Sunday, September 20, 2009

McNicholas High School: The Week I Became a Ninja

This past week a group came down to the Farm from McNicholas High School in Cincinnati. I was excited to have more people down here (not that Colleen and Jamie aren't great but it's great to see new faces) but also a little nervous since it was my first group. I shouldn't have worried so much, this group was fantastic. All the kids were so willing to help the people of Lewis County and really threw themselves wholeheartedly into service. There was a really good mix of people including a part time dragon slayer. Jeff and Sarah, the chaperones, had been here many times before and they really understood the charisms of the Farm and what it stands for. As a new Farm Manager it was nice to have them there.

The group worked hard over the week. It was Pantry Week here so a few of the small groups were at Lend a Helping Hand Pantry in Tollesboro. On Monday they packed 240 food boxes for the families that come through the pantry. I was super impressed by their hard work and lack of complaining even though the Pantry was about 16748249 degrees. I didn't realize what a feat it was since I don't have the perspective of having done this a lot but Jamie went all bug eyed when she heard we had packed all the boxes. I was also excited to finally meet George and Sue, who run the Pantry. George was happy to hear I was the new Farm Manager since, as he put it, "Them girls can't boss us around on more". The groups also helped to clean up the clothing store, which looked like a disaster area when we arrived.

Groups also did construction work with People's Self Help in town. They helped put up the walls of a house and then cut up some firewood for the Farm. There was also the requisite visit to Wildwoman with some Hillbilly Kisses given out. The kids were traumatized by an attempted cow mating accompanied by hilariously innappropriate side comments by Dub-Dub.

There was also a group that helped to mow the Mansfields' lawn downtown. Rick and Sherri were in danger of being fined by the city for their lawn and they wouldn't have been able to afford it so the help by the kids was much needed. I thought it was interesting how a Ministry of Service site sort of morphed into a Ministry of Presence. After running to the Clothing Pantry to put together a box for them, we came back and talked to Sherri. She has diabetes and has limited mobility and I think it was nice for her to have visitors to talk to. She spoke of her fear of going blind and . It broke my heart to see this woman who literally has nothing (we had to bring them toilet paper so they didn't have to continue using newspaper) apologize for not having soda for us to drink and insist that we take back a basket of chestnuts. It's true compassion and generosity to offer something to someone when you don't have anything for yourself.

I was really impressed by the variety of the reflections offered by the groups each night. They were really creative and used multiple locations on the Farm. Star gazing, journals, and the Creek were all featured prominently. The Glow Worms even obliged, giving us some impromptu lighting (see left). They brought a lot too the table including a benediction from John Norman, the McNic faculty member who first brought students to the Farm some 20 years ago. I love music so oftentimes the music selection makes the reflection for me. They used some songs that I thought were really fortuitous in addition to being enjoyable. My favorites were I Must Belong Somewhere by Bright Eyes and Soul by Dan Bern. Looks like Jaime, Colleen, and I will have to step our game up in the future. Thanks to Jeff for giving us those 2 CDs of reflection songs at the end.

There was also time for some fun on the Farm. We had some delicious meals cooked by the students. The Monkey Bread was a big hit, as always, and the O' Henry bars didn't last long either.

Mmm...Monkey Bread. What part is the brain?

Grill Master Sam and I grilled out on Friday and there were burgers and dogs for everyone. The kids also took advantage of the creek. They even attempted the rope swing, though with the creek level so high it was really just a glorified plunge straight into the water. Mud Alley ended up being closed on Friday and some of students were a little disappointed. Luckily, they were able to cut quite a rug at Beechy Creek Dance Hall. Connor's dancing kept everyone entertained and props and snaps are due to Luke for filling in as a drummer with John and Trina. Much to the delight and endless amusement of the Farm Managers, the ladies of the Sewing Week trip even joined in the ridiculousness.

The McNic kids can also be proud that they left a lasting legacy on the Farm (at least while we're Farm Managers) beyond their service. They taught us the completely amazing game of Ninja. Everyone circles up and assumes a ninja pose with their hands in knife-like form. The point is to strike another person's hands, at which point they're out. Each person gets a turn in which they can reposition themselves or strike. It's a simple concept that combines the awesome elements of ninjas...and slapping people. This will definitely become a Glenmary Farm staple.

I'm hoping to teach Mao how to do this so we can hold staffhouse ninja parties

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