Could a phrase mean more than just that?
(First off, i would like to thank Kenney, Shannon, and Campus Ministry for allowing me to experience Nazareth Farm, now on with the regularly scheduled blog post)
We commonly hear it during the times after a long vacation, or coming home from college, or even in sarcasm (Yup that is my mom alright). But what it could mean to a select few, means an experience unlike any other?
In Early 2018, a group i was very fortunate to Co-advise for an Alternative Winter Break to Nazareth Farms ,West Virginia. (Yes, i already know as I said this you are looking up John Denver’s hit song ” Take Me Home, Country Roads” I mean its a jam anyways.) The Alternative Break was designed to give back to communities within the Appalachian mountain region of West Virginia. Sounds straight forward right? Seems like a 2-D Service Trip through a service site?
Nazareth Farms was one of the best sites for service i think students can go to. First off, the staff is one of the most welcoming you’ll ever meet. Basically right when you get off the van you are greeted with a hug and “Welcome Home”. You do not know this person or this place (especially if you get in at 8 pm and in the dark like we did) and they welcome you home like a long lost family member. It is interesting to say the least. You find out as you get there that other schools alternative break programs and your instant thought is ” Oh, well i guess then i may just introduce myself to the them then ill stay with my group.”
Instantly you just start talking with the different student and staff members and find similarities that start long conversations that last well into the timeless night. Oh yeah time, forget it, you do not need it when your down here, or phones, or any technology for that matter. You are enjoying yourself so much that you do not need this stuff. (Also there isn’t any WIFI but that is beside the point.) The experience of staying up late, talking, playing guitar and singing along. Its one of the greatest times i think a student can have during their down time.
The work you do with Nazareth Farms is unbelievable, you do so much in such little time with such diversity of tasks. One day you may be ripping down old dry wall and setting up new stuff, you may be painting, you may even do minor electrical work, or you could be cleaning Nazareth Farms and preparing the meal for the night. Its such a different way to give back than i have ever seen. Its really rewarding that although the families that may have been less fortunate, they are appreciative and always believe they are more fortunate with Nazareth Farms around and when students and staff like us take time that we could be spending with our loved ones after the holidays and spend it giving back to the community that was not our own.
For those who have gone to down to “NAZ Farm” its one of the best experiences we got to have within the realm of service. The loving nature of the staff and crew to the people who help serve the community to the families we work with. Everything seemed magical during this time and it really created a sense of bonding both between the individual school and the community as a whole group. I think everyone would agree that the hardest thing is leaving this great place and going back to ordinary life. What the Farm teaches you is that everyone has to “come down the mountain” or end their experience at one point or another, but they are always welcomed to “Come Home.” I think this was one of the best wrap ups to the week of service i have ever seen. The idea of you have to go but you can always come back is one of the best send off messages i have ever received on a service trip. It is one that will stay with a lot of us for a while.
The picture above shows a group of students that made me stay within Higher Education. When i accepted the opportunity to Co- Advise on this service trip, i had a lot of questions that i needed answered for myself. Am i a good leader?, Am i someone who people will follow, Am i respected, the list goes on and on. Basically i viewed this trip as a gut check so to speak. I figured i am so high strung about the future that i needed a test.
THIS WAS A SELF-PROCTORED EXAM
What i felt at the beginning was anxiety that i was not a good leader that i was some what doomed to fail. Nazareth Farms was the turning point for me. I can remember during a time where i was the driver of the van, that i was in control and the people within the van trusted me to drive the van safely. That meant the world to me. People trusted me to get something done. Then as we left the farm, i drove all the way from West Virginia to North Andover MA with everyone trusting me to get them home safely, I considered this the passing of my own test, and it was all in relation to the Farm. Even today i start my staff meetings with ” Its Good to Be Here” “Its great to be here” Shout Out. (You know the call 🙂 )
Nazareth Farms, it is home to me and so many others because of what it can do for a person. It can re invigorate you to continue the great work you already do, it can create new thoughts and ideas, or can change you to be a better person in a world where you can make a difference even if its just a day of honest work. Service trips are designed for students and others alike to get the taste of what its like giving back without really feeling the presence of the work they do. Nazareth Farms Brings a community to surround you, welcome you, and to add to your own sense of belonging both in a wider range of the community and within the Nazareth Farms community. I do not think you can get service trip like this very often. If you have the opportunity to visit please accept the moment you are able to, you will never regret going.
Even after so many months away, As i sit here writing this i can not help and think of Nazareth Farms and what it as able to do for both me and everyone else who was able to attend this wonderful place so thank you to the great staff that runs this place day in and day out.
SO to those who have been and those who will go