Stephen & Laura Holt | Sierra Leone, West Africa

The Mango Tree

Prologue:  As I prepare to return to Sierra Leone from my 20 month separation from Stephen and our beloved field of service, my heart was directed to share this journal entry from nearly six years ago.  At the time of the original writing, I was struggling with cultural adjustments and deeply missing my New England home.  But, as often happens, in the writing came the healing and the learning.  Now as I read this again, I marvel at how the Lord uses my old journal writings to encourage my heart today.

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Date of original journal entry: July 2010

And the LORD shall guide thee continually, and satisfy thy soul in drought, and make fat thy bones: and thou shalt be like a watered garden … Isaiah 58:11  

mango 1

Taken from my sketch journal, this shows the shape of the mango pit along with root development and the tiny new tree coming to life.

Being a life-long New England girl, I love a crisp, just-picked Granny Smith apple on a brisk autumn day.  It would be a delight to my heart to be able to grow apples on our small homestead in West Africa, but there is a problem with that: Apples need the chilling of winter to set the buds which will blossom in the spring and bear fruit in the fall.  God knew where to plant the Apple Tree.

Here in Sierra Leone, I’ve recently started some mango seedlings.  Of all the tropical fruits we now enjoy, the Guinea mango is my favorite; large, sweet, and dripping with juice, they’re a real treat.  While studying these young seedlings and doing detailed drawings of them, I learned much about the wisdom of my Heavenly Father; He knew where to plant the Mango.

Mango pits are large and flat with slightly domed centers.  Studying them, I see that the shape of the pits are perfectly suited to their natural environment.  The intense rainy season settles them into the mud of the jungle floor to just the right depth where they germinate and grow.  They need heat and lots of moisture to bear their sweet juicy fruit.  Obviously New England would not be the proper setting to expect the Mango Tree to take root below and bear fruit above.

mango 2

A seedling now ready to be planted. I always make copious notes in my sketch journal. Such detailed study reveals much about our wonderful God and His design.

In His infinite wisdom God set me in Baomahun, Sierra Leone, West Africa.  He is much wiser than I for had I chosen, it would not have been here; I would have been the Apple Tree.  But God wanted me to be a Mango.  He knows the environmental setting, type of soil, and just how much sunshine and rain I need in my life to the intent that I might take root below and bear fruit above – for Him.  So with the watering of tears, the heat of trials, and the cooling shade of joys and friendships, He has settled my heart firmly into the red clay soil of hill country of West Africa.  God planted me the Mango Tree.

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