Update on Palmgrove

Written by: The Bridge on Saturday, April 15th, 2006

First of all, I want to say thank you to all who are leaving comments. I download the pages to USB, then take them back home so that the rest of us can read them on the laptop. It’s a pleasant surprise to see the variety of people who are responding, and it also gives me an idea as to what to post the next time.

The brothers and sisters here in Palmgrove are very similar to what we have back in North America. Some are genuine, and are giving their best to keep this place going, but there are also others, who’s motives seem questionable. As I said, it’s not unlike that of any community that I’ve seen back home. Some of them work very hard at what they do, all day long, while others need to be prompted all the way.

We had a meeting with all the people in Palmgrove, trying to figure out what to do about the current situation. We also tried to get some answers to the many questions that still remain unanswered. One of the problems that I will take the time to mention, is that the church should be more careful as to who they send over to help out. Palmgrove needs people who want to help; people who are capable leaders; not people who can’t even take care of their own lives. (Please note that was a paraphrase and it’s also written in the plural form.) There seem to be too many people sent over, who somehow “need a change”, or some strange reason like that. We are unwilling to let people go, that really make a difference in a community, the sacrifice is too big, so we sent someone else who is leftover. We discussed many other problems, but that is the one problem, where we, as the Hutterian Church in North America, could make the most difference.

It’s going to take some doing to get things into reasonable shape again. Things would be a lot easier if we would be able to start from zero, but the more we look, the more debts we find that were left behind! Also, take for example, food for the community. We only have two meals a day, breakfast and dinner, or maybe a early supper. We are undecided, as of yet, what would be best in that situation. One thing that really needs changing, is the food quality. Some meals are very good, but for breakfasts, three days of the week, we only have a chunk of bread, white bread on top of it, and a cup of tea with cream and sugar. That’s about the cheapest way to feed people and since the money for food in the community kitchen never seemed to be much priority the last few years, that’s what they have had to resort to. That hardly lasts till dinner and it’s not a healthy way to eat on top of it all! We also attend the meals in the kitchen, which is something that wasn’t practiced lately. I can’t quite understand all the fuss that people make who have been here, I thought that the food might not be very good to us white people; but the true Nigerian dishes that they sometimes prepare in the kitchen are very good, unlike the white men’s bread! Some of the dishes do take some getting used to, so it’s a simple matter of not eating to much and eating a few bananas afterwards.

Just for an example of what we sometimes run into, one day we were driving to town with one of the boys; I don’t remember his name. We stopped to buy some yam. He started talking with the seller, they switch into their own language very quickly, so we didn’t understand a word. Their conversation got quite animated, which is not unusual around here. Afterwards we asked him what it was all about. He said the seller was being very dishonest, so our driver told him he would smash in his teeth next time! We replied, “What! You told us that you had three Bibles and now you want to hurt the other guy. Doesn’t the Bible tell us to turn the other cheek and whenever possible to live peaceable with all man? How can you now say this to him?” Somehow, he thought that was from the old testament instead of the new. I think he was making a lame excuse. We corrected him and told him there is a better way to live then that. It’s a very difficult concept to teach at home, let alone in a culture like this!

So far we are all doing fine. The electricity was cut off because we can’t pay the bill. We have 3 hours of generator in the evening, every day, so that isn’t too bad. Our phone battery doesn’t last too long, so we are trying to rig up a solar panel on the roof so that we can charge it. We have been cut of a few times in the middle of a conversation because the battery went dead. One step at a time.

Showing 18 comments

dan said:
On: 15th Apr, 2006 at 20:04

Hi Lance and the rest…
Its really hard to imagine it all without actually seeing the situation. But I think you are doing a good job of explaining, so keep it up! Its interestiong to read about whats going on there! Thanks for doing this for us!
Keep the Faith tru it all!

