I would like to take a minute to introduce myself… Hey-oh! My name is Jessica Hudson and I have recently been hired as a part-time assistant for Keipos. I’ve been married to my husband, Graden, for 13 years and we have 3 boys together. I have known Jonathan and Catherine for a few years and we’ve grown to be close friends. When they told me what Keipos had planned for 2017 and that they needed an organized, people-oriented assistant, I signed up without hesitation!
As you’ve probably heard by now, we have a HUGE project gearing up in Papillion. We are going to plant two new gardens- 1) VEG (Volunteer & Education Garden) Patch at Heartland Family Service (Papillion), and 2) Zauha Family Garden off 1st Street in Papillion. We will use the produce grown to feed 60+ families in Sarpy County. And if that wasn’t enough, we’ve also decided to put together programming and classes for at-risk youth at the Justice Juvenile Center (JJC), incorporating that with the gardens. Oh, and classes at Heartland Family Service (Papillion) on nutrition, recipes, and food preparation for the families receiving the CSA boxes. We will also offer a 12 week internship program for students wishing to learn about sustainable and organic farming practices. Whew! Obviously, this takes a lot of hands, hearts and time to make this dream a reality.
And money…. This is the part of non-profit work that people don’t want to talk about, unfortunately. To tackle a project this size, it takes a village: a director, an assistant, a people care manager, a garden manager, a team of interns plus countless volunteers. They give of their time and resources for extremely modest wages. They sacrifice time with their families, often work evenings and weekends, have other part-time and full-time jobs and pour their blood, sweat, and tears into their work. They run on adrenaline sometimes, hoping that maybe, just maybe, the work they do will impact people, their community and hopefully, the world.
To know Jonathan and Catherine is to know their hearts. Using food and farming to transform lives is their passion. They throw themselves into their work wholeheartedly. They are up early, go to bed late and rarely get a break from the end of March to the beginning of November. And you might wonder, why are they adding to their plates? Because they are crazy! Haha. Ok, maybe crazy awesome. But in all seriousness, it’s because it isn’t about them. It’s about others and their mission: the families that will receive the produce, the interns they’ll commune with for 12 weeks, the youth they will minister to at the JJC, and the community they will see changed through this project.
The truth is, this project will cost tens of thousands of dollars and we aren’t even close to reaching our goal in fundraising. We need you and frankly, we need your money. Will you consider giving so that a family may get a box full of organic, fresh produce for 20 to 25 weeks? Will you give so that a young man or woman who’s had a rough start in life will learn valuable skills and build meaningful relationships at the JJC? Can you commit to supporting an intern for 12 weeks? Will you give so that we can give everything we have to this venture?
Keep checking back to the blog in the next few weeks as I continue to highlight some of the people you will be supporting through your generous giving. And if you can’t give monetarily, please consider sharing this with others, volunteering this season and praying for us. We need all the support we can get!
Big things are happening at Keipos this year and we couldn’t be more excited! Keipos’ mission is to use food, farming, and education to transform lives. Simply put, we grow food, feed people, and transform hearts.
This season we will be working with the city of Papillion to plant two new volunteer and education gardens and use that produce to feed underprivileged families of Sarpy County and the Omaha area with the help of the Garden Givers Group, Tri-City Food Pantry, Heartland Family Services. Each family will receive a box of fresh produce every week! Good food and nutrition has the power to change the lives of the families we will be helping. Over the span of 20-25 weeks, each family will receive a box of fresh organic produce on a weekly basis. Recipes and classes on how to best use the food they receive will be provided as well.
We will also be working with the Juvenile Justice Center to provide programming for students needing summer supervision, a community service opportunity tending to the garden itself, as well as classroom education from June 8 - Aug 8, 2017. We will also be working with the juveniles who are in lock-up one day a week, providing education and hands-on gardening experience at the JJC.
