Guest post by Anna Welch
Anna Welch is a farmer in Rush County, Indiana. With her husband and business partner, she owns Fields of Agape, growing organic grain, beans, and seed. Now she’s working to establish a cooperative mill in Carthage that would allow many more organic and transitional farmers to bring their products to niche markets. After we had a conversation about some of the barriers she’s faced, she sent me this reflection.
I think of the many times I wanted to quit, that it felt impossible to go forward with the limited resources and lack of support around me. I’ve been through periods of deep depression, anger, hopelessness, and resentment. I’ve been humbled many times over since committing my life to stewardship of the land and its fruit.
I had two choices: quit and return to the workforce, or retreat to a place of rest, and pray, reflect, journal, and wait to see who or what changed around me. Someone spoke words of encouragement, or a visitor stopped by the Carthage Mill and said how this place is necessary and will come to pass.
One of my greatest encouragers here at Carthage was my friend Allen, who came daily with his dog Rusty. The first day he stopped by, I was cleaning golden flax seed. He heard the machine and the gate was open, so he stopped. I’m so glad he did.
Allen had Lou Gehrig’s disease, but every day he drove his wheelchair on a route around Carthage, observing bean and corn fields, enjoying wildlife, and stopping by the mill, his favorite place. He worked the Alaskan pipeline in his younger years and lived in a teepee in Montana. He loved the mill, and he encouraged me to keep doing what I was doing.
I realized that if Allen could be in the state he was in and encourage me, then I needed to think outside of myself and look at what I could do to make a difference. Allen died this past October, and I officially formed The Carthage Mill, LLC with help from Hoosier Organic Marketing Education. I know he is pleased.
Regardless of the negative circumstances that we may be facing, there is always hope, always a divine purpose awaiting each of us—if we can turn our focus away from self and focus on those around us, on what needs exist, then determine what gifts and resources we have to overcome the challenge, or to serve someone. Nothing can stop us from fulfilling our purpose if we are on the right path.
I have found that the success in life is how we learn to handle adversity and challenges. If we can grasp how to press on through adversity with humility and unconditional love for others (regardless of how they treat us), we will find our way.
When we find like-minded people whose passion is a good fit with our own, whose hearts are for others, then within that group each person can reach their potential quicker.
Encouragement, sharing of resources, being driven by the passion to serve rather than by personal gain—all of this brings about magnificent changes in communities large and small.
I’m never going to stop believing that it can happen.