As we’ve wrapped up our trip this week, we recognize that each of our experiences have been quite individual. We have all shared the same setting for time with God, but He has surely used it in unique ways for each of us. We have had separate insights, both general and specific, from our time spent in silence, solitude, and stillness.
This being said, it’s difficult to condense our time into a final blog entry. However, we still wanted to give you a glimpse of the time we’ve had. The following is a list of questions we’ve been reflecting on this weekend after our week at the monastery. Feel free to apply some to your own contemplative life.
- When you left campus, you left a list of things to leave behind.
- What are things you’ll be taking back with you from this week?
- How will you re-enter into the space of campus?
- How will you pick up the original list?
- Do you have any new reactions to that list?
- What contemplative practice feels most possible to implement upon return?
- What practice didn’t seem to “work”?
- In what ways do you detract from others experiencing silence, solitude, or stillness?
- Who models these practices well for you?
- What was the hardest thing you faced this week?
- What was a specific moment of clarity?
- What was a moment when you were aware of God’s presence?
- Reflect on Isaiah 30 : 15-18. How is it different now than at the beginning of the week?
- What are some new questions you have or some questions that you’re still asking?
You’re welcome to reference any of the above questions when inquiring about our trip. We also wanted to give you some resources to practice silence, solitude, and stillness in your own life.
The following are links to practices that’ve been helpful for us :
Spiritual Location Exercise: https://www.fallcreekabbey.org/resources
New Seeds is Contemplation by Thomas Merton
Celebration of Discipline by Richard J. Foster
Today we pack up the vans and have breakfast with some wonderful Taylor alums! Then we begin the 18 hour drive home. Pray that drivers stay alert and we enjoy these hours together. Also pray that we will continue to practice the discipline of “seeing the other” as we make our way back to Taylor. Thanks for your prayers and support!
We have been at ECHO for a few days now and the best way to describe how I am feeling would be pleasantly tired. For the past two days, I have had the privilege of working in the Appropriate Technology area of the farm with an intern named Will. This section of the farm has a working hydroponics system, many plants in the ground, and working examples of appropriate technology that can be used all around the world.
One of my favorite moments of working so far was yesterday, on our rainiest work day so far. Myself and a few others had been busy planting some new Grumichama plants in the midst of a heavy rain when Will invited us to come into shelter for some fresh mint tea. Will proceeded to light an outdoor stove fueled by biogas that had come from composted human waste and put on a pot of water. Once the tea was ready, we cupped our hands around warm mugs and enjoyed each other’s company and thesound of the rain on the roof. After our tea, we were also able to learn how to plant black and green sugar cane which proved to be very satisfying work.
As I reflect on my time at ECHO so far, I am completely in awe. Something just feels so right about working the land; to be directly involved with God’s provision for us through His creation. To be covered in soil, smelling like the earth is lovely and humbling. I have always found it important to never turn a blind eye to where the things we eat and the things we buy come from, and it really is eye opening to be a part of the process.
As we were preparing to go on this trip, a word that we talked about many times was partnering. This is the idea that we want to do work with others and not for them. This morning I was thinking about this, and realized that farming is a way of partnering with God. We put in physical labor, but we must trust that God will provide the sun and rain to help the plants grow. We are really much lesser partners in the relationship, and yetGod gives us the privilege to be part of His process of growth and life. As we continue to work the land, I pray that we remember that there is no life apart from Him.
Thank you for your prayers and support!
Today we are heading out to do our final day of ministry here with devotionals for elementary, middle, and high school students. We’ll also do a prayer walk this afternoon, which the team is looking forward to! We have been so blessed to partner with Back2Back and learn from them this week. Yesterday we enjoyed a partial day off and went to the beach, which was gorgeous. Thank you so much for your continued prayers for our team!
It’s amazing to me that Oceanview with its yellow walls, people smoking cigarettes on the porch outside, and constant flow of individuals crossing the road to grab a soda at our beach chairs have become such a profound image of the love of God. Wednesday night, we went over for worship. The Oceanview employees put up streamers and bought cupcakes to celebrate what this was. It was simply us being with them and choosing to see them for who they are – image bearers of our God. They told us that the residents had been asking when we were coming over so often that they made posters with the Taylor logo announcing the “spring breaker’s” arrival. A parade of Oceanviewers streamed into our front room where we waited to sing and dance with them. Jesus loves me, amazing grace, I will dance in the river. As silly as it was to watch and sing and get pink cupcake icing all over our faces, I could feel we were entering something profound. It was ridiculous and fun, but my question became, how could this be so simple and yet seem to touch something so vast? Nicki brought his tambourine, Vincent sat thoughtfully to the side and smiled wide, Pat sat quietly singing in the back, Eric clapped through tears of joy. Being with them, your heart overflows.