Not only will they get to work on their outdoor design and garden skills, and their critical thinking skills, we will be focusing much of our classroom time on the "inner gardener" and what it means to be Forgiven, Forgiving, and Free! Many of these students will hopefully find confidence and purpose while helping to feed others, allowing their own hearts to be transformed.
These programs have the power to change lives and our city but we can’t do that without your support. We need hands, prayers, and funds to get this project going. Here are some of the ways you can support Keipos and it’s mission this season:
1. Pray for us. Pray for the city. Pray for the families who will be receiving the CSA boxes. Pray for the JJC youth who will be volunteering in the gardens. Pray for initial seed money from a grant application we are awaiting to kick-start the project with required materials.
2. Give. Consider giving a tax deductible donation to get the project started. All monies raised will go directly to preparing the land and planting, as well as towards the boxes for the 60 CSA families. 60 families x $500 per CSA share = $30,000 (!) It’s a big number but this is a big project that will have a big impact on the people and families we are serving, as well as in our city. We know that for many of you $500 is a big number- consider splitting the cost with friends, family, your Bible study, business, or church. Every donation counts! You can donate here: http://keipos.org/donate.html
3. Volunteer. It’s going to take manpower (and woman power!) to get the land prepared, garden planted and maintained, as well as packing the boxes on a weekly basis. We are looking for key volunteers who want to receive food as well as volunteers who can give just a little time each week, and/or a one time event. We will have a meeting on March 30th for those who are interested in being involved with these projects and programs. Meeting information here. You can sign up here to volunteer your time: http://www.keipos.org/city.html
4. Apply. We will be offering a paid internship for a few people! Interns will be funded through feed-a-family donations. These paid internships are ideal for students 19 years or older looking for evening work 3 to 4 days a week learning more about agriculture and organic farming. We also have the opportunity for two of those students (or a couple) to participate in a farm residency program. To apply or find more info visit: http://www.keipos.org/internships.html
We can’t wait to see how these gardens impact the lives of those around us and our city!
Will you join us?
Advent is a time of waiting. It is a time of waiting for something and for someone to come who can fix all the brokenness in our lives, a savior and king. As we near the celebration of the birth of our Lord Jesus, we must be ready in a posture of waiting.
Waiting is a time for preparation. Preparing our hearts. Preparing our homes.
To wait means to be in a posture of acceptance. Waiting requires open hands and open hearts.
Waiting also means to serve. A waiter or waitress takes care of your needs during a meal. Waiting means to listen and respond; waiting is active and diligent. I know this, for I am a restaurant waiter once again.
Waiting is about anticipation, joyful and expectant, awaiting the presence of our King.
As farm production goes dormant for winter, we find ourselves in our own season of Advent. We celebrate all the lives we were able to touch and all the meals we are able to serve this past year. However, we do so not knowing what the next season of our farm holds or what/where Keipos will look like in the days ahead.
This year was a difficult year on us financially. Our tools and infrastructure cost exceeded what we were able to bring in through food and farm sales. Though we were able to house, feed, and equip students, volunteers, and groups, we worked the entire year, sometimes in excess of 90 hours per week for zero personal income. On top of that the generous donations we have received through Keipos have fallen short of completely providing for our basic financial needs.
A sustainable farm cannot be sustainable if it does not have the income to harness all the land in a way that can pay the bills. Neither can a ministry be sustainable if it can’t support the servants doing the work.
Today, I was reminded of an old advent blog which I wrote four Christmas’ ago. The blog said this:
“Most of the time we do not anticipate some future redemption. Most of the time we are not looking forward to heaven. Most of the time we are hoping for some worldly thing. Usually (okay probably always) if we achieve or receive the finite thing for which we hope it rarely, if ever, leads to freedom; instead, it leads to more bondage. The truth is that sin will continue to affect me even after my goals are achieved. Let me give you an example: I could not wait to stop being a tenant farmer and own my own land. I achieved my goal, which is glorious by the way. But the truth is I just find myself in new bondage, to a mortgage instead of rent, to new animals, to new challenges of balancing life, to wanting and needing more land. Our finite hopes will always leave us empty. The hope we need to cling to can only be an open-ended hope, a future hope for what God will do, and a present hope of what God is doing in us and through us to achieve His ultimate purposes, not ours. This is Mary’s hope in her Magnificat (Luke 1)! Do you want to limit your disappointment and frustration? Open your hands and be grateful knowing God’s plan is our hope!”
