Saturday, June 24, 2017

Friday, June 23, 2017 - All good things come to an end

Today was our last day down on the farm. Fitting that it rained all day. The weather did not dampen our spirits at all though. One more day of turning the soil in the garden to accept new life for the farm. One more day to tend to the animals that depend on the farmers. One more day to grow our friendship with the farmers and staff. One more day to offer our friendship, service and spirit to a wonderful place that cares for the people that benefit so much from it’s special style of healing and nurturing. We were fortunate to be a part of Hiram Farm if only for a week. We are now a part of a special family. We learned, we cried, we laughed, we shared...but most of all we loved. Agape to the max!

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Thursday, June 22, 2017 - Thursday in Ohio

When we go on our Mission Trips, we are very serious about our intentions of spreading and sharing the Agape. Each day is another chance to be the light for someone else, to walk in step with the teachings of Jesus. Then there are the days just made for fun. Today was one of those.

We left the dorms this morning for the Camp Hi Canoe Livery for a lazy canoe float trip down the upper Cuyahoga River. Let’s be honest, our Youth Community does not have the best track record with water excursions. In years past, in Maine, in Boston it just wasn’t good, but not this year. A morning of floating and tipping, splashing and laughing. A great way to break up the day. After the trip and a sack lunch by the river we headed back to the dorms to change and head back to the farm for a little light work before supper. Every evening a different group takes charge of dinner prep and cooking and cleaning up. We all share in the duties. Afterwords we sang and wished Conner a happy birthday.

Tomorrow is our last day on the farm. It’s been a wonderful week so far and we expect the same of our last day of sharing, God willing.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017 - Wednesday is hump daaaaay!

Another absolutely spectacular day here in Northeast Ohio! Our morning routine started at 7:30 again today. Up and out of our dorm rooms and down the block to our church home for meals. Breakfast and then off to the farm. The work may be the same as the day before but each day we see the progress that we have made as the farm enters it’s growing season. Animals need to fed and tended to and the garden is always in need of tending. Today though we got to plant! Tomatoes and winter squash. We learned planting methods and proper care to give the best outcome for the crops.

Though it has only been a short few days we have made great friendships of the farmers. They are so wonderfully joyous as the great us each morning. Today we helped them prepare for a parade in the neighboring town of Garrettsville. Painting posters for them to carry to represent the farm. It’s a big event. The farm treated us to lunch today. Fresh farm burgers and all the trimmings were prepared as ate with the farmers today.

After lunch a game of kickball with the farmers and staff to break up the day, then back to the dirt as we prepped the garden to accept more plantings. Mike the farm manager says that God lays out the plans but it’s up to us to fulfill them.

This afternoon we became a whole unit again as Emma Peca joined us. She had been on a school trip to France and is now back with her community after arriving home in Lombard on Tuesday. She has some catching up to do but it was important that she join us as this is her final Mission Trip with the Youth community. We have missed her leadership but now she can complete her journey that she began when she was a freshman in High School.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Tuesday, June 20 - More beautiful weather and more opportunities to learn about Hiram Farm

As we become more comfortable with our surroundings we start to see more of what is evident. The love and respect for the farmers by the staff at the farm. The farmers have the option of choosing the task they will do of that day. Each farmer has an aid to help guide them and keep them on task. Using always positive feed back and re-enforcement. Some farmers need more guidance than others but each one is given the ability to make their own decisions.

This afternoon Mike, the farm manager, gave a seminar on organic farming practices and what that requires. We learned it is so much more than just not using chemicals and pesticides. From the compost to the growing practices to the harvest, every aspect of the farm is effected by the Organic label. It’s a multi year process of being certified organic. This working farm is unique combination of sustainable agriculture and a safe daytime refuge for the farmers in the program.

Today's work assignments were varied. One of our work groups gleaned the cow pasture of the rocks that came up over the winters frozen ground.  Others cleaned the feeders for the various animals. A pollinator garden was prepared. We spruced up the farm house yard by mowing, weeding and planting. The variety of work never ends. The afternoon wrapped up with our entire group getting the big garden ready for planting. Some of the planting was done earlier in the spring but the early season rains put them off schedule. That’s where we come in...making a difference in the fields and making a difference in others lives.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Monday, June 19, 2017 - A Day of Firsts

Today was our first day on the farm. Up early with a quick walk to the farmhouse for breakfast. Cereal and fruit on the front porch, peanut butter and jellies were prepared, and then off to the work for the day we went not knowing what to expect.  We met farmer Mike, who gave us a quick introduction to how things work day to day on the farm.  Hiram Farm is a living and loving community for adults with autism, who are only referred to as “farmers”.  The farmers arrive every day to work on different tasks of their own choosing, which is a huge deal for people who’s lives are typically planned out for them.  The farm provides an opportunity for them to have a say in what they feel is important, a first for many of them.  The work that is done also helps keep the organic farm going, and provides employment (a pay check!) and day programming for the members of this farming community.

There were many firsts for our Youth Community members today as well, including chasing and eventually holding chickens, mucking pig pens,  getting up close and personal with the animals, turning over dirt for a new crop, taking a beautiful walk through the woods, and most importantly, getting to meet many of the farmers and learning more about the farm from the dedicated staff that keeps everything going.  Hiram Farm is a happy place.  There were many exuberant hellos from many of the farmers, who were hoping we would return tomorrow.  The staff truly loves their work and shared first hand some of their personal stories.

Tuesday will bring many of the same work duties, but new interactions with the members of the community, farmers and animals alike.    

Sunday, June 18, 2017

We gathered our community in the church parking lot this morning. The gear was packed and last good byes from our supportive parents and family and we were on the road. As we head east towards northeast Ohio and the little town of Hiram everyone is always excited for the Mission Trip.

What will we be doing? What do the work groups look like? Where will we be staying? All the common questions and more that can only be answered with time. Veterans and rookies alike, eager to share God’s love, the Agape that we talk so much about. 

Dinner was a tasty meal at "Slim and Jumbos" in Garrettville, Ohio where Richie showed us the finer points of billiards.

Our accommodations are the now empty dorm rooms of Hiram Collage. Sweet digs for a group that is used to sleeping a hard church floor.  Girls on one floor and guys on another, we settle in. Ready to call it a night but eager to start our week of community and hard work in the morning.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Hiram Farm - Here we come!!

Stay tuned for reports and pictures from our trip.  We leave on Sunday morning, June 18th!

Friday, June 24, 2016

We're tourists now!

Our hard works' reward came today as we left on the big yellow bus to go to the Plimouth Plantation, a living museum depicting life at the original colony from 1620. The lives of the native Wompanoag people and the original colony are on display. We had lunch at the welcome center and then went on to see the Mayflower II, the replica ship built in 1957, freshly rehabbed and just brought back into port last week. Like the Plimouth Colony, the ship also is staffed by docents that stay in character. Our group posed lots of questions and we had a real good laugh.

We left on our bus for the ride back into Boston, tired and somewhat sad knowing our adventure was coming to an end. Senior night awaits as of this writing, a farewell to our oldest members. They will be off next year to schools and adventures. Gone but always members of our community. Always.  

Saturday brings travel and home, home cooking and our own bed. While we are secure at homes with our families we can't help but think back to the friends we have met and thepersonal challenges that we have overcome.  The Agape we offered and our Ministry of Presence had made this trip to Boston special.