Saturday, January 29, 2011

Gleaning and Lessons Learned

Today brought an unexpected blessing for the kids and I.  Hubby is having a well-deserved guy weekend with his brother so the kids and I were on our own with no real plans.  I had volunteered to take sandwiches to our church this morning for the annual Gleaning Project that is sponsored by our church.  Gleaning is the traditional Biblical practice of gathering crops that would otherwise be left in the fields to rot or be plowed under after harvest. It is based on Deuteronomy 24:19, which says, "When you reap your harvest in your field and forget a sheaf in the field, you shall not go back to get it; it shall be left for the alien, the orphan, and the widow, so that the Lord your God may bless you in all your undertakings." People who participate in the Gleaning Project go to pre-determined houses and fields and pick citrus.  The citrus is taken to Appalachia and given to those who need food.  Those who work the Gleaning gather in our fellowship hall for lunch.  So like I said, I had been asked to make sandwiches and the last two years have considered this to be my contribution to the Gleaning.  This morning as I dropped off the trays of sandwiches, Prince and Princess asked if they could help with the Gleaning.  I didn't think children were allowed to participate, but was corrected that yes, they can go out and pick fruit as well.  So at the request of my children, we got some buckets and were given a couple of addresses to go pick. 

We had a great time picking fruit and this was a lesson to Prince and Princess about sharing your time and resources to help those in need.  As parents we are told to use those teachable moments and make the most of them.  This was not how I imagined we would spend our morning, but we had so much fun, just the three of us, picking the oranges and grapefruit. 
It isn't that I didn't want to participate, I just didn't know that children were allowed to participate.  As we picked the fruit and talked about how important it is to bless others, my children talked about how good they felt being able to serve and help too.  As we arrived at one house, Prince introduced himself to the elderly man who owned the trees and asked his name.  He then said, "It's so nice to meet you, Mr. Ed.  Thank you for letting us pick your grapefruits so that people who need food can have good food to eat."  My 6 year olds "get it."  I am constantly amazed at how God uses them.
As I picked, I prayed for all of those volunteers who were involved in this project, from the fruit pickers to those driving the trucks to those on the other end distributing the food.  I prayed for those who would receive the fruit, that it would nourish their bodies and they would enjoy having fresh citrus...something we take for granted in the Sunshine State.

I don't know how much fruit was collected today.  I can't wait to hear tomorrow in church.  In years past, we've had as much as 250,000 pounds of food.  I don't anticipate this year being as much with the harsh winters we've had, but whatever was collected will be a huge help.   
And...I can't wait for next year!

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