Monday, October 24, 2011
Lessons From Grandma
Grandma had two gardens. One provided for the family and one provided food for others who needed it...be it neighbors, friends or strangers.
Now I wouldn't call what she did human trafficking but I would describe it as "child labor". She'd been raised on a farm as one of 14 children and during those years or sometime after she had definitely read 2 Thessalonians 3:10 "The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat". Actually, I don't recall being given the choice to work or not to eat. There were days I would have gone hungry rather than work in the garden.
To be honest I don't think she worked us as hard or as often as it felt...my perspective as a child and my perspective as an adult on those times are quite different. For one, I cherish them much more now. We often cherish people more when they are gone. But she worked me enough that I learned valuable lessons from gardening. I know about planting, weeding, picking vegetables and what to do with them when you pick them. A few years ago I started gardening again not only as a means to feed me and the kids but because I'd suddenly found something very soothing in the process. When Adam and Eve lived in Eden, God told them to tend the garden so there must be something spiritual about planting, watering, weeding and eating the fruits and vegetables of your labor. The more I garden, the more I learn...
And this weekend got to put that knowledge to more use. A bunch of us from OM USA went to Clarkston, GA. At some point, the federal government picked certain areas to patriate refugees. Apparently they looked for areas with plenty of apartments and public transportation (or those were two of the qualifications from what I was told) and Clarkston was a grand location...and now one of the largest refugee populations in the country. There are approximately 60,000 refugees from around 150 different ethnic groups in the area. Our team from OM USA split into groups and worked with several different projects. Some of us visited homes, some walked around the area and met people (praying, having conversations and praying with people when appropriate), we had backyard Bible groups (face painting, singing, story-telling), a pottery class, a dance class, a landscaping team at the elementary school (working with the 4-H club) and a team that went to the community gardens to help out.
Guess what team I was on?
The community garden is a project run by Friends of Refugees and about 40 families have a small garden plot plus they have a community area where some things have been planted and everyone can share. We helped clear some land so that 40 more families can have a plot. We also weeded, mulched and helped put up a fence to try and deter thieves. I helped clean out and clean up the small green house they had built as well. Because many of the refugees are new to the area they don't know the land that well and often experiment to see what will grow. Many of them of course want vegetables, herbs, etc from their homeland so they do their best to make them grow. I was able to talk to Adam from FoR and the garden keeper (whose name I sadly can't remember but whose story of his home in Bosnia I will never forget) about some of the things that grow well, some of the ones that won't, times of year to plant, etc. I was also able to do some things to help that others on the team didn't know how to do because they didn't grow up with my Grandma.
I don't believe in the idea that people in Heaven can look down on us. But I do know God is a loving God and I know that my Grandma fought hard to beat her cancer because she was so worried about me, about what would happen to me when she was gone, if I would be "okay". I wonder...in a whimsical fashion of course...if He gave her a glimpse into this day, with me working in this garden, to let her know that though the lessons she taught me would take a while to sink in, I would not forget them...and more than that, would put them to good use.