The Gift My Parents Gave Me

I could probably count on one hand the amount of times my parents have flown in their lifetime.

But it would take hundreds of hands to count the people they have welcomed into their home.

I wonder if they knew that when they stretched the table long on Saturday nights and filled it with all the extra table boards, that they were silently teaching us children that it, indeed, was more important to build a longer table than a higher fence.

Saturdays were often spent getting ready for “Sunday dinner company”- a tradition from my childhood and culture that has been greatly halted and sabotaged due to you-know-what.

My mother grew up in the era of having “Sunday dishes” and “Sunday silverware.” This carried right into my upbringing. Sunday dinner guests got royal treatment. I remember getting new “Sunday silverware” and being introduced to TWO forks. One big and one small. These were used for very special occasions when we also used salad plates.

But we did not only have company for Sunday lunch.

There were many weekends when friends from near or far would come. There was always a lot of prep work so that when the company was there- we could just enjoy them!

There were also many impromptu parties. Even if all that could be served was popcorn and water!

Every fall- my parents canned great quantities of apple juice and grape juice. Rows of those Mason jars lined the shelves in the fruit cellar. Many a Sunday night included a “Renita, run downstairs for a jar of apple juice.” This was paired with popcorn and whatever snacks my mother was hiding in the cupboard above the freezer out in the back entry! (If you know- you know😊)

My mother had her same lines she used and now sometimes I hear myself saying the words…  

Upon someone complimenting her on a meal- “Well, I hope it is enough to hold body and soul together!” or “Well, I am just glad if you enjoyed it.”

Upon someone saying that they want to come back again- “Well, our door is always open!”

Over my lifetime, I have had many unique experiences being the receptor of others hospitality.

Some memorable times include chasing a dog out from under my bed in a house where I was staying for the night. Once, I was put up into an attic in the dead of January in America. Finally, after putting on my winter coat and tying my hood I fell asleep. (60% of body heat escapes through our heads.) Another time, there was no shower curtain and no towels to be found in the bathroom, and let me tell you, I checked everywhere.

There have been times I have felt like a queen when visiting someone’s home. Plush towels, water bottles and chocolates on the bedside table, coffee and muffins in the morning, laundry services and more. I have, more than not, felt like a privileged guest. And all the experiences along the way formed how I like to make others feel welcome.

Over the past few years, I have been able to observe many different styles of hospitality. And my heart has been warmed by the simplicity that I have seen others serve from. Something that I have been learning is that the most important thing is to be “present over perfect”.

I have had the pleasure of calling more than one country my home in this lifetime, but no matter which side of the Pacific I dwell, and no matter how big or small my home may be, my goal is to always share what I have and give encouragement too!

Heb. 13:2 “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.”

1 Pet. 4:9 “Show hospitality to one another without grumbling.”

Being hospitable applies to all types of relationships. It is foundational in building relationships- being receptive, respectful, and open to others says, “you’re important to me.” If you let others know you value them, they will most likely have a similar feeling about you.

God intends for the world to be able to see Him, by His reflection in his people.

This last year has paused some styles of hospitality. But, maybe, just maybe, when the “doors open” to go back to hosting others whenever you want, it will be less about the perfection and more about being present!

My parents never once said, “Now we are going to teach you about being hospitable.”

But more is caught than taught.


Last Summer

About 18 months ago I composed a writing called “That One Summer”

I described the unique job I had, being a tour guide and trolley driver in St. Jacobs country. When I unhitched the team that last, rainy Saturday of August 2018, I had no idea if I would ever drive Duke and Mickey again.  My one way flight to Thailand was only 48 hours away and I did not know when I would be back.











The next 10 months I did spend on the other side of the Pacific, but due to visa issues, I found myself back in Waterloo County the middle of June. I was pretty excited to “get back in the saddle again”(actually, just behind the reins.) But sadly, Duke and Mickey were not going to be my main team. They were semi retired… and only going to be back ups.

I would get to know 5 new horses before summer was over. If there was one thing the previous year had taught me it was this: Keep calm and pray about everything. I thanked the Lord many times that it was not my first summer driving trolley. There was a brand new house being built close to the road we always travelled on to the market. Horses don’t love new, loud machinery and especially not well-diggers. Sometimes, people would park along the road leaving only a narrow passage, or it felt narrow anyway.