Beverly said:
On: 15th Apr, 2006 at 20:40

Wow. I must say, that is quite the experience. Most of us probably don’t realize how serious things are in Palmgrove and other not-so-rich places. Your updates put everything in a new light. It makes us think twice about the comforts we have hear at home. And to think, we start complaining when our internet connection goes down for an hour.
Wishing you all the best. Keep God in your sight and never forget that no matter how hard things seem to get, He’s there with an outstretched hand, waiting to help you along.
God bless,

Hildy said:
On: 15th Apr, 2006 at 20:45

Hi Lance….just want to say we are thinking of you and hoping you are doing well. But with reading your updates…one sure can’t imagine being in your situation. Wishing you Gods’ blessing anyways.

doris said:
On: 15th Apr, 2006 at 21:36

hi Lance,

Sounds like you’re having an incredible experience so far!! Almost makes me g’lustl a little. You’re blogs are very interesting and fun to read, didn’t know you had such a good writing style, ha ha! 🙂
In any case, seems like you all have quite a challenge on your hands. I can’t even remotely imagine being in your shoes. We’ll be thinking and praying for you all in Palmgrove.. viel glück unt geh mit Gott!

Barbara Brooks said:
On: 16th Apr, 2006 at 05:15

Hi. I am enjoying reading your blog. I read a few months ago about the robbery at Palm Grove. I’m sorry to hear they are in bad economic straits.

Have you ever read about appropriate technology, like in the book, Small is Beautiful? It’s the idea that the machines and technology that are efficient in the industrialized countries may be too expensive or otherwise undesirable in Third World countries (like if they attract robbers).

Things like cooking with solar ovens to save on fuel (very cheap to make) or using horses for agriculture or transportation often make sense because machines cost more than labor.

Has anyone thought of trying to get some brethren with an Amish background to help figure out the most efficient way to operate? There are lots in Latin America, especially Belize, Honduras, Bolivia and Paraguay. They have to deal with the same kind of crime and corruption that they have in Nigeria. Operating a place like Palm Grove is so different economically from running a Hutterite colony, although I’m sure that your spiritual and managerial support really helps.

By the way, I go to a Conservative Mennonite Church in California, and I really admire the Hutterites. I hope to visit some colonies some day!

God bless you in your efforts!

Anonymous said:
On: 16th Apr, 2006 at 08:08

I defiantly agree with your point about the people who are sent to Palmgrove.
When the early church in Acts needed men for a certain task they were choosen because of their good conduct. Take the time to read Acts 6 1-5 and Acts 11 22-24
Why on earth do we send people to Palmgrove as missionary/steward that we know we would never select for this position in our own communities in Canada!

leanne said:
On: 16th Apr, 2006 at 09:18

hey brother!! man, i would have to say ich ‘glustle’ nit!! du tust guet! i get the impression that despite all the setbacks, you have a positive outlook on things, which i’m very glad of! good for you. hey, at least we’re making a start as to sending ‘appropriate’ people over…..in sending you, Ed V. etc.

good thing you enjoy the ‘gari’ and all that!! do tell us more about this famous “banana”…..as we always hear about the bananas from all who’ve been there! (them and the pineapples). too bad you can’t ship some home for us to check out! maybe we should have put whole wheat flour, flax, millet and bran in the container so you could make whole wheat bread!! a bit healthier!

you said you “download the pages to USB,” …..from that i imagine you have to go to town, Abak?, to do get internet access?

i suppoes if you do take up Barbara Brooks suggestions on aquiring horses to use as cheap labor, i could come over there and help out with that! i once asked irvin if there are any there and he said maybe one or two. i can’t imagine the black people will have much idea of how to run them! of course they can always learn!

so, we have to “leer”s today..and we’re sining the Cantata at dinner… wish us luck!

dad keeps bugging us to leave comments, but i haven’t gotten him to leave one yet….maybe soon. we check a couple times a day for new blogs!! always thinking of you and praying for you! keep looking up (mom says hi an’ all)

leanne said:
On: 16th Apr, 2006 at 09:21

hey lance, lol….i forgot to ask (mom says i should)……do you want some sardines yet????

eddie anna waldner said:
On: 16th Apr, 2006 at 17:25

Seeing the pictures of palmgrove brothers, sisters and children eating in the dining, not only brought tears of love and longing to our eyes, it also stimulated a craving in our taste buds of that delicious rice with whatever additives, the people are enjoying. Anna Basel was so hoocked on Gerri, I still have to buy her some from Winnipeg ever so often.

