Tuesday, 1 April 2014

A well watered garden

Back in October I spent two days with the Food for the Hungry (FH) team in Torotoro, Bolivia, to share the training on the Foundations for Farming Well-Watered Garden. During this time we planted a demonstration plot of maize where the team lives so that we could try out this method of farming, and see if it is something that FH in Bolivia wish to implement in its community development work. 

The training went well, despite a few difficulties such as working with land that had already been ploughed prior to my arrival, and demonstrations that didn’t quite work exactly as they should. When it came to sharing I actually found it quite difficult to express the materials well in a second language. However despite these difficulties the team was able to understand the main concepts and we were able to successfully plant a 6x6m Well-Watered Garden of Maize.  Doing this training also served to help strengthen the team in that region as it provided an opportunity for them to share and learn together as well as enjoying some fun and laughter along the way. Initially the  plot had a high germination rate which was good, however, early on birds came and ate most of the seeds so they had to replanted again. In order to prevent the same thing happening again the team decided to put bottles next to each planting station and planted 5 seeds instead of 3, with the thought that 2 were for the birds and then 3 for them. 

I originally had plans to return to the site in February, however bad weather and resulting storm damage and landslides meant that the trip had to be cancelled. In mid-March I was finally able to go back to Torotoro to see what had been happening whilst I was accompanying a team that was visiting our work zones. During this visit I had time to talk with some of the team who had been looking after the plot and hear their stories about how it had been going and the difficulties that they had faced. They really liked the idea of the standards and principles set by FfF though they have been a challenge for them to keep and at various times they have had to stop and go back and readjust what they were doing. The two most prominent examples of this were, 1: Watering of the plants, normally in Bolivia they either put on lots and lots of water or nothing at all, at times they forgot to water them and so had to keep working at it to try and make it a habit. 2: Thinning out the plants in the plant stations. This they found really hard to do, despite understanding the reasons why. 

Recently they have had a problem with the birds eating the maize growing on the plants so they have been thinking about how they can stop them. Their plan is to put clear plastic bottles over the tops of the cobs to stop the birds. There hope now is that by the end of April the Maize will be ready to harvest.

Ruben the area coordinator has been very encouraged with this method of farming despite its problems, and the way the demonstration plot has turned out and is hoping that we can continue to experiment with this method in the coming growing season as well as trial the vegetable gardens. He is also hoping that we can start trials with some of the families in the communities where FH is working. So in April I hope to share my vision for using FfF within FH Bolivia with our new programs manager to get him onboard, and then in May I hope to be able to travel back to Torotoro to evaluate with the team their experiences and talk about the next steps to be able to move forward.

Moulding Chronicles March 2014

Dear Friends,

Over the last two years we have been steadily working through a leadership coaching course, part of which has involved looking at our passions and calling. As mentioned previously, over this last year, I (Ed) have also been working with a Bolivian colleague developing orientation, discipleship and evaluation processes. 

Back in February this work and my newly identified passions and calling began to merge as Oscar did some reorganizing of jobs and roles within the office, which has meant that I am now taking the lead of staff development instead of just being an assistant. This is an exciting step forward as I had wanted something more to get my teeth into rather than the little bits here and there. It is also a positive move in that it enables me to begin working more directly in my area of passion and calling in coming alongside people to show them value and worth and encourage them in their faith. 

As part of this new role I will also be working with Oscar and another colleague to help create a pilot discipleship system, which will first be tried out in Bolivia and then hopefully used throughout FH. The aim of this system is to enable staff to gain a better understanding of how our organizational Vision, Mission and Values fit into our day to day operations and to increase our staff’s biblical understanding.

On a slightly different theme, in March I (Ed) accompanied a team from Messiah College in the USA, who were visiting Torotoro for the week as part of a team that comes to work with FH each year. It was a great time of enjoying Gods amazing creation and  building relationships with the students, listening to them throughout the week as they were challenged by what they saw and how it had impacted them.  

Whilst in Torotoro I was also finally able to visit the experimental plot for foundations for farming and listen to the staff’s experiences. I came away from it feeling excited and encouraged having seen how the plants had grown and also how the staff had been challenged and were enjoying the learning experience, even if the birds did eat most of the seeds that they planted the first time. The staff are keen to continue with the trials as well as starting up some vegetable gardens which they then want to begin sharing with some of the families in the communities.

Much to praise and thank God for over these last two months with much to look forward to in the future.

Thank God for: 
  • Positive, encouraging time with the students.
  • The crops on the FfF plot and the interest of the staff to move forward.

Ask God for:
  • God’s favor as FH begins renewing its legal status to continue to work in Bolivia.
  • The Messiah College students as they evaluate their experience in Bolivia and consider the impact on their own lives.

Ed, Sarah, Alana, Isaiah and Lucas

The Birthday boy

Learning about wheels and axels in our car project

Let your eyes look straight ahead, fix your gaze directly before you.  make level paths for your feet and take ways only that are firm.  Do not swerve to the right or to the left; keep your foot from evil. 
Proverbs 4:25-27