I still say though, if you can’t travel, be a tour guide. You will meet some fabulous people from all over the world. Everyone loves the touch of a slower paced life for 1.5 hours and people breathe deep the fresh, farm air, while taking a ba-zillion photos. You will get to know other tour guides of southern Ontario who bring their groups time and time again. One of my favourite groups was an African- American church group. I tell ya, it felt like heaven came down and glory had filled my soul because of all the Amen-ing and Yes, sister that was happening.

There was one guy, who faithfully brought groups of Koreans. They always came in on the morning flight and he would usually bring them on the afternoon trolley ride. Jet lag is a killer already, but when there is a female voice droning on and on in a language you can only partially understand, why, it is quite easy to lull off to sleep. My friend from DangBu Tours heard the speech so many times he already knew what to translate before I even said the words. I never introduced myself as “The Trendy Mennonite” but I caught on one day that that is always how he described me to the people. These people had never even seen a Mennonite and now they had just gotten off a plane less than 12 hours before and were getting the full coverage on who drives cars and who doesn’t, who wears solids versus prints, and who dances on Sunday nights. I finally asked a Korean one day, how we get so many people from their country? “Oooh, because this tour is on our TV.” And it is as simple as that.

It was inching on toward 5 PM, one day and I had just dropped the last load off at the market. I was really tired and the team and I were anxious to get back to the farm. I swung back up into the trolley and gave the horses the clucking noise for them to get moving. We had barely moved from the gate when I realized that “Houston, we have a problem.” The one rein was locked up tight. Because of the way this particular horse swung his head while he stood waiting, sometimes he would manage to get the one buckle of the rein locked into the ring on his collar. I had zero control of him, except with my words. In the next 2 seconds my brain jumped into action as I realized I needed to stop the team, get out, and physically fix the problem. I pulled back on the other horse and both of them stopped. I got off the seat to open the door.

Too Late.

We popped off like a rocket. I lunged toward the reins and hung on for dear life. I heard some awful snapping and popping, and breaking. When we finally stopped, we were in the middle of the road, leaving a broken, wooden fence in our wake.

I stayed on the seat, speaking in a voice so calm I could not even believe my own ears.

You know that verse,”Before they call, I will answer?” well, help was already waiting at the traffic light behind us. I saw a guy sauntering up. “Need a hand?” he wondered. Ummm, yes. The tongue of the trolley is broken and clearly we are not driving anywhere.

“You good with horses?” I asked.

“I’m ex Amish.” he stated through a half grin.

(Lord, thank you for ex Amish) We unhitched the team. and led them back into the market to tie them back up. Mr. Italian Man, who had just gotten off the trolley less than 10 minutes before, came running from the parking lot across the road. The 3 of us pushed the trolley off the road.

While I wish I could say none of this happened, it did. What “they” say is true, when you get bucked off, get back on. I chalked it up as experience, and you can bet your britches I always checked the reins BEFORE takeoff.

There were 110 reasons to be thankful. Thankful first and foremost that no one had gotten hurt, thankful that the horses did not run into traffic, thankful that the trolley was fixable, thankful that it was the end of the day and no one was with me.

It was an incredible summer. The thing is, I never ever dreamt I would come to enjoy horses so much. I still have so much to learn about these magnificent creatures, but horses are not much different than people. You treat them right, and it goes a long way in building trust and loyalty.

I got another Visa and headed back to Asia. I have a life here that is far removed from large Belgiums, St. Jacobs tourism, and Hallmark adventures where the knight in shining armor swoops in to save the damsel in a broken-down wagon.

“Last Summer”…. were the days before Corona exploded and changed our world. I hope tourism isn’t over for good, ‘cuz this trendy Mennonite would love one or two more rides.






When We Don’t Want to do the Simple Thing…

“But I don’t WAAANNNNTTTT TO WEAR A MASK!!!!” The little, blonde foreigner wailed in a room filled with nearly 60 silent people trying to practice social distancing and sit on chairs marked only with the proper stickers. Every single person inside and outside, are wearing masks. The little people are obviously the cutest humans, pulling off all kinds of Disney or Animal fabrics, while the rest of us settle for boring, solid colours.

