An Update from Idaho

Hello everyone! The complete restoration of the “Peck House” (named after Captain Augustus Peck) has been finished. Built in Middlebury, Connecticut, in 1783, it was taken apart and moved to Deary last summer where a crew (under Brother Kevin Durkin’s care) restored it to its original beauty. The defining feature of the house, its massive stone chimney, was carefully rebuilt by Brother Gary Moore, along with the brick oven, excellent for baking pizza.

The house features original hand-hewn oak timbers, doors and woodwork, and new 12-over-12 pane windows. The accommodations sleep six, with one king-size bed in the second-floor loft, a full-size bed in the original first-floor bedroom and a queen-size sofa bed. The full kitchen opens to the dining and living area, and the back addition includes a screened porch facing the surrounding pine forest. The house includes two full baths and radiant floor heat. It is available for guests to rent on Airbnb.

Forging an Idaho-Virginia Bond

In late January, the John French family traveled to visit the community in Nickelsville, Virginia. They were away two weeks and shared a wonderful time with the brothers and sisters there. We hope to see more of the Virginia folks here in Idaho. During our peak months of summer, we will employ about five additional bakers, baristas and servers at the bakery. We are always looking for fresh recruits!

Welcoming New Neighbors

The Reed family has joined us in Idaho! Sister Sarah and her son Noah arrived from Texas right after the Tindell wedding and are living in a small house in Deary. A moving truck was rented and driven here with all of their belongings. Upon arrival a group of young people unloaded the truck, helped unpack and moved Sarah and Noah into their new home. Welcome back to cold country! (Sister Sarah is originally from Maine.)

Upgrading Pie Safe, Community Buildings

When the Pie Safe building was first completed, there was room in the back to house the offices for the Pie Safe, Creamery and Quality Contractors. But, as the bakery and creamery have grown, they have run out of space for storage in the back. So the offices moved across the street to the rear of the Heritage Fine Crafts building. The void in the Pie Safe building was quickly filled when the contents of the shipping room next door (which served as a temporary storage room) were emptied into the former office space. The shipping room has returned to its original purpose.

Community Building

We are in the process of finishing out the upstairs of the community building into a conference/office room. After the building was completed in the fall of 2019, the upstairs was forgotten about until this winter. We began the construction over a month ago and progress on it whenever we get a chance. 

The Borman boys are making two custom wood doors, and we have just finished installing shiplap on the walls. The young sisters are making useful furnishings to enhance the space, such as baskets, table runners and a throw for the couch. It will have a small bathroom, utility room, storage closet and main room with a desk and furniture. 

Since the building is already somewhat under construction, we have emptied it and are lightly sanding the beams to their original color. The sanding process has created quite a dust bath! We will apply a clear coat of finish to the beams as a final touch.

Celebrating a Wedding

In late February, a few families traveled to Texas to attend the wedding of Brother Joe Tindell and Sister Amanda Nolen. The newlyweds will stay in Texas for a few months and then come to live in Idaho where they will be a great asset. We can hardly wait!

Prior to the wedding, we hosted a groom’s fellowship for Brother Joe. A good time was had by all.

Early in the season we received several big snows, but the cold was not deep enough for it to stay long- term. It took some time, but after a relatively mild early winter season, real winter finally hit northern Idaho. We received 75% of our snow in February. March is warming up, and spring is just around the corner.

Lambing is almost complete at the Webb Frenches with 20 new lambs so far.
The Bormans had a visitor try to get into their kitchen. Elijah took care of him. 

An Update from Waco

As we approached November, our community wondered whether safety concerns would keep us from hosting our annual fair for the first time in over 30 years. But we felt strongly that the fair could bring hope to those outside of our community who grappled with unrest and confusion as 2020 drew to a close.   

We were granted permission by the county to hold the annual outdoor event with the exception that we not have regular concerts such as the music presentation in the large tent. After much prayerful consideration, our community decided to proceed with the fair. Several weeks of busy preparation followed, as we produced more crafts, set up new parking areas, built pathways, cooked, baked and made booth displays.  