Will you join us in prayer as we await the Lord and His direction for our lives, ministry, and farm? And if you are able, please consider giving a year-end tax deductible donation to Keipos.
No matter what tomorrow holds, we wait preparing our hearts, with joyful anticipation, knowing the King is coming!
Please visit the home page of our website to check out our new video and make a donation.
Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday of the year. It is the one holiday that has, for the most part, not been commercialized by our society. Thanksgiving is a time to celebrate the reaping and harvest of the previous season. It is a time to reflect and remember all that we have and have been given. It is a time to welcome others to our table as Christ welcomes us to His table; family, foe, and stranger. Thanksgiving is more than gratitude, it is ‘giftitude’; it is about ‘thanksgifting’ back from all that we have been given.
On the eve of this great American holiday, I am reminded of my childhood patriotized education, about how the Pilgrims and Native Americans ate their corn and turkey, about how these two groups worked, ate, and celebrated together. I am reminded that the land we build upon is a gift from our forefathers who eventually seized the land from a people who respected the land and water, as if it had rights too.
I am reminded that my small town, Papillion, used to have a creek that flowed with crystal clear water that provided ice in winter for the community, a place to ice skate, a place to gather. But now, the creek that once bubbled over with life is a muddy drainage way for street, suburban concrete, and chemical farmland runoff. What was once respected, loved, and cherished has now been forgotten and replaced with a consumerism that more is better. Where once people lived with the land, people now live above it.
This Thanksgiving, let us remember our family members, let us celebrate with those who have come from a distance to join us. Let us remember those in North Dakota fighting to protect all of our water and give thanks for them. And in giving thanks begin to remember that this land is not ours, but only a gift. May our apathy towards the tyranny that threatens to exchange our most valuable resources for quick energy, oil, and consumption that will never be quenched be turned to a compassion that can heal our broken hearts and land.
I will leave you with a poem written about my town, around 1900 by Dr. William Upjohn, M.D. remembering his town Papillion, over 100 years ago.
On either side of Papillion stream,
Where the low winds sigh and the sun-rays gleam,
A few small cottages are nestled down,
Forming what we call Papillion town,
But a few years have passed away
Since the white man’s feet this way did stray,
And many now remember well
The red man that here were wont to dwell.
Now all are gone; like the leaves that fall…
Trampled on and forgotten by all.
In place of the wigwams, houses stand,
And white man tills the Indian’s land.
The pretty squaws of which legend tells
Are replaced by prettier pale-face belles.
The pow-wow, dear to every brave,
Is now conducted by our lawyers suave.
Schools and churches now have we
In Papillion village, fair to see;
And the railroad trains go rushing through
Fleeter than Indian horse or canoe.
Never more will Indian paddles quiver
Over the narrow, swift-flowing river.
And instead of the savage war-cry
The white mother sings a lullaby.
-Tree services give us wood chips. We inoculate them with fungi and grow edible mushrooms.
-We have turned old tires into staircases, and logs from the forest into raised garden beds.
-Construction sites give us throwaway wood and other materials. We build animal housing, farm infrastructure, and share with others.
-Restaurants give us food waste. We make soil and feed animals.
-Our local community gives us fall leaves, straw bales, and pumpkins. We mulch our gardens, and provide food and bedding for livestock. We have even fed people meals from others’ fall decoration pumpkins!
