Dreaming of Spring

Dreaming of Spring

“What are those crazy things hanging in the tree?” I asked the SIA Small Business Fund Coordinators when we saw them on the site of our conference in Uganda last summer. Most of us didn’t know what it was since Uganda is much more tropical than where the rest of us live. We did get to try the jackfruit before the end of the week and it was a nice mellow melon flavor. I was at a restaurant in Toronto recently that served jackfruit and it brought back good memories of being together with all our wonderful Small Business Fund leaders.

Much of the country is buried in snow this week and it has me dreaming of spring – of warm earth, budding leaves, and seeds sprouting. I also heard from a new friend in Malawi that most farmers there planted their crops last month, so things should be growing already!

With those thoughts in mind, here are some seed-related inspiration and photos from my trip last summer!

“They tried to bury us. They didn’t know we were seeds.” — Mexican Proverb

“Who would put a seed in the ground and then plant a stalk in the ground above the seed? For the stalk grows out of the seed – from within it, never from without; So the answer grows out of the question, the fulfillment out of the need, and the Love out of the yearning.” — Glenn Clark, “The Soul’s Sincere Desire”

“A seed never has any doubts as to what it is going to grow into, therefore you must have no doubts whatsoever about the seed which I have planted into your consciousness. Simply know it will grow and flourish and will be perfect.” — Eileen Caddy

Kubadwa's stand of winter maize in Malawi. The winter crop (July, in the southern hemisphere) is very profitable, since it is out of the normal growing season. Canaan Gondwe, the local coordinator, told us that "it is hot cake," selling quickly in the markets - and fetching a good price! The Small Business Fund program and the Manyamula COMSIP Cooperative loans help farmers invest in winter crops.

We visited Kubadwa’s stand of winter maize in Malawi. The winter crop (July, in the southern hemisphere) is very profitable, since it is out of the normal growing season. Canaan Gondwe, the local coordinator, told us that “it is hot cake,” selling quickly in the markets – and fetching a good price! The Small Business Fund program and the Manyamula COMSIP Cooperative loans help farmers invest in winter crops.

Kubadwa (left) has shared the gift with Kamanya Zuru. He gave him two plates of bean seed and showed him about how to plant  the seeds, use compost manure and double dig the beds to prep them for planing.

Kubadwa (left) has shared the gift with Kamanya Zuru. He gave him two plates of bean seed and showed him about how to plant the seeds, use compost manure and double dig the beds to prep them for planing.

Called to action – now

Called to action – now

Yesterday, Boyd and I took our lunch break to read Martin Luther King Jr.’s Letter from a Birmingham Jail aloud to each other. Reading it in its entirety, rather than in a series of quotes, I was impressed by frequent references to God, Jesus, and Biblical figures. There are many deeply moving quotes from King about the arc of justice, about how we are all inter-connected, about expressing compassion to each other, about love and hatred. These are quotes that stem from and refer to the deep truths of his Christian faith without always mentioning his faith.

King’s letter quoted Amos and made more than a few references to Paul and the early Christians. He seemed to take courage from those first Christians who were radical in their faith and who didn’t settle for the status quo. Churches today, King lamented, were afraid to be labeled as “nonconformist” and were shying away from the important work of challenging injustice and structural prejudice. He asks: “Is organized religion too inextricably bound to the status quo to save our nation and the world?”

This letter is a call to action, now. Not to wait. Not to be afraid to be different or radical or uncomfortable. People of faith must be people who stand up for justice, for moral rights, for the inherent dignity of all people.

Some of the team in Manyamula Village in Malawi that is standing up for justice and hope in their community.

Some of the team in Manyamula Village in Malawi that is standing up for justice and hope in their community.

Spirit in Action is not just a “spirit” organization. It is also an “action” organization. We see light and value and hope and possibility in the poor, in people of distant communities. We see that organizations that do not allow people to be actors in their own future, in their own prosperity, perpetuate an unsettling hierarchy of those who are helpers and those who need help. Action is confronting people who make statements that lump all of Africa into a uniform culture, who distrust all people who are poor. I know that is my great privilege to serve others, to give and encourage so that they can realize their own dreams for a better future.

We may not be able to help everyone. But we are not waiting until we can to solve all problems before we serve one person. We are not waiting to be a perfect organization before we dive into action to co-create with God for a better world.

Thank you for joining me on this path, in this action, in this service, and in using the power of God for good.

I sign off my post today with the same words as Martin Luther King, Jr. used in his letter from the Birmingham jail:

Yours for the cause of Peace and [Sister/]Brotherhood,
Tanya

Wisdom from Del Anderson: God Calling…

Some inspiration to start the new year! The SIA Board reads this piece by Del Anderson at the beginning of each meeting. When I first read it, the language tripped me up a bit. As I have read it more and more, and line by line, it has become a great source of encouragement and inspiration.


