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Helen's Mulberry Lane Farm Journal

M's Report

I asked my niece, M (14 years old), who was here for a month in July, to write up a little report about her visit. She didn't think homework was fun in the summertime, but she completed the assignment very well and on time! M. and her parents have given me permission to post this article.

Here is her report. [My comments are in square brackets.]

Caleb, Tim and M
doing up corn for the freezer.
copyright Helen Aardsma

I wanted to come to visit you in Illinois as an escape from some of the shackles (namely peer pressure) of my home in New York. I was excited at the prospect of a new experience in a new place. Getting to know you all better was definitely something that I wanted to do because you had always been my favorite relatives anyway. If this trip was do-able, I definitely wanted to go. It seemed like a plus all around. I knew that I could learn a lot from you, and was glad to be a help at the same time.

I was both excited and nervous when I arrived. The first that I saw of you guys was Bekaís smiling face. ['Beka, Tim and Caleb picked M up at the airport.] That completely reassured me. I was shy on the ride to your house because I didnít know any of you very well. But as soon as I met you at your home I liked you all. That was one of the warmest welcomes I had ever received and it took all the awkwardness away. I was ready for my stay in Illinois and faced everything with excitement and curiosity.

I was surprised at how you totally accepted me when I got there. You fit me into your routine in a way that made me feel as if I had always been there.

M was a big help sewing
frost covers for the strawberries.
copyright Helen Aardsma

The most physically challenging thing for me about working at Mulberry Lane Farm was chopping wood and weeding on hot ground. Also, the six day work week was beginning to take its toll on me by the time I left. Science talks and devotional discussions with you and Uncle Gerry were certainly a mental stretch.

The thing that challenged my spiritual life the most was viewing how you lived. I could not justify my somewhat lax lifestyle after seeing how purely you lived. None of us are perfect but I was motivated by the fact that everyone in your house was more than willing to forgo common practices and pleasures of the world in an effort to be as spotless before God as possible.

Fun was something that I had basically the whole time I was in Illinois. Everything that we did was fun. Swimming, nerf tag, fireworks, scrabble, canoeing, even doing-up corn was fun because of the company that I was in.

Almost everything that I did while I was at your house was something that I had never done before. Doing-up corn, de-feathering chickens, splitting wood, gathering eggs, pruning black raspberries, weeding asparagus, cooking, filling orders, and helping to screw down metal edging around building openings were all things that I had never done before. I learned something from everyone of you: rag-rugging with Beka, baking with Rachel, ďbaking-soda-and-vinegar-rocketsĒ with the boys, physics and botany with Uncle Gerry, and business and life skills with you.

'Beka teaching M how to make rag rugs.
copyright Helen Aardsma

I truly enjoyed and was encouraged by your family devotions. I liked how Uncle Gerry was always able to expand upon things that I had never heard expanded upon before. He was always able to draw out the application from every passage, showing us that there was something special even in just a few verses. Godís Word is rich in truths.

I have many questions as a teen-ager, many doubts in the ways my peers are living, and many misgivings as to how I should react to daily circumstances. Your daily examples of godly living taught me a lot. I, foolishly, was in a floppy relationship at the time and Bekaís story and advice really pulled me through. It plainly showed the pitfalls of trying to do things our own way, instead of Godís way. Rachel and her fiance showed me how a relationship should be when both members are following God, and you were always there to answer my questions and explain to me the feelings and thoughts that I had but never really understood.

I am extremely thankful for your willingness to talk to me and listen to my questions. Your life shows that what you teach is true and I feel so blessed by your counsel.

Such hard workers...
but Tim is thinking of trouble!
copyright Helen Aardsma

['Beka took M out for ice cream one night and they went for a long drive together, just the two of them. Girl time! 'Beka shared some deeply personal experiences that she had in her own life and M talked to me about their time together afterwards. M said she wished that she could have taped their conversation so that she could listen to it over and over again. M commented on Beka's external beauty but that she was deeply impacted by her testimony and her commitment to God and holiness.]

