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Saturday, April 18, 2009


Tomorrow we will celebrate Heidi's birthday, with mangos. She requested a mango dessert, so today I made two lovely pies. A heap of fruit that a few hours ago was growing on a tree a few yards from my kitchen door now cools under the criss-cross lattice of crust. Tomorrow morning's milk, minutes from being inside the cow, will be mixed with a few eggs sold off the excess from the chicken project across the street and flavored with vanilla grown on a local farm. Then we will churn it in a hand-cranked freezer surrounded by ice we've been stockpiling in our emptying fridge. The pie and ice cream dessert will follow a dinner that includes avocados from another tree in the yard, and lemons from a third, on tortillas made from scratch and sprinkled with cilantro from our garden and lettuce from Nathan's. The beauty of accumulating a meal from resources which are largely within a stone's throw is one of the aspects of missionary life I love, both for the challenge of combining limited ingredients and for the freshness of being forced to use locally grown ones.

This is a hungry time of year in Africa, the rains have begun but the fruit of last season's harvest has dwindled. Our elderly neighbor came asking for food this morning. A group of our boys spent a post- soccer hour shaking down the mango tree mid-day for ripe fruit, then Julia's friends showed up in the late afternoon to collect even more. I'm thankful the tree is having a bumper year to bless our friends, for these kids is it not an expendable pie to celebrate a birthday but perhaps the only food until dinner they can get their hands on. It is hard to imagine surviving here without our cow and her milk, and as thankful as I am for our small garden and few fruit trees we lean heavily on our cash to purchase food that others can not. Last night I was called by a doctor from UNICEF, who slowly and indirectly and politely made it clear that the organization is hesitating to re- supply our nutrition unit. The indirect and Africa-correct reason: all their stocks are designated by donors for the LRA-affected areas in the north. The real reason: I don't know, but I'm hoping to make a personal visit on the way to Kenya, to stop in their office and beg.

And so the classic and constant tension of savoring the richness of a golden mango and a creamy flow of milk, while strenuously advocating for the listless and scabby kids whose mothers drag them into the hospital as a place of last resort. East African population growth leads the world, and Uganda leads East Africa, so that today's paper reported that 8.8 million more people were hungry in this region than when we arrived about sixteen years ago. This place can produce both a fruitful tree, and yet the even more fruitful population means that hunger continues to rise, that abundance slips behind want.

Pray that we would enjoy the bounty of God's good earth with grateful hearts, and that we would use the ensuing energy to strive for justice.

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