In missionary biography, it’s easy to focus on the big things and overlook the things that help everyday life go on.
This springtime season reminds me of one recurring topic in Esther’s letters from Huili. Alongside the reports of sowing the seeds of the Gospel were the requests for seeds to nourish the body–seeds to share with local farmers and for the 2 gardens she tended. One was in the church compound, the other in the chapel compound down the street.
4/15/48 — Huili
I wrote you about sending vegetable seeds some time back. Please send a package of each kind of vegetable as red onions, rutabagas and others, lima beans and others I did not mention. . . .
We have vegetables here but of very little variety–only about 3 kinds on market all thru and one gets so tired of them, so would like to get some started here, also watermelon and different melons etc.
My tomatoes are now blooming, lettuce is up, cabbage is small, not doing well. They have a very scant variety of vegetables so want to get seeds out to the farmers. . .
7/30/49 — Huili
We have been enjoying tomatoes & cucumbers out of our garden at the church. We also have peaches now. I have canned some. We have so enjoyed the crabapples here this summer. We have baked them and they are grand. I canned 8 or 9- jars of them. The only fruit we get to can here is crabapples and peaches.
8/14/49 — Huili
I am just getting my fall garden ready. Some beans, peas, and lettuce are just coming up. . . . I hope things grow so that I get new seeds. If I am able to stay on here I would like some rhubarb seed. . . . Our watermelon plant is growing. It is very small and just blooming now so am afraid it will do nothing. My cucumbers were not very good. May do better next planting.
10/22/50 — Huili
I wonder if you would put a few lettuce (head) seeds and a few beet seeds in a letter and send on. My other seeds dried out from too much rain. I would like getting them started again. Thanks heaps.
4/20/51 — Huili
It will soon warm up. I have been planting tomato plants these days. Our cauliflower is now heading. We have just a very few in our garden but it’s nice to have them as this time of year there is not much on street.
Nowadays, Esther wouldn’t need to ask for seeds to be sent from home. If she walked along the old streets of Huili today, she’d find more than one shop lined with packets of every kind of vegetable seed she’d want.
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