Monday, April 29, 2013


For those of you privileged enough to have engaged in my pre-mission ranting, surely eating mangoes was close to the top of the list of things I was most excited for in Africa!  After arriving in September only to receive the news that mango season wouldn’t occur until April, I was entirely disappointed and impatient.  Though the homegrown passion fruit, bananas, papayas, pineapple, guava, and oranges surely satisfied, my eagerness never faded.  For the past months, from the moment the little baby mangoes started growing bountifully on the trees, I’d find the darling little things on the ground and run around telling the kids how excited I was that mangoes were coming!  I’d pull the stems off the fallen fruit and be enamored that they smelled so fragrantly, while still being so small and immature.  I started eating mangoes on a daily basis at least four weeks before they became ripe, and, though green and sour, I loved them nonetheless.

Ladies and gentlemen, be assured that mango season has come, and it has not disappointed.

Seriously though, I’m enjoying the mangoes a little bit too much.  What’s filling me up even more than the juicy, fibrous fruits is, for the first time in the seven months that I’ve been in South Sudan, seeing my kids constantly full-bellied.

Every mango is like a piece of artwork
A few months ago, it started wearing on me.  “How are you?” I’d ask cheerfully.  “Gamoro,” they’d reply.  I’m hungry.  I was worn from hearing this typical response as I gazed down at distended bellies and frail little bodies.  After so many weeks and months, my heart not only continued to ache, but it started to burn.  I became emotionally exhausted of hearing children tell me they were hungry.  What could I do about it?   Nothing.  I was left simply to pray that God in His goodness would satisfy their needs.  

No one loves mangoes like Sister Auxilia!
Not only has God met their need, but He’s filled them up with the sweet gift of mangoes!  The poorest, orphaned little ones can be seen with a half-devoured mango in hand, its juice dripping from the corner of their mouth, at nearly any point in the day.    Massive mango trees are located every couple of feet in our village, each bearing several hundred fruits.  There’s more than enough to go around.  The mangoes fall down when they are heavy and ripe, unless the treasures are snatched by little hands scaling the boughs of the trees or when they are struck by a stone thrown at exactly the right point in the fifty-foot tall tree to cause the perfect fruit to fall into the hands of its seeker.  It’s amazing what these kids are capable of doing in their quest for mangoes.

Behind the sister’s house where I live, there are two enormous mango trees.  I am continually amazed when I am sitting in the backyard and a plump, handsome mango seems to fall from the sky basically into my lap.  It’s like living in the storybook, “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs.”  Like a gift falling down from heaven, it continues to be a strange and wonderful phenomenon.  So I’ll sit in my backyard for some time doing this or that, and I collect mangoes as they fall, one by one.  After I’ve acquired a bunch, I take them outside and pass them around to the first kids I can find.  Our mangoes are so plentiful the sisters could never even begin to eat them all, so not only is God providing the most delicious food for His dear children, but He’s giving me the gift and the consolation of being able to give away the little something that I have with the children that I love so much.

I won't mention God's other special gift from heaven to fill the bellies of my kiddos: plump, juicy, and protein-rich
That's a story for another day.

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