The Lost Oranges
By Sr Elinda Moron SSPS
Sr Elinda Moron
I am a missionary assigned to a village called Kindege, about 500 kms from Luanda, the capital city of Angola. Only heavy-duty vehicles can reach Kindege. Thank God, there are no land mines, only friendly people waving at us as we pass by. In war-torn Angola, I have seen and felt God’s unconditional love, which goes beyond race, culture, age and gender. The people of Kindege are very peace-loving, caring with a faith in God that can move mountains. “Deus e grande” (God is great) is what they always utter in both painful and joyful situations.
Farming and hunting are the main livelihood of the people. Oranges, bananas and cassavas are their principal products. Their oranges are the sweetest I’ve ever tasted and are free from chemicals. In this area, animals are now very scarce because of the war. Most of the animals like deer, gazelle, buffalo and wild pigs, have fled into the inner forest for protection.
Seculo, a farmer, has around 100 orange trees which all the members of the family tend. For them, the orchard is their bread and butter. Fortunately, this season the trees bore plenty of fruit. Using cut branches, Seculo had to support the branches heavy with fruit so they would not break.
Harvest time came and all the members of the family were there to gather fruit. Since they did not have enough containers, most of the harvested fruit was just left on the ground. I have never seen such mountains of oranges! These were ready for transport to the capital, but there was a sudden downpour. The trucks did not arrive to pick up the produce because of the muddy and slippery road. They waited a day, then two days, then a week. The road was not really passable. So the whole lot of oranges began to rot. It meant hunger for the family because the sale of the fruit would have meant they could buy a year’s supply of basic commodities like salt, sugar, oil, soap, medicine. I pitied the family, for their year’s work was in vain. But to my surprise the farmers responded to the situation without any bitterness. “Irma, Deus e grande.” “Sister, God is great. If He did not allow us to have the oranges sold this time, He will give us something else. He cares for us and will not allow us to be hungry.” Such trust in the Lord! I was ashamed of myself. In this situation I made a very urgent appeal to Him: “God, do something – and quick!”
A week after that, we were awakened by a commotion in the village. The hunters arrived and brought home meat and other forest products that would supply the village for the rainy season. Indeed, Seculo was right! God let the oranges rot, but He gave them meat and added more.
Receiving and giving
Now I realize why these people are very caring and loving among themselves and to strangers who are in their midst. In the very ordinary rhythm of their daily life, they are experiencing God’s love, enabling them to love in return. Their eyes, their ears and their hearts are so attuned to God’s love for them that in every situation, good or bad, they feel God’s love.
God’s loving embrace
This realization brought me to my second experience when I was hospitalized for almost two months in the Philippines. It was my first time to undergo surgery, and twice in two months, so I was afraid. Aside from the physical pain, I experienced loneliness, especially on nights when I was alone in my hospital room. In those moments of pain and loneliness I would remember Seculo and the loving people of Kindege. Then I would open my eyes, my ears and especially my heart to God’s loving embrace manifested in many simple but beautiful ways – the surprise visits of my brothers (I’m the only girl in our family) and my friends, the caring hands of the nurses, the phone call of my nieces and nephews saying, “Tita, Jesus is with you.”
If these are not God’s ways of manifesting His love, I don’t know what they are. I have felt His love because I was open to His love. I did not expect that He would love me as I wanted to be loved. I just allowed Him to love me the way He wanted to love me. And this enables me to love in return the people around me, even those who are sometimes difficult to love.
You may write to:
Sr Erlinda Moron SSPS
F. Sotto St., BF Homes
1101 Quezon City