Sweet Potatoes and Family

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by Libby Wild on June 29, 2017

I have written before about how sweet potatoes are the staple food where we live in the jungle. Our friends think, “If you haven’t eaten sweet potatoes today, you just haven’t eaten!”

Years ago, back in 2010, after learning the language, we were finally able to speak into our tribal friends lives, and we began to teach them through the message of the Bible starting in Genesis. We then told them that a good and gracious God created the sweet potato along with all the other wonderful foods they enjoy!

Our boys have grown up loving the sweet potatoes of the jungle. There are many varieties, much different than the sweet potatoes of America.

I have to admit there is something comforting about the whole sweet-potato process for me. It brings up a lot of good memories.

The first part of the sweet potato process is the community effort to build a garden. I can remember some of my first gardening attempts with “Grandma.” I watched her work and mimicked everything she did. I had my digging stick, I turned the soil, plunged the stick in the dirt until I had about a 6-inch deep hole, and then I took the two sweet potato shoots (glancing at Grandma to make sure I had picked two of the same variety). I twisted the ends together, put them in the hole, used my digging stick to cover them up, and made a small mound of dirt.

Then I remember later going back to do the next hard work of the process: weeding. I also learned that leaving the pulled weeds in piles all around the plants were good for the plants.

Later in the fun part of the process, watching ladies furiously working with their digging sticks and finding the tubers, I couldn’t believe how quickly they were able to harvest an entire net bag of potatoes. All the ladies hoisted the potatoes on their heads and made their way home. As they passed by a stream they knelt down and unloaded the potatoes to scrub all the dirt away.

A lot of work goes into each potato, so when someone comes back from the garden and deposits a pile on our porch, we are so grateful. Grateful for relationships, grateful for community, grateful that we have learned to share in ways that we never would have otherwise.

In a lot of ways , sweet potatoes are connected to family here; they are just a basic element of life in the village. In fact, they can be a daily part of our lives. Hudson is often the first boy up and out of the house in the morning. I watch him walk down the path headed toward a little round hut with the smoke swirling out of the roof. He has a sweet potato in hand and is going to see “Grandma.” They are going to sit by the fire and talk, and he is going to hear stories and ask questions while she takes his sweet potato and roasts it for a few minutes over the fire. Then she will bury it in the ash. Finally, around 9 or 10:00 a.m. I will see her coming up the trail, just in time for snack break. She is bringing Hudson his baked sweet potato.

Hudson and Grandma
Hudson with Grandma

I just love that Hudson and “Grandma” have been a part of each other’s lives for over a decade. I am so glad that they both know the Lord and are trusting in him for their salvation. The Holy Spirit has sealed them (and us) for eternity and made us family forever.

Houses in the jungle

*The views expressed by the Wild family are their own and not necessarily those of Answers in Genesis.

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