By Elizabeth L. Nichols*
“…so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given us.” Romans 12:5-6a
Dear Friends in Christ,
We finished the school year at Henry Fork Service Center yesterday with a carnival full of relay races and games for our 60+ afterschool program children. We have a couple of days to get ready, and then begin the Summer Program on Monday, June 17th with all ages coming to the campus from 9:00-3:00 Monday – Friday. As I was getting my daily dose of Vitamin D and ridding our raised beds from the weed invasion, this reflection came to me.
I’m not a master gardener, but I can work with our children and youth to grow food in our neighborhood. The preschool students started the first crop of sugar snap peas in early March, and we picked the peas a couple of weeks ago and tried them. The afterschool students helped to plant tomato plants, pepper plants, and cucumber and squash seeds. Those plants have thrived on the rain and the warm weather, and we have peppers on the plants. I’m afraid to try them because we planted six different varieties and one of those was jalapeños! But we’ll be eating the peppers off the vines because I could take my limited knowledge and share it with the students around me.
I’m not a naturalist, but I can share my love for the outdoors and little knowledge of plants and trees with the children and youth around me. Last year one of the favorite themed weeks was outdoor week. Now that was probably because we cooked our own hot dogs and got to made s’mores hot off the bonfire, but we also went hiking in one of the county parks. We noticed firsthand that we had coniferous trees and deciduous trees (pine trees and hardwoods!). We discovered that sassafras trees have three different kinds of leaves and for “leaves of three, let them be.” We were able to spend a couple of hours in God’s creation because the teachers were willing to go with me on an adventure, and are planning to do that once a week this summer.
I’m not a master chef (by any means), but I can cook with the children and youth around me. The preschool students spent considerable time in the kitchen this year, making cookies and brownies and cooking Thanksgiving Dinner for their families. The Venture Crew made spaghetti and chocolate chip pancakes (not on the same day) and learned both how to work together and to cook from scratch. By giving them a chance to experiment, we learned that you can put too many chocolate chips in a pancake, and that canned is good but homemade is better.
We are seeking volunteers to work with all of our students on these activities and more this summer and as we move into the school year. There are probably organizations and activities in your church and community in which you can share your knowledge. God does not call us to be experts before we share our gifts; God calls us to share our gifts. The group of United Methodist Women from the Richmond District who recently visited Henry Fork Service Center had probably never built a fence for cucumber vines, but by working together they accomplished their task. The following verses in Romans 12 state, “If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach, if it is encouraging, let him encourage, if it is contributing to the needs of other, let him give generously.”
Thank you for sharing generously through Covenant Relationships and the Advance. May God bless you as you reach out in partnership with my ministry at Henry Fork Service Center and in mission in your community.
Photos above: Lisa Nichols with some of her K-1 students at their raised bed garden. All photos by Lisa Nichols.
Church and Community Worker
Elizabeth (Lisa) Lamb Nichols is a deaconess serving as a Church and Community Worker. She is executive director of Henry Fork Service Center, a facility in Rocky Mount, Virginia, that provides Christian education, educational enrichment, recreation, and experiences in the arts to more than 100 students throughout the year.