 GOD CALLING

GOD SPEAKS TO YOU, TO ME, TO SPIRIT IN ACTION

By My grace, you have the privilege to be used as My yeast, My salt, to be my quickening Spirit manifested . . . now. For one brief period in history, you may be used to help re-direct the path of humankind and thus change the course of history. If you hear My voice and obey Me, I will use this very small organism called SPIRIT IN ACTION as leaven, as a mustard seed, as Light. Yield yourself to Me, give Me your desires and will, your very self, to be scattered seed, taking deep root in far places on My planet earth. As you obey, I will cause you to die to self and come alive in Me, bringing forth unimaginable abundant fruit.

Green beans growing on Kudabwa's farm in northern Malawi. Some family members stand on the bridge in the background.

Green beans growing on Kudabwa’s farm in northern Malawi. Some family members stand on the bridge in the background.

As you commune and abide in Me, and come into My Spirit-filled Earth Community with brothers and sisters of other lands, you do become My salt, My yeast, My Light. You cannot be total, One and complete in Me until every child of Mine, every lost sheep is brought into My fold. You live by dying, by joyously giving your limited, human, separated sense-of-self for identification, communion and union with Me.

I AM the Jesus Christ individuality within you, stirring, quickening, waiting to be fully released and expressed, brought forth and manifested. Release Me and let Me go forth through you.

A dream has no dimension, no boundaries, no limitations. In Me, you have the Wisdom, Love and Power to be My instrument in bringing My Kingdom into manifestation here and now.

For more inspiration writing from Del, click here.

Being Grateful for What We Do

Being Grateful for What We Do
Tanya shows off a basket and hat woven by one of the Small Business Fund groups. I'm grateful for the generosity of our grant partners!

Tanya shows off a basket and hat woven by one of the Small Business Fund groups. I’m grateful for the generosity of our grant partners!

In the U.S. this is a week to reflect on and say out loud what we are grateful for. Recently, a friend asked me to list the three reasons I’ve chosen this work, and this organization. The three points express well my thankfulness for Spirit in Action: 

1. Sometimes I get overwhelmed with how much need there is in the world, how many people still live in sub-standard conditions without a clear way to improve their lives. Working with SIA, I feel that we are reaching out to people and directly influencing them to make lasting positive change in their lives.

2. SIA is an organization that really empowers people, working together with them as partners, listening to their needs and ideas, and being flexible enough to respond to what we learn and adapt programs to local situations and local knowledge.

3. SIA acknowledges and celebrates the dignity of each person. We never portray people as helpless or without possibility. We see potential in each person. I feel so good about that and I am proud of this approach.

Also check out some Thanksgiving table graces that pray for the world.

Fikire Chime (Malawi) takes her donuts to market 3 days a week. I'm grateful for her dedication to her business!

Fikire Chime (Malawi) takes her donuts to market 3 days a week. I’m grateful for her dedication to her business!

What I’m grateful for this week

What I’m grateful for this week

Is anyone else having a week where there seems to be too much bad news in the world? Time to record some things I’m grateful for, to keep the focus on the positive things in my life…

(If you’re already feeling really positive this week, maybe you can share some good news in the comments below!)

Gloria singing!  (Photo by Steven Thrasher)

Gloria singing!
(Photo by Steven Thrasher)

1. I am grateful for the passionate and prayer-filled life of Gloria Knapstad, former SIA Board member and one of my “spiritual grandmas,” who passed away on July 29th. During SIA Board meetings, Gloria always encouraged us to stop and pray before continuing on with a difficult discussion. And usually that led us into consensus.

I am grateful for the many times we sang together at CFO/JFO camps and Board meetings. One of our favorites to sing together was “He Lives.” We’d belt out the last line, repeating it 3 times for emphasis and with joy!

There will be a Celebration of Life for her this Saturday in San Jose. You can read her obituary here.

2. I am grateful that I have TOO MANY good stories and photos to fit into the SIA Fall Newsletter. We had so many great, inspiring conversations with Small Business Fund families and our local coordinators in Africa this summer and Boyd did such a great job at capturing our adventures. Here’s one that still makes me smile:

DSC05434

This was the end of a long day of walking on the dusty paths around rural Kasozi Village in Uganda. At our conference with Small Business Fund coordinators we spent half the day visiting groups and half the day reviewing our program. They were very busy days!

In this photo, Wambui (Nairobi, Kenya) and Dennis (Eldoret, Kenya) are taking advantage of the hour’s worth of electricity that we got from the generator each evening. Dennis is watching a TV show on his laptop, occasionally laughing out loud at lines of dialog that only he can hear. Wambui is charging her cell phone, which she used to text her sister who was taking care of her daughter in Nairobi. If you ever thought Africa was all mud huts and open-air cooking, you’re missing the cell phones and music videos played on laptops!

3. I am grateful for this encouraging message from Eileen Caddy, at the Findhorn Foundation in Scotland:

“Remember first of all I drop the seed, the idea into your consciousness. Then it takes root and begins to grow, and finally it is manifested in form, perfect in every detail. A seed never has any doubts as to what it is going to grow into, therefore you must have no doubts whatsoever about the seed which I have planted into your consciousness. Simply know it will grow and flourish and will be perfect.”

Have a good, gratitude-filled week!

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