A Traditional Chinese Thanksgiving
We woke up at 2:00 am Tuesday to put everything in the car to head to the airport, and 46 hours later, we were arriving at the farm. Having lost a day and several hours of sleep, we were surprised by our team. They had a turkey prepared to celebrate our Thanksgiving dinner together! The entire meal consisted of rice noodles, rice, braised pork, greens, pumpkin stew, fish, and turkey. It wasn’t a typical Thanksgiving meal, but they did go out of their way to make us feel special. They even invited many of their friends over to celebrate with us. One lady remembered us as we had shopped at the supermarket where she worked… 2 years ago.
Our Chinese Home
The whole time we were there, the team made us feel so appreciated. And we were glad to be back there. Rachel and Elizabeth both felt like they returned home. When we took a day to go into the city to visit friends and see sights, both girls wanted to remain at the farm and help out, play with the rabbits, or rest on the hammocks.
David and Phoebe have taken the farm to a new level since they have been there. They have added many improvements to the kitchen, expanded the vegetable gardens, and hung hammocks for the team and guests. Many of the people who have come to the farm have been feeling burnt out and looking for rest, so these improvements were made with them and potential orphaned girls in mind.
The Farm Was Active With People
The hammocks were added specifically to encourage the rest, and they were constantly in use with everyone there. David and Phoebe had two staff they had hired, and there were three additional people staying there finding rest and two other families that stayed for a visit as close friends of David and Phoebe. And, of course, David’s parents still work there cleaning and farming. The place was busy the entire time we were there.
The changes to the kitchen and dining room were also intentionally made. They wanted to make an inviting place for people to linger during meals to hang out and spend time with each other. This was where we could always find people.
She Started to Believe in Herself
One of the women at the farm had a father who committed suicide when she was a early teenager. From that point she has had a hard time sleeping and would often wake up at night in fear and trauma. When she came to the farm, she would show no emotion, refused to talk to anyone, and was taking several depression medications. David and Phoebe invited her to the farm as she had been working with children and barely keeping it together.
At first while at the farm, they let her sleep, come eat with others or alone, and meet with one of them for counseling. Eventually she started to speak more and wanted to help out around the farm. She began helping with the cooking and talking to others besides just David and Phoebe. She started to share her story with those visiting the farm, helping them in their journey. When we were there, she was all smiles and made wonderful meals for us.
He Started to Believe in Others
David’s dad was also a wonderful story. He only came right before our family moved from China, and he was skeptical of working for foreigners. Since being at the farm, he had many doctor visits as he fought stomach cancer. He often thought we would fire him as he could not perform his duties for weeks at a time. He felt that he had to look after himself because no one else would. Many people who came to the farm prayed with him, helped with his responsibilities, and gave money for his medical bills.
When we returned to the farm, his demeanor had completely changed from when we first met him. He was smiling and talking often to others at the farm. And to our surprise, he cried when we were saying goodbye from this visit. Your support and prayers for the farm have had a on-going effect on many people. People who have felt burnt out are being restored; people who have lost hope are believing they have worth, and people who have felt alone are finding a family. The team still wants to help teenage orphaned girls and believe they will come. But every day they are practicing that life-giving work for those that are led to the farm.
Tools at the Farm
I would love to tell you more stories, but for space and privacy, I’ll limit this email. Please contact us if you want to hear more. A lot of what they are using at the farm to help others is in the book I wrote for the team, Academy of Powerful Caregivers.
Our finances should be good for the end of the year, and the tax exemption for giving will end the beginning of next year. But, if you would like to make a donation in the month of December, I will send you a copy of this book. It shows how to not fall into burnout and how to continue to care for people when you are not seeing results. If you are somehow serving others, whether as a parent, teacher, or any kind of caregiver, this would be a great resource for you.
This will be our last newsletter. Even though Josiah’s Covenant is closing, the work is still going. Thank you so much for your partnership and belief in this work. I have posted more pictures of our China trip on Flickr if you are interested in seeing other parts of the farm you helped build. May peace radiate over your life and family and may you be in constant awareness of God’s never-ending love for you.