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ACTION / Nazareth Farm

During the summer, ACTION takes a trip to West Virginia to spend a week at a mission called Nazareth Farm. The road trip in the van becomes a sort of spiritual journey for them, and then they join several other groups coming from parishes throughout the Midwest. One student from the summer '09 trip described the experience as one of personal growth and shared learning:

"At first I was a little nervous about going because I didn’t really know the guys that I was traveling with, and I was worried that the work was really going to be backbreaking. When we arrived all the people that greeted us were very welcoming, and even though we did do significant repair work on roofs and porches, the Farm team trained us to do things I never thought I could."



An important guide to making the most of this experience involves what Nazareth Farm considers to be their four pillars: Community, Service, Prayer, and Simplicity.

  • Community means that you never have to do something alone. For instance, every meal is prepared by a group, is begun with an opening prayer, is shared together at long tables designed for communal, and the clean-up responsibilities after the meal are shared by all. 

  • Service means that the focus is not so much on the physical building that we do, but on the fact that we are serving a family. The opportunity to meet them makes it a more personal, meaningful experience. Also, the Farm team makes sure to rotate tasks as we help them maintain the farm, in addition to switching up which rooms each person occupies. The goal is to be able to understand that everyone's individual role is important to the mission as a whole.

  • Prayer is important on this trip, and it helps us realize that God is actually there with you throughout the day! Not only is He present in the beautiful woods, but in our waking up, before a meal, before we get in the trucks to go off to our work sites, and also at night. We also learn that prayer is not always something pre-written, but should also be practiced in an impromptu form, one that comes from the heart.

  • Simplicity can actually be fun! Showers are taken outside, using buckets of warm water that we haul for ourselves. We compost, conserve watter bottles and cans, and never use paper napkins. We bring few changes of clothing, since the focus at Nazareth Farm is on physical work and spiritual growth.

 

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