the hospital for medical care, or best of all, they listened to all Sarah’s advice over the week before they were to stay with us, the baby gained a kilo, and didn’t need to stay anymore!

We had all seen a really bad baby at the hospital on Monday, and invited them down if possible on Tuesday to get on the program. They arrived late, in the heat of the day, and we got them settled. We started feedings, and then Sarah and I were going to stick around for a while just to make sure things were going good while Mike & Chris took care of some errands up at the market and hospital.

I didn’t want to just sit around doing nothing for a couple hours, so I ran back home to get the iPad and Internet phone. Just as I was leaving home to go back, Sarah called me to say, “Come back quick, the baby died…” I rushed back and immediately went to the baby looking for the pulse, for breathing. The chest was moving, but there was no pulse and I couldn’t find a breath. The grandma was busy working the eyelids closed, and finally I saw the eyes: all white. I resigned myself, but wanted to try one last effort of CPR. I positioned the baby and got 2 pumps before they told me it was too late, and not to worry about it. A respectful “let the baby die with honor” kind of attitude. So we just sat there with them. Mike and Chris showed up shortly afterwards (Sarah had called them too), and they cried together with the parents. Since there were both parents and her mother, we wanted to make a gesture and take them home to their village several hours walk away by truck instead.

I came back and got Jonathan’s new Land Cruiser, then picked them all up and drove them home, picking up a couple brothers we happened upon on the way. We all sat with them for about an hour, then I talked to the father and asked him to come to the center in 6 months to show us his new baby, to be born in a month or two. We gathered together with the extended family, prayed for and with them, then got ready to go. We gave them a customary gift of cash to help out, but they gave us a live chicken as a sign of gratitude for trying what we could. They live in the next town over from where we’re starting the Bible School on Sunday, so we pray they might be led to the School and through it to Christ.

The next day I woke up with a fever and diarrhea. Over the course of the day, the fever spiked as high as 103.2, even after I started the malaria meds. I was without strength all day, and Sarah was busy starting work with another new baby for the Center. I once was ruling on the throne and started getting an overwhelming sense I was about to throw up. No buckets around = trouble. Praise God I was listening to a sermon about prayer, and started to pray and pray; the more I prayed, the less vomitous I felt, until I, still extremely nauseous, stepped off the throne and made it to our porch before I collapsed. Sweat dripping down my body, I plied every unnecessary piece of clothing from my body. Then a cool breeze came and cooled me down a little. I got the strength to text Sarah, who eventually got Mike to come and give me some ibuprofen to knock the fever down, which worked incredibly! More than 3 degrees lost in a couple hours. It went up to 102.0 before bed, but the next morning the fever was gone, leaving only the diarrhea, nausea, etc.

Now I’m feeling almost completely better. We don’t have any responsibilities at church today, so we’re going to go to the river and just take some quiet time with ourselves and God, and recharge a little. It’s amazing how easy it is to forget to pray and take time with God even here where life’s pace is much slower. But God has still been faithful to us. We have every reason to thank Him! I’d like to share some of His blessings in our work (more my work) this week, but I’ll have to another time because otherwise I’ll just start thinking about it all and it won’t be a Sabbath anymore for me. Plus Sarah’s just about ready to go to the river, and I have some things I need to put together for the trip too.

God bless, and we love you!
David (& Sarah)

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Isaiah 6:8


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Isaiah 6:8

Olen and Danae

Isaiah 6:8