ashes and seeds

9 11 2011

There is much talking in town today.  There are tears in the eyes of many. Sweat drips from the brows of several. And there are ashes.

There was a bustling market place yesterday.  Mostly wooden sheds, with tin roofs. Tiny little places, jammed right up against each other, full of products to sell. There were clothes and shoes. Blankets, sheets and a few mattresses. Kitchen ware.  A number of stalls that sold food: chapattis, posho (maize porridge) and beans ready-cooked at lunch time.  The awful Gadaffi poster I showed last week: bought in the narrow avenues at Gloria Park Market.  There were several people hard at work:the rattling of pedal-driven Singer sewing machines could be heard from a few lanes away, much talking about every matter under the sun.  And I know Fanta was there too. I had been at his stall last week and he remembered me from when I had been to him at the last market.  He sells zips, buttons, embroidery threads… many things that bring sparkles to the eyes of crafters.

This market had developed within the last month. Just a month ago the Big Bustling Central Market was pulled down to make space for better development.  It took weeks for the stall holders to relocate.  I am sure it cost a lot too: having to hire a wooden cart to pull all the wares through the streets. Having to pull apart the wooden beams, corrugated iron and shelves that had been livelihood for a long time.  There was no choice: it all had to go. 

Yesterday morning I was buying some things across the road from where the old market was:I noted the business men pointing, looking serious and busy, standing very alone where hundreds had been selling about 40 days ago.

Sarah came in rather agitated this morning: had I heard? Gloria Park Market had burned during the night.  It was all gone.

I went to look at the ruins this afternoon: not to ogle at the suffering of others, as many there were doing. I wanted to stand in the place of the hurting and feel it.  I wanted to step through the bits, to see if it really was ALL gone. To see if I could spot Fanta and offer some solace (I did not see him there).

I took photos with my phone: I refused to look like the careless Mzungu there to deliberately capture the spectacle of the pieces. But I did want to show you a sense of what it is like when I say that nothing remains.


We walked over hot ground, where smouldering ruins still lay.  I could see where the ceramics shop had been:thousands of little pieces of porcelain lay.  Yesterday racks of mugs had balanced precariously above each other, beaming usefulness.


The space is totally cleared, without a single structure still intact.  A butcher shack on one corner was half-standing; this was the only assembly still in some state of use.  Rolls of corrugated iron, blackened and dented, were being gathered and taken away. Several little boys were digging through the ruins, sometimes through simmering remnants, to find pieces of nails that could be saved to use again.  A few holes had been dug to mark the corners of where the previous shack had stood.

The electricity has been very shaky in town the last few days, some believe this is what caused the blaze.  Others blame the little restaurants in the alleys, who sometimes leave beans cooking all night.  Many are very angry at the guard on duty at the gate last night: he refused entry to anybody wanting to get in.  In a place where looting is very common, I may understand some of his actions, but nobody could get in to save anything either.  Mbale’s fire department was not able to deal adequately with the blaze at all and the fire fighters from Jinja, 3 hours drive away, were called in.  The locals were very disappointed because even then they fought only to spare the concrete houses of the Indians around the market place.

How do people pick up any pieces and start again? The time of year is dreadful: after expenses incurred from moving their little shops in the last month now there is nothing to begin – before Christmas, the busy time of year. When bank interest lending rates are around 25% the thought of taking a loan is impossible. My heart weeps: I have seen the faces sitting in these little places and it is more than just Another African Tragedy.

After doing what I needed in town I went to class. The lesson for today, of the sower sowing the seeds (Luke 8:4-15) seemed a good space to do an object lesson.  I grabbed a few granadillas: packed with seeds, and a few other objects to help with making the lesson stick.

Stony ground, hard pathways, weedy patches: all familiar items in the minds here.

The bigger lesson has sunk in with me as I looked through the photos I took in the lesson.



Shina loves her little daughter dearly.  But she is in a bit of a difficult place in life.  She has chosen to stay here to work with Buchafa Bugaga (The name we call our group – meaning rubbish to riches) when the rest of her family live about an hour away. She longs to get some income, some education, some enrichment in her life.  (Shina worked very hard to make a number of the plarn phone socks I sold in SA. She used her money to rent a place to stay.)

But she cannot afford much food at the moment.  We are making some plans to help.  Her little one loved the fruit given in today’s lesson. It kept her busy but I could see that she was hungry. Maybe even starving.

She ate.  She stuck her little fingers in and grabbed out every little bit of sweetness and every seed, of every granadilla half she was given.  (She had the most of anyone at the class today.  We all saw her need and let her have it.)

The seeds were everywhere. Over the front of her pretty little dress. They stuck to her fingers. But she went back again, over and over, piece by piece. Taking each sweet seed from fruit grabbed in hand, to mouth.  putting in fingers. back to the mouth.


There are several meditations running through my heart now.

In Uganda, Granadilla are not called Passion Fruit, as they are in several places.  They are simply called Passion.

How I long to stick my fingers, over and over, into God’s passion. Be really hungry for Him.  Desperate for Him.  Seeking out every grain, every bit of sweetness, every part of nourishment of His passion.  Taking those pieces and shoving them into my heart, where they will reach to every part of me that needs, calls for Him.

And I so pray that that nourishment will grow. 

I asked the ladies how many seeds it takes to make one good, strong Passion plant.  Only one.  We tried to guess how many seeds are in one passion.  Several. Over a hundred, perhaps? How many would then be on a single passion plant?

May each seed that we leave bring forth fruit of righteousness to that extent. Passion seeds. Several thousand per plant.  Sinking in deep into souls so that they can build a real hunger and passion for serving God in truth, yearning for a real experience and sharing that with others.

And may these seeds be planted in those who at this time are aching from loss.  May God be enough when the world is not.




3 responses

26 11 2011

I finally have had a chance to catch up a little over our Thanksgiving holiday since I don’t shop and have read most of your blog stories.Thanks for taking the time to share them. I do especially love the pictures of the beautiful children. Thank you for including them.
God’s continued blessings as we give thanks for all things the blessings and the struggles. God loves us so much He even lets us struggle so we can grow in Him..

28 11 2011
advent « wet and weeds and wildness

[…] walked to the market that burned down a few weeks back.(Ashes and seeds)  Shelters have been built, and people were sitting huddled in their prospective spaces, […]

17 03 2012
busy, almost crazy week! « wet and weeds and wildness

[…] A devastation of the week was the burning of another market.  There are 3 substantial markets in Mbale.  In September the big market was broken down to make way for a ‘better’ market, which is still being built and will probably only be ready in about 3 years.  Within a month Lorry Park market had burned to the ground one night.  fire at market (1) […]

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