It is still winter in North Carolina but some of you are already pouring over seed catalogs in anticipation of spring planting and summer harvesting.  Very few of us are dependent on what we produce.

In Dodoma, Tanzania in the central plateau what the people grow is what they eat.  From past entries you know that there are two seasons in Central Tanzania ~ a long dry season and an unpredictable wet season.  When the rains came in December the students went to their villages and their shambas (farms) to plant maize, cassava, sorghum, millet, rice and beans.  The soil is sandy and lacking in nutrients and 70% of Tanzania’s crop area is cultivated by back-breaking hand hoes.  (See Jessie’s picture).  Imagine the heartbreak when the rains were too sparse and their crops withered and died.  Now the rains have returned and their prayer continues to be for the right amount ~ too little and their crops will die; too much and the seeds will be washed away and the roofs of their mud huts will cave in.  Those students who could scrape enough money together to buy more seeds have replanted.  Some could not.  It is a matter of life and death.  The maize they grow is similar to corn we would feed livestock.  They grind it into flour and use it to make ugali, a sort of grits-like paste that along with rice is their staple.  Most people in Dodoma do not eat to enjoy food; they eat to fill their stomachs and survive.  Moses Matonya wrote on February 1st that there has been no rain for two weeks and they are desperate .  “Increase your prayers please so that it may come soon before the crops dry,” he wrote.

The good people at Holy Comforter in Burlington are having a “Seed Sunday” on March 6th to raise money for seeds.  Of course we cannot take seeds with us but we will be able to take them the money for the next planting season.   As you mentally plant your summer garden, please think about these people who in spite of depravation and hunger remain generous and faithful to God.  “Even if we starve we have God and He is enough.”

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