Send more picures of the Palmgrove Children, We love to see how they have grown.
Eddie A Waldner

Kathy, Decker said:
On: 16th Apr, 2006 at 17:40

Hi everybody,
we are following your blog with great interest. The big idea that comes to my mind concerning your situation is simply, Thank God that at least something more positive is happening. Your honest, godly presence in Nigeria is not only pleasing to God, it’s a big encouragment for us here. Keep looking up. He does have all the answers. We pray that He will give wisdom and insight as you deal with whatever comes your way.

Anonymous said:
On: 16th Apr, 2006 at 20:59

Wishing our missionaries + fellow Nigerians a blessed Easter! The peace of God which surpasses all understanding guard your hearts + minds in Christ Jesus! It’s encouraging to hear that there are community members that have remained faithful despite difficult + trying times. This is not surprising, considering Isiah 55: 10,11. Preist Gott!! How can we ever give up on Palmgrove when Jesus did not give up on us, even to the point of death!? How could we (sinners saved by grace) point fingers at the members of Palmgrove in a superior manner? (Romans 3: 9) The following poem really brings things into perspective 4 us. We most note however, that imperfection is not an implication or excuse to cease admonishing, correcting+ rebuking sin in the church (1 Cor. 5: 6-8). After today’s Easter sermons’ who could actually doubt otherwise! Or as Rom. 6:1-2 puts it, “Shall we continue in sin that grace abound?” Certainly not!! Keep up the great work! May He grant u enough victories to keep u optimistic and enough failure to keep u humble and fully dependent on Him!

The Perfect Church

If you should find the perfect church
Without one fault or smear,
For goodness sake! Don’t join that church;
You’d spoil the atmosphere.

If you should find the perfect church
Where all anxieties cease
Then pass it by, lest joining it
You’d mar the masterpiece.

If you should find the perfect church
Then don’t you ever dare,
To tread upon such holy ground;
You’d be a misfit there.

But since no perfect church exists
Made of imperfect men,
Then let’s cease looking for that church
And love the church we’re in.

Of course, it’s not a perfect church,
That’s simple to discern
But you and I and all of us
Could cause the tide to turn.

What fools we are to flee our post
In that unfruitful search
To find at last where problems loom
God proudly builds his church.

So let’s keep working in our church
Until the resurrection.
And then we each will join that church
Without an imperfection.

Danelle said:
On: 16th Apr, 2006 at 22:33

Goodness, it’s great to hear from you! Des losst ner nit su weit ob! Mioh denkn ooft ahf enk. 🙂

Julia said:
On: 17th Apr, 2006 at 08:16

It is incredibly interesting to read the palmgorve enteries on here. Often we’ve heard references to the place, it’s people and purpose but never have I come across it so realistically!
I can’t imagine all the challanges! May Christ richly dwell among you and keep you in perfect peace.

Lloyd said:
On: 17th Apr, 2006 at 16:36

Hey Lance and our other Missionaries
great to hear whats going on there. It gives us a great picture of the life in Palm Grove, and I know most of us want/need to be better informed about the goings on there. Glad to hear your adjusting to the cuisine there. Keep looking up.

Markus said:
On: 17th Apr, 2006 at 19:14

Hello to all the Missionaries,

It sure is great to hear encouraging things about Palmgrove! Keep on being a positive presence over there. Go forward with God…

Barry, MapleGrove said:
On: 17th Apr, 2006 at 23:41

Hello Lance and others.

I cannot begin to fathom how it must be to live in a place where a person only eats a piece of bread for breakfast. Makes a person realize how forgranted we take our lives here in North America.

Leah said:
On: 18th Apr, 2006 at 15:55

Hi all of you, your updates surely are interesting…keep it up…wishing you all the best of courage and faith to go on down there..can’t help but think of you alot…so keep up the good work..God go with you all..

liam said:
On: 19th Apr, 2006 at 12:19

just stumbled upon your blog after “surfing” and trying to find information on the amish and hutterites as well as a group called Twelve Tribes. i felt sorry to hear that there were some brothers in the community there who weren’t whole-hearted. i pray that somehow you can experience a deep unity and a more peaceable life together in these chaotic and promising days.