Final week at ARI
We left ARI a few days ago and we were sad to leave. Altogether we spent 10 memorble weeks doing things we love: working outside, meeting new people, singing hymns, trying different food, taking care of animals…the list could go on. Anna and I said to one another over and over, “What a great place this has been to start our year of travel and learning.” ARI was just that: a place where so many of our passions and interests intersected. Land, faith, struggle, stewardship, birth, hope, harvest, post-disaster recovery, change, and daily bread were all themes we reflected on throughout our time. In short, we received so much more than we contributed.
We learned many new skills to be sure. For much of her time Anna worked in the kitchen prepping community meals with ingredients she'd never seen and with methods she was unaccustomed to. Now she can stir fry anything you throw at her and she can whip up a meal for a big group no problem. I picked up skills in working with vegetables and crops as well as an awareness of what small-scale organic farming looks like.
And while skills are important to gather along the way, it's true that relationships matter a great deal as well. We leave ARI having been changed by the people we've met and now call friends. Folks on staff were models of servant leadership in ways I have scarcely experienced before. Volunteers were full of conviction about offering their time and gifts. And the participants in the program, those who traveled to ARI with hopes and dreams for the future of their communities, were people with great strength and with fire in their bellies. For many the situation in their home countries is filled with violence, political injustice, economic insecurity or lack of resources. Yet, we came to know them as incredibly resourceful, savvy, smart, and bold. The participants of ARI will go on to do great things after their graduation in December. What a rare and special opportunity it was for us to live and work and learn alongside them.
Now we're off to experience Japan itself for few weeks, hopefully with updates along the way. Here's a few pictures from our last week and a half at the Asian Rural Institute, a place we will miss very much and hope to see again.