What does it feel like to not have rain for eight months? There is a LOT of dust. The roofs all become one color, brown. The plants all become one color, brown. Most lawns do not consist of grass, just dirt. We mop the house multiple times a week, our feet won’t come clean, and when you blow your nose the snot is dark. (The one on the right has been scrubbed!!)
One of the things in the midst of Malawi’s dry season that really fascinates me is the mango tree. During the rainy season, it grows some leaves but no fruit. Then during the dry season that follows, it loses a lot of leaves.
Then after six months of no rain, it starts to grow leaves again and it flowers.
The most fascinating part is that after eight months of no rain, during the hottest months of the year, it grows big juicy fruits. In order for the tree to grow fruit it must have a water source. Last year most of the wells here in Malawi were dry due to two seasons without much rain. The water dam that produces electricity was almost dry and we were without power for 20+ hours per day, and yet the tree in our front yard produced more mangoes than the year before, juicy sweet fruit. Where does the water come from? There must be a root that goes down deep into the earth to find water. It reminds me that God created the mango tree to be able to survive in this climate. And He created all things to survive in the climate in which he placed them. And he Created man and all of our intricacies. And I don’t believe that the creation of man was a one-time thing, it is a continual creation of the person we are and will become.
Sometimes I feel like I am in a dry season. There isn’t a lot going on in my life, it feels like my life is covered in dust, and I am just dirty. 2015 was one of those seasons. Before coming to Malawi, I had left my job to be able to focus on developing partnerships and we had not raised enough money to move to Malawi. It was a strange feeling not having full time work. And then after arriving in Malawi we were getting our house set up, getting settled and learning the basics of the Chichewa language. We weren’t working with the kids yet. I didn’t understand why God had put me in a place that felt so dry. I heard the term ‘ambiguous loss’ from someone else and it explained exactly what I was feeling. I had lost the regularity of work and feeling like I had a purpose but I had not started the next phase of ministry. It was a season where my work was purely transitioning, for months. Yes, missionaries have ‘dry seasons’ too.
But just like the Mango tree, I was in a season where I was losing my leaves. My roots had to go very deep in order to survive. But during this dry time God was doing some preparation work in me and my roots had to go deep. First, the preparations included building relationships with people. This is something that I don’t do well, but without it here, we never would have met the right people to get started with our current ministries. Without relationships, we would not have the partners needed to fund the ministry we are doing.
Second, my joy for working with kids was rekindled. I longed to just go play games and run. Third, my faith and trust had also increased during this time. I know that the waiting was part of His plan and without the preparation season we would not be where we are with the ministries. I just needed to wait on God’s timing for the fruit. But I put my faith and trust in Him. Now we have begun the ministries and the fruit is coming. We see the children at Chankhungu Orphan Care Center preschool growing in their development and the teachers are using some of the educational tools that we have taught them. We see the relationships we have developed at GOGO orphanage.
Who am I to question God’s timing and judgement? I can’t! I won’t! He is all knowing. His love is deeper than any of us can imagine. Our minds are very finite and cannot fathom His greatness. When I am dry, He will fill my cup in His timing.
If you feel like you are dry, be patient. Keep pushing on and put your roots deep. God is still alive and working in you. Things can get gross, like our feet, and you may feel like it will never come clean. Do not fear. God’s love never fails.