Amongst mental illness and poverty there is so much fear. If I were walking by on a normal day I would have honestly been fearful, but perfect love casts out all fear. We were there because of Jesus, and there was no fear in that room.
I wanted to articulate this idea somehow, and only barely did it justice. We continue to embarrassingly walk up to high school students and families and people who are homeless around Daytona and get blown away by how much people need to be seen and how powerfully God moves. We will sit one more day with Carnal and Vincent and Larry and Justin and Sheryl and John and sip sodas and know that we love them, and if we love them how much MORE does the Lord. He has shown us his faithfulness and our team feels challenged on something much bigger than us – the tender love of Jesus. As today is our last day, pray for the finishing conversations, the small moments, and the unity forming in this sweet team. This is a special group of people and this is a brave, counter-cultural, hard to explain, yet way-to- simple thing we are doing here.
Today was workday number three at Miss Annie’s home. With today being a half day of work, the five of us went into this morning with just a few things left to do before fully diving into the shingling process. We were able to get a considerable amount of the new shingles placed before we took a break for lunch and ended work for the day. We then headed back to SOS to shower and get ready for an afternoon and evening exploring Memphis.
Our afternoon began as we headed out to the National Civil Rights Museum in downtown Memphis. It was such a cool experience – something that these words could never do justice (you’ll just have to come and experience it for yourself!). Then after spending a few hours at the museum, we headed over to Central BBQ for dinner. From BBQ pulled chicken sandwiches and mac ‘n cheese to BBQ nachos, pulled pork, and ribs, we were definitely fuller when we left than when we entered. However, seeing as how we are in Memphis, we couldn’t stop from getting something else to eat. We ventured over to Crosstown Concourse (google it) where we stopped at Mempops (google this, too) for popsicles and walked around the building. Afterwards, we drove over to a place called the Rec Room where we played Mario Kart and Super Smash Bros. on a giant projector screen. After about an hour of racing around corners and battling each other with our favorite “Smash” characters, we headed back for SOS and called it a night.
Ela Alvarado, team member of the trip had this to say about her experience so far: “The city of Memphis is vibrant; the people, the places, the overall atmosphere – they all scream of God’s glory. Whether you are putting on new shingles on a roof or trying the best barbeque in town (you can’t go wrong with Central BBQ), there’s never a dull moment here in the city of Memphis.” We have had such a great time so far in Memphis and are looking forward to what’s to come on our final workday on Thursday, as well as a day of exploring Memphis on Friday! Continue to pray for us as we wrap up our week and prepare to head back to Taylor!
The Memphis Spring Break Team
Sienna, Ela, Luke, Jen, & Jacob
As we enter into the middle of our time here at ECHO, I feel pleasantly exhausted. I walked into this trip with few expectations and little knowledge about what life on the farm would entail, but feel overwhelmed with all that I have learned and experienced. As I let go of the worries and stresses of back home and immerse myself in the dirt and life of the earth, I am continually brought back to Genesis 3 when God tells Adam that through hard work and the sweat of his brow he will eat from the ground. I have read this chapter many times and have never quite experienced it in its true form until this week.
Outdoor work is not easy work. The weeds reappear, your hands get dirty, the sun hides behind the clouds, and the outcome can be less than ideal. While this can feel discouraging and frustrating I have been struck more with the beauty that comes from good work. After a long morning of weeding and pruning in the pouring rain, I am able to look at the plot of land and see all that was accomplished and how the toil of our hands has brought life to an overgrown garden.
Through the long and tedious research of trial and error, ECHO farmers are able to find solutions to agricultural problems in all climates and areas of the world. Through this hard work that seems mundane and tedious, we are making a small footprint in the life of someone else.
As we will soon be returning to Upland, I hope that this trip will transform my perspective of work and life around me. As I am among the trees and landscape of campus, I long to stop and take time to appreciate the work and care it takes to produce that life and the glory of God that is represented in its uniqueness and splendor. As I study, write papers, and complete assignments, I hope that I will focus on the beauty of doing work well for the glory of God instead of focusing on crossing things off my list. I hope that as I interact with the people in my life that I will be able to see how God is producing life in them, like he is on this farm and the world around us. That is my prayer, that this trip and all that it has taught me will not stay in Ft. Myers, but change my perspective and transcend my everyday life back in Indiana.