This week has probably been the longest week we've had since we've been here. That being said, we can't believe another week has passed already. We have lots to report on:
Mama Sow Update
First order of business, the mama sow finally gave birth!! It has been a rough week for both mama and babies, six of which were stillborn, and another five or so have died since being born. The sow stopped eating two weeks before giving birth. Her loss of nutrition may have been why so many piglets were stillborn and the others were so small. But as of now, there are eight piglets who seem to be healthy and feeding well, and mama is doing better every day, although she still has trouble eating. We've been feeding her sweet potato leaves and today she ate tofu!
Speaking of babies, our cousins Maegan and Aaron had their little boy Jaxson early Friday morning, everyone is doing well!!
Yukata Worship Service
Last Sunday night we went to a special Yukata worship service at the church of ARI's volunteer coordinator, Jonathan McCurley. It was a small church, maybe only 20 people in attendance that evening, but we felt very welcomed. Everyone dressed in traditional Japanese clothing! We all shared a meal and fireworks afterwards! It was a wonderful way to share fellowship with some of the ARI community and local people.
Clearing the Cornfield
Immediately, some of us began cutting down the corn stalks and piling them up.
We paused occasionally to stomp the silage down so we could pack more into the silo. It has to ferment to be preserved.
You could call it a dance for preservation! By the end of the next day, the entire corn field was stored away for the winter and ready for the chickens.
Change Starts in the Home
We've been reading Wendell Berry lately, so as we work on this farm, the issues facing humanity today have been on our mind. In a time when we are beginning to question the current economic model and our idea of "development," these issues can seem daunting.
Today, since Doug finished his Saturday field work early, he was able to sit in on the participant's class and hear some encouraging words of change from a group of Japanese mothers. Zenkoku Tomo-no-kai (friendship of Japanese women) visited the participants and talked to them about their organization. Tomo-no-kai is an association of Japanese women who aspire to improve home life and community, beginning with the improvement of their own households. They see the family as the basic unit of society and through improving home life, they can affect positive change in the larger society. It was nice to hear people speak of such a personal, practical way to work for change within the community.
Wednesday was Nicole's last day at ARI, she had been here for a year serving as the 2011-2012 YASC missionary. We were so grateful to have been able to share some time here together before she went back to Virginia. We celebrated her ministry here with burgers at AkiBrazil (a Brazilian restaurant!) and a farewell party in the woman's dorm (no boys allowed!).
Goodbye, Nicole! Best of luck as you continue on your journey!
We've had to say one more goodbye this week. One of our participants, Wilson, needed to fly home to the Philippines to see to his wife who is in critical condition. This all happened very quickly and we called a community meeting to discuss the situation and support Wilson in this difficult time. No one is sure whether or not Wilson will be able to return to ARI, but please keep him and his family in your thoughts and prayers. We wish Wilson safe travels today, he left at 3:30am for the airport.