May 6, 2007

There and back again: a large family tale

Our trip to Gleanings For The Hungry in Sultana, CA was a complete success! All the planning and preparation done ahead of time made it a very pleasant road trip and our time working at Gleanings was awesome!

First, the road trip. Though we aimed to be out the door at 3 am, it was closer to 3:30 am by the time we were backing out the driveway. Which turned out okay, because we were able to do what others consider a 14 hour trip in 12.5 hours. We ate all our meals in the car while Super Daddy Driver drove and used the potty only when we stopped for gasoline.

One thing I learned on this trip was that most gasoline stations only have one toilet per gender. That means trying to get 12 people to the potty takes longer than it takes to gas up our 33 gallon 15 passenger van. We could save some time if we went to a gas station next to a fast food place and used the fast food bathrooms instead, as they usually have at least two toilets per bathroom. In fact on the way home at one gas stop one of my older boys did just that. He took one look at the line for the mens room and quickly turned around and headed to the Wendy's next door. Smart kid.

After our time at Gleanings we went to So. California to visit my sister and her family (You know who you are!). It was just another 4 hours south from Gleanings, but it was too short of a visit! We got there Saturday afternoon and left Monday morning. We drove about half the way home and stayed at a Residence Inn (to house all of us we needed 2 suites - older boys in one, mom, dad and the little girls in the other). I can't say enough good about this hotel chain (and I spent three nights at one in another state last month for a sisters weekend with my three sisters. The staff were very accommodating. Check in is usually 3 pm and check out at noon. Well, we got in early and checked to see if it was possible our room was ready, at 11:15 AM! And, it was! They let us right in! Then, we had late flights out and asked for a 3 pm check out and they didn't bat an eye. No problem! That is the kind of service I love. At the hotel my husband and I go to locally whenever we can get a night or two away, they are total scrooges about a late check out. As if the occupants of one room checking out more than an hour late is really going to make a difference! Sorry, but I really like to get a whole 24 hours out of the price of a hotel room. But, I digress....) The beds were great, the rooms spacious for a large family to move around in, a full kitchen and an incredibly delicious ,with lots and lots of choices, hot breakfast (buffet style, but hot and ready!). The awesome breakfast was a great start to our last day on the road, though it may have delayed us a little (how many helpings can we cram in before leaving? I mean, it's included in the price of the room, so let's get our moneys worth! lol!). We had hoped to be home by dinner time that night, but we got in later than that. Never fear, I had plenty of things to munch on. The kids did fine, just the driver was getting weary.

Gleanings: The whole reason for the road trip was so that our family could spend a week of volunteer service. The spring is the best time to go as a family or bring a group of families as the work is easier and almost all ages can participate. The accommodations are hotel like rooms, and three meals and two snacks are served a day from the dining hall. We "led" a group from our church of 9 adults and 26 children (some were teenagers). I think we made a new record for the most children in a group! We mostly worked on the trail mix line and repackaging raisins. Some of the dads worked on pouring concrete projects. We all took turns working in the kitchen before and after meals too.

We also worked one day in the Soup Plant and several days working on washing donated dirty buckets (they are used in the summer to pack the dried peaches in for shipping - not only is the dried peaches a blessing to the people all over the world who receive them, but the buckets are an additional blessing! These dirty, used buckets were destined for the dump, but have been donated instead and volunteers clean them up all year to have enough for the summer dried fruit crop.)

Some in our group were able to work in the quilting room. Donated fabric, batting and quit tops (specifically made by a church group and sent to Gleanings) came together to finish two quilts. Quilts get sent with containers that go to COLD climate countries.

The playground was a huge hit with our group. Like everything at Gleanings, the equipment was donated and volunteers put it in. Gleanings is an extremely cost effective ministry: the land, equipment, buildings, machines, etc. have all been donated - they have no debt and no loans. Even staying there is a donation: you can pay whatever you feel the Lord leading you to pay, though $5.00 a day per person is a guideline for the springtime stays. (that includes food and lodging)

A few of our children in front of a wall in the dining hall that lists all the different countries around the world that receive food from Gleanings. (click to enlarge)

Our oldest three boys working on cleaning up some pallets of buckets that had one bucket with a bad seal and so during the winter some yucky bugs had a cozy home and food supply. They had to find the bad bucket, and then clean up the buggy yuckiness that was all over the surrounding buckets. Then, the stacked buckets and pallet have to be wrapped in shrink wrap again before they can be placed in shipping containers and go overseas.

Time serving together as a family and with other families as well as getting to know the staff and hearing so many incredible stories of God's provision made for an incredible 6 days! One of my favorite parts of each day was chapel. After breakfast each morning there was an hour of worship, sharing, devotional and praying together of the staff and the volunteers. So many incredible stories of what God has done and is doing through this ministry. Letters were read written by children from foreign lands thanking the people at Gleanings that would send such good wonderful food for them to eat. The stories can break your heart, and then praise our loving God for giving a man a vision to take the leftovers, the surplus of the peach growing area of California and use it to feed people and share the gospel with them.

All together, we:

Cleaned about 1,300 food buckets.

Packaged 240 pounds raisins (85 boxes).

Produced 4,560 bags trail mix (240 boxes).

Packaged 148,000 servings of soup mix (26 barrels).

Helped to pour two truckloads of concrete for a slab.

Moved and stacked pallets.

Completed work on two quilts.

Took turns preparing meals in the commercial kitchen and cleaning the dining hall.

It was good to serve the Lord at Gleanings! We give this a 10 out of 10 as an awesome short term family friendly mission trip.

Stay tuned for the next installment: What's next?


Qtpies7 said...

That sounds so wonderful! I would really like to look into that for our family. We were hoping to go to a camp this summer for disabled youth, but it doesn't look like we can do it, but the kids would not have all been able to work. They could play puzzles and playdoh with the campers, probably.
Gleanings sounds like a lot of fun with such blessings going out to the world.

The Crandalls said...

This sounds so great. 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?

design by