All of these things are wonderful, but they mean nothing without people! People come to Keipos wanting to learn how to grow food and heal land. Through relationship, people are being equipped, empowered, and sent into the world with new lenses and inspiration to make the world a better place!
Your waste streams are converted into productive, edible, and beautiful things. Imagine what we could do if you shared with us out of your abundance!
#GivingTuesday is just around the corner (next week), a time for giving back with hearts of gratitude. We invite you to join in this global event and support your favorite non-profits, and we invite you to give to Keipos this season.
On Tuesday, a $250 donation will go to feed a family in need next year for 20 weeks. Donations as small as $5 will help to provide a meal to a volunteer or Keipos guest. Donations of $1,000 or more will help us to provide 3-day courses devoted to food/farming education for the most impoverished in our community and in Nicaragua.
We are so grateful to you who have partnered with us and who will do so this coming season! Make your gift today and through November 29th. We will count all new donations between today and next Tuesday towards #GivingTuesday, and these funds will be directed towards providing food and education for those who need it most.
Thank you for your support of Keipos!
We get a little bit anxious yet a little excited at this time every autumn. The cool weather brings with it the promise of rest, but it also brings 'encouragement' to wrap things up before the cold truly settles in to stay. Summer on the farm has a way of driving us forward with hardly a chance to catch our breaths before we realize that months have passed without communicating with you, our family, friends, and partners. For this we apologize and take the next few minutes to share those things that God has brought into our lives during this season.
THIS SEASON AT OUR HEART
Literally hundreds of people have come through our gates this season. Our home - our heart - has been full with the goings-on of what Keipos is all about. The starting point of our mission to ‘Welcome, Equip, Go’, our home/farm is central to how we live out our ideals. The farm is a connection point for members of our community and we have loved meeting new people from our surrounding areas as they come to gather food from the harvest.
Some things we’ve had going on at our heart:
THIS SEASON IN OUR CITY
Different things have led us out of the farm gates and into the community the past few months.
Some things we’ve had going on in our city:
THIS SEASON IN OUR WORLD
Summer is our slow season for working in the world. There are some things to share, though, that are exciting!
Some things going on in our world:
FARM V. KEIPOS
We are always striving to find better ways to explain the relationship between Keipos and our farm (New Earth Farm & Goods). The farm has been a way to connect with and serve our local community. More importantly, the farm has been the training ground for our ministry and educational program. It’s not something that financially supports our ministry and home. For example, this year our input cost for supplies, infrastructure and labor equals the income received by the farm. We still have yet to take any payment from the farm, for our home or personal use. We need you to help save the farm - the heart of Keipos ministry - by supporting us in a variety of ways!
Here is one way you can help:
Something near and dear to our hearts is food. Growing it, cooking it, and eating it - most importantly, with others! Joy is found in these shared experiences, and it is truly life-giving. We have come up with a way to bring others into this experience as a way of raising funds and would like to invite you to join us at ‘Table-on-Farm’.
We have done two meals out at the farm already (group of 8 and group of 12) and from what we can tell, everyone enjoyed his/her time immensely! Warmer weather will allow seating outside, so if you’re interested, contact us ASAP! Cooler weather will bring you indoors into our sunroom, heated by a cozy wood-burning fireplace. We have dining space for any time of year!
FEAST OF TABERNACLES (Sukkot)
This week we are observing this Jewish holiday. We began last night, eating our supper around the fire pit and sleeping in a tent outside. These are tangible reminders to us that Israel once dwelled in temporary shelters during their forty years in the wilderness, totally dependent on the Lord. Our life here is fleeting and our material possessions, given by God, can be taken away at any instant. God is faithful and He will continue to provide all we need. This week we are also remembering those around the world and in our own place that many have been displaced and have a loss of home and our sojourners in the land. Would you like to join us during this special week? We would love to invite you to join us at the farm any night this week, in your own shelter. All are welcome - you may contact us to let us know when you will come. We will do this daily through Saturday night, and then finish out the week with a church service on the farm Sunday morning! We also wish that you would all join with us in prayer this week.
