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07 November, 2017

First Fruit

We moved to Uganda late in 2012. In February of 2013 we planted two starts of lemon trees. We asked, “How long does it take for lemon trees to bear fruit?” The answer we received was, “Usually 4-5 years here.”

That sounded about like forever then. However, we were delighted to discover in the spring months of 2017 that our lemon trees were blooming. “Don’t get too excited,” we told ourselves. “The trees may just bloom this first year and not yield any real fruit. But just imagine NEXT year!”  Yumm, we could almost taste the lemon!

We know that often the first fruits are not the best. It can be a scraggly beginning for some fruit bearing branches. Fruit-bearing can start off looking quite impressive only to yield little-to-none. We have just enough gardening experience to breed caution in us when it comes to the beginning.

BUT! We are experiencing an AMAZING crop of lemons this year. One tree had over 30 lemons and we are enjoying using them. We have made lemon tea, had fresh lemon slices in cool water, baked lemon cakes and muffins and bread. We have shared lemons with others. What a wonderful first year of bearing fruit for that tree! The other tree does not get as much sun and has put forth fewer lemons, but that tree is blooming again now, so who knows how many more it might produce?

We enjoyed harvesting the first lemons. The two gentlemen who have carefully raised the trees with us celebrated the harvest of our first fruits. 

I soon realized that to make the fruit useful, it has to be changed. To use a lemon, we wash it clean and then we either abrasively grate it or we cut it. After cutting it we may continue cutting it into pieces or we may aggressively squeeze it until all the juice is out. To use a lemon, we never leave it the way it came to us off the tree. But oh, we have been delighted in using our first fruits.

We have been thinking a lot about first fruit. We are about to complete our first term (two years) in the position of Country Director of WGM in Uganda. We feel like first fruit times. We had our scraggly spots through the term. We were cautious about the beginning.

Now we feel like lemons off the tree. God cleansed us. We have been abrasively grated. God has done refining work in us, peeling off some layers that we might be a more pleasing aroma to those around us.

God has done some cutting, too. And have been squeezed! We confess not everything that came out was sweet; some was undoubtedly sour. God did not leave us the way we came into this term. He has not left us unchanged. Even so, we have felt His delight in using us. We believe God is using the ingredients in us to make something good, and the seeds harvested from us to bear more fruit for His Kingdom. We offer it all up to Him in worship. (In some ways, it is kind of special to be first fruits J)

With a grateful heart,



Josephine Helsabeck said...

Lemons fresh from the tree are sweeter and more flavorful than those we buy at the stores in Oregon. We have picked lemons from trees in CA and AZ. God's timing for fruit bearing in trees and people produces the best quality. So grateful for your patient approach to harvesting and for your willingness to participate with God as He produces His sweet, flavorful fruit in you. Thanks for being in that place at this time! We miss you and send our love. Jo & Hank Helsabeck

Dansmith Aisevbo said...

What a great lesson I learn today from the experience you shared from your Uganda mission service. I'm blessed by your testimony. Dansmith Aisevbo - Cross-cultural Missionary from Nigeria