Today we took a trip to the District of Montepuez and to 3 different villages – Obaju, Nicanda and Montepuez. The three places were very different with completely different settings. Obaju is a remote village at the end of a dirt track, Nicanda a village set out along a main(ish) road, and Montepuez is the district town or some may say city, although we would definitely still class it as a large village.
As different as these Mozambican villages were the people had one thing in common – a sense of hope and expectation.
In Obaju we were shown to a plot of land where 19 different trees had been planted. Tangerines, oranges, grapefruit, mangoes, guava and lychee’s. These fruit trees were given to the village ALEMO group by TLM with the hope that they would harvest them to help support self sufficiency in the group. They were specifically planted close the the well area, where many holes showed signs of past wells having been dug and abandoned once dried up. We looked at the current well in use by the village and talked to the villagers and group members about the importance that water plays in their lives. We are currently at the end of the rainy season (or so we are told when we get caught in the odd heavy downpour!) and everywhere is green and full of life. However by June it will all have turned brown once again and the soil will have turned back to dust. Incidentally the Mozambicans really struggle to understand the concept that we have rain all year round in the UK and subsequently the greenery stays green!
When I asked what they do with the fruit they harvest, the group members laughed and said they haven’t yet got a harvest as the trees were only planted there last year. So I asked when they expected their first harvest, and got the reply that it would hopefully be next year or maybe the year after. There are two people who are responsible for tending to the trees during the three long years before harvest, and this responsibility extends to watering these 19 trees during the upcoming dry season. Without this watering the trees would struggle to survive and they certainly wouldn’t flourish. Water is such a precious resource, something we might find hard to fully comprehend, and during the dry season the whole day can be taken up with the pursuit of a water source. So for these two men to spend their time and energy locating water and then using it on trees instead for themselves seems hugely selfless. And at the end of the day they have no idea whether or not the trees will actually produce fruit that is good enough to harvest and sell.
But they have hope, they have expectations, they have faith. Just the group at Nicanda as they faithfully wait and apply for their identity papers and the Montepuez group plan for a future grinding mill project. They cannot see whether or not their hard work and dedication will be rewarded but they carry on with such admirable faith.
As I sat on the bumpy ride back to town I thought of all the times when I have felt like giving up, when it has felt like I am ploughing on without seeing any fruit or getting any positive results. It can be tough, in whatever you are doing, to keep going when you see nothing for your hard work. But it is during this time that God is hard at work behind the scenes. He is growing and developing us like the trees in Obaju, he is rewarding our faithfulness and our hope in a future harvest. And although the fruit may not harvest as we had expected, our faith and determination will never go unnoticed or unappreciated.