|Must say, I fancy me one of these.|
Now don’t get me wrong, actually owning a house for the first time in our lives has been terrific so far. Having the freedom to install our own appliances, decide on which shade of garish pink works best for the kitchen, and leave crayon-marks on the wall without worrying if we’ll get our deposit back – yes, it’s been wonderful.
But my goodness, is it not just a wee bit terrifying – and I'm not just talking about the wall colours. For the first time in our lives we find ourselves in the position where any problem we come across, no matter how great or small, is very much ours to deal with, and cannot simply be fobbed off to the landlord.
Like any new house, we’ve had a few bedding-in issues here and there, but none more headache-inducing than the garden. It’s not the biggest you’ll come across down here, but it does nonetheless constitute the majority of our plot of land. And so far, our efforts to grow it, and then get on top of it, have exposed us for the total horticultural philistines that we are.
Initially, our plot was simply mud, but not mud of any real quality – the kind of industrial stuff which is simply used to fill in empty spaces. Indeed, having been required to raise the height of our land quite considerably before building on it, we had needed a lot of it. Realising that this wouldn’t yield any growth, and frustrated with the chronic mess it made when combined with the rain here, we opted to buy some proper soil or ‘black earth’ as they call it down here.
Well, back in early April, with the help over a couple of weeks of a couple of strapping young ’uns from the church youth group, we were able to cover the entire plot in black earth, allowing greater potential for growth. Except that rainy season was having itself one last almighty burst before exiting the stage for 2013, meaning that when everything finally dried out, we had ourselves a collection of compacted mud-rocks, rather than proper soil. The only growth to speak of was an ever-increasing array of weeds springing up through the cracks. And so, the garden quickly became a problem which, if it weren’t put in its place once and for all, was only going to become an even greater irritation and threat to our sanity and peace of mind. Sort of like Nigel Farage.
Now, if I’m honest, the thought of getting to grips with my own garden was something that rather excited me as we had prepared to move home. What greater satisfaction, after all, than the sweet sting of sweat in one’s eyes after a hard day of working the land. This was no mere chore – this was my calling as a man! Grrrr!
The novelty soon wore off, though, as, a couple of weeks ago, one Monday – effectively our one-day weekend – I spent the day weeding only one part of the land, picking up severe thigh strain in the process, and realising that managing to get any real growth out of this thing at all would probably require me to put in a shift every Monday for the next year. And that I just wasn’t prepared for.
So we did what any sane person of my generation would do – we got someone else to do it. Well, we at least looked into it. Last weekend we were visited by a professional gardener who has grown, and maintains, gardens in some of Trinidad’s swankier homes. He gave me a little tour of his greatest hits as a sweetener before hitting me with a quote which was several furlongs beyond what we could afford (an unfortunate upshot of being lighter of skin here is the assumption that we are walking ATMs; actually, it’s a stereotype with more than a little truth in it in this society, but one that doesn’t really apply to missionaries living by faith). We didn't get back in touch with him.
It was at this point that I remembered that the husband of a woman who does a little cleaning for us now and again is himself a gardener. He was otherwise occupied, but put us in touch with a friend of his (whose daughter, it turned out, is heavily involved in FT’s basketball programme), who promptly came round to the house to offer his own services. Perhaps with a greater understanding of our financial realities as missionaries, he gave us a far more manageable quote.
And I can say with thankfulness that I am looking out on a garden which is in a far healthier state than it was a few days ago and is ready for grass to be sown and grown. My head feels a lot better. As do my thighs.
- The garden is not the only issue relating to ‘land’ we’ve been dealing with over the past week. Out of the blue, the possibility has arisen of selling the two extra plots we own. Please pray that we might be able to be finally be rid of these soon.
- Pray for Craig this weekend as he prepares to preach on Nehemiah 5 tomorrow morning at church.
- We still haven’t made a final decision with regard to what we’ll be up to during our furlough year but, as Craig mentioned on Facebook yesterday, we have booked our tickets for our return to the UK in mid-December. We’re excited to be able to come ‘home’ in time for Christmas. Give thanks for a date to look forward to and an extremely good deal on the tickets.
- Give thanks, too, for the Lord’s help to Amanda last weekend, who was feeling increasingly under-the-weather as Saturday wore on, but was able to fulfil all her teaching duties nonetheless, her input much appreciated by all concerned.
- Give thanks for Craig's English class, with more newcomers arriving this week to learn English and read the Bible in the process.
¡Que Dios les bendiga!
Craig & Amanda