Chinola (passionfruit) and mango. I am not referring to a cross between the two fruits. I am referring to the fact that our chinola vines grew, climbed, and entangled themselves in our mango trees. When the chinola fruit ripened, it would drop out of the mango trees. Chimangos, I called it. When Jason pruned our mango trees last fall, he had to cut back all the chinola vines from the trees. It was literally choking out our mango trees and not allowing any light to pass through for the grass to flourish below.
Vines are amazing. They are complex, intricate, grow, and reach out quickly. I have been studying our chinola vines every time that I hang out our laundry. Jason started our vines from seeds. He is passionate about growing things and saves seeds from almost anything that he can get his hands on. The base vine is thick, sturdy, firm, and supportive. It goes straight up.
From there, come the branches. I am completely amazed by the branches and how they intertwine on everything that they attach to. They stretch vast distances across our yard, anchoring themselves to everything along their course. Their entanglement and the way that they attach, doesn’t allow me to simply remove them from where they are. If I want to remove them,I need to cut them. In some places, the branches are thick. In other places, single branches reach out, taking their own path. Soon, the chinola vines and its branches will produce flowers and the fruit will come.
The vines remind me of Jesus’s words in John 15
15 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 2 He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes[a] so that it will be even more fruitful. 3 You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. 4 Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.
5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. 7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.
9 “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10 If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. 11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. 12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command. 15 I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. 17 This is my command: Love each other.
In thinking about our relations to one another, Jesus’s words, and our chinola vines, I have been focusing on how much we need to be willing to entangle ourselves in other people’s lives. As branches, yes, we need to be willing to be pruned by the father, but we also need to be willing to remain, reach, and entangle ourselves all at the same time. Look at these pictures of my clothesline. It is difficult to capture, but can you see the way that the vine wraps itself around the line? How willing are you to wrap yourself around someone else in love? To stretch, reach out, and get tangled up in other’s circumstances? Reflect upon Jesus’s words. Reflect upon these pictures. Think about how God is calling you to entangle your branch into someone else’s life.
Recently, after leading my English Bible study for Dominicans, a young Dominican asked me how I would respond to someone that desired to achieve the American dream (to move to the U.S., settle, get a job, house, etc.) I responded that the first thing that I would need to know before responding to the person would be why he/she desires that dream. What are the circumstances surrounding his/her life? Are there work opportunities for them? Are their lives in danger? What are their living conditions? What is their economy like? From there, I could perhaps offer advice as to whether the United States would offer any better circumstances. After all, there are pros/cons to all cultures. You see, I wouldn’t love that person well, unless I developed some sort of relationship to understand his/her circumstances. I bear the most fruit in ministry when I take the time to engage and entangle in a relationship, when I take the time to listen and understand. Yes. It is usually the more complex way. Yes, it involves more time. Yes, it involves more energy. Yes, it involves more thought and innovation. But, in the end, the results usually feel much more fruitful and bring way more glory to God and His way of doing things. Sitting in the vine is your relationship with Jesus. Entangling is your way of showing that you are a disciple. Be a chimango. Get wrapped up in someone today.
Our family continues to be busy in ministry with teams on the ground. We have added a new pet to the family. Meet Medusa, an iguana that was found in San Juan and gifted to our family to care for.
Jason and Ethan took a day and constructed a spacious outdoor cage for her (maybe because mom said no iguanas in the house?). The neighborhood kids also offered a hand in the afternoon. Ethan has a thing for reptiles. I enjoy his enthusiasm, his desire to learn, and a cause for a great project for the boys.
Miriam continues to be a light to those around her and uses her social butterfly skills to make friends with so many. She really enjoyed the team last week as she engaged with the kiddos of the group.
Some baby chicks recently hatched at home as well. I guess keeping the rooster around and tolerating its early morning wake up calls has its perks after all.
The kids have returned to a normal (5 day) schedule for Dominican school. Previously, they were only going 2-3 days a week due to COVID protocols. We continue to homeschool in the afternoon. Jason and I balance team responsibilities, ministry tasks, homeschooling, and family life. We will take a 3-week trip to the United States from April 1 to April 22 to visit with family and complete some doctor’s appointments. There are no teams scheduled for this time.
Thank you for your continued interest in our lives and ministry. We appreciate your prayers.
- Residence Process: The attorney is telling us that we will have medical appointments before we travel this April. I will believe it when it happens. Keep praying!
- For our family to be fruitful branches that are not afraid to be pruned, stretched, and entangled in relationships.
- For our upcoming travel to Pennsylvania.