The rains have come. With them, a myriad of changes. The temperature dropped forty degrees in one week, the river separating our compounds from the main road and clinic is no longer dry, porch decoration is now damp laundry, toads and frogs are croaking happily, the papaya trees are slowing down production, guavas are ripening and the roads are once again an utter unknown. On a run last week, I competed with a warrior who was training his yoked oxen team by slapping them with a stick and singing a rumbling chant (he was slapping and singing, I was running). In the last few weeks, I’ve often awoken before dawn to a similar song cheering on the work in nearby fields. The tracks I follow on my runs are being lost in the turned earth or blocked by acacia fencing.
Soon they will sow the seeds they’ve reserved from last season. That is when the hunger begins. While they’re planting, weeding, and harvesting, the Karimojong watch their stores of sorghum and maize dwindle, all their hope on the plants growing in the fields. The price of seed and food increases, while quality diminishes. Eyes often lift to heaven, trying to guess at the capricious rains, hoping for enough, but not too much. Enough to give life to sorghum stocks heavy with grain and maize with plump kernels. Not too much that it floods fields drowning everything in its swamps and washing away homes in its path.
Often the rains sputter before they stick. A fortnight, a month of constant rain. Enough time for the fields to be cleared, plowed and planted. Then they stop for another month or two, with only sporadic showers in between. Often is not a guarantee. This is when a Karimojong Christian’s faith is tested. Will they join in the rain dances and animalistic sacrifices used to coax the rain? Will they trust God to provide for them even when the grain barrel is empty and crops are dying in the fields? Will those who have little share with those who have nothing?
This is also a heart wrenching time for us. How do we love our neighbors without making them dependent on aid which is devastating in the long run? How do we give to all who ask when everyone is asking? How do we love and walk like Christ? We pray for wisdom and boldness as we follow Him who knows and provides for all of our tomorrows.