The Place of Smoke



A powerful thunderstorm is brewing in the late afternoon African sky.  All the doors to the house are open, and the sweet, cool breezes are becoming more intense.  There is an occasional flash of lightening.  Bafiti is watching an old VHS tape of a soccer match (football), while Orateng is spreading butter across a slice of homemade bread- a late lunch. Jabulani is listening to music on his headphones, and Jeff is walking around the house, protectively, deciding which doors need to shut and which can remain open.  As you can imagine, Jeff is always securing the house and watching the weather. Although we are 8000 miles away, this afternoon storm feels familiar.  This house feels like “home”, and these other “students” are becoming our family.

We have spent the past three days traveling together to a village far in the heart of the mountains of Lesotho.  The journey was long and twisted, curving up a narrow mountain pass that was riddled with shepherds and school children walking along the shoulders, about their business, scarcely aware of the 4x4s and taxis whizzing the narrow curves around them.   

As wth any road trip, the ten of us truly bonded as we made side stops to buy fresh mountain peaches and hot roasted corn.  (Also, the only potty breaks were found in the high grasses of the mountainside.) We arrived in Semonkong- “The Place of Smoke,” (look it up— it’s AMAZING) and we spent a few days learning from a South African farmer who has developed quite a patch of garden using the sustainable agricultural techniques we are learning.  His cabbages, cauliflower, squash, onions, sunflowers… were all absolutely beautiful.  His farm was nestled between a bubbling brook and a mountain path that had a constant stream of shepherds on horseback wrapped in wool blankets, snaking even further up with their sheep. His farm is a testimony that we can grow an abundant crop using purely sustainable practices.  We got to play in the dirt (and manure) as we helped him build a compost pile from his natural resources.  He will stir this pile diligently for the next six months, and for his new growing season it will be his fertilizer.  

In the evenings we taught our African friends Musical Chairs, Go Fish, and other fun overnight camp games.  Our toilet was just a hole outside, we slept in bunkbeds, and we cooked all our meals together using the few groceries we had packed (eggs, bread, cheese, rice).  We prayed together, held morning devotions together, and really dug into the word of God each afternoon together searching the Scriptures for God’s instructions for farming, His mandates on how we treat the earth, and His purpose for all of creation. On the final morning we took a quick drive further up to see the longest waterfall in the southern hemisphere…. A powerful surge of smoke and water that fell forever into a steep, rocky canyon below.  The morning was a testimony to God with us and around us, his power on full display.  It was a long three days, but wow! What a trip.

We are now back in our village, our “home” and happy to be here! So as I sit in the coolness of this beautiful place, I am so thankful for all of the support back home that has made this possible for us.  You are here with us- you are in our prayers and our thoughts and our stories. We think of you often and we cannot wait to share with you how we see missions carrying on in this corner of the world. All that we are learning and doing is to help spread the kingdom of God in Africa.  Whether through farming or Bible stories or a game of musical chairs, we are asking to be used by Him- we are asking to know Him and to make Him known.


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