One year…. Two seasons…. Mango season, and non-mango season. The first morning when I stepped out of our AirBnB and onto the street, I walked 2 feet and started to see mangoes hanging from every limb. Is every tree here either palm or mango?
The bunches of mangoes are at every level, every height. If you aren’t paying attention you are sure to run into them when walking down the sidewalk. Without fail people flock to the streets after lunch time to treasure hunt. Some use long poles strung together with ropes to poke the mangoes down for their afternoon snack. Walking the streets mango pits lay used, discarded… enjoyed.
The cool of morning is relative. The humidity coming over the city like a consuming cloud every passing minute. Anxious excitement was what I felt as I walked. Fruit bearing…
I could see, smell, feel the Lord assuring me that there was fruit waiting to be picked in this city. Oh, Lord, show me where to pick.
The mangoes were more than abundant. Our back patio has a very mature mango tree that gave us hundreds and hundreds of ripe fruit in the half-a-year season when we first arrived. The first six months having new connections and relationships seemingly drop.
Not even “ripe for the pickin’”... for a period of 4 months having so many relationships and opportunities just happen without much “pole poking” or picking. So much interest in what we were doing here, and wanting to know about God. We planted a church and started inviting the friends we had made. At one point we had 44 people come to a social in our home. Raining mangoes!
What we weren’t prepared for was the dry season. The dry season is also non-mango time. Six months pass with absolutely no rain. The winds start up in December and come in with a dry fury. The strong sun shines continuously. Clouds whipping by in the sky like commuters. The grass withers and turns to hay. In contrast, the trees show no sign of drought. Their branches cycling through with leaves falling and flowers popping up endlessly. Long roots stretching down deep into the soil with a reservoir of nourishment.
The dry, windy season began and at first the changes were not noticeable. We had to start watering our grass for the first time in six months, but the effects of no rain had already taken hold of the grass roots. Within 2 months our back patio grass was gone. At first beige, and then just mud. Much like the grass in dry season we have experienced in our relationships. Many people have asked to get together, and shown interest, but within a month or two they are gone. They seemed ready, seemed to be seeking after a relationship with the Lord, but it seems the commitment proved too much to bear…..fruit.
We have had scores and scores of people interested in English classes, but after a while we started noticing a trend. Their need was to use us for English, but nothing more. Even the commitment to an English time seemed too much, a great idea buried beneath life’s true priorities. Reality has been that the majority of people we have invited in, are sojourners. The wind that rapidly brought them into our lives quickly moved them on.
I want to be like the tree year-round. Rooted and established in love, as Paul says in Ephesians 3.
It has caused some sadness and caution on our part. When hearing someone say “for sure… of course we’ll be there”, we have started to not get our hopes up as much. We stopped telling the kids that so-and-so said they were coming. It has been difficult for us, and even more so for the kids to deal with the disappointment of their new friends just disappearing.
We have a core group of new Believers that continue to show up to our church service. Around 15 people seem to be committed, and come back every week. In our flesh we see these numbers and are discouraged after a year of being here. Our Heavenly Father has challenged us, instructing us to see with His eyes. Our vision is blurry, and short-cited. He gives us new lenses to see with fresh perspective.
I want to be like the tree year-round. Rooted and established in love, as Paul says in Ephesians 3. My roots stretched deep down into the soil reaching my source of nourishment in a drought. My source of nourishment in the rainy season as well. This feeding doesn’t change throughout the year. To the tree, regardless of the time of year, the roots soak in the needed water.
Our prayers have changed. We have stopped praying for numbers. We have stopped praying for a ministry. We have begun praying that God would give us eyes to see what He sees. Lord, give us eyes to see people the way you see them. Show us how to love like you love. We are beginning to understand that the amount of people is superfluous if the heart is not in it. What good does it do to meet with 100 people in our home if they aren’t seeking after God with their hearts? If we aren’t seeking after God with our hearts?
It has been a time of testing our faith. Constantly praying and asking God to lead us in the right direction. One of those clear directions has been the little homeschool community. Week after week a group of us get together to learn together. Sometimes the Lord wants us to walk beside people and be patient. What if He wants us to be an example of His unconditional love? What if that means living out Christ’s love and praying for those you see every week. Caring for them and their needs in an unselfish way. Can we be faithful if it means waiting for the drought to end? Can we be faithful if the tree is so young it doesn’t bear fruit for a few years?
“Faith is being sure of what we hope for. It is being certain of what we do not see.”
Lord, give us faith to continue. Thank you for your hope. Thank you for your vision and nourishment in any season, mango or non. To God be the glory.