Every January, for many years, several members of our Koinonia group in Cherry Valley and other Christian friends journeyed in R.V.s to Quartzsite, Arizona, for several days of camping. It was a great time for fellowship and enjoying what many have called the largest yard sale in the country.
Prior to 2011 we became aware of a Christian organization called Gleanings for the Hungry located in central California. They process and freeze-dry the food then send it to people in foreign countries who are in dire need. I was reminded of God’s decree in Leviticus 19:9-10.
Verse 9 – “When you harvest the crops of your land, do not harvest the grain along the edges of your fields, and do not pick up what the harvesters drop.”
Verse 10 – “It is the same with your grape crop… do not strip from the vines, and do not pick up the grapes that fall to the ground. Leave them for the poor and foreigners living among you. I am the Lord your God.”
Many of us felt a calling to forego the trip to Arizona and venture to a place where we might contribute our energy for those less fortunate. Wouldn’t you know it, Pastor Paul Plaxton was already in motion to escort a group from Trinity to the gleaning facility in Dinuba, California, in January, for the second year in a row. He had secured 20 spots and we were more than happy to take up more than half of those spots.
The group left Trinity on a Sunday morning after service and traveled the 300 plus miles to Dinuba. Upon arrival we were directed to our housing locations. The R.V.ers headed to hook-up sites on the facility grounds while couples were provided with a room. Singles are housed in a dormitory building. The entire facility is large, clean and relatively modern. There is no cost to volunteers for food or housing.
After settling in, we were offered a tour of the facility and brief description of volunteer jobs available for the following day. All jobs are voluntary and the volunteer can work as long as they wish during the day. Work days are very regimented, starting with breakfast at 7:00 am, ending with Dinner at 6:00 pm, with Chapel, work and lunch throughout the day.
The dining room walls have the names and flags of the 30 plus countries where the gleaned food is sent. Each shipment is accompanied by staff members to guarantee it goes to those intended. Meals in the dining room are cafeteria style. The food is good with an obvious healthy focus.
Some of the jobs one can volunteer for are kitchen help,quilt making, dried fruit processing and packaging, cleaning and rebuilding fruit drying racks or general maintenance. Work pace and effort is decided by the individual and whatever energy the Lord provides.
Donated food comes to the facility from many sources, as does financial support. Many from Trinity donated prior to leaving. The food is dehydrated before it arrives, with the exception of some fresh fruit in the summer. That fruit is put on drying racks in a large field prior to packaging. The facility operates all year, with the summer months bring many youth from all over the state to volunteer.
Pastor Plaxton has arranged for 25 spots for Trinity in January 2012. R.V.ers should know that they are building nine new hook-up sites for volunteers to compliment
the existing four sites. Additional rooms are also being added. In January, the area is foggy. This fog, we were told, provides 50% of the irrigation to the many groves in the area. Volunteers should pack clothing which is warm and plan for clothing changes due to the weather and note that shoes are likely to become muddy.
As you may contemplate whether this labor for the Lord is for you, spend some time reflecting on these verses:Proverbs 28:27 – “Whoever gives to the poor will lack nothing but those who close their eyes to poverty will be cursed.” Mark 14:7 – The Lord Jesus said, “You will always have the poor among you and you can help them whenever you want to…” Those of us who have shared this experience praise God for this work and the strength we had to be a part of it. -by Ed Stout