For the last several weeks we’ve been building a new house for Mama Agnes, one of the ladies we work with who cares for orphans in her community. (I’ll write more about the construction project later.)
The first step in construction is to dig the foundation for the walls. I brought along a Tswana friend of mine, Johannes, to help us dig. Johannes is a very hard worker, and I have to admit that he put me to shame with his digging progress compared with mine. I couldn’t help but compare Johannes to John Henry, the American folk hero notable for winning a race against a steam-powered hammer. In fact, John Henry is my new nickname for Johannes.
The spot on the property where Agnes chose to place her house could not have possibly been more rocky. Actually “rocky” is a gentle term. It was practically solid boulders all the way around.
The foundation after it was dug and the boulders removed
There were several times when we came across very large boulders that didn’t want to move. I simply wanted to leave them in place and dig the foundation around the rock. Even though this would have been a reasonable choice, Johannes insisted that he could get them out. Johannes has the personality and work ethic that says, “If you tell me it can’t be done, I’m going to do it.”
After removing one of these impossible rocks, Johannes leaned on his shovel and told me, “You just need to have long heart. It will come out.”
I’m humbled by the work ethic and wisdom of this modest gardener. There are many times in my life where I need to have “long heart.”
Johannes standing next to his stony nemesis