Persistence Paid Off



"Please can we make a weeding machine where we can lie down and not strain our backs” Joel asked for the umpteenth time! Joel Doe is a student at Weimar Academy who loves to fabricate things with metal and jumps at every opportunity to be involved in engineering something useful for our farm. Finally I gave in and said “Ok lets do it”. After three years of hearing students grumble about the hard work involved in hand weeding 4 acres of sweet potatoes I decided to invest the time to ease their toil somewhat. 

Teaching students practical skills is something I love to do. Especially students like Joel who have a natural aptitude toward metal fabrication. We must do all we can in our educational endeavors to help our young people discover and develop the abilities God created them with. We are told in the book education: “Many are diverted from the line in which they might reach the truest success. Seeking greater honor or a more pleasing task, they attempt something for which they are not fitted. Many a man whose talents are adapted for some other calling, is ambitious to enter a profession; and he who might have been successful as a farmer, an artisan, or a nurse, fills inadequately the position of a minister, a lawyer, or a physician.” {Ed 267.2}  Other statements about the importance of industrial training in our schools underscore our need to return to a well rounded approach to true education. 

The farm is such an excellent place for a young person to discover their area of giftedness. The tasks involved in running a successful farm are broad and encompass many potential vocational fields. I love to see unique gifts surface that individuals have been given by our Creator. There are many reasons why “Agriculture is the A, B and C of education”

Being resourceful is another quality learned on the farm. Making something out of nothing is rewarding and awakens creativity in many ways. So we took our, tractor mounted, sweet potato transplanter and removed the seats (discarded Academy chairs) that we had used when fabricating this implement. Then also using some discarded plywood, some discarded couch cushions, and some leftover canvass material from a local adventist upholsterer, we made three, what look like, narrow massage tables with padded headrests included. We mounted these on the transplanter with the ability to adjust the height. (some people have shorter arms and need to be closer to the ground). 

Joel who was still learning to weld at this point, welded on the extensions on one side that would accommodate a third person. I told him that he would be the one to take that position on the weeder and if it broke off he would only have himself to blame. He seemed a bit worried that his welding would fail, but experience told me it would not. I knew that his confidence would grow as he saw success from his labor. 

Since our summers reach triple digit temperatures at times, Joel also wanted to install something to provide shade. For this we had to spend less than $10 to buy a tarp from Home Depot and make a light roof frame out of 1” tubing and install the tarp on it that came complete with a draw string around the perimeter. 

To finish it off we welded on a tool box to keep our weeding tools in and a few hooks so that the workers could hang their camel back water bags to keep their thirst quenched while continuing their work lying down. Little did I know what a blessing this weeding machine would be. Our largest field of sweet potatoes that is just over 2 acres in size in the past took 2 weeks of hard work to get through. With the machine it only took 2 1/2 days and the students were only just starting to warm up. It was so much easier for them that the weeding machine was referred to as the “Luxury Liner”. The students worked side by side and could talk all they wanted to and still keep working. (a feat that is hard to accomplish with most teenagers). Instead of using one hand to weed they are able to use two hands and not put any strain on their backs. 

Joel’s persistence paid off! and I praise God for the ability to exercise creativity, as the image of our “Creator” is being restored in us. May more young people like Joel be given the opportunities to find their gifts, then develop and use them to the glory of God is my prayer.
-Darren Greenfield