However, as Thanksgiving weekend approached, the forecasts indicated very unfavorable weather for outdoor events. We decided to postpone until the first weekend of December. But since Thanksgiving weekend is when people expect the fair to be open, we held an informal opening for folks who wanted to come early. Despite the occasional rain showers, 3,000 people showed up to tour the craft displays, visit the petting pen and sample several tasty options at the food booths. 

December Fair

The formal opening of the fair occurred Saturday, December 5. The morning dawned gray and threatened more bad weather. Yet despite predictions of showers throughout the day, it only misted a couple of times! The weather failed to dampen our guests’ plans or spirits. Hundreds of visitors showed up, then thousands as the day progressed!

This year we added a barnyard treasure hunt, which proved popular for children and their families. The treasure hunt featured hidden clues throughout the model homestead and offered as prizes either a free hayride or tickets to hands-on activities. The hay-bale maze was also a favored choice for young folks. 

All three food courts saw continuous lines of hungry people looking for old favorites such as the southwest burger basket, beef pepperoni and chicken Alfredo pizza, fettuccine Alfredo or chicken and cheese tamales. We also added a booth this year offering specialty waffles (both sweet and savory options) as well as a food trailer from Cafe Homestead featuring three different gourmet burgers.

Lunchtime on Saturday held a surprise for our guests. At 1:00 PM, Sister Helen walked up the path alongside the food court followed by a group of young folks singing an a cappella version of “Lean on Me.” Everyone enjoyed the music, and many were singing along by the end of it. Not wanting to attract too big a crowd, we ended with “This Joy That I Have” even though the fair goers clamored for more.

Many Joyous and Grateful Attendees

Over the two weekends, more than 15,000 visitors attended our fair! We feel very blessed that God used the fair to answer questions and to minister hope and joy to many fair goers. Here are comments from a few of them:

“We loved the music! We were there Saturday and Sunday. Great weather, great fun, amazing artisans and wonderfully kind, God-fearing people. Thank you for sharing your faith and families with the world.”

 “We had the best weekend! Thank ya’ll for giving us a fun family event to enjoy!” 

“We attended today and had a wonderful time! Our first visit but definitely not our last!” 

“Thank you, Homestead Heritage! We were there today and with God who provided beautiful weather. The delicious food and festive atmosphere were blessed and refreshed.”

Klingensmith Wedding

Nathaniel Klingensmith and Aridai Lozano were married at the Fellowship Hall on November 6. Natt grew up in our community here in Texas and became interested in learning Spanish several years ago. He has since become instrumental in translating our church literature into Spanish and has made several trips to our community in Monterrey, Mexico. Ari grew up in Veracruz, Mexico, and only recently moved to Monterrey to join our community. Natt and Ari grew to know each other through their work in translating.

Ari’s family and friends from Monterrey faced several legal obstacles as they attempted to come into the States, but the Lord made it possible for everyone to make it to the wedding on time.

We wanted some of the wedding music to be in Spanish, so for a couple of weeks we practiced “Once In A While.” Yet without a Spanish speaker to help with our pronunciation, we learned several of the lines incorrectly. Thankfully, Brother Éder arrived a week before the ceremony to help us. He pointed out that we were singing, “Dog know in Jesus they do,” rather than, “But I know in Jesus they do!” We believe we sang it correctly at the wedding!

Celebrations after the wedding were conducted in a safe manner appropriate for the pandemic, but they were nevertheless joyous. Brother Éder introduced us to a Spanish hora song. Even those of us who did not understand the words felt the vibrant joy in the music, especially those who danced to it.

An Update from Mexico

As 2020 drew to a close, we could not believe time had passed so quickly. The challenges and opportunities that we experienced during the year offer a new perspective as we begin 2021. We feel great expectations for the coming months and are excited to welcome a new year.

November

At the beginning of November, we were very happy to receive a visit from Sister Camila Broquet, who arrived from France. We were very grateful that she stayed with us for two weeks. She showed us how to make French bread, which we enjoyed baking and eating! During her visit, we also took walks, visited the homes of the families close by and had a fun adventure boating on the pond at Brother Oscar’s land. 

