Mpo [m’POH] and Tendai [TEN-dai],* live in Zambia. One day they were hot and thirsty after playing. They sat down in the shade to rest. Then Mpo jumped up. “There’s a b-i-g watermelon growing in a field near here. Let’s go get it!”
The two boys set off toward the field. “Mpo ran ahead and grabbed the watermelon from the vine and raced toward the bushes. Tendai followed his friend. He wanted to ask permission to eat the watermelon before taking it, but when he reached his friend, Mpo had already broken the watermelon open. The sight of the juicy melon made Tendai’s mouth water. He scooped up a piece of melon and ate it. Soon the boys had eaten the entire watermelon. They sat back, full and satisfied.
It was getting late, and Tendai hurried home. When he arrived home, his mother said, “Dinner is almost ready.”
“I’m not hungry,” Tendai said. “I ate with Mpo.”
Mother frowned. “OK,” she said. “Then do your chores and come inside for worship.”
After worship, Tendai lay down on his straw mat and fell asleep. He dreamed that his family went to heaven, but he couldn’t enter because he had stolen the watermelon. He awoke with a start, crying. The next night and the next he had the same dream. He awoke the third morning knowing that he must tell his mother about the stolen watermelon.
“We must tell the farmer whose watermelon you stole,” Mother said. Mother and Tendai walked to the farmer’s house. Tendai confessed that he and his friend had stolen the watermelon. “It was wrong,” he said. “I’m sorry.”
The farmer nodded. “It was wrong to take the watermelon. Now I must buy another one. Do you have the money to pay for a watermelon?”
Tendai shook his head.
“Then you will work to pay for the watermelon,” the farmer said. Mother nodded at Tendai. “I need a new rubbish pit. I’ll show you where to dig it.” Tendai took the man’s shovel and followed him to a field. He began digging. It was hard work, and the sun was hot on his back. But he kept digging until the rubbish pit was done. Then he gathered the rubbish from the land around the pit.
Now when Tendai is tempted to do something wrong, he remembers the hot sun beating on his back as he dug the rubbish pit. He remembers his dreams, too, and he turns away from temptation, for he doesn’t want to miss out on heaven.
*Not their real names. This story was told to Mission by Mirriam Kashweka.