I think M is seeing what is coming.....
copyright Helen Aardsma

[I took M on a whole day shopping trip to Champaign. More one-on-one time. I think we talked non-stop the whole way there, during the shopping trip and back! M mentioned later how much she appreciated our talk about boys, womanhood and life, many concepts and principles she said she had never heard before.]

You encouraged me to read "Passion and Purity" and "Quest for Love" by Elizabeth Elliot while I was there. Not everything that she had to say was new to me because I had been reading "When God Writes Your Love Story" by Eric and Leslie Ludy. It impressed me that an elderly lady, Elizabeth Elliot, who grew up in a different way of life would know so much about how young people think today. As a result of reading those books I have discovered the folly of handling relationships the way the the world suggests. I had already picked up some guidelines from my parents but these books showed me that there were certain people/places/things that I would have to stay away from, or at least treat much more seriously if I was going to stay pure, in conscience and in act. I am now making a whole-hearted effort to live the way God says to and to be an example of what Elizabeth Elliot teaches. I wish that all girls knew about these books and would read them. I was amazed at the wealth of your library as a whole.

I just finished the first book of "Lord of the Rings." Not bad. I like it.

Here it comes.....
copyright Helen Aardsma

Life-changing decisions during and after my visit to your home have been numerous.

I have decided to be absolutely modest in my dress. This has meant getting rid of skirts that were too short, pants that were too tight, and shirts that were too revealing. I was never really immodest but my focus was on drawing attention to myself instead of to my Maker. When I got home I continued to wear a shirt and shorts over my bathing suit. I was questioned often about this, even by my own family, but am realizing that the joy that comes from making sacrifices for God cannot be easily displaced.

I also decided to only participate in relationships with girls, at least until I graduate from high-school. I have already backed out of one relationship with a boy that was going too far and have decided not to give my new email address to any guys. I also am not going to engage in any mixed activities unless they are supervised by an adult. Even so, I am going to be careful about which activities I attend, and I do not live solely for Youth Group on Friday nights any more.

copyright Helen Aardsma

A few weeks back I went to someone's house for a "game night" from 6:00-9:30. There were a few other kids there and I had attended this activity several times before. I had a lot of fun but when I got home I felt like I had just wasted a lot of time and done a lot of silly things for pleasure and it hadn't helped me any. I couldn't help but think of the times that I had with your family and your boys and all the playing that we had done. Sure we were silly sometimes but it seemed like a different kind of fun. A clean, pure, real fun that made me feel thoroughly happy and filled and blessed when I was done.

Honestly, my stay at Illinois was even more helpful than I had imagined. I came back very fired for God. Knowing that there are people out there who are really trying to live for God and who arenít afraid of being different has been a huge pillar for me to lean on. Also, I know that I donít have to settle for activities or people that will make me feel guilty and dirty. Being around people who know how to have fun without violating Godís rules or common sense has shown me that I can too.

I canít thank you enough for letting me come. Thank you for sending me your family rules that I asked for. I am so glad to have had the opportunity to be with you all for a month. I feel very, very privileged and am glad that you thought me helpful. You continue to be my ideal kind of family.

Many good times were enjoyed in the pool.
copyright Helen Aardsma

When I got on my plane, and opened the window shade, I began to cry uncontrollably. I cried a lot on my first flight home. As I looked out of my window, I looked behind me at the scenery instead of in front like I had on the way to Illinois. I felt like I was losing a family and leaving Utopia. But since I knew that I had to go home I decided that I missed my Mommy and had been away from my family for long enough.

I miss you all very much and sometimes feel very ďhomesickĒ for you. I think about you guys all the time. You were right, the stories about what I did at you place are still coming out. Everything reminds me of something we did while I was there.

Every time that I see clouds I wish that they were in Loda over Mulberry Lane Farm. I miss you all soo much. I hope that I will be able to visit you again next summer, if you will allow me to come again.

God Bless You! You are continually in my prayers.


copyright Helen Aardsma


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