We sat on our camp chairs and looked around at the beginnings of our new life. It was just a single story ranch, surrounded by flowering pink maculí trees, mangos and towering melina, sandy soil and beautiful silence. A small enclosure held a few hens. Several sheep grazed in the grass behind us. The day was grey and windy and we looked up into the rushing clouds, wondering at God’s merciful goodness.
Just a few weeks before, we had left the city for the countryside, leaving behind a rented house full of the saddest memories a family could ever have. Emotionally, our cups were full and running over. We clung to each other and to God. There was nothing else we could do but hold tight and wait for the storm to pass.
But now, we were here. In this little jungle square God had given us, there was peace and beauty, there was new life and new hope. We had felt backed into one of humanity’s most desperate corners, we had gasped for breath, asphyxiated by the wretched pressures of satan’s pestle. But there was oxygen here. We could finally fills our lungs and actually begin to breathe again.
The difficulties and sadness had not gone away. Not at all. Yet there was something about this place of peace that refreshed our weary souls. The black, silent nights, graciously restoring to us the rest stolen for months by nights of tossing and distress. The whispering of nature reminding us daily of new life and hope for tomorrow. The animals: promising a welcome diversion of work and a healthy provision for my children’s stomachs.
“Let’s call our home and farm Quinta Querit,” I said on a sudden impulse. David looked at me inquisitively.
“Yes, Querit, for it was here that God miraculously provided for us a refuge when we could not take another step.
“Penelope, man can do what they will but God, He is always faithful. He has never abandoned us through all this time and He never will. Quinta Querit it is.”
(Querit is Cherith, for my linquistic contemporaries.)
Israel was a barren land. With a king and queen devoted to idolatry, false prophets and a hatred of all things righteous, it was no wonder God brought a famine through Elijah the prophet. With more tenacity than I could ever muster, Elijah announced to Ahab there would be no rain, or even dew unless he, Elijah, commanded it to come. You can only imagine the king’s exploding fury at this one who dared to invoke God’s holy name against him! Elijah the prophet fled, at God’s command, towards the east, the rising of the sun, down to the little brook called Cherith. It was a place of undeniable, miraculous, God-given refreshment. Bubbling through the harsh Jordan Valley during the rainy season, Cherith was a haven of unexpected rest in that arid mountainous region. Yet God did not only provide water to His fugitive servant. He commanded the ravens to feed him as well, every morning and every evening, bread and meat.
Oh the abounding, excellent, merciful generosity of our God!
We had felt like Elijah, desperate for a place of God’s refreshing. He, in His lavish mercy, gave us the very thing we needed, our little Quinta Querit.
And so it began. Some hens, a few sheep, a batch of broiler chickens. They were for our personal consumption but as time went on, we realized the demand that there was for farm fresh products, free from hormones and chemicals and unkind living conditions. People were excited to be buying local and to be eating clean. We opened a Facebook page and started taking orders in to the city, about an hour away. At first it was only a few dozen eggs and a couple of chickens. Soon there were more and more orders we simply could not fulfill. We started ordering chicks by the hundred, waiting anxiously for the months to pass until those first little eggs were found in the boxes. Today, we have about 700 hens who lay around 300 some eggs per day. We take them in by trays of 30, twice a week, into the city of Carmen.
It was hard to keep up with several different kinds of animals. Between sicknesses, space and demand it soon became obvious something would have to give.
In this area of Mexico, lamb is consumed very minimally. We couldn’t find a consistent market for our sheep, so off they went.
Broiler chickens are prone to getting colds and coughs (chickens coughing=weird), so there was a constant cost of medications and special care. We finished raising the last batch, filled the freezer and said good-bye.
Most Mexicans (again, in this area. I can only speak for what I know) would consume egg nearly daily. There would always, always, be a demand for eggs. So we decided to be the first and only regular supplier of farm fresh eggs straight to the doorsteps of the people on the island of Carmen.
The reason we live in Campeche, Mexico is to spread the gospel and see New Testament churches established. We never envisioned adding “farmers” to our list of occupations. Yet we arrived to this little village on the shore of the Gulf and a few things were evident immediately. Everybody, every single body, has animals. We, that first month, were the only people in the entire town not raising animals for meat.
Let’s put that into perspective. There are like 1000 people, maybe some 300 houses. We are white. We have freckles. We speak English. We live in the last house. We preach the gospel. And we have no animals. Whaat?? There is an automatic rejection reflex because we are just too different, too strange, too confusing. It would have actually been a bad testimony to the gospel for us to not raise animals.
Aside from that, a little town means everyone knows everything about everyone else. “Pastors’” lives least preserved from that minute inspection. They needed to see us working. They needed to have the confidence we were not here to live off their meager salaries. They needed to know the absolute contrary was our actuality. We were here to help.
People were shocked when we would arrive with a chicken to help them that day. They could not believe we would gift them a dozen eggs. They watched in awe as we were able to give jobs to men who had no work, so they could once again provide for their families. It just wasn’t what a typical herald of the gospel did.
As we learned more about the different animals, it became one of the easiest ways to start conversations and make connections with people, so necessary when coming into a place with the gospel. It doesn’t work to just start knocking on doors and expect people to fall over each other to hear the good news! They often need to know you care, that you are human but with a hope they long to have. They like to see you care not just for their soul, but for their 15 turkeys with colds, for their husband who was out all night fishing, for their mother who is blind from diabetes.
Then, they will be willing to accept you have something special; it is then that they will want to hear the gospel of Jesus Christ, crucified.
God’s love shining through your questions of concern will convince them they need His love for themselves.
It has been a journey of discovery and self-examination, a wonderful opportunity to let go and see God’s beautiful plans unfold. Our fortuity to run an egg farm has been an enriching experience for ourselves and also for our children, as they observe and learn about every detail and phase of this project.
Quinta Querit continues to be a place of freshness, renewal and stress relief, a spot where worries fly up to God, borne on the back of weaver birds and warm ocean breezes, where His mercies and miracles are still new every single morning.
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