In late November, various members of our community traveled to Waco for the Thanksgiving Fair. Among those attending the fair for the first time was the family of Brother Bernardo Badillo. Brother Éder and his family, along with Nohemi and Ana Limon, went as well. They all took advantage of the opportunity to visit with brothers and sisters and to learn more about the Texas community and the crafts. 

December 

Two days after our travelers returned from the fair, the Caleb Gonzalez family from the Texas community arrived in Monterrey. They joined us for Christmas and the New Year. On Christmas Eve, a few families got together for a delicious dinner and to celebrate Sister Ana Gonzalez’s birthday. The night was very cold, but we were so thankful to be together. New Year’s Eve offered a time for meaningful conversation amid a potluck supper with most of the families here.

While visiting, Brother Brandon Gonzalez helped a few people continue to improve their pottery skills, including Brother Bernardo’s daughter, Emma. Emma brought back a new pottery wheel from Waco, and now she is practicing at home in Bernal. 

We also had the honor of celebrating the birthday of one of our ministers, Brother David Borda. We laughed and shared memories, and many expressed their love and gratitude for Brother David. Gathered in a circle, we began to sing, “All my life You have been faithful; all my life You have been so, so good. With every breath that I am able, I will sing of the goodness of God.”

Winter Births

December was also the month when two families were blessed with new little ones!

Brother Javier and Sister Sarahí Guerrero had a baby boy on December 4, Jaír Sebastian. He weighed 8 pounds, 6 ounces and measured 20.4 inches. (See also the last page.)

Brother Gerardo and Sister Lorena Benitez had twins on December 15. At 2:24 AM, Eliel Sisay was born. He weighed 6 pounds, 15 ounces and measured 20 inches. Elizabeth Sisay was born at 2:26 AM and weighed 5 pounds, 15 ounces and measured 20.8 inches. (See also the last page.)

January

In January, we had the privilege of meeting a man in the small town of Cadereyta near where many of us are now living. This man brought his tractor and helped us prepare the ground at Brother Oscar’s property. So we are ready to plant at the beginning of next month!

An Update from Idaho

Late fall found us all storing hay and feed for our livestock, gathering and splitting the last of the firewood and buttoning up our gardens and greenhouses.
Each family hurried to complete their harvests and plant their garlic for next year. Men and boys, along with a sister or two, took to the fields and forests in pursuit of wild game. Many healthy animals were harvested and prepared and packaged into frozen meals as well as stuffed sausages and pounds and pounds of seasoned jerky. All is snugly tucked away for a long winter’s rest.
The first early snow blanketed the ground on October 23. The first snow always reminds us to slow down and take care—remember, your brakes may cause more hurt than help when the road is slick!
Several young men gathered wild apples, and we assembled near our community hall to press them into cider. Biting fingers of cold wind stabbed us from all sides, it being the first really cold day of late fall. We had propane heaters set about as a welcome relief to thaw purple fingers and faces.
Once the pressing was completed and the operation cleaned up, we warmed up indoors with bowls of hot chili and steaming apple cider before regrouping to decorate the hall and prepare food for the upcoming wedding reception.

Reception for the Newlyweds

Isaac and Helen French were married in Texas on October 10, and since many of our local friends were unable to attend the wedding in Texas, we hosted a small reception for them here in Idaho. This allowed our local friends to meet Helen and her family and to get a small glimpse of the wedding.
Multiple families woke up to a snow-related power outage the morning of October 24, making preparations for the reception more interesting. All of our guest rooms and accommodations were overflowing, with friends and family from all around the country. This made ironing, cleaning and cooking an extra challenge in the absence of power. With a little innovation and sharing we were all able to prepare in time.
Many of our youth served plates of the various finger foods and soups they had prepared the night before. The menu included miniature meat and cheese rollups, muffins, cream cheese and lox on crackers, veggies and dip, baked potato and poblano bisque soup, along with sparkling punch.
Brother Dan shared excerpts from the wedding ceremony, which gave a glimpse of the ceremony in Texas. We watched a video presentation of Isaac and Helen‘s lives and then joined in singing along with family and friends. Dessert included lemon raspberry chiffon cake and steaming cider from freshly pressed apples. Everyone enjoyed the occasion and greeting the bride and groom.

