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  • Writer's pictureJules Arata

dutch country

Updated: Apr 22, 2022

Willow Street, PA

my first time in PA, in a little town about halfway between harrisburg and philadelphia. a tiny town that is about 4 blocks wide, stationed at a mennonite church. and let me tell you, it was almost exactly like i pictured pennsylvania to be. dutch country makes you feel like you have traveled back in time, to when living a simple life on a farm and being stuck behind a horse & buggy in traffic was normal. it is rolling hills of farm land, full of livestock and silos and very low light pollution.

driving into a church in which you are overcome with their culture of peace. people who are ready and willing to work, the kind that walk up and ask, "how can i best help and not be in the way?" a place in which you are met with genuine questions and curiosity about just how you got to where you are and what your passions are and how this job impacts you.

it was that kind of trip where you get along with all of your coworkers, where inside jokes are easily formed. one where you are a source of comfort for someone you have met just the day before, someone they seek out in the room to tell a funny story or work through a problem together. the kind of team where you flow naturally, falling into the jobs you each do well, communicating well and laughing through it.

an event where over 720 kids will be fed. where all of the meals will join a shipment of over 2.5 million meals being sent to Ukraine and Eastern Europe. an event where you get so close with the host team that you are still receiving updates a week later about their daughter who went into labor right after we left.

what a sweet thing to witness, a community in PA that will always greet me with a happy face

what i learned

  1. how much i rely on the energy from a crowd

  2. how therapeutic doing the dishes can be

  3. how kind it is to know and cater to someone's dietary needs

how i grew

i am constantly learning more and more about public speaking. it has never been my favorite thing, but it is a necessary part of my job. so i face my stage fright almost every day on the job. and man is that a growing thing.

favorite parts

when a member of the host team comes up and whispered to ask me if i wanted any gluten-free brownies bc they feared that i feel left out

running the marketplace and feeling like i was running my own booth at a local market.

sitting at the labeling table and having real conversations with volunteers.

to willow street mennonite church:

thank you for continuing your tradition of hosting us, of opening your doors to the greater lancaster area to foster a space to make a difference. thank you for having tabletop fellowship with us, eating and sharing with us over every meal together. thank you for being so steady in who you are as a church body and for serving as fervently as you did.

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