We laughed many times as we sat on the passenger side expecting to find a steering wheel and a gas pedal.
Hello from Deary, Idaho! We have participated in much activity this year, from the Northern Hemisphere to the Southern Hemisphere. A good place to start is several months back.
Heading for New Zealand
In early February, some of Brother Webb‘s family, Brother John and Sister Grace, Brother Daniel Anzaldua, Brother Gabe French and part of the Borman family flew to New Zealand to meet and help our brothers and sisters there.
What a full three weeks we experienced! Crossing the equator transported us straight from winter into summer. The abrupt change of seasons took a little getting used to. But that was just the beginning. We also had to adjust to using the metric system of measurement, driving on the left side of the road and piloting vehicles from the right-hand seat. We laughed many times as we sat on the passenger side expecting to find a steering wheel and a gas pedal.
Learning New Vocabulary
We had to master the use of certain words to understand the native speakers. For example, we loved having a cuppa (a cup of tea) anytime day or night. We also learned that mum is the lady who bore us, not a pretty flower; 2×4 boards are 45mmx90mm; a vehicle’s trunk is the boot; a bonnet is a vehicle’s hood; a truck is a ute; new cars are flash; and tea happens at dinner.
If something falls apart, it goes to custard; sausage sizzles take the place of picnics; pudding is dessert; if you cut yourself (have an oopsie), you need a plaster, not a bandaid; and if it is dark, take your torch, not your flashlight.
You fill the car with petrol, not gasoline; tuck in to your meal, take out the rubbish; put on your jumper if you are chilly (not your sweater); wear jandals on the beach, not flip-flops; and eat kiwi fruits, which are delicious, but kiwis not so much!
You cook dinner on the hob, not the stove; sweep the floor with a shovel and brush, not with a dustpan and broom; and kill flies with a fly whip, not with a swatter.
We learned to push a baby in a buggy (after changing his nappy, not his diaper); to feed him biscuits, not cookies; and to clean his face with a flannel instead of a wash rag.
Improving the Campground
We arose early to pray together, cook and start the day. The sisters prepared huge breakfasts and lunches. Each of these meals allowed us to enjoy being together as we told stories, laughed and planned the rest of the day.
We completed various projects while there. Many batches of concrete were poured in several different places at Mohaka River Farm. All of the batches were mixed by hand! We framed a tiny house for the Lattimore family and remodeled two camp kitchens, a cabin and several sheds.
All of the improvements enhanced their beautiful campground. The beauty is not just earthly. Looking up at night revealed the pulsing stars of the Southern Hemisphere such as the Southern Cross, the large and small Magellanic Clouds and the curious Coalsack Nebula. It is little wonder that the campground remains busy. At one Sunday gathering, visitors were present from the Solomon Islands, Samoa, the United States, Holland and Korea.
Seeing the Sights and Relaxing
Though many of the days and evenings required work, we still found time for some relaxation. We enjoyed refreshing dips in the Mohaka River on the hottest afternoons, several horse treks with Sister Fleur, swims in the warm South Pacific Ocean and even a rafting adventure. We toured many beautiful spots on the North Island, including Karangahake Gorge, Whakarewarewa Redwood Grove, Lake Taupo, Huka Falls, and Mount Mairangi Beach.
On most evenings, the youth gathered in the conference center to sing and play music together. We enjoyed delicious meals and meaningful conversation in each home. Five families generously hosted all 16 of us. As we sang and shared, we rejoiced in the unity and love with which God bound our hearts together.
Returning to the United States
What a sad day it was to say good-bye, but the love we feel between us remains, and we cannot wait to see them all again. (We had to tootle on and get going. No worries for sure, we are not gobsmacked that we love the New Zealanders heaps and heaps and chockablock and are keen on them, not just a wee bit!)
Coming Home to COVID-19
The day we arrived home, the United States shut down because of COVID-19. We turned our attention to working together to plant our gardens and make crafts. As the young men and boys ran behind the plow and everyone dropped seed potatoes and corn into the freshly dug furrows, we considered all of the people quarantined at home in the big cities. We gave thanks for the wonderful place given us to live and work together!
