By Emily Theresa

It’s papaya season here in Sri Lanka.

And this woman in the yellow dress, she brings us goblets full of the perfect golden fruit, cubed. We fill our plates with chicken stew, fish stew, coconut rice, lentil Dahl and green beans.

Plastic chairs scrape the floor. A child laughs somewhere. The air smells of curry and jasmine.

The breeze is slow and heavy, like a blanket, like the wind is tucking itself in and falling asleep. We too feel sleepy.

“I cooked it all while you were gone!” says this widow in her seventies, her cheeks flushed. Her name is Annula.

She recently received a flour processing machine from The Lulu Tree. I’d poured rice into the mouth of the machine earlier, watched as it ground it up, spit it out as flour. Now she’s packaging the flour and selling it to many, and she recently hired two more mothers to help her.

After the flour demonstration, we’d slipped out to visit another mother while this one prepared us lunch.

Annula’s been up since 4 am, cooking food to sell at a local school. She does this in addition to selling flour from her processor.

She talks about being like the “small animals” from Proverbs, how they work so hard to care for their families. She wants to be like the ant, and “if we give and give and give, that is the key to success,” she says. She tithed 12,000 rupees the first month after Lulu gave her the machine. (An ordinary monthly wage in Sri Lanka is 30,000 rupees.)

The sun wraps her frame, now, like a gold sari.  I can’t stop staring at her eyes. They shine something holy and she stares past us, like she sees the One whose eyes are fire.

“Jesus tastes so sweet to me,” she says, her worn hands folded in her lap. “I keep opening my mouth wide, wanting to taste Him more. He’s like the leaves of a tree that grows here. Its leaves are so sweet. Jesus tastes like that, and I can’t stop eating Him,” she says with a laugh.

We are silent because we feel something filling this place so full there’s no room for us, just her and Him, but we can’t leave, we don’t want to ever leave, because it’s filling us, too.

“We were those who ate and drank with Him after He rose from the dead,” says Peter, and this is us, now.

She pours us orange Fanta, tells us her dream is to help countless mothers across the island.

Then Annula stops, looks at us, and says, “Tomorrow you will go visit the war widows. And you must help them. They need you.”

She speaks with authority and vision. Like someone who sees.

As we’re about to leave, she pulls out her medical papers.

“In 2022, doctors said I had cancer, that I would die,” she tells us. “I looked at them and laughed! I said, I serve the Greatest Doctor and He won’t let me die. He’s got too much work for me to do.”

Six months later, when she had a cat scan, they couldn’t find the cancer anymore.

“I jumped up from the bed and said, ‘That’s my God!’” she says.

We can’t find any words. We just ask her to tell us the story again, our mouths open wide to taste Him more.

We will meet many mothers. But this one whose eyes shine, she feeds us more than fish stew and golden papaya. We feast on living Bread, and when we leave the sweet taste lingers, like the scent of curry and jasmine.


(A small note to say — Emily’s new memoir is releasing June 4th, about all God has done through The Lulu Tree. If you wish to pre-order, go HERE or HERE if you’re Canadian. If you wish to join Emily’s prayer team for the book, please go HERE)

New memoir by Emily Wierenga