It is another day at Immigration. As I stepped up to the gate at 5:30 AM, I settled on the grass beside the sidewalk. I had come prepared, earphones, water, and food. I was fifth in line and I was excited that I could wait out most of the hours in the dark before the stifling heat settled in for the day.

Immigration is adjacent to the airport. On a normal day, the traffic would have been constant, and almost bumper to bumper. But not today. It was almost eerie. The silence. On a normal day I would not have been able to eavesdrop on the conversation two people were having in the line in front of me. There would have been too much noise.
At 7:30, the gate opened. By this time there was close to 100 people in line. Immediately, we had our temperatures taken and then we got directed to tents to sit under. There was a Long Term tent, 90 Day Reporting tent, Short Term Visa, and a COVID-19 tent. (This tent was for people who have unwanted visa restrictions do to Covid 19)

In spite of my preconceived ideas that this place was going to be a nightmare, it was not. People were respectful. Kind, even. For the first time ever, I did not hear a foreigner getting upset. I have spent up to ten hours at this place at one given time, and I am appalled how some Westerners have the audacity to speak to officials of this land. But this time, people were not in a rush. That was IT.
Everybody sitting and waiting today, they actually have time to sit and wait. They are not panicking about missing an appointment because, who has an appointment? (Ok. So maybe a medical appointment, but other than that….????)
But then the little girl with 2 pony tails popping out the top of her head, started to throw a fit.

It appeared like all the emotions of Corona were coming out. She did not want the mask. Perhaps she has only been in the country for 3 months and is still adjusting to many things. Maybe it was her first long, boring wait at Immigration. And the mask was just the straw that broke the camel’s back.
Really, a mask is quite a simple thing. The culture I am in practices it quite faithfully already. I do not get stared at for wearing it. I would get STARED at if I chose not to wear it.

All the personality types come out full fledge in time of crisis. The critics are on their band wagon.The fearmongers are mongering…The arrogant are still arroganting( ya, I probably should stop making up words) There are a plethora of ideas and solutions that people share on how best to cope these days.
What if we just all did the simple things? Maybe wearing a mask will make you scream. But it is not horrible. There are so many things I will not even mention here because we are all hearing them

The two-year-old inside of us might want to scream. But her parents knew best. We, as arrogant people, have to get off our little pedestals, and realize that the “parents” of healthcare are not asking hard things from us. Christians, maybe being the Light means obeying the government instead of trying to “get away with social gatherings, etc.etc.)
Naaman did not want to do the simple thing. He did not want to dip into the water. “It’s too easy,” he said.

Don’t be a Naaman. Just do the simple things, even when they seem ridiculous and you don’t understand. “But I will go insane!” you say. Pretty sure there are medications for that…
( I am NOT making light of people who need these coping meds, please just hear my point)

Let’s Do The Simple.

“Too Far Away”


When Hudson Taylor and Mother Theresa left everything behind for the sake of the call, they knew they were going to miss important events.

Somehow, by 2020, we really do not need to miss anything or anyone. We can face time, video call and send messages and the communication is at its finest.

Except… when you wish to be physically present AND YOU ARE NOT physically present. This is not a post of self-pity, but rather reflection on a quiet hard-working woman named Ruthanne.

Today, half a world away, there are people grieving the sudden loss of a wife, mother, mother-in-law, sister and grandma.

And while death happens every single day and affects many people world over, it will never lose its sting.

Because my two sisters happened to marry two brothers, I have known the Grove family for as long as I can remember.  Because the grief affects my own flesh and blood, it would be comforting to be there in person and somehow “lesson the blow”.

I remember corn roasts on the farm, youth activities in the house and yard, baking cookies for a fundraiser in the kitchen, and picking out flowers in the greenhouse for my very own garden. Ruthanne taught me that pansies are edible and that they make a lovely garnish on a cake.

I knew when I moved overseas that there would be days I wished it wouldn’t be so far to travel back to my homeland.

