I'm sending this letter to the people who have supported us in starting the retreats here:
In July I wrote about the fire that destroyed a house here on the farm this spring. No one was hurt, but very few things from the house survived. One thing that did was the sturdy wood stove. (Not the cause of the fire, by the way.) Now that stove is in our living room, making it a much warmer and more welcoming place in the winter. Heather had hoped for a wood stove for quite a while, but we couldn’t afford one. So it was an surprise this year to experience, amidst our grief for our friends’ loss, a feeling of gratitude for God’s unexpected provision. We cleaned the rust off the stove and, with the generous gifts offered by several people, were able to install a chimney ourselves so that the stove was burning before the snow fell.
We were also surprised this year to have three different Chicago ministries come for retreats with us. Guys from Emmaus ministries, which helps men get out of prostitution, were here for the third year now and are becoming good friends. And we had our first women’s retreat for a group from Good News Partners, who showed us the depth of sharing that can happen among sisters who really love each other. One of those women later brought a group from her church, five charming and enthusiastic friends with developmental disabilities. That weekend was a bit of a stretch for us, but with the reward of glimpsing some of God’s true anawim, the poor of spirit. Hopefully all these folks will come to visit us again and again. One more bible study group from a church soup kitchen also planned to come this summer, but last minute health problems forced us to cancel that retreat. Maybe we’ll get a chance to meet them next summer. (Or in the winter, if they’d like to gather around a roaring fire.)
There were some unexpected personnel problems on the farm this summer, so Heather offered lots of hours in the garden to bring in the harvest. Please pray for all the families who depend on the farm here. We’re grateful for our friends and for all the healthy, delicious fruits and vegetables that they give us to eat and to serve to our retreat guests.
One more little surprise came when we received a Christmas card last week from Mary, who was with us on a retreat this summer. She wrote, “May the Savior be in everything that you do and say!”
We’d be grateful if, when you think of it, you’d pray those words for us. We’ll do the same for you.