I remember in college when my campus pastor mentioned Brandon, thinking maybe we would be a good match for each other. My immediate response was, “Yeah right, he’ll never leave Pomaria!” Part of this quick response was because I could never have imagined myself living in such a small rural town, but also because I was fairly certain I wouldn’t be living in the US much longer. I already had my dreams set on serving through a program called Young Adults in Global Mission (YAGM) following college graduation and I was pretty sure I would spend most of my 30s traveling, not making much money, and serving through different programs that would help me see the world and experience new places and people.
When I think back, most of those visions of my 30s have actually come true, just maybe not in ways I expected.
The irony is not lost on me. I get it, it’s funny because now I DO live in Pomaria. But, throughout our entire relationship, Brandon has always been super understanding and supportive of my love for travel. On our honeymoon, he knew I wouldn’t want to do the touristy things, but instead would want to walk around and talk to local people, so that was the plan. He booked through a program on the island to do just that and have a local show us their home. After we had been married 6 months, he traveled to England with me for a wedding. And around our first anniversary the two of us traveled to Palestine and Israel for a class I was taking in seminary. Although he much prefers to have two feet firmly planted on the ground in Newberry County, he went. There was a small piece of me that definitely wondered if I was giving up some of my dreams by moving to Pomaria and “settling down.” Little did I know how many new, exciting, and wonderful opportunities would present themselves to me without even leaving our little piece of land. Opportunities to meet people from different cultures and countries and to offer to them a piece of their home. For these unexpected adventures, I am so grateful!
This past weekend was a perfect example of this. At the church I previously worked at, there was a young man who was a senior in high school when I began working there. He was only in youth group for 6 months before he headed to college. At some point during his college career, I’m not 100% sure of all the details, he traveled to Honduras with a group from his University. One trip turned into two, which then turned into three and now his life will likely be filled with trips to and from Honduras because, while there, he met an incredible young woman. Long story short, they are now married and live here in the midlands. I can’t even begin to imagine what that must be like for her, to be so far away from family, to be in a place that does not speak her native language, and to be in a place that is so vastly different from where she grew up. Yet, every time I have ever been around her, she is smiling an infectious smile that brightens up the room.
Well, she apparently shared with her husband, my former youth, that the chicken from the grocery store here just really never compared to that from her home in Honduras. My former youth’s mother suggested he reach out to me to see if maybe there was a chicken Brandon and I might have on the farm they could have or know someone who did. Oh my gosh! Of course! Brandon and I were through the roof excited they would reach out to us! Of course we can help! So, on Saturday, they came out to the farm and we gave them a live chicken. She wanted to do the entire process herself – just like home.
This is not the first time we have had a family come out to the farm in hopes of creating a little piece of home in this foreign place. One time we had a Muslim family come out to the farm. They were coming around the time of an Islamic festival when they would traditionally slaughter a goat. The family was from Pakistan but was in Columbia, SC while the father and son attended the University of South Carolina. There was a bit of comical miscommunication, but eventually it was apparent that this family wanted to do the entire process at the farm under a tree in one of our pastures. Brandon told them of course. From the porch he watched as the father and son cleaned their hands and arms, removed their shoes, prayed, and then, in the most peaceful slaughter Brandon says he’s ever witnessed, they killed the animal. The wife and daughters joined them under the tree with tea while they continued to skin the animal and cut up the meat to transport back to downtown Columbia where they would enjoy the meat with their friends.
Everyone has to eat. No matter their language or religion. And if you ask me, we as Americans could learn a lot from the vast majority of the world and the ways in which they are connected to their food. Silly, naive, college Sarah had no idea. No idea of the ways in which the world would be seen and experienced from our pastures. I may have been reluctant to “settle down” in a place like Pomaria, but there is no piece of what our life is that is settling for anything less than I dreamed, it’s just different from what I expected. I have experienced new places through these people we have met, and all while learning from them, we have had the opportunity to be a part of creating a little piece of their home here.