Tuesday, August 10, 2010

July 30, 2010: Oh My G... - Lost in Translation.

The garden tour had an unusual twist. William, a community leader, wanted us to see a community garden. After a 15-minute walk we came to a clearing. Here they had cleared several acres of the low scrub that dominates this land. Set in an area where water ran not far below the surface, they had accessed a nearby spring. A pump had been installed to feed the water to the community garden, but now, alas, the land was parched and desolate. The pump had been powered by solar panels. These had been stolen. Now the electric company wants the equivalent of $4500 to connect power to the pump. Still, William wanted to show us the site. It had been divided into three areas. One was the usual community garden with irrigation pipes throughout. William showed us where his section had been. Next to it was the “orchard.” A few mango trees struggled to survive. It was the third and final area which had an unusual twist. “This,” said William, “ is for the Gods.” We looked at him amazed. If any country seemed solidly Christian this was it. Why did they have a section for the Gods? Did they mix Christianity with local deities? Had the we misheard? No. William kept on talking about the Gods. I looked for some altar. Then I saw it. A large structure stood in the field. It must be it. “That,” said William pointing to iy, “is for the Gods. See the Gods over there.” We all turned and looked, and there they were, small , brown and four-footed – goats.

Later we returned to our building site and finished our day's labour. On my way back to our house, an area where goats roam freely, I met three young men returning home from high school. We stopped to chat. “Do you love goat?” one asked. Now I have never eaten goat, but I wanted to be polite. “Yes.” I replied. “How much do you love him?” he asked. Sensing that he was losing me he laughed and spoke very slowly, “God,” he said,” How much do you love God?”

Good news can come in many forms. He was happy with my response, and William was thrilled when he learned that a donation had been made to connect electricity to the pump. Gods and goats could flourish again amidst the community garden.

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