Adapting to New Circumstances
The Pie Safe Bakery, Brush Creek Farms, and Creamery businesses adapted to the quarantine restrictions. They developed a thriving delivery system each Saturday, providing fresh cheeses, meats, eggs, baked goods, canned goods, crafts and even pre-made meals to a growing number of patrons.
Now that lockdown restrictions have eased, the bakery continues to host customers from around the world as well as many locals. Our special Saturday evening meals each month are filled to capacity. Our aim is to offer our guests the best dining experience possible. Breakfast and lunchtime, on the remaining days, find the bakery full of happy customers who desire cooking made from scratch. Patrons are also pleased to peruse a wide selection of handmade crafts and quilts.
Appreciating Simple Pleasures
The quarantine time has allowed us to deepen relationships in many ways. Early this year, our community formed two smaller home groups for our Friday gatherings. Our youth are learning to sing and play more instruments together. Our young people now provide a big part of the music for our Friday night shared times. The visitors who gather with us feel the expression of love in the music. We have regular guests from as far away as Japan and Israel and from around the United States, such as California and Oregon.
Simple pleasures such as milking our family cows and teaching our children at home lift our spirits with rejoicing. We gratefully sing for the elderly folks who are unable to venture out. On many Sundays, because large assemblies are restricted, we gather in small groups around a bonfire, singing and sharing together.
Celebrating a Wedding Engagement
Brother Isaac French and Sister Helen Lancaster became engaged in mid July. The entire Lancaster family visited for two wonderful weeks, allowing us all to get to know Isaac and Helen as an engaged couple.
On one evening, the community showered them with a shared meal and many presents. We all sat together under the same starry sky that many faithful generations before us have witnessed.
Harvesting a Bountiful Supply
Here in late summer we daily harvest from our gardens and greenhouses large piles of lettuces, chard, spinach, herbs, tomatillos, squash, cucumbers, onions, garlic, broccoli, cauliflower, beets, tomatoes, carrots, cabbages, green beans and fresh-cut flowers. Various fruits are ripening now: raspberries, strawberries, currants, blackberries, blueberries, cherries, plums and apricots.
Other crops that will soon ripen include potatoes, corn, dried beans, sugar beets, melons and eggplants. Following that, the fall cabbages, more greens of every type and Brussels sprouts will grace our tables and fill our larders.
Building More Sustainable Lives
The Frenches recently purchased an old wooden train car built originally in 1908. They cleaned and restored the musty and dilapidated car, both inside and out, with the help of skilled and willing friends. The car transformed into a beautiful destination rental by the diligent hands of many craftsmen. We look forward to hosting guests in the cozy car for the years to come!
Our community has revamped an old, rotting shed into a cozy guest cottage and cleared deep woods to develop homesites.
Several water systems received new aspects, including sand filters and gravity-fed irrigation from our existing ponds. We also built new ponds for several families on their homesteads.
We built a commercial greenhouse to provide food for the Pie Safe Bakery and Brush Creek Farms.
Construction is still ongoing for two new homes, a family workshop and a new shop/office for Deary Automotive.
Feeling Autumn’s Approach
The first mild frost nipped several gardens on August 12, which reminded us of the need to firm up plans on the building of hoop houses and more greenhouses. Brother Aaron never knows whether to call such summer frosts the first frost—or the last. Even the Potlatch River, which borders the southwest boundary of our community property, is cooling from its summer “warmth.”
The summer blessed us with visits by many of our brothers and sisters from other areas. Thank you for lightening our loads and bringing smiles to our faces. As the surrounding culture continues to uncoil with uncertainty and disintegration, we are increasingly grateful for the whole life given us in our community.
The lines from a devotional song play in our heads:
I love you Lord, for Your mercy never fails me!
All my days I’ve been held in Your hand.
From the moment that I wake up until I lay my head,
I will sing of the goodness of God.
~from Bethel Music and Jenn Johnson “Goodness of God”
So on we go, singing!