Frozen Ponds Invite Ice Skaters

In early December our ponds had frozen over with ice, thick and smooth enough to skate on. We lit glowing bonfires on the bank, while snow sparkled and winter stars winked brightly in the dark sky. The ice groaned as it adjusted to the extra weight of skaters and as it expanded with the dropping mercury.
One evening nearly 50 people showed up to skate or watch! Christmas carols floated on the frosty air as we circled and cut back and forth around the huge pond together. As the moon rose late and full, we all gathered around the bonfire with a guitar and sang, warming with mugs of hot cocoa.

Pie Safe Business Brisk

The Pie Safe has been busy even though winter has set in. Christmas parties, special meals and the daily influx of holiday shoppers and gatherings have kept us running. Our November dinner of wild-rice-stuffed Cornish game hens, candied carrots, cream of leek soup with fresh sourdough rolls, autumn salad and pie with frozen custard fed 80 cheerful guests, several of them using the occasion to celebrate a birthday.
The following Tuesday morning, an order of 30 pumpkin pies left the bakery with a gentleman who would soon deliver them as Thanksgiving gifts. Throughout that day and the next, the remaining 145 special-ordered pies were picked up by their happy owners. The bakers peeled and chopped nearly 200 pounds of apples alone!
We hosted two dinners filled to our virus-reduced maximum capacity of 85 during December. We began the meal with warmed brie, followed by creamy asparagus soup and piping hot rolls, mixed green salad and then beef wellington, roasted potatoes and spinach Madeline. Somehow the brimming guests found room to enjoy silky smooth pots de créme, crme brûlée and hot drinks.

Youth Group Hosts December Banquet

The youth group hosted a banquet in our community hall on December 19. The night before, we all gathered to clean as well as prepare food. Mini Gruyére gougeres started the Brazilian meal, followed by avocado eggrolls, Brazilian cobb salads, and the main dish of beef tri tip and Frango Churrasco with serrano lime rice and charro beans topped with fried onion.
The servers cleared the dinner plates, and we promptly found our places on the low platform to sing a couple cheery Christmas carols for our guests. Folks showed appreciation with applause. Chocolate tuxedo cake and banana cheesecake followed, along with creamy eggnog and steaming hot coffee.
As the guests departed, we all gathered around the sink, and the dish race was on! Six people lined the sink, scraping, washing and rinsing dishes while many more cleared counters and dried and put away dishes. Eventually we sat around the tables to enjoy the extra food before hauling all the borrowed dishes and utensils back to the Pie Safe.
As Christmas drew near, some out-of-town folks came to celebrate with their families, while others left town to visit family in other places. Several afternoons and evenings we caroled to neighbors in Helmer, Deary, Moscow and Pullman. Our faces glowed in the light of flickering lanterns as our voices joined together in the frosty air with cheerful tidings of the newborn King. It felt wonderful to share the joy and love of Jesus to many whom the bad news and social tensions of the year have left yearning for something fresh and alive.

We hope that you all are well as we look forward to all that God will do in us and through us in 2021!

SouthAfrica

An Update from South Africa

Merry Christmas to all our friends and family across the world! The first week of December we held our third Christmas program here in the Garden Route. Three weeks before the program, with much excitement on our part, we started designing our invitations and practicing our songs nightly. Within the first day of sending out the invitations we received around six positive replies—then 10, then 20, then 30. Before we knew it, we had 100 people wanting to attend the program!
Given the Covid-19 restrictions and a crowd that size, our cafe/fellowship hall was not nearly large enough. The Christmas program would need to be an outdoor event. The only problem was that every weather forecast showed rain at the time the event was to start. But a weather forecast was not going to hold us back—we prayed and prayed.

On the day of the program everyone was readily lending a hand wherever they could. Six-year-old Emily Macfarlane carried plastic chairs from one end of the garden to the other, placing each one in direct sunlight to dry after some of the sisters had washed them. Sisters Sherry, Disney and Fay (our dearest grannies) cooked and cleaned and made hundreds of snacks to help feed the throng of people who were to arrive soon. Everyone had a part to play. The awe in our hearts resonated together with one another as we shared with others what The Great Composer is orchestrating in our lives.