A story of people and place is no story if the story is never told. It is a story of successes and failures, broken and mended relationships, a painful story sprinkled with hope and immersed in love, even when we can't see it, being refined by the journey.
The last few months on the farm have been beautiful always and broken a lot. In fact, I would say that has been our story from the beginning. It has always been this way.
And this past Friday was one of those terrible days, one of those bad farm days, the kind that seems to happen once a year or so, where your ideas and inexperienced plan meet the external elements of the world. My facebook post on Friday read, "Hell is real. It is on earth. The heat index of 115F over the past few days wiped out 41 broilers one day before the scheduled butcher date. Devastated in every way."
On Saturday, I delivered the 32 remaining live birds for process, and we are sitting at home this Sunday waiting for customers to pick up their pasture raised, local, non-gmo, organic, and transitional grain fed cornish X chickens. Not all has been lost and there is much to learn in failure.
I want share with you a few reflections about this experience.
The chicken. How and why did this happen? I have come up with a small list. Problems are usually complex, though the solution is usually simple.
1) The Factory Bird
Cornish Cross broiler chickens were not designed and bred to be on pasture. They have been developed to grow rapidly within a controlled barn structure and high input system. Their growth rate is 'monsterly' fast, able to be processed at 3-4.5 lbs in as little as 6 weeks. Cornish X broilers are very sensitive to temperature and other elements during their quick growth period. What we have attempted to do is take a factory bird and give it a chicken's life of eating legumes, grasses, other plants, and bugs on pasture for 8-10 weeks, before meeting its one bad day.
2) The Elements
This past Thursday, the excessive heat, humidity, and windless day killed the chickens. This week was really hot. In fact, I was really worried about the birds because of the heat. They were raised in a 8ft x 12ft mobile structure enclosed with cattle panels and chicken wire. The top was covered with a tarp to protect them from the weather. The birds were moved every day to a new area of fresh pasture. However, on Thursday, it was extremely humid and hot, and there was no wind. I went through 4 different sweaty shirts that day, spending much of my time dealing with other problems on the farm.
The pasture was wet, which made the birds' bellies wet. There was no wind to dry them out from the heat and moisture. They overheated. They died.
However, I cannot blame the chickens, the industry, or weather for the onslaught. I must take responsibility. I understand that bad things just happen, but bad things happen even worse with poor planning. We had not raised cornish X birds for 5 years prior to this, and at that, we had only raised 25 at a time. Since moving to Nebraska in 2012 we have only focused on heritage dual-purpose birds. This year we tried something different.
This was actually our second batch of cornish x birds this season. Our first batch started indoors in April and finished on pasture at the end of May. The current failed birds began at the end of May with a finish date at the end of July. Now, that was just bad planning! I don't ever want to be finishing meat chickens in July or August. I think it is best to raise them in spring and early fall, when the temperature is neither too hot nor too cold. This is a lesson in failure that I do not want to repeat.
4) Lack of Hands
At the beginning of the season we had a 7 person team, 3 of whom were interns. For a variety of reasons our team had shrunk down to 3 people, and is now back up to 4. We started and implemented many new systems on the farm this year that require lots of people to run them and the truth is, we just can't keep up with all the work with our smaller team size. Running on full steam for too long leads to exhaustion and burnout. It becomes easy to lose focus.
The design of our farm has been an experiment and a learning process. We began our farming journey to learn how to help impoverished farmers and the poor. Our farm was set up to be a learning and training ground for those wanting to work as missionaries of the land for people. We want to welcome, equip, and go to the places and people who need our type of help the most. And we have been trying to create a model that gives people a unique and full experience of learning and hands-on skills grounded in a biblical framework.
