Friday, December 28, 2012

Small Miracles

Yesterday I was out tilling up the ground outside my house with a pick-axe, bringing good dirt from Jean Wilbert's garden into my yard. Just a stones throw from me, several young men were playing a Haitian form of poker, squatting and huddled in a circle on the ground while they gambled. 
They saw Wilbert and I working, but none of them offered to help. They asked questions, like why Wilbert bothers with me, moving dirt from here to there and nonsense such as that. In fact, one man even walked straight up to me and held out his cell phone in my face. He pushed the record button and stood there recording me as I worked, swinging the pick. Apparently it was a sight to see, the White, sweating.  One man did pick up a shovel, but asked me first for money.  

"I'm helping Wilbert.  He's helping me.  If you help Wilbert, he will help you."  I said.  
It wasn't good enough.  The man lost interest and eventually dropped the shovel, returning to the cards. 

It went without saying that I hadn't made much headway into my community. 

But an agronomist missionary friend of mine told me a month or so ago about a tree that grows naturally in Haiti, called the Moringa. He'd learned of it while working in Nigeria. It grows naturally in what happens to be some of the most poverty stricken areas in the world, but hardly anyone knows about it.   

The facts he presented me were astounding. The health and nutrition benefits of what's come to be called the 'miracle tree' are off the charts. It's a superfood of sorts, and you can actually use the entire tree, from the root to the bark, from the seeds to the leaves. 

It doesn't need great soil. It doesn't need alot of water. You can feed it to your fish or your livestock, you can even fertilize with it. It is an extremely giving tree.
But here's where the miraculous comes in: 

Each ounce of Moringa has the calcium equivalent of 4 glasses of milk, the vitamin C of 7 oranges, the potassium of 3 bananas, 3 times the iron of spinach, 4 times the amount of vitamin A in carrots, and twice the protein in milk.

Are you kidding me?!

I'd asked Tikilene if she could find me a tree, and it just so happens her sister has one in her yard, so yesterday we cut some branches down.  

This morning I gave some to Wilbert to plant in his garden and around his house.  Then I walked over to the house I'd just visited in the night with the screaming kids and asked if I could plant it in her front yard.  

I told them about this little tree, and how good it is for fighting infections and malnourishment, how in America you'd pay about $30 US/pound for the powder from these leaves.  Then I went back to pick-axing the ground with Wilbert.  

Before I knew it, a few young men were standing around, then some women, then a whole mess of kids.   Wilbert was telling them all about this tree and what it could mean for their community.    I set down my work and went into my house, then reappeared with a bucket full of fish-water and a handful of fertilizer.   I cared for Wilbert's Moringa's that he'd just planted, and then I fertilized and watered the house of the people who seem most opposed to our existence here.  
At first when they watched me sprinkling the fertilizer and water, I think they thought I was performing some kind of reverse-voodoo ritual or spell.   I can't tell you how tempted I was to give a little one-legged hop and a twirl with a few chants of some Bible verse, just to watch their mouths drop to the floor... but nevertheless I did refrain. 

The entire time I was being watched.  I came back to the pick-axe, picked it up, and went right back to work.

Wilbert was still talking about the vitamins in the plant. There was a pause as they absorbed everything he was saying while watching me swing the pick...
and then one young man came over and stood next to me, picked up a shovel, and began to dig.   
I was shocked, but I kept on swinging the pick.  Thud...Thud...Thud...breaking into this Haiti ground.  Breaking into these hearts...
It's a shame we live under the curse, but I do still enjoy the work of laboring in the field...
Another man walked over next to me and picked up Wilbert's pick-axe.  He swung it heavy over his shoulders and buried it up to the shaft into the earth.   Thud!  Thud!  Thud!

I looked at one of the women.   There was a smile.  I looked at Wilbert.  There was a great big grin.  
The woman with all of the children walked up to me with her hands on her hips...
"Are you still taking my kids to church on Sunday?"
"Yes."  I said.
"They don't have shoes."  She said.
"God loves us, shoes or no shoes.  If the Pastor has a problem with these kids he has a problem with me."
The truth is, he doesn't have to worry about me at all.  He'll have an much bigger problem with God.

When the work was finished, these men didn't stand waiting for me to pay them.  They waved goodbye to me and walked away.  Not one of them asked me for a single goude.

My prayers continue, that someday soon in this place, God's Word will have the same such impact as this little Miracle Tree, to cause a buzz from home to home, to bring people out from the woodwork to see with their own eyes, to cause people to lower their guards and open their hearts, to bring such authentic smiles of hope and joy. 
That men would be so motivated to join with me in swinging an axe for the Lord so that together we can break real ground in Haiti. 
My God made this tree. 

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