Well it's hard to believe that we've been back from Brazil for almost a month already. Notice that I didn't say we'd been home that long because we haven't. It's been a whirlwind. We'd only been home a week and a half before it was up to Toledo for our church conference. It was good to make new friends and touch base with old ones as well as putting faces to some of the names I've heard over the years. But the really exciting thing was being notified that two slots had opened up for the Tropical Agriculture Class at ECHO (Educational Concerns for Hunger Organization) in Fort Myer, FL the next week.
Those of you on our regular mailing list will remember that we had wanted to go to this training course and that the Lord had marvelously provided the means for us to go but that the May class was already full when we went to register for it and we had to be put on a waiting list. Well, as soon as we got home from Toledo, it was pack the bags and hit the road again. Isn't it funny how it sometimes seems like God isn't doing anything with you for so long that it just about drives you crazy and the next thing you know, you're running your legs off trying to catch up with everything He's doing?
So I can hear you asking, "What is ECHO?" and "What was it like?" Echo is a Christian organization whose mission is to teach missionaries and other overseas aid workers how to fight global hunger by showing them how to help improve local farming practices by using readily available resources. They also run a World Seedbank. Check out their website or better yet if you find yourself in Florida go for a tour. (http://www.echonet.org)
It was way cool. They had set up several areas to simulate various tropical farming conditions: Arid, semi-arid, etc; they had even built a "mountain" to demonstrate temperate zone farming. It was all very beautiful and all of the plants were edible or otherwise useful. I think one of the most interesting set-ups was the "Urban Area". There they demonstrated how to do roof top gardening using recycled tires, pop cans, old carpet and packing peanuts just to list a few of the more unexpected gardening materials utilized. There were even a couple trees growing in tires there! The only soil used was what was on the plant's root ball when they transplanted it. It just blew my mind that plants could thrive without dirt.
Another thing I really enjoyed was the way the instructors never made a distinction between teaching about agriculture and sharing God's Word. One instructor likened composting to when a person is saved; both processes regenerates "waste" in order to bring about new life. I had never thought about agriculture as a way to illustrate God's Truth before. How awesome is that?
Appropriate Technologies was a fun exploration of ways to use what you have to make the things you need. This was recycling to the nth degree. Did you know you can actually run power tools with a bicycle or purify water with sunlight or sand? We learned to make an oven with a cardboard box and foam rubber!
By the time the course was over I couldn't wait to come back home and start trying out some of the techniques I had learned.
We can see how much of what we learned is applicable to use on the field, but are not quite sure yet what we will implement in our work at Belo Horizonte or in the Amazon. We are praying for clarity.
The need now is to prepare for our return. We must decide what we'll keep/take, keep/store and how to get rid of the rest. Our house needs a new owner, shipping needs arranged and a multitude of other concerns. Pray that we stay focused and pressing forward!
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