Monday, May 14, 2012

Harvesting Rice

Each morning as I go for a walk I pass by these rice fields that are just down from our house. At first I didn't know if they would make it due to the lack of rain. However, when the rains did come they began to flourish. As the stalks began to grow I would watch as old men, women, or even children would stand in the middle of the rice paddies for hours. They had rocks in their hand ready to throw at any bird trying to steal the grains. Then it was time to let the paddies dry out in anticipation of cutting the stalks and removing the rice. This went on for a couple weeks. (Other farmers were happy with the continued rain since it came late this season. However, those wanting to harvest rice were hoping for sun!)

The long awaited day came and as Bill and I went for a morning walk there they were cutting down the stalks. As we returned home they had stalks around their feet and were beating bundle after bundle on a rock to remove the rice. It was quite interesting to watch them as they worked hard with very primitive means of harvesting their rice. (Notice the rock they are using to beat the ends of the stalks to remove the rice.)

I've watched for months the process of planting the seedlings. The carrying buckets of water when the rain was late in coming. The steady growth of the stalks. The patience of the people as they stood hour after hour in the fields protecting the grain from birds. The arduous task of wading through muddy water - oftentimes with snakes in it - to cut the stalks. Then the final task of beating the rice off the stalks. A much worked for and anticipated harvest!

This reminds me of our ministry as missionaries. We plant the seed of the Gospel in the hearts of people. We water those seeds with the Truth of the Word. We then need to be patient and protect these new believers from the lies of the Enemy. We also wait with anticipation for the day when Jesus will return and the Great Harvest will take place. 

And another angel came out of the temple, crying 
with a loud voice to him that sat on the cloud, Thrust in 
thy sickle, and reap: for the time is come for thee to reap; for 
the harvest of the earth is ripe.
Revelation 14:15

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

People Watching

Downtown Mwanza, Tanzania

Don't you just love people watching?! Maybe at the mall when you sit down for a few minutes before you continue shopping. At a ballgame in between watching the game. Or perhaps it's in an airport. Wherever you find yourself enjoying a bit of people watching, it's always interesting.

Here in Africa I have done my fair share of people watching. Really it can't be helped. Much time is spent waiting. (If you know a patient missionary it's probably because they've done a lot of practicing!) Well, today I wasn't waiting, but rather I was walking. Walking is another thing we do a lot of. It is easier - and safer - to just park the car and walk to all the stops we need to make in town. Today was no different. So since we have to walk, why not enjoy it more by people watching! What struck me today was...

  • Two men holding hands. I remember when we made our survey trip to Kenya and I thought, "Wow, I had no idea there were so many g@y men here!" In actuality the custom is for men to hold hands in friendship. You won't catch them holding their wife's hand, but another man's - definitely.
  • Neckties for sale. There are street vendors all over the place selling their wares. I saw one guy who had a nice array of neckties. The part that made me smile was the fact that they were already tied and ready to be slipped over the head of the new owner. I can think of a few guys in our sending church who would like one of those!
  • Dressed for a wedding. Ladies here wear their nicest clothes when they go to town. I often feel way under dressed in my jean skirt and t-shirt. One lady today had on a bright pink dress with sequins.  
  • Seasonal clothing. You would think we don't have seasonal clothing in Africa, but nope. I often see men wearing a tobogon and a winter 80 degree weather! But then I also break out the sweatshirts when it gets anywhere below 75.
  • T-shirts with sayings. It's always interesting to read the sayings on people's shirts here. With the language here being Swahili, and most used shirts being sold in English, it can be quite hilarious to read what they say. One time I saw a man walking down the street with a shirt that had an arrow pointing down and the word BABY above it. 
People watching doesn't start, nor stop with this mzungu (white person). We are watched continuously. From the time I walk out of my gate I have people watching everything I do. I also know for a fact that they find our kizungu ways quite entertaining. 

"A merry heart doeth good like a medicine:"
Proverbs 17:22a