Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Flopsy, Mopsy, and Peter

Maybe some of you have seen "Finding Nemo." Remember in the movie when Marlin and Dory meet the sharks who are having an addiction recovery session? The sharks have a phrase, "Fish are friends, not food." We've adopted that phrase in our family, but with two minor modifications. First, instead of "fish" we say "rabbit." And second, we swap "friends" and "food."

What you end up with is, "Rabbits are food, not friends."

Flopsy (White & Tan), Mopsy (White),
and Peter (White and Black)

A couple months ago we decided we were going to try our hand at raising some rabbits as a meat source. I know many of you Americans are more familiar with rabbits as pets, but remember, "rabbits are food, not friends." As we've learned from many of our european friends in Arua, rabbit is easy to cook and really, pretty tasty. But there's another reason, by far the more important one, that we're embarking on this endeavor as well.

That reason is our pastoral training facilitators. Or, more accurately their families.

You see, in our effort to allow the church to be more independent we realized that we (the white missionaries) need to be less visible in the training program. The implication is that we need to equip some of our Ugandan trainers to be able to facilitate the training of the trainers, who will then continue training the pastors. But that takes time. And that's where the rub comes.

The facilitators are very willing to give up their time, but every day they are away from their family is a day where it is that much harder for their family to eat. None of our pastors are rich. The vast majority of them don't receive any kind of salary from their churches. They pastor because it is what God has called them to do, but then they also have to try and find a way to make a living. This is the pastors. For the facilitators, who also pastor churches, we ask them to attend training for themselves and then to take that training and train the trainers, or travel with us to offer training on oral methods to others. This means that they can be gone from their families for up to a week at a time, sometimes even longer. Which brings us back to rabbits.

We felt Jesus leading us to find a way to help provide for the facilitators' families, especially while the facilitators are away from home. We thought about goats, but goats take a while to mature and once they do, are too big for a family to eat at one meal. So we thought about chickens (which we also have on our "farm"). But chickens also take a while to grow to a decent size and, here in Uganda at least, they get sick very easily. So when we were offered a rabbit, because we had never eaten rabbit before, things started to click.

In doing some research on the pros and cons of raising rabbits in a developing world context I found the following facts.

  • Rabbits are the perfect size for a family to eat in one meal and they reach that size much more quickly than chickens. For instance, a 2-month old rabbit produces more meat than two 5-month old chickens.
  • The meat from a rabbit is one the the most healthy sources of protein you can eat; it is low in fat and low in cholesterol. 
  • Rabbits reproduce quickly, a doe can conceive every 30 days, and have litters of 6-10 babies.
  • Rabbit manure can be put directly onto the garden, no composting needed.
  • Rabbits have fewer diseases that can affect them than do chickens.
  • Rabbits take plants that are unfit for human consumption (weeds, grasses, kitchen scraps) and turn it into nutritious protein.
So we're trying rabbits. We figure if we start with a male and two females we can have a new litter of rabbits every month of the year which, in theory, could provide either two meals a week or a meal and one rabbit to sell a week. We feel a responsibility to do something for these families who are sacrificing for the Gospel, and we're starting here. Got other ideas of opportunities to help facilitators and pastors provide for themselves? We'd love to hear them.

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