We concluded our 13th trip to Africa with a 5 day whirlwind in which we visited 3 countries, stayed in 4 different hotels and participated in numerous meetings. To say we were tired and ready to be home is an understatement. However, as I reflect back on those final days there are 2 key thoughts that have remained stuck in my mind. These ideas impact not only our work in Africa, but for our day-to-day interactions here in the States as well.
The first is a principle of life that goes all the way back to Genesis 2 when God made Adam and said, “It is not good for the man to be alone.” With that single statement God showed us a core truth of life…we are made to live in relationship with others. We experienced that in every meeting we had those last few days. From looking at bee hives in Kenya, to grain trading and vegetable farming in Uganda, to supply chain discussions in Rwanda the development of relationship is critical for success in business and in life. It is through these relationships that trust is built, truth is discovered, vulnerability becomes safe and life transformation becomes possible. For us, the relationships God has allowed us to build over the years in Africa provide joy, excitement, hope and energy to keep moving forward despite some often difficult circumstances. The same is true back home. It’s the opportunity to have a positive impact on people that makes the work fulfilling.
A second, and closely related lesson, is the opportunity we have to change people’s paradigm through servant leadership. Much of what we see in Africa is a hierarchical or autocratic form of management. Workers tend to be very subservient and passive around those in authority over them. While this demonstrates an honorable characteristic of respect, it also creates a sense of inequality that seemingly lacks real concern for the people. The greatest leaders help individuals reach beyond what they are capable of on their own and they do this by serving the very ones they lead. The last few days in Africa solidified the opportunity that lies before us. By spending time getting to know the people we are working with we show them they have great worth; that each one of them is infinitely priceless. Additionally we become aware of their pain and struggles. It’s in these areas where we can help provide healing, hope and true life transformation.
It always feels good to set foot on American soil. Honestly , we love getting back to our plants to continue cultivating deeper relationships with our people there. It’s exciting seeing the growth that comes through investing in leadership and character development, seeing the progress on our new extrusion and consumer packaging lines and seeing the improvements in our dry blending and spray drying businesses. But we are also truly grateful for the people God has allowed us to work with in Africa. It is the thought of those relationships that make us quickly forget the challenges and inspire us to head back and keep doing the work God has put before us.
For information about each photo, see the captions below in order of appearance.
Photo 1: Bill Moore with some of the farmers looking at the bee hives that have been put in place
Photo 2: Bill Moore, Muhabwa Innocent (Project Manager in Uganda) and Peter (General Manager at Savanah grain processing facility)
Photo 3: The team of local farmers in Kenya who will help organize, protect and harvest the honey from behives in photo 1.
Photo 4: Bill Moore, Jacob Wheeler and Scott Pothoven with Haron Wachira, PacMoore’s partner helping to establish the honey project in Kenya
Photo 5: The official signing of the agreement between PacMoore and the local community group to work together on the honey project in Kenya