But today, if I could choose, I would go to honor the life of a woman who raised 4 sons, 2 of which became my brothers-in-law. Her godly influence also impacted 8 children whom I’m proud to call my nieces and nephews.

To the Grove Family, may peace be yours today. And may you feel the Ever-lasting arms enfold you.










“That One Summer”


When I was a little girl, I lived on a dairy farm along a dusty, gravel road. Back then, I thought that the majority of the world lived along bumpy, dusty roads. And that if you didn’t live in the city, that must mean you live on a farm with lots of space to wear yourself out biking all over the place. My world was safe, secure, and very small.
I thought that every barn housed cattle, chickens, horses, calves, and pigeons. And I also thought every barn was old, with unwritten rules about where you could and could not play, because some holes bigger than yourself could appear mysteriously out of no where on the second-story floor, and if you were not careful, you could end up plummeting into a great manure-y abyss far below.
I remember thinking how beautiful the horses looked but always kept a safe distance. I didn’t know then that one day in my future I would get close enough to a horse that if it chose to, it could kick me. Nope. I did not know that then.
My father liked his horses. Every winter he would get the old sleigh out of the shed and hitch up a team of Belgians. We would entertain friends by gliding all over the snow-covered fields and laughing and singing like we were living in a different era than the 1990’s. No one grabbed their phone to take selfies or video the moment. No sir-ee, what ever memories you got, you downloaded on the spot in your long term memory.
Every now and then, I would stand up beside my dad at the front of the sleigh.. And every now and then, I was allowed to hold the reins for dear life. When I was somewhere around 10 or 11, the last of the horses got sold. They were expensive pets.
Fast forward 20 years.
I am a teacher, and have not touched a horse in who-knows-how-long.
My summer job is St. Jacobs Horse Drawn Tours. This job is multi-faceted.

That means you could be in charge of giving pony-rides, selling tickets for the Mennonite Farm Tour, or………………………………. you could be the person driving the horses and trolley and giving a 75 -90 minute “schpiel” about the history of Mennonites in Waterloo area, the differences between the varied groups, and also answering a smorgasbord of questions concerning Mennonite beliefs.
All this is happening while taking a delightful journey along a scenic country road to an Old Order Mennonite farm about 3 km from St. Jacobs Farmer’s Market. At the farm you drive through an enchanted forest (it really is… but with some seriously tight corners to maneuver a large trolley around. I may or may not have left some paint on a tree) and then you have the opportunity to tell about the differences in the buggies, invite the tourists to pet a new baby calf, and buy maple syrup produced right in the bush you just drove through.

Oh. My. The job looked daunting. Like I-have-a-permanent-stomach-ache daunting.
But I agreed to learn.
I think I ran through every worst-case-scenario in my head. What I did not calculate was this,  HOW MANY WONDERFUL people I would meet. And literally FROM ALL OVER THE WORLD.

People, may I insert here, that if you want to “travel”. while staying at home, then this is the job for you. Also, it wouldn’t hurt if you also like horses, because you are going to be within very close proximity to them multiple times a day. You groom them in the morning before harnessing them, and then water them at various points throughout the day. You will need to be prepared to clean up after them if they choose to make the market pavement their territorial spot. But what job doesn’t have a couple not-so-fun aspects to it?

My boss was extremely encouraging and patient. And in all honestly, I had the oldest team. But a horse is still a horse. So I would say our relationship ( the team and I ) started out with some skepticism for each other, but then as time went on, that disintegrated into trusting each other.
Most of the time, when people found out what I was exactly doing in the summer of 2018, they kind of had a small fit, and then said something like,” Okay, I gotta come check this out.” or “WHAT?? Your drive the horses and do the talking?” or ” What in the world, I didn’t even know that all goes on at the market” etc. etc. etc……………
I did not get pictures with all my friends and relatives that came. But it was fun to see who would all show up in a day. Like my aunt. Who is my dad’s sister. And it was their dad and his brothers who were horsemen. I never met my Grandpa Bauman, but I kind of think he might like this picture! Aunt Grace was my hero that day. When we came across an unexpected tree limb blocking our trail in the forest, she and another couple got out and pushed it aside. With out their help, we would all still be stranded in the bush. She is also sporting a hand bag Made In Thailand. Purchased just that morning at the market.

