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Archive for the ‘planting trees’ Category

In the past week, the rapture/end of the world had come and gone without much fanfare…. During this cataclysmic week, against the backdrop of the world ending, a young girl in our school—3 year old Ramona—suddenly became an orphan. A week ago, her mother (Faith) died in a most ridiculous accident. She had taken Ramona out to dinner after school and they were returning to the home they shared in the country with Faith’s parents. Faith was out of the car closing the gate and somehow the truck rolled backwards and pinned her underneath, with the weight of it pressing into her head. She died underneath the truck while Ramona sat crying inside it. Over half an hour passed before the situation was discovered by the grandparents…I can’t imagine their shock to come upon the horrific scene of their dead daughter pinned beneath the truck, and wailing grand-daughter sitting in the front seat.

Little Ramona and her youngest auntie

It has been a heartbreaking week for all of us. Little Ramona has been out of school, surrounded by the love of her grandparents (who she will continue to live with) and her aunties. We went to Faith’s funeral yesterday. She was only 24–very bright by all accounts and about to graduate from the law school at Moi University. She was a great help to her parents, assisting them in the running and management of their farm. The funeral was held outside in their yard, with many tents erected for shade and her casket on display. (I could only glance and then walk away…just too sad). I would guess that there were between 500 to 1000 people there, ranging from young university professionals to old “mamas” with their heads tied in colorful cloth and stretched and dangling earlobes from their younger tribal days.

Their farm was beautiful. I always love being out in the Kenyan countryside; and even in the midst of the sad occasion, I couldn’t help but enjoy the bright sun, red dirt roads, cornfields, wooden work shacks with clean dirt floors, and the beautiful Eucalyptus trees.

Some of the mamas at the funeral

It was a Catholic funeral, African style; which means that it went almost all day long, with preaching, tributes, offerings, serving of communion, singing songs, and eating food, as well as other formalities that I did not understand. The priest mentioned Harold Camping in his sermon. I am annoyed by how much publicity that thing got, even making its way to a rural funeral in east Africa, with some people in this area getting rid of all their possessions in preparation for being beamed up out of here! (For the record, I believe that the “rapture” doctrine as well as much popular “end time” teaching is based on misunderstanding of figurative biblical language and historical context in which the New Testament was written). Don’t mean to offend anyone with that rant; I many of us grew up with this view, including myself, and I know it may still be a dearly held belief for some reading this….There is a lot more we could discuss on this issue, but I would rather (at least for the purpose of this blog) move on to other subjects.

Lucia Sol Otero

During this same apocalyptic week, my sister gave birth to the first grandchild for my parents. The one they have been waiting for…for too long! I was totally unprepared for the emotions that flooded my heart. Part of me wants to leave Africa right now so I can get home and just be with my family and hold that sweet little baby!

Lucia Sol was born several days past her due date, making her grand entrance on May 24, 2011; Bob Dylan’s 70th birthday…the significance of which you would appreciate only if you knew my family! We ALL love Dylan, as any of our extended family friends of any age can attest–being subjected to “Like a Rolling Stone” or “Tweeter and the Monkey Man” whether they wanted to hear it or not! So, all day long on the 24th, I was already in full celebration mode for my brother Bob…and then the icing on the cake was for Lucia to make her grand entrance.

All week I have been floating high on a cloud of baby-sweetness, singing “Forever Young” and “Jokerman” and “Precious Angel” and “Visions of Johanna” and “Lord Protect My Child” and 100 other Dylan songs. I am thinking about writing a blog just on Lucia/Dylan. For all you folks that are groaning right now, I apologize in advance. You can always skip that blog if you are one of the people who could never get past his voice. (If that is you, I recommend just reading through one of his lyric books. It might help you gain at least a rudimentary appreciation for him. If that don’t help ya, I don’t know what will).

On that note, I guess I will just close this section as I did the first one: There is a lot more we could discuss on this issue, but let’s just move on! ha ha!

A perfect ending to the end of the world

Allen (one of my star actors) digging a hole for his seedling

Five days after the end of the world, the older students at EERC planted 100 seedlings on the road leading into the school property, creating a tiny new forest of avocado, cedar, teak, and other baby trees all mingled together.

Kids and seedlings

There is a nursery just a stone’s throw from where we were planting, and so we got all our seedlings from there. I love that EERC has such a holistic and hands-on vision for education. It is one thing to learn about all the benefits of trees in a textbook; but it is another thing entirely to actually plant a tree yourself. Before we planted the trees, we asked the students to give us some good reasons why we wanted to plant trees. These kids were sharp! For wind protection, they told us—as well as shade, medicine and food, protection from soil erosion and renewal of the air. And don’t forget beauty!

Gardeners' hands

I couldn’t help but think of the old adage, that a man has begun to discover the meaning of human life when he plants shade trees under which he knows full well he will never sit.

“Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree” said Martin Luther.

An orchard in the making

And so I bless these trees: May their roots go down deep and may they grow into a grand old orchard, outliving even the children who planted them. May they provide medicine, shade and food for future generations. And may the children who planted the trees also become medicine, shade and food for future generations. May they grow into “trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord” and may the tree of life be found in their mouth; may they be healers of their nation and of Africa and of this world. Amen.

“Our ordinary mind always tries to persuade us that we are nothing but acorns and that our greatest happiness will be to become bigger, fatter, shinier acorns; but that is of interest only to pigs. Our faith gives us knowledge of something better: that we can become oak trees.” – E.F. Schumacher

….And to that I add—not just one oak tree, but a forest of oak trees! One seed hidden in the heart of an apple is an orchard invisible.

Getting seedlings

Lillian and kids

Our own fertilizer recycled from the school's milk cows

Maxwell with his tree

Ivy and her little sister Faith--2 bright eyed girls

Waiting to get their seedlings to plant

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