Sunday, August 26, 2012

unexpected blessings

when paul and i realized we were going to have to move to give us any hope of survival, i mentally prepared myself for a large sacrifice. see, i love the valley. well, mostly. i love what the valley has to offer so close. i love that you can make a day trip to the beach, or be up in the giant sequoias in less than two hours. i love that it doesn't get really cold, but there's enough to give me a break from the summer heat and to make me happy for the summer heat to come back. i love that so many kinds of fruits and vegetables don't just grow there, but thrive there. i don't so much love the smog and the dry, ugly nothingness of the undeveloped land. i also don't love the crime and the taxes.

so, though i was ready to move, i was worried the lord would need me someplace that i liked far less than the valley. and i would've gone willingly and cheerfully, but wasn't necessarily looking forward to it with excitement. and when paul got a job interview with a company in texas (which was the furthest he'd gotten with any company, sadly still is) i was steeling myself for a new adventure. i was even starting to get excited about it, looking at houses online, reading up about things to do. i wasn't happy about the distance from any family though, and it still in my heart didn't feel quite right. but i wasn't sure if that's because a part of me really didn't want to go or because it wasn't right. well, now i know. but because of that slight uneasiness i was a little relieved when he didn't get the job. disappointed too, of course, but relieved. and yet, i still felt like there was some big sacrifice coming.

then, we had to start the process of trying to figure out where we were going to go because we were still definitely moving. when paul said he'd felt drawn to oregon, i was surprised. and excited. 

could we really be sent somewhere we'd already discussed living "someday"? it almost seemed too easy. of course, it hasn't all been easy. far from it, but there have been so many blessings being here that it has made up for, in large part, all those things we hoped to get just by being obedient moving. financially, we're still struggling. more in some ways than we were before we moved. but in other ways we've been blessed so abundantly, i can hardly believe it.

it's beautiful here. they have four, distinct seasons (i'm really looking forward to fall). there's a lot to do and see here (though, really that's true almost anywhere if you have a sense of adventure). our ward is starting to feel like home and the more i get to know the people, the more i love them. there's an awesome group of women whom i share so much in common with. more so, probably than any of the places i've lived before. we play basketball and volleyball together. we share and laugh and get along easily together. last night, we had a ladies night out. we went to dinner and played volleyball. i can't believe i got so lucky to find--or get sent to--a place where there are so many women who think that's as great a night as i do!

at times like these, it's impossible to deny the lord knows and loves ME. though this move hasn't solved the problems we thought it was going to when we moved here, it has greatly blessed and enriched my life in ways that i never expected a year ago. 

and i am so grateful.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Pear Harvest!

for those of my readers that don't know (are there any?), the LDS church is very self-sufficient and has many different kinds of farms all around the US (world?) that contribute to the church's welfare system. in the san joaquin valley we harvested grapes to dry and make raisins. a very hot, very dusty, and frequently juicy, affair. i loved it. i was sad to be leaving that when we moved away, but then was happy to hear that they have a large pear orchard here. 

and it is LARGE. they invite all able members over 12 to dedicate 12 hours or more to the harvest as early as possible in the harvest. i thought that was a lot of time at first, but now i understand why. 

monday morning paul and i went at 5:00 a.m. to pick pears for our first time. our ward had the platform assignment for the 5 a.m. to 8 a.m. shift. but we had a lot of people show up, so we did ground picking in front of the platform. it's pretty easy work, ground picking, that is. easier, i'd say, than grapes. last night sarah and i went out and got there early enough to get on the platform for picking.

this is the platform

it's massive, and quite impressive. four people stand on either side facing out. that closest platform raises up a lot higher than the other one so we can get the whole tree. they put a harness on you and hook up a rope to your back so you can't fall out because you really have to lean to get some of those pears near the center of the tree.

then they start rolling by. slowly, but when you've got a group of pears all at once, it can seem much too fast! you stick your hands out and grab everything you can before you get too far. then you try to move out of the way from heavy branches sticking way out. it leads to lots of scratches on the arms, getting whipped in the face with branches and i even had a pear fall on my neck at one point. that hurt.

sarah came with me and we did the 9:00-midnight shift. it's very tiring work. much harder, physically, than grape picking. 

all i had on me was my phone, but i wanted to capture the moment! you can kind of see how big the bins are there behind me. we filled 10 of them last night in our 3 hour shift. we matched the record.

last night, i got home and washed my arms because they were so filthy. the soap in the scratches all over made them burn profusely. i wasn't prepared for it because they don't really look that bad. today, they still smart, but only a little. my shoulders and clavicle on the other hand. oy. between the bucket full of pears pulling on them, and the harness while i leaned as far as it would allow, they hurt something fierce!

i'm not anxious to get right back up there (mostly due to the soreness), at least not for a full 3 hour shift, but i did really enjoy myself and will definitely do it again! glad i found a substitute for the grape harvest. and bonus, it's way less dirty.