And my Mom. Who braved the heat and sun. Thankfully she didn’t have to move any tree limbs. But she be-friended people on the trolley and helped answer questions.

Also, this job taught me so much more than I initially thought it would. For instance, like I mentioned before, I met SO MANY FANTASTIC POEPLE from all over. I learned so many things about different cultures everywhere. I learned how Dutch and Mennonites are more similar then one would care to guess. 🙂 I learned that Holsteins are also called Friesians. I learned a lot about horses personalities. And I learned that Mikki( the female horse on the team) knows when the traffic light changes to green.
And mainly, I learned, AGAIN, how much I REALLY DON’T KNOW.
Sometimes I just wanted to stand and talk with people for hours because their stories(and accents) were so captivating. The next time I sped the horses up to get back to the market more quickly because the undisciplined children had me seizing up.
I have come to discover that in every culture, there are really kind, caring, generous souls.
I had a Swiss man press a $20 into my hand and say “I was a tour guide on (can’t remember the name) River, and as much fun as it is, it is utterly exhausting too.”
I had a mother cautiously approach me after a tour one time,”I don’t know if I may ask this, but how do Mennonites get their kids to sleep? Do they sleep train?”
I had an entire load of seniors, determined they would find a soul-mate for me, if I came to their community.
I also learned how NOT TO ACT, when taking a public, guided tour. Sometimes, I wanted to quote Brian Regan( But change it to Negative form ) ” This is NOT the last helicopter out of Vietnam.” ( there will be more trolleys- later-)
A few tips I would give ( if people would ask )
1. STAND IN LINE when buying your ticket.
2. Keep said ticket
3. Get on the ( boat, train, bus, trolley ) before take off time.
4. If you reserved with a large group, show up in GOOD TIME. The world and time does not revolve around you and your group. We love you, but we have a schedule to follow.
5. Listen to instructions.
6. Don’t talk loudly ( actually not at all) while tour guide is speaking.
7. Ask to leave the group before just running off to take selfies or find a restroom. The tour guide doesn’t want to leave anybody behind.
8. Be careful where you stand for pictures. Horses are horses. They might not want you cuddling up to a hind leg. It is much better to stand by their head. They won’t bite you. ( They are on HUNDREDS of photos a week)

A normal trolley ride included anywhere from 22- 26 people on a sunny market day. And the sun shone 95% of the market days this summer. So on a typical day I could end up meeting 80 – 100 people. Sometimes less, depending how many tours I did in day.
At the end of the day, I would drive an empty trolley back to the farm, unhitch and unharness the team, and “call it a day.”

It was raining my last Saturday of Summer 2018 that I worked. I put The Half Ton Gentle Gems(Duke and Mikki) into the barn, thanked them for the good run they gave me, and gave them one last pet on the nose. I didn’t tell them I am flying half way around the world to a country they have never seen. Or that I am going to be teaching English. But, somehow, I think they knew. They heard me talk alllllllllllllllllll summer long. They heard me tell the very occasional person what my plans are after the summer.
And so even though I didn’t tell them anything. They know. Horses are Smart.
And so some day down the road, when I am recounting fond memories of by- gone days, I will probably start a story with ” One of my favourite summers was ‘That One Summer….”






Arbour/Arbor Day

There is a certain excitement in the air at the mention of Arbour Day. “Do you think the snow will melt in time for us to rake the school yard when its 26 C next week?”

And then, just like that, the snow does melt. Fast. Two weeks ago we had a Snow/Ice Day. But that was then, this is now.

I haven’t studied much on the history of Arbor Day and why it is “a thing.” I only know that all my school years it was ” the thing to do.” The format hasn’t changed in the last 25 years. As a teacher, it is still a fun day, but with a little more responsibility tacked onto it.

First, you are responsible for making sure you have hot dogs to roast over the fire for lunch.  But when I got to the grocery store last evening, Red Hots and Dempster shelves were EMPTY. Void. Vacant. It was that”youngest of the family” feeling passing all over me again..” OH NO. I missed it. I missed the Red Hots and Buns that were on special.”


