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.