This is a recent picture of a big old fig tree that I originally photographed (below) about 2 months ago after a fire swept through the mission farm. I had been out the previous night trying to put out grass fires along a path I had been instructed to follow. Dwight had headed in a different direction. It was new territory to me and the path was not a well used one. All I had for light was a dim LED Dot-IT. As I stumbled along the winding path putting out little fires here and there, I came upon a strange sight. There stood a massive tree with sparks and fire shooting out of the long vertical cavity in its trunk. It was quite ominous. Downright threatening in the dark that night since I was alone in new territory--close to the revered ancestral graveyard I might add-- armed with only a dim little Dot-IT for light and a scrubby branch for self-protection. Neither of those would have been much help if I had come across something truly sinister! Nor were they of much comfort as I stood looking at the big tree, ablaze, and possibly about to crash to the ground! A pit formed in my stomach when I realized that the foot path I was following led straight UNDER the tree. I contemplated veering off the path, but knowing there are numerous poisonous snakes lurking about in the bush, and not wanting to get lost (remember Hansel and Gretel?), I decided the ‘under the tree’ option was my best bet. I studied the flaming scene for awhile. If I did it quickly, and with a prayer, I’d likely be fine. Not necessarily in that order though!
Since I’m now writing about this event, it’s obvious I survived it! Things are scarier in the dark, you know. I was determined the next day to retrace my steps to find that tree. I was sure it would be lying on the ground somewhere, a massive heap of charred wood and ashes. But when I got to the spot, there it was still standing, stark and bare against the late afternoon sky. I took a picture of it.
That tree had survived many fires in its lifetime, but I was pretty sure it would not remain standing much longer now. So I’ve kept my eye on it over the weeks.
Spring-time is now upon us and trees are busy putting their new green leaves proudly on display. The old fig tree, believe it or not, is still standing. Not only that, but it has put on a leafy display as well! Many of its branches are still bare, but I was amazed to see any sign of life at all! It’s sort of a miracle of nature. Although this tree faced the fierce trial of fire...one that in fact gutted it and left a gaping hollow in its center...it still stands.
AND it appears to still be fruitful. There’s a lesson here, but I won’t state the obvious.We witnessed another miracle recently too. A few posts back I mentioned about our residence permits and how we had missed the national ‘foreigner’s census’. Usually such things carry hefty fines and much legal red tape. We (and others) prayed, then we braced ourselves for the inevitable last week as we went in to the immigration department in Chimoio. Dwight has built relationships with the staff and directors of just about every government office in town since mission work requires extensive legal paperwork. When we walked in to the Immigration Dept. Director’s office, we were greeted with a warm smile, a hand shake and “Hey, how are things?” After some small talk, we explained that our annual permit renewal time was up, but that somehow we had missed the census. The director flipped through our permits then said, “It’s simple. We’ll just do the census at the same time as the renewal. No problem.” Our relief was guarded though, since the process still lay before us. But we thanked the Lord just the same.
To cut a lengthy story short, after filling out a variety of forms, photocopying passports, etc. in triplicate, meeting with the Director of Religious Affairs and making repeated trips to town to first see this official, then that one, we finally got our permits renewed AND we got the shiny little sticker that proves we’ve completed the census. That tiny sticker that we didn’t have a few weeks ago and that brought our long trip to South Africa to a premature and grinding hault. Yes, THAT sticker. That sticker tells the story not only of our most recent trial, but of older, bigger trials we’ve come through as well! It tells of stories with a common happy ending...we’re still standing!