That meant I had to buy some REALLY GOOD Maple Leaf smoked wieners that were even on for 40% off. A different brand. 5 in the package. Not a deal compared to the all BEEF RED HOTS that were clearly in all other fridges at this point.

The morning of this much anticipated day dawned bright and clear. A strong wind didn’t damper the spirits. A bit before 9AM  I stepped outside the front door. I could only imagine that scramble of everyone trying to get out the door of their homes that morning armed with rakes, roasting wires, marshmellows, on sale Red Hots , Demspter buns, back packs, homework, pails and rags… I was not disappointed.

And this wasn’t even the half…

There are unwritten agendas of who always does what. I suppose in some rare cases it wouldn’t “fly” to have such gender specific jobs. But in the world of Arbor Days and Ice cream cones, it doesn’t matter that we have been doing it the same way since the beginning of time and to change it would be to twist a legend. And then it would never be the same. So nope, can’t have boys cleaning windows and girls raking and stuff. Goodness, no.

After cleaning, raking, trash-collecting, and hearing a few trucks honk(Another trick that has stood the test of time. Boys cleaning ditches WILL make the trucks honk. There is no stopping this,) it was time to gather for lunch.

There was a BIG circle of students, Kindergarten to Grade 12, along with the teachers who gathered inside rink. Three fires were perfect temperature to roast approx. 400 wieners and maybe almost as many marshmellows. It was an emotional affair standing around that fire with some of my favourite people. The mix of wind, smoke, and ashes whirling into one’s eyes, leaves even the strongest of us gasping for air and wiping our nostrils. It was one of the worst roasting experiences I have had, eye wise, but it was also the best. Every one was giving heart felt advice on how to BEST ESCAPE the heat in the eyes and how if you lift your shirt up over the face you can still see what you are doing. So with all the good mirth and big people helping little people, it was still a good roast.

But after I had suffered over a few others RED HOTS and had gotten them off the roasting sticks , it was suddenly time to start marshmellows. I love roasting a nice, golden piece of gooey-ness, but that also involves a steady hand and not letting it touch the flame.

I didn’t always succeed, because, today was more about quantity rather than quality.

In fact, in the end, I did something that I have NEVER EVER, EVER DONE on Arbor Day before. I feel a need to confess it because I don’t want it to become a tradition in any way, shape, or form. So here goes…


” I used the microwave instead of the fire to heat the Smoked Maple Leaf Weiner” and… I loved it.  Sure, I probably missed something cognitively numbing and heart wrenchingly beautiful by not partaking in  that blackened, ashy, cold in the middle, burnt on the outside, piece of pork once-a-year- meal at school. But honestly, that was one of the best Arbor Day hotdogs I ever ate. I was actually glad I did the upgrade from Red Hots to Smoked Maple Leaf.

After everyone was full it was time to start a baseball game. There are enough Blue Jay hats to think your at a real game( just kidding) and lots of hits and outs.  The very talented  Mrs. Martin, co-teacher, hero, and friend, can ump like a pro. This was a quick picture after the game. To celebrate cleaning up around the diamond.

And then it was on to the last, highly important tradition of the day.


Scooped right into the cone. Neapolitan, Butterscotch Ripple, and Chocolate. It is a lot of scooping, but it is worth it. Right in the middle of scooping I had a 7-year-old sneak up and quietly ask for a bag. “A bag?” I repeated. It was confirmed that a bag was needed. Since this isn’t my student I couldn’t read in between the lines of what a bag might be for. Suddenly, the small, dirty, sticky hand opened up and there I saw the tiniest tooth I have seen in a long time. ” Oh, its a tooth!” I exclaimed. Stating the obvious. I told her to take it to her desk. I got left with a half eaten icecream cone ready to drip any second. But I can’t lick a students cone. One of those unwritten rules again. While still holding said cone, a former student whips his cone at me ( same condition) and said that top dropped of his cone and he needs to do put that part in the garbage. Again, I did not lick the cone. Did I mention I was also eating my own cone at the same time? eventually, both students returned for their cones.

AH yes… and so this day full of traditions is over again for another year.
But I hope there will always be Arbor Days.