As the program began, the wind that had been blowing hard throughout the day quieted into a gentle, cool breeze. It stayed that way until the last few chords of our last song rang out. Then the gentle breeze again picked up into a rushing wind accompanied by rain drops. Everyone scurried inside to enjoy a warm cup of coffee and delicious snacks. One guest told us that next year we best prepare to cater for 500 people!

Our Busy Season 

December was everything we expected and more: our hectic, but very blessed, season! We started off each Saturday with our market stalls absolutely filled to capacity with warm baked breads and fresh groceries. We just about sold out within the first few hours of the market being opened! All of our accommodation units were fully booked until after New Year. And with each passing day, the cafe got busier and busier! Sometimes as we get to the end of the day, close the doors and switch off the lights, someone says something like, “If we had any more meal orders or customers come in than we had today, I do not think we would be able to manage.” But sure enough the next day comes with more meal orders and customers with it, and by God’s grace we are able to manage! 

On December 23 we had a special Christmas farmer’s market for which we baked over 100 loaves of bread. We also took 50 processed chickens, fresh eggs, a trailer of fresh produce and a trailer of craft items. We are very grateful for the Lord’s provision!

A Time to Plant, a Time to Reap 

We took on the exciting task of harvesting and threshing our own tiny wheat patch in mid November! The patch of wheat amounted to nothing very impressive in quantity, but it certainly served as a good lesson on harvesting. We look forward to planting a much larger crop someday to harvest enough wheat to supply the needs of each family. 

We have also planted a large crop of mealies (corn) that are to be used as feed for our ducks and chickens and for us to enjoy deliciously roasted corn on the cob! Along with the mealies, we planted 1,000 runner beans and 800 bush beans. The summer heat is playing its part very well to help all the fruit and vegetables ripen. 

Merry Christmas to all our friends and family across the world! The first week of December we held our third Christmas program here in the Garden Route.

An Update from Mexico

What beautiful autumn afternoons we have enjoyed these past few weeks! The weather has been so nice to do everything outdoors. Just about every day we take a walk and enjoy the landscape with the falling leaves. Some of the young sisters and girls have gotten together for different activities, including bread making and sewing classes to learn to make aprons, purses and skirts. In the evenings, our families often enjoy visiting out on the patio, watching the children jump rope and play together.

Crops and Livestock 

The good weather has also helped us be able to continue in our gardening. In one of the garden areas we planted beans, squash and sugar cane. It is such a great feeling to see them growing; knowing that harvest time is coming soon makes us even happier! We look at the gardens and the sheep grazing nearby and feel the privilege of living in a place like this—so different from living in the city. 

A couple of weeks ago, Brother Oscar’s family saw their ewe giving birth to her lamb. The faces of the children lit up as they experienced something completely new! 

Bernal Visit 

On October 17, Brother Eder’s family traveled to Bernal to visit Brother Bernardo and Sister Elsa. They were there for five days and during that time looked for possible properties to rent or buy, suitable for businesses and homes. As was mentioned in the previous newsletter, our community believes that Bernal provides a beneficial location for us. We feel that God is opening more doors to help our community members relocate there. 

Activities shared while visiting in Bernal included cheese making, gardening and spending time together.

Klingensmith, Lozano Wedding 

On November 1, Brother Bernardo and Sister Elsa Badillo, Brother Eder and Sister Sara Badillo, and Brother Jaime Lozano traveled to Waco for the wedding of Nathaniel Klingensmith and Ary Lozano. 

The Texas community also welcomed Sister Ary’s mother, Isabel Perez, of Monterrey. It was her first time to travel to the United States. The community enjoyed a couple of days with her as she toured the craft village, met her daughter’s friends in Texas and experienced the beautiful wedding ceremony. Comfortable weather blessed an outdoor reception for friends and family. The handmade furniture, quilt and pottery crafted especially for the couple were also available for viewing. 

Carreon Birth

On November 3 at about 1:00 AM, we received some wonderful news: Brother Mario and Sister Denisse Carreon had a baby girl! Mariana Hope weighed just over 8 pounds and measured 22 1/2 inches. (See also the family photographs on page 4.)