Day 4: Wednesday, Aug. 4
Today, I was feeling sorry for myself in a major way. I suck at measuring (accurately, at least), cutting a straight line with a skill saw and screwing-in screws with a power drill. I was 0-for-3 on the day. I came to
So I went for a short walk to be alone and pray. “Lord, why is it so hard for me to learn how to do these things. I really want to get better. I just don’t have a knack for this sort of thing. This is going to be a really frustrating week for me if you don’t help me.”
I looked out over the empty backyard of the orphanage and stood in silence for a minute, sweating profusely. Then I heard God whisper in my ear: “Plant these people a garden. You’re a farmer.” Then I cried for a minute.
God was right. The fact that I suck as a carpenter doesn’t disappoint God one bit. I grew up on a farm, and even though I left the farm 31 years ago, the farm has never left me. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve driven down I-5 to
I joke that the farm house I grew up in was next door to fields of cantaloupe, wheat and lettuce – and poop, lots of poop because 20,000 head of cattle lived across the road. I can tell you everything about raising cattle, because my dad was a cattleman. As a sophomore in high school, I had the 4-H grand champion steer in the Yuma County Fair. I participated in the
My senior year, my dad the farmer advised me to choose between cattle and wrestling, and I chose wrestling. In college, I gave up wrestling for journalism after I suffered a lifelong injury to my neck. I was a newspaper journalist for 23 years, including seven years working in the food department for the Tri Valley Herald in
I digress. Back to
I walked next door to check out the corn field. I plucked an ear of corn, and the kernals were sweet and tasty. The field was infested with weeds. This farmer apparently didn’t like hoeing weeds.
I made mental notes of the farm equipment we would need. I thought about the irrigation problems we would face and how we would solve them. I made a mental note to ask my middle brother how to get rid of the abundant grass. I made a quick plan to buy some chickens and build a chicken coop so the children would have eggs to eat for protein. Chicken poop is one of the best natural fertilizers. They would need either a cow or a nanny goat for milk. We’d plant fruit and nut trees someday. I asked one of our interpreters if he thought we could get a local farmer to come in and chisel the ground, and he assured me they would help us. I made plans with the cook to go to the local farmers market so I could see the vegetables for sale from the area. (There was a large variety; I counted more than 20 different vegetables and fruits.)
When would we come back? November, to plant the winter crop. Then again in February for the harvest. We’d teach them bee-keeping because bees are needed for pollination. We’d teach them canning so vegetables would be plentiful two months later. Canning is no good unless you have a cool place to store the jars. With no electricity at the orphanage, we would have to build an old-fashioned root cellar a few feet underground to keep them cool. Because it rains so much, it would have to have proper drainage designed. We would need to write the director of the orphanage and ask his permission.
The children would help farm, because they need to learn the responsibility of caring for something that will benefit them. Teaching them to farm will bring alive Jesus’ teachings on the Parables of the Soils. Maybe a few of them will even become farmers.
I started thinking of friends who might join me because they have certain skills our team would need. My friend Jan was the first to come to mind, because she raises a few chickens in her back yard, she keeps bees to make her own honey (the best I’ve ever tasted), and her back yard is one huge garden. My two brothers are my best advisers, and maybe I’ll invite them to come along. I asked Bill, our
When God puts a vision on the hearts and minds of one of his followers, he gives them the tools they need, from ideas, to consultants, to helpers, you name it. All of the components won’t come at one time, but they’ll come at just the right time. His time. I love how God works. He uses us for his purposes, if we are willing to humble ourselves and serve him with his plan, not ours. This isn’t about us. It’s about empowering the Haitians to feed themselves. This project may go beyond this little orphanage that sits on 2 acres of this island nation. Every farmer in
Here’s the funny part. In January, I began a ministry called Feast With the King, whose premise is to use good food to witness to a lost world. One of our tenets is to help churches plant urban gardens and give the proceeds to the homeless. In
God first had to get me down there before he could put his ultimate plan on my heart. I had to grow a heart for those orphans before I could serve them. God wants his servants to have caring hearts for those they help. He wants our motives to be pure.
The hard part for me was to not go out and find a tractor and chisel and get to work. I wanted to organize the kids and get all the big rocks out of the field. But I knew I had to be patient, pray and wait. Every once in a while, I’d walk over to the ground and just look around and pray. Before I left, I bagged a pound of dirt to have it analyzed back home for nutrients.
When I got home, I wrote up the proposal to my church, Cornerstone Fellowship, and its mission board, which oversees this
God is present in
I can’t wait to go back to
Caption: Could this be where we one day plant a garden? Stay tuned.