Leaders of the Church have counseled us to cultivate a garden at our homes. Recently, members from the Mountain View Ward in Nairobi, Kenya heeded that counsel, and following their bishop’s assignment and worked hard to create a ward shamba (the word ‘shamba’ means ‘garden’ in Swahili). Ward members joined hands and applied their knowledge in transforming the thickets and shrubs into a bountiful harvest.
Brother Michael Bahati mentioned he had always wanted to apply his farming skills on the shamba, saying that it had been neglected for as long as he could remember. Brother Bahati made sure that he had reserved enough time to dig, dung, graft and prune. It would have grieved him if he had lost the harvest, which was not only for himself but was stored up for the benefit of all the ward members.
The words from Jacob 5:62, “Wherefore let us go to and labor with our might” described Bishop Musaka’s efforts as well. He drove to the Church on the weekends, rolled up his sleeves and labored diligently. He knew his members, understood their needs, and worked alongside them. As the bishop is also president of the priests quorum, he made sure that the priests were not left behind, and he invited them to work.
Brother Bonabol was among those who took heed of the bishop’s call. He took the responsibility to ensure there was food enough to provide for the members. He saw it as his priesthood duty, and he fulfilled it with honor.
Sister Omondi used to exercise every morning, running from her home to Uthiru. Then she thought there was something more she could do. She contacted Brother Vidonyi, who informed her there was work to be done in the shamba. That is how her morning run was alternated with work at the shamba.
Ward members who previously worked there had little training in planting, so Sister Omondi taught them how to dig and plough. She explained her experience this way: “I doubted if the groundnuts (peanuts) would grow, but they did and despite growing the potatoes in the wrong format, they caught root.” Sister Omondi’s main responsibility was to water the plants and she learned her duty and acted in her appointed office with strict obedience.
As much as it was a learning opportunity for Brother Omondi, he also taught others. The soil at the church was not foreign to him and he understood what would flourish best in the shamba.
Sister Mahindi was concerned about her daughter’s illness but she trusted that she could take her mind off of that. She felt that by busily working at the shamba, things would get better—and they did. She gained comfort and peace as her daughter recovered.
Bishop Mukasa made it possible for the members to irrigate the plants. He made sure there were enough pipes to use as they still waited for the water sprinklers. He described, “As the plants need water to be nourished, the members also need nourishment from the holy scriptures.” The plants couldn’t go a day without water, just as members shouldn’t go a day without studying their scriptures.
Missionaries also managed to bring investigators to come work in the shamba. What a privilege those investigators were given to receive the restored gospel at the same time they received food from the garden in which they had worked.
Finally, the day came when the rewards were quite visible and abundant. The Mountain View Ward members’ hard work proved itself. There was an abundance of food, ranging from bananas to mboga to beans and they are about to harvest the maize. It was clear that the members’ aim wasn’t for instant gratification. They understood that in all harvests, some blessings don’t come until later, so they chose to be patient with the sweet potatoes and cassava.
As I worked in the shamba and saw it progress, I noted the change in myself. If the plant tamed by the Master came out as He desired, can I also involve the Lord and allow Him to guide me to reach my potential and live within my privileges? My lesson from the shamba is a resounding, “Yes!”
Marc Otieno is ward mission leader in the Mountain View Ward, Nairobi West Stake.