How old do you think a child has to be to make this worth the trip? What did you do with your littlest one while working?
Because we had a baby who still takes 2 long naps a day, I was really unable to do much of what the rest of our group was doing. I helped in the kitchen one day and went to watch everyone work on the trail mix line and take pictures. At first this was a little discouraging to me, but God gave me a great peace that my "season" is still to care for small children/babies and really, I was so thankful to just be able to be there with our whole family at the same time! After chapel I would take baby back to where we were staying and nap her. We would meet up with everyone else at lunch time at the dining hall and about the time everyone was heading back to work, she would be going down for a nap again. I was able to be "home support", keeping the laundry going, cleaning the house we were staying in, washing dishes, etc. One day I kept some of the other families toddlers with me and played with them so their moms could work. I also had times of great worship, singing and ready my bible, which is a rare thing during the middle of the day in my "normal" life. =)
Our three year old was able to work if she was with daddy, helping with packaging raisins, etc. Since daddy also did concrete work a couple of days, she stayed with me and the baby during those times. Our five year old was fine to work with packaging raisins with other adults supervising. Every child is different, so age doesn't always mean anything. I don't think they ever worked more than 2.5 hours at a stretch before there was either the lunch break or a snack break.
Gleanings is a great whole family short term mission experience in the spring, but....
Just to clarify, during the summer Gleanings isn't a "whole family" kind of destination. To run the peach processing plant they prefer 13 y.o.'s and older. This is fast paced and lots of fast moving machinery going on. It is also very hot in the summer time in Sultana. Even so, I do know some families at our church who have taken their whole families, but it was more like mom stayed with the younger kids doing other things while the older kids and dad worked. Because it takes approx. 80 workers to run the peach line and with what housing is available, there isn't a lot of room for families to stay there during the summer. There are dorms with bunks as well as the hotel type rooms that are used during the summer. I think the suggested donation per day is $10 in the summer, per person.
There is different work to do at Gleanings in all the different seasons. Summer is peaches, Fall is usually clean up/repair from the summer (new this fall, starting in Oct., Gleanings will have a Discipleship Training School starting, which is a 3 month basic training for YWAM. You can read more about what a DTS is here ) In the winter is more repair and prepare for the spring and summer months. Whenever there are enough volunteers and donated product the soup mix plant or the trail mix line can run. They get a lot of senior groups who come through during these times of year when the work is relatively easy and the temperatures are mild. During the spring they like to have groups up to 35 people each week (working Monday - Friday usually, but some folks do a day or two as they are on their way from one place to another. There are even motor home hook-ups available!)to run the soup plant and/or trail mix and raisin lines. And, there are always buckets to be washed when the sun is out to dry them!
There are so many ways to help support this ministry. Praying for the staff (all YWAM staff raise their own support - there are no paid positions), product to be donated, shipments to get through customs without corrupt governments interfering, and that the hearts of those receiving this food will also be receptive to the Gospel message that is presented with it. Financial support is always needed and is tax deductible. You can contribute to the ministry as a whole or help support a staff family (there are three families on staff right now that homeschool, which is really cool!). You'd be amazed at how little money makes such a big difference in these "state side" missionaries lives (though it is state side to us, this is foreign land to many on staff: some are from Canada, the Philippines and Switzerland!). Not only does it provide for their physical needs it encourages them spiritually! There is also the quilt making projects. Quilt tops can be put together and sent to Gleanings or you can work on quilts while you are at Gleanings.
You can even do donations online here. And, for all the information about Gleanings, go here. Be sure to check out the monthly newsletters.
Keep the questions coming!