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pictureToday we worked in the classrooms with all 300 children. I presented a Bible story time about how Jesus is the Light we need to share and not keep in our hearts.  I was using a puppet dog named Scruffy to help teach. When I brought out the puppet in the kindergarten class, two of the girls in the front row jumped back and clung to each other thinking this puppet, which looks nothing like a real animal, was alive! I had to do some quick thinking and show them my hand was indeed controlling the puppet. Two other team members taught the students the song “This Is the Day the Lord Has Made.” One very bright fourth grade student wrote down every word. Later he brought it to me and asked me to sing it. Then he so sweetly asked, “What does this song mean?” I explained to him that God made this day for him because God loves him. And he replied, “Oh, yes, God.” And to see 300 children on the yard playing soccer, football, frisbee, jump rope and several other games with three very energetic young ladies in our group…now that was an “Oh-my” moment.  My favorite thing that happened today was when we prayed with our sister Abainish who lives in Roggie. In a village filled with Muslims, Abainish courageously proclaims Jesus’ name! She is my hero.

The Garden

pictureOver the weeks as we planned our Roggie trip, some of us had worked specifically on plans to put together a demonstration garden to encourage them to use their well water to provide food, especially because between harvests and during droughts there is still great hunger.   I considered that we might face any of a number of hurdles that would hinder it being valuable for them.  What if the village didn’t want a garden or didn’t understand that it would work?  We’d heard they had past fears about the water running out or about watering plants at all because of experiences watering with salty water that killed plants.  We figured planting inside the school compound would be our only real option and wondered if the school teachers would have the time or inclination to maintain it (with help from the school children, of course).   And what if they don’t like the vegetables that we’d brought to plant?  And what if it’s too much work for us to turn the soil, make the rows, construct the drip systems and plant all in 2 days?

Yesterday as they showed us around, we saw they had already some vegetable beds growing and being watered with well water – some nursery beds of tomatoes, beets and peppers that were growing fairly well and would supply a lot of seedlings for villagers to plant elsewhere.   So, discarding my worries about any village fear of using the water on plants, I joined Mike and Peter gathering up our tools, our drip system hose and materials, the fertilizer we’d just bought in Arsi Negele (closest town), and we headed out to the garden site.

pictureA number of the teachers immediately joined us and ended up carrying most of the stuff.  In fact, as the day proceeded, they never waited for an invitation (forget about my worry about coaxing their participation).  Every time we started a task, they’d jump in as soon as they could see what we were doing and continue it for us.  Whether soil testing or drilling the outlets in the buckets (5 gallon buckets on stands to feed the drip lines) or hooking up the drip system tubing to the buckets, they picked up the method quickly and practically grabbed the tools out of our hands and took over.  They made quick studies and were always immediately but graciously ready to take over. 

So much for the rest of my concerns:

  • Zenebe had hired someone with oxen to plow the bed ahead of time (check that one off!)
  • They had formed raised beds already with the soil well-tilled (check)
  • They had assigned the teacher with the best English (Tachale), who also happened to be an accomplished farmer, to be primary in responsibility for the garden.  He stayed with us every moment we worked on it (and continued when we were not there, also)
  • Other teachers and a few men employed by the school also helped us much of the time.  Any time we had something heavy or bulky to carry or were digging or engaged in any manual effort, a few of the men would jump in and take over.
  • Zenebe had gardening tools waiting for us.  Knowing we had to drill the buckets, he had a small generator and power drill brought along (we didn’t get to use our ancient hand brace!).  He had his students design, build and paint sturdy metal stands for the drip system buckets.

It began to seem like our part in making this garden happen would almost be trivial.  God had seen to it all in advance.

pictureNot only did the men quickly understand the drip system construction and jump in to help, but they completed more of it than we did.  By the time we stopped for lunch, we’d laid out the bucket stands, drilled and fitted them to receive the tubing, laid out and hooked up the drip lines for 2 beds (each with 8 lines).  But by the time we got back from lunch they had completed 4 more beds…without us!

So we just spent the rest of the day standing around looking important.  Just kidding.  We hooked up 7 systems in all, covering all the prepared beds (each about 10 x 50).  Each had a bucket and stand with 8mm tubing from the bucket bottom into a “sub-main” of 1” soft vinyl tubing (this was thin-walled—we would connect by poking a nail hole in it and then coaxing the 8mm hard tubing into it).  Each sub-main fed 8 drip lines (3/4” soft vinyl with slits each foot).  No fancy fittings, just poking the 8mm tubing into the sub-main and then poking 5mm tubing into sub-main with the other end poked into drip line.   Drip line and sub-main ends were closed up just by folding and cramming it into short pieces of the same.  So we had drips all along the line and drips at each join.   Lots of drips!  We tested the lines with water, repaired and straightened as necessary.  

pictureWe prepared to head back to the Sabana resort.  It had been a good day with much accomplished –the entire garden now had operational drip systems. 

We were ready and boarding the bus, but where’s 13-year-old Lindsey?  She appeared from beyond the school house with mother Marcy and about 300 kids in tow!  I think we’ve found an athletic director for Roggie!