But we have also tried to do to much. Managing 12 different species of animals, 2,000+ trees, and many other shrubs, vines, canes, flowers, herbs, and a 1/2 acre of vegetable gardens is a lot to keep up with. When attempting to do everything, it is hard to do one thing well.
Through miscommunication and assumptions, I did not check on the birds Thursday evening as normal. I thought someone else on our team had already. I was worn out and ready for the day to be over. Friday morning I awoke to a disaster! I must take responsibility. The chickens still had water, but no matter... all the would'ves, could'ves, should'ves... it still comes down to me.
The loss hurt. It cost us a lot of time, energy and money. It cost food. It cost lives.
What the hell? It's time to let heaven in.
Hell vs. Heaven
The chicken failure is just a sign of the reoccurring failure in me. Ya, it was hot as hell over the past week. But hell is not just a place out there. It is also a place in me. Hell is the lack of relationship. Hell is isolation and disconnection from everything that is good. Hell is severed relationships. In hell nothing works. It is full of walls that are built in the head and heart in order to protect from all the external ongoing hell around. Hell is the fullness of violence and scarcity. Hell has no friends, no connections, no relationships.
But heaven, on the other hand, is the fullness of all that is good. It is the abundance of relationship and connection. Heaven is both an internal and external place where nothing is outside its walls. Heaven cannot be grasped, only accepted. It is a gift that comes down and flows from the heart of God.
Hell and Heaven are both real places and they meet and find their edge, their collision space, on earth, like tectonic plates grinding, destroying and leaving behind something new by their impact. Hell is having its reign but heaven is breaking in. Beauty can be found even in the midst of destruction.
After we dealt with the aftermath of the chickens, we still found time to commune at the table for lunch on Friday. We prayed by singing in unison, "The kingdom of God is justice and peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit. Come Lord, and open in us, the gates of your kingdom."
Through the pain, our hearts were filled with worship. In humbling ourselves and inviting heaven in, we welcomed with gratitude God's in-breaking kingdom, a place where the restoration of people and place begin and end. Lord have mercy. Christ have mercy. Lord have mercy on us. We await your kingdom.
The dead chickens are only a sign and a symptom of our small farm problems. The world is groaning and breaking with much bigger hurts than the loss of a few meat birds. May our hearts be heavier for all the death and hate in the world than the troubles of our farm. Yes, the everyday farm fires must be dealt with, but it is time to slow down, reposition the what, stop being distracted by the why, and focus on the who.
I am a farmer because it is the way I know how to best glorify God. My failed attempts at that are pale in comparison to the work being done in my heart.
Here are what 18-week old cornish cross broilers look like. We processed these two birds in order to help make up some of the loss to meet our customer orders. They dressed out at 7 lbs each! Our celebration chickens are now on someone else's table.
Good thing we have plenty of other plants and animals to eat around here. Our pocketbook is empty, but our stomachs are full!
This past weekend we held our 2nd annual Regenerative Land & Plant Propagation Course at New Earth Farm & Goods. The weather was wet and rainy but it held off enough for us to be able to do most of the hands-on activities we had planned for outside.
We made Stropharia beds, made reishi, shitake, lion's mane, and oyster mushroom logs and stumps. We learned about living soil, compost making, and compost tea. We pruned, trained, and grafted a few trees, mulberries, apples, and persimmons. We learned how to read landscapes and and played/learned about tools and techniques. We didn't get a chance to get into the beehives, because of the weather, but maybe next time.
Also, and most importantly, we ate amazing farm fresh food and got to hang out with some great people.
We hope to make a few short videos from the event in the days to come. Thank you to all who participated and supported this class including the Midlands Community Foundation in Sarpy County.
“You cannot be angry and a mystic.” The two are opposites. Anger is about dualism and control. Mystery is about letting go. Anger is a demon that sees itself as god. Mystery is about seeing God in everything. Anger is a dualistic mindset, where ‘I am right and the other is wrong’. Mysticism is about accepting and holding together the paradoxes of life.
