Sean’s World

If anyone who reads our blog actually knows Sean, you’ll know “he’s a hard worker” is an understatement. The man rarely stops. I catch him talking in his sleep at night about “save those seeds” or “How far is it to the river?” (Really?!)
He doesn’t have to scheme or weasel his way into people’s lives. He just shows up. He goes to church for prayer meeting on Thursday, and gets asked to “share a word” with everyone on Friday. He shows up at Magongo’s garden. And the 77 year old man shares a journal entry he wrote about marriage and the love he had for his wife shortly after she passed away. Sean shows up and Magongo’s grown daughter asks him to help her plant a garden – permaculture style. Upon seeing the layers of mulch over the newly dug beds, Magongo (who has farmed for about 75 years, not permaculture-style) says, “Oh but you will find grass growing under that mulch. It’s still growing, you just can’t see it.” Sean, Ncamsile (the daughter), and Magongo all become curious if weeds were taking root under the mulch, so they pulled up some mulch, peered underneath, and found nothing but moist brown earth.
“Ha!” Magongo said, “I’m going to start using this…”
On one of his trips to visit Magongo’s, Sean saw another neighbor and church member picking in his field by the river. He stopped, hopped off the motorbike, and started chatting with babe Gwebu. For 20 minutes they rattle back in forth, trying to understand each other in siSwati. Sean knew some of his studying had paid off because Gwebu talks fast and he could actually understand most of what they talked about! He learned that Gwebu quit his job. He had been working over an hour away, but would now garden at home. Using the treadle pump Sean sold him months ago, Gwebu planned to pump water from the river that sits less than 150 meters from his beds.
Excited about yet-another church member dabbling into small-scale agriculture, Sean said, “I’ll help you dig tomorrow.” So he woke up before the sun, rolled out of bed, and showed up at Gwebu’s field. For hours they took turns picking up the land. (We’re talking a pick. Like swing-it-over-your-head-and-smash-it-down-to-disturb-5-inches-of-ground-at-a-time-pick!)
Last week Thimkhosi stopped Sean after church and asked Sean for any help or ideas. With 6 or 7 kids (we get mixed messages, but it’s possible he’s caring for a relative’s child, which explains 7) at his home, he and his wife are struggling to feed them all and pay for school. They both work. Their meager-paying jobs just don’t seem to cut it. Thimkhosi hasn’t paid his children’s tuition fees since January, so the teachers are hassling his kids. No one in their family is plump, and his wife’s beautiful, yet taunt face tells a story of doing without, so the children have. Sean and I discussed ideas many times. Since we go to church with Thimkhosi and his wife, we feel an extra importance comes in caring for each other well.
Sean kept hunting down Thimkhosi and asking a few more questions.
“What skills do you and your wife have?”
“What can you do well?”
“How do you imagine adding another job to your 5.5 days a week schedule?”
“Do you need money urgently, or are you just looking to begin something that brings extra income in?”
After missing Thimkhosi at his house earlier in the day, Sean came home and resolved to find him tomorrow. But then Thimkhosi showed up after dark. With a “knock-knock Ekhaya” spoken, not actually knocked, I went to the door to see the faint outline of 3 Swazi males. From the darkness they greeted me, “Hello Make -Mrs.- Sean.” I returned the greeting knowing these invisible-to-me-faces knew me, so I was probably safe in opening the door. Thimkhosi stepped out of the shadows and onto the porch as he saw me straining to see. The light from inside illuminated his face and smile.
“I’m asking to see Babe -Mr.- Sean.”
“Oh, yes, Thimkhosi. One minute.”
And somehow, after Thimkhosi showed up with his son and brother, and Sean showed them the pump, and Thimkhosi remembered his uncle’s land, he got an idea.
“I’m going to ask my uncle to use his land by the river, and I will grow vegetables!” And there it was. Another plan hatched. A 4th family from church who’s growing (or planning to grow) a veggie garden, to feed their family and sell extra at a market. Granted, our market could be flooded with so many people growing, but with some coordination from these farmers, their staggered plantings, and a variety of plants might fuel a consistent flow to our local grocery store. They might even decide on setting up a farm stand on the highway.
More and more, Sean turns down opportunities to show up outside our community, simply because showing up here and now keeps him deeply rooted in our neighbors’ lives. And he doesn’t need to go anywhere else.

Categories: In the Garden, Kingdom Coming Related, Swaziland Updates | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

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2 thoughts on “Sean’s World

  1. dannyiverson

    So great to read this. You and Sean inspire us so much. Thankful for you guys.

  2. Dave Fishback

    Awesome stories and love how you are building a community!

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