Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Easter trees in Rwanda and Tanzania

Hi - I keep thinking I "should" be getting ready for the 6 worship services to come. But except for a sermon and some little details, they're ready. This creation care work is my priority right now. In the midst of finalizing the resolution on energy stewardship for our Metro DC congregations and planning for our church's creation care carnival on April 18th, I got two wonderfully related emails.

The first was from a friend and Lutheran pastor in Rwanda who reported that a bridge that once took refugees escaping from genocide to safety in refugee camps in Tanzania, is going to be rebuilt in order to enable business between countries. Years ago, Pastor John planted trees on the border of this river - once flowing with human wreckage of war - as a sign of hope, sanctuary, and rebuilding. From Pastor John:
Some of the buildings were asked to move to other place and owners will be covered! At the hill, our tree farm forest survived!...I was given forms to fill up for title deed! It was done successfully, went to the forest, found the fish eagle... was there for 3 minutes looking at me!!!!!! Thought that God sent this bird to tell me that He had a purpose for me to plant trees on this hill, may be a sanctuary for birds, animals and people who want to take away stress.
What a great reminder that the hope that caused John to plant the trees was not in vain.

Then also got an email about the Lutheran Church in Tanzania's efforts to reforest Mt Kilimanjaro - from their website:

Organization: Kilimanjaro Environmental Conservation Program: Evangelical Lutheran Church (ELCT) in Tanzania- Northern Diocese

Mount Kilimanjaro in Northeastern Tanzania has three distinct volcanic cones. The highest — called Kibo – is 5,895 meters high and covered by snow. However, the snowcap is rapidly disappearing. In March 2005, the peak was almost bare for the first time in 11,000 years. According to NASA, the most recent ice cap volume has dropped by 80%. This will have grave consequences for the local population who depend on water from the ice fields during the dry seasons and monsoon failures.

Additionally, deforestation and poor land management have accelerated soil erosion on farming lands. Streams are muddy with tons of vital topsoil that is being washed away. Increased flooding is destroying crops and causing food shortages.

The local church is working to encourage intensive tree planting and education on farming methods to conserve the environment and ensure sufficient food production. For example, young people attending confirmation classes have to plant 10 trees before they are confirmed. Women in parishes are leading the campaign for tree planting around churches and schools.
For more information and to support this effort, click here.

So yes, I keep feeling like I "should" be preparing for Easter - but what better preparation is there than to hear real acts of hope and re-creation? These efforts make me want to shout halle...

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