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September 2006
Dear Friends in Christ,
In our February newsletter we mentioned visiting Jimmy and Jean Wales in Franklinton LA, and shared about their unique jelly making ministry. The following month we reported our trip to the home of Mike and Pam Richardson in Baratillo, Mexico, which is in the beautiful mountains between Monterrey and Saltillo. At the time, the mountains were covered with blooming apple orchards. We thought it would be great if Jimmy and Jean could come to Nava and teach their canning skills and what better fruit to use than the apples from Baratillo. So, we talked with them about our idea and much to our delight, they enthusiastically agreed to come to Nava.
That set things in motion to gather a great deal of canning supplies, pots, utensils, etc. for the jelly making. Numerous pages of instructions and recipes also had to be translated and made into notebooks for the students. A special thanks to Alfredo and Carmen Torres who poured hours and hours of work into these translations. This was a major blessing!
The first week of September Pastor Santos, Fini, Kenny, Sara and I headed south to Baratillo and the Richardson home. Kenny and I were able to help finish up some electrical work on their new home/ministry house. I had to smile as I heard Pastor Santos share Christ with Juan and Dario as he helped them with a masonry job. Santos will always take advantage of a situation like that. I was blessed knowing he was planting many seeds in their hearts through his faithfulness.
While there, Mike introduced us to Josue and Lucio, two brothers who are members of the Baratillo church. They own one of the beautiful apple orchards in the area. We decided to purchase the apples from them. I had talked with Jimmy about the quantity of apples to buy and he thought 4-5 bushels would be plenty for the classes scheduled. Standing in that beautiful orchard with all those trees full of apples, I felt my truck would hold at least 25 bushels. So in my usual deductive reasoning I purchased 30 bushels at $7.50 each! I would live to somewhat regret this ambitious decision.
After work the next day we drove to pick up the apples. It had been raining all day. As I backed the truck into the orchard down a narrow muddy lane, I knew it was not going to come out as easily as it was sliding in. Sure enough, after loading the 30 bushels and putting the truck in 4 wheel drive it went nowhere, except a little sideways into an apple tree. We spent over an hour that evening trying to get out, but it was to no avail. The next morning all the men working in the orchard helped with the stuck Texas truck. After 3 more hours of teamwork, the truck was pushed and pulled out inch by inch. I was very relieved to say the least! We finished loading the apples, said our many thanks and goodbyes, and headed north to Nava.
We are very appreciative for the kind hospitality of Mike and Pam Richardson. Even though they were in the middle of a move with no running water and having just received electricity the day we arrived, they treated us like honored guests with plenty of good food, accommodations, and blessed fellowship.
The day after we returned with the apples, Jimmy and Jean Wales joined us in Nava. We were excited about their arrival and Jimmy wasted no time in starting to prepare for the week of instruction. Monday through Friday from 9:00 am to 6:00 pm we held two classes daily. Twenty men and women from Pastor Santos' three churches attended alternating 5 and 6 at a time. Jimmy is retired from a career as a computer programmer at LSU and Jean is a retired 5th grade school teacher. Needless to say, they were up for the job and enjoyed the week of canning instruction. Everyone learned how to make apple jelly, butter and apple sauce. We enjoyed our time with the Wales and are grateful for the many hours of preparation and teaching that went into the week.
After the Wales left, we still had 25 bushels of apples that needed to be processed. Apples don't last as long off the tree as I thought they would. We needed a way to save them as quickly as possible. So by telephone, while Jimmy was in Wyoming helping his brother with a project, he talked us through making apple preserves. That next week was filled with processing cases and cases of preserves. This reaped almost 50 gallons of apple juice, which was used for making jelly and syrup for the preserves. The last apple was peeled and cored on Thursday and we continued making jelly all day Friday and Saturday until we ran out of jars. We were left with only 16 gallons of juice which we froze for processing later. Pastor Santos stayed busy the whole time selling bagged apples and jars of apple jelly. At least forty 5-pound bags of apples were given away in the colonia. The families were blessed to receive the fresh Baratillo apples.
During the project, we had to make several trips back to the U.S. to purchase more jars. It was about midnight on one of these trips when Kenny and Micah were returning with a load. They were stopped by the Mexican border guards and told they had too many jars and couldn't bring them into Mexico. Kenny decided to leave and try the other bridge, but found it closed. He then prayed and asked God to shield them from the guards and allow them to get through unnoticed. They headed back to the bridge within 10 minutes of being denied, got a green light and crossed into Mexico without any problems. The guards didn't seem to notice them, and they retuned to Nava with the jars. We praise the Lord for His goodness to them!!
Our hope is out of the 20 or so students, with God's help, we have cultivated their interest in canning different products to sell and supplement their income. Each of the jars sent out had Scripture on them, and we know that God's Word never returns void. We look forward to seeing how He uses this project for His glory.
As we drove home, we discussed how this month was somewhat stressful, exhausting and the heat draining, yet it was a very good feeling. We thank the Lord for the work that He has given us. Our prayer is that we have been an encouragement in Christ to our Brothers and Sisters in Nava. We are grateful for your part in making this project and many more happen in Nava as well as Haiti.
Blessings in Christ,
The Kennedy Family