Power, security, and affection aren’t in themselves evil, but our longings for these can have devastating consequences on our lives, our health and with the relationships around us.
When wounded, I tend to wound. In the moments of emotion, broken expectations and loss, I feel just and right unleashing the beast within. The wolf with red eyes glowing leaves casualties and wounded bystanders in the attacks.
On my last trip to Nicaragua, we stayed once again at Tepeyac, the Catholic Church and retreat center in San Rafael del Norte. The town had been newly painted with murals throughout the city that lead to Tepeyac. The murals tell the story of San Rafael del Norte and the beloved, almost canonized saint, Padre Odorico. The story of this amazing priest and his affects on the Nicaraguan people and his benevolence towards the communities in the civil war torn areas of northern Nicaragua is like that of St. Francis of Assisi.
One of the new murals painted at the entrance of Tepeyac depicts Padre Odorico in two different stages of life. The first picture seems to depict the priest taming the red-eyed wolf. I looked at this painting every day for 6 days contemplating this. Is the wolf being tamed? What does the wolf want to attack? Is the wolf a part of him? Is the wolf a friend or foe? I do not know the answer to this question, but one thing that I do know is that I have my own wolf, which likes to take control of my life.
To be a mystic, to accept the paradoxes of life, to let go of my desire to be vindicated and right, is the only path towards peace. This is the model and character of a benevolent God revealed in Christ Jesus.
I long to be like Jesus, to forgive and let go, to heal and give myself away, but the wolf is real and is not easily tamed or even killed. I hope to be like Jesus, and I long for the peace depicted here in the later stages of Padre Odorico’s life.
(The two photos are of the same mural, two different sections of one wall.)
I truly believe that the idea of healing people is synonymous with the healing of the land. But it goes both ways. What comes first, the chicken or the egg? The answer is they are one in the same, two sides of the same coin. In just a few weeks I will be returning to the village of Santa Martha with nearly 20 people. A small seed was planted in the hearts of those who have gone and returned and returned again, as well as in the community of whom most long for our return. A unified team and mission has turned into multiple groups and missions working together with the same purpose, to spread the love of Jesus Christ in tangible ways including working with families and children, pastor's conferences, construction, and agriculture.
I have traveled to Santa Martha many times and have spent many weeks there throughout a 6-year period, which started in 2010. I must say that it has not been all glamour. In our efforts toward community development we have not only learned to work with a group of people, we have discovered much about ourselves.
I have learned this through my attempts at creating systems of healing relationships to the land and its people; it is these relationships that have in turn shaped my whole life. I am excited to return to Santa Martha again and experience new things that the Lord has to teach me through His creation and my relationships with others.
The photo of me above was taken just outside Santa Martha de Loma Azul, Nicaragua only 4 weeks after my heart surgery back in November. This photo juxtaposes the healing that needs to take place in my body, the land and the people that inhabit of it. No doubt, I have longed to buy, develop and use the field in the photo to create a model that is regenerative and abundant versus one that is poor, abused, and doused with the uneducated growing practices obvious here (slash and burn in lines directly down slope). I have watched this property become more and more abused over the past 6 years.
As I long to see this place and these people experience healing in the mind, body, and soul, of the land and each other, I am reminded that any healing that I might be able to bring starts inside of me.
It starts in the heart. That is where it begins. What I mean is many things, one of which is forgoing expectations and realizing joy can be found in love and letting go of the hurts from broken relationships, both done and injured, finding my place in the present "to be free to love and to be loved, to be forgiven, forgiving and set free."
As our growing season starts, so do the tasks at hand that have been laid out before us. I repeat to myself to go slow and remember that it is not a race, and that I should “focus on the relationships, not the outcomes.”
Whether I am stuck where I am, thriving in my place or going, I want to propagate love, which is the glue.
 Steve Peterson, Fresh Start, 2004.
 Erik Ohlsen, PV3, 2016.