The rain in Spain and two young Germans

It rarely rains in Spain’s Southern deep. But when it does, it can be a nail-biting time as it usually means a flash flood is on its way!

It was mid January 1971, when we first arrived as missionaries in Southern Spain. And after leaving the lush green pastures of England, it was more than a shock to arrive to such a barren and undeveloped raw wilderness. But even the poverty and wide open scruffy wilderness wasn’t the worst shock –  it was the unrelenting and unbearable stifling heat that I never knew existed! Apart from that, it was the sheer barrenness. There wasn’t one tree anywhere for shade.

So once we had finished building Centro Cristiano, I was determined to plant some trees. But all we could find were some tiny match-stick seedling cuttings of pine trees. The earth was solid rock, and Chris had to use a pick axe to make even the tiniest of holes. After a hard days work planting the seedlings there were just two seedlings left over but Chris had only dug one hole. Wanting to get out of the sun, I just popped the last two seedlings into the one hole. But Chris objected saying that no-matter how small a seedling you never put two into one hole. But the heat was on my side, so the two seedlings were left in the one hole.

Year after year, we watched those two seedlings fusing at the base and growing into a V shape tree with Chris keep reminding me how two trees should never have been be put into one hole! He was right, as it was obvious that one day half of the tree would need to be sawn off as they were both pushing out sideways against each other.

Years later while we were out-of-town, one of Spain’s frightening downpours occurred. When we got back home there had been a serious flash flood. We were then told the incredible story of how two German girls were driving down the only road that goes past Centro Cristiano. But they got caught up in the flash flood and their vehicle was being rapidly swept along by a raging torrent towards the sea. Suddenly, with the water building higher their car came to an abrupt thump as it became wedged in the V shape of our now fully grown tree!! The girls were able to open the door of their vehicle and clamber out clinging onto the branches of our tree. Their vehicle dropped down with a thud and they watched in horror as it was a swept away like a toy car hurtling to utter destruction into the sea!

My two matchstick seedlings that I had planted twenty-five years earlier had saved two lives! The young women had been able to stay clinging onto that tree until the flash flood had passed through and help came!

That was the end of mine and my husbands twenty-five year ongoing dialogue about how two trees shouldn’t be put into one hole!

My dear husband said, “Christine, perhaps it was the Lord after all how you insisted that those two seedlings should stay in that one hole.”  I said, “Oh really Chris?”

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By Christine Smith