The Harvest



 (This piece of writing is almost a year old. I wrote it last summer while I was in Oregon .)


har ^ vest

Noun- the process or period of gathering crops.

Verb- gather (a crop) as a harvest

I love words that can be used as nouns or verbs. Words that are so useful to a language they are bilingual.

Where I live  in southern Ontario there is diversity with crops. And the fields don’t stretch on for eons. I like the greenness of corn, the smell of fresh hay, the soybeans turning color and always my favourite is a field of ripened grain. Especially if it is on the foreground of a vibrant blue sky. I have taken numerous pictures of this. And I feel blessed this summer. I am having the experience of HARVEST in  Oregon State. In the Willamette Valley.  You see the dust before you see the combine. You see the windrows. You see the rakes. And the balers. I tell you what. It is quite a process. Then you see stacks of bales- six high- four wide- waiting to be picked up and loaded onto the waiting semi. 20150703_205708.jpg

These semis then transfer the bales pack to the press where they get unloaded in systematic fashion and dropped into the proper shed. There are so many people involved. Guys from all over the place, with all levels of experience, are thrown together. They get plopped into houses with people they may or may not know. The men in charge of the different crews are constantly organizing and sending the guys to the fields they need to go.

Sometimes things do not always go as planned. Equipment breaks down. The one on the baler feels like he is not doing anything productive because he is sitting there waiting for the problem to be fixed. 20150709_193026.jpg

Then there are those behind the scene. Wives and other ladies cooking. Cleaning. Doing laundry. Just keeping the daily grind going so that everyone can enjoy the flow.  At 6:00 when we meet for supper, I like to look over the mess of people- old men with grey beards and keen wisdom , young men trying to strut tall and strong with dusty pants and dirty shirts, little boys running to hug their daddy’s leg and quickly downing their supper so they can go ride on the tractor afterward. Women come loaded down with towel wrapped hot dishes. Older women teaching the younger women how to treat the men on The Harvest. How to set out a hot meal on the tables by the river at 6:00 every night so that in 40 years from now it will still happen this way. Young girls fill water cups and grab toddlers to help them fill their plates. In the cooling down of the day about 60 people of all ages bow their heads to the Maker of The Harvest and the Giver of Life and thank Him for abundant blessings of health and safety through the day.20150710_180721.jpg

 All these people from young to old are making a sacrifice for The Harvest. Wives and husbands sacrifice time they normally spend together for the sake of The Harvest. Young guys leave home for a month or two and relinquish their mothers cooking and care as well as friends and fun and safe keeping at home for the sake of The Harvest. Children sacrifice their daddy and routine for the sake of The Harvest.

We often talk about another Harvest. And so we should. Jesus talked about this Harvest. This Harvest also involves a “crop.”

He talked about fields being ready to Harvest and no one being available for it. Luke 10:2 says,” And he said unto them,” The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers to the harvest.”

This harvest also includes the young, the old, the strutting men, and toddlers, and babies. It includes dirt, sweat, and grime. Dust and detail.

It also is a process. You need the combiners, the rakes, the balers, the stackers, the truck drivers, the unloaders, and the organizers. You need those preparing bodily food and spiritual food.

Sometimes things do not always go as planned. In fact, it looks like no matter which way you turn- there are break downs.

This harvest also includes sacrifice. The giving up. The moving away unto unfamiliar ground. The newness of new land. Sacrificing everything familiar for the sake of saving a crop that will otherwise spoil.

I am trying to imagine what it would be like to see all these crops, beautiful as they are, going to waste because no one was here to harvest it. All the equipment to drive to do the harvesting and no one available for it. The tremendous waste of rotting crops- because no one sacrificed their wants and needs and wishes to save the crop. 20150706_205632

Harvest is exciting, people. I can tell. It gets in your blood. It can be early mornings and late nights. And something about the craziness, and the dust, and the rush to “gather” it before the rains… well…. It just all bonds together into this one package of urgency and concern.

Working in The Harvest of The Kingdom is exciting too. I know. It gets in your blood. It can be early mornings and late nights.  And something about the craziness of working with souls in the dust and the rush to “gather them in before the rains of judgement”…. Well…. It just all bonds together into one package of urgency and concern.