One thing I love about our wonderful Fayetteville Farmer’s Market is that there are people from third world countries who now live in America bringing their farming heritage which I think is a great thing. I have gotten to know a family from Laos just a little bit, and I want to write about them. And get to know them better.
What does this have to do with Wellspring Community? First of all, we have in common the desire to grow food. Second, many of these immigrants work together with their families, and have a close knit bond which is part of their culture which we can learn from. Thirdly, you can get to know me better as you see my viewpoint and how I operate. Getting to know me, you get to know the flavor of our community because I think I can safely say that Wellspring Community values the gifts that people from other cultures offer us.
I first met ai Mova and Sai Xiong in mid-summer when I was in a hurry and short on money. I pray that these two states of being can be less and less! But I was blessed by this couple and their son, a college student, who were willing to put together a beautiful spread of vegetables for the $20 I offered them.
When I am in an adventurous mood (which is 95% of the time) I ask the farmers to give me good deals, hoping that we are having a win-win experience. I often go near the end of the market when they are glad to get rid of the produce they would have to bring home. Many of them give some of their surplus to Feed Fayetteville, a group that feeds the hungry and homeless in Fayetteville which is very wonderful. Since our family is doing our best to live simply and work more on our long term goals including creating intentional community, sustainability and practicing Jesus teachings of love and non-violence, we prefer not working for other people more than necessary. Developing good relationships with farmers who choose to give me discounts is one way we have saved much money as well as eat in a healthy manner.
So I was extra grateful on this particular day to have a giant bag of fresh produce from Summers Produce, located in Lincoln, Arkansas. Even though I was in a hurry, I still chose to talk a bit to the family and felt inspired to tell them that I would write an article about them. Finally, months later, I am following through with my commitment.
I spent a few minutes asking the Mai Mona father of the family about his life. He smilingly told me a very tragic story which attests to his strong spirit. His father died when fighting in World War Mai Mona was 6 months old. He never saw his father. When seven years old, this resilient boy lost his mother. He and his brother lived on the family farm. Farming was the only occupation he knew, for his parents were farmers. There was no school in his village, and so in order to survive, he helped his brother grow food.
In his early twenties, Mai Mona moved to Thailand and then soon moved to the United States in 1987. He went to school for two years and got his GED. Then he started farming again, something he has done, with a few breaks here and there, all his life.
I asked the son about their faith. I need to check with them again because I forgot what he said, but I know they are not followers of Jesus. But they do have a religious practice. So many ways the qualities I have experienced of this family portrays the values that our community holds dear–being good stewards of the land; strong family ties; generosity; and kindness.
When I traveled to Europe and then to Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India and Sri Lanka when I was 19, I noticed a huge contrast between the culture of Europe and the culture of these less fortunate (in some ways) countries. There was a warmth and welcoming from the people that seemed authentic and just part of who they are. I experienced a similar quality from this family.
Even though someone might not follow Jesus, I don’t expect God to burn them in hell because they don’t believe certain doctrines. I believe in a loving God who can understand that there are not that many Christians who are living lives that inspire people to follow Jesus. That is a whole other story explaining my views on that. Our community is in the process of adopting the Reknew Manifesto as a way of explaining our beliefs. Here is an excerpt from the view on hell that we are still discussing:
“However, we are convinced that what is more important than the particular views we hold is the manner in which we hold them. Since the biblical material on this topic is ambiguous, and since the witness of the early church is not uniform on this matter, we encourage Jesus-followers today to not christen their own view as the orthodox view, but rather to allow all views to be entertained and lovingly debated.: – See more at: http://reknew.org/2012/07/a-reknew-manifesto/#sthash.deF6ZCzK.dpuf
I look forward to sharing with this family what I have written so far, making sure I have things accurate, and filling out the story a bit more.
I also look forward to writing a piece on many other farmers who I enjoy buying from. I love this opportunity every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday to get to know the people who grow much of the food I eat. I don’t go to every farmers market–but sometimes I do! My family and I love fresh, locally grown food.