>> March 7, 2011

LaRae and her husband are missionaries in a Muslim country in West Africa, where they are developing a public health clinic to serve the medical needs of the people in their village. They live with occasional electricity and running water, and have a son who is 3 years old.

The trees are lushes and healthy, beautiful to the eye. Their fruit ripens into either brilliant crimson red or a cheery yellow.

...cashew fruit & nut...
When you bite into it, a light, sugary sweet water fills your mouth. Something about it makes you crave more and eat as much as you can eat.

Yet this delicate fruit has a dark side. When you eat too much, your mouth and throat become dry, inflamed and sore. If the watery juice drips on your clothes, a dark brown stain will appear after you wash it and nothing will take out the stain. If left for a day after picking, the fruit will ferment.

The tree also has a root system that spreads under the ground and pops up as new trees, making it difficult to completely remove them from your property.

Another yummy aspect to this tree is the hard green c-shaped lobe at the end of the fruit. Inside this bomb-proof shell is a fine quality nut.

...LaRae's African home and garden...
But again, there's a negative aspect. The green shell contains a vicious oil that causes blisters on your skin. It's a tedious process to harvest the nut -- and thus, the expensiveness of cashews.

As I have been experiencing the cashew season here, I've been fascinated at its bi-polar properties. I'd been told once upon a time that the fruit was poisonous. But here in Africa people pick it and eat it freely.

One day as I pondered this, I realized that sin is very much like the cashew tree, fruit and nut. Beautiful, delicious, tantalizing, addictive and poisonous.

And in the end, there is always a price to pay.

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