On our third day of serving, we continued to help Santiago in the garden. Santiago (a transplant from the United States) has been living in Oaxaca and serving at FFHM for many years (at least 7). He met his wife in Oaxaca, and has two beautiful daughters. Besides his family, plants are Santiago’s passion. He worships God through participating in God’s creation and helping make plants grow. The mission, without the beautiful gardens and orchards, would be more desert than a slice of heaven. His contribution to the beauty and sustainability of the mission is astounding. He takes so much time and care, each day, to tend to creation the way God intended. Sometimes in our desire to be practical, frugal or efficient, we dismiss esthetics, forgetting how important landscaping or art can be, how healing, encouraging and peaceful. After working in the garden for two days, I really appreciate the mission that Santiago undertakes. (NOTE: He is currently working on a hydroponics project and greenhouse. If you have any expertise in these areas, he would love for you to volunteer. And if you love gardening in general, you will find a kindred spirit here.)
Our tasks for the day included raking fertilizer, digging up weeds and pruning grapefruit trees. In the dry dirt and hot sun, this task was more difficult for inexperienced gardeners than it first appeared, but we did a pretty good job in the end. Working in the garden inspired me to help my parents with their yard for a day. Working in the garden also inspired some of the other students to take their new skills back to their homes. Some of the students asked why we were cutting off the bottom branches to prune the tree. With my limited knowledge, I told them that plants grow better when they are pruned back. It allows the healthy branches to continue growing and bearing good fruit. I was reminded me of John 15:1-2, 5.
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit, he prunes so that it will become more fruitful..,, I am the vine and you are the branches. If a person remains in me and I in her, she will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”
I read the verses to the students and we reflected on the following questions. I invite you to join us in the reflection.
1. Which branches in your life are not bearing any fruit and need to be cut off? What habits or attitudes or situations does God want to cut out of your life?
2. In what ways are you bearing fruit in your life? Where are good things happening? What will God prune in your life so that you bear even more fruit?
Here are pictures of the beautiful plants and gardens around the mission at Foundation for His Ministries in Tlacolula, Oaxaca.