Saturday, June 26, 2010

Chickens Can Be Fulfilling

Today (Saturday) was the big butchering day for group number two of chickens. Audrey, Ben and I arrived at Shelli's farm at 9 am for our three hour shift. Luke was at my sister's for the morning- which was a huge blessing! The morning was starting to heat up, but not too bad. The first shift, 6-9, was just finishing up. They were just getting ready to cut the head off a chicken and see what it would do, so the kids went over to watch. Unfortunately, the chicken was kind of a dud for theatrics, so we found our stations to work at.
Station 1- catch chickens and give 'em a dunk in soapy water
Station 2- string upside down, cut heads off and drain the blood
Station 3- dunk in boiling water
Station 4- pluck
Station 5- remove innards, cut feet and tail off
Station 6- final clean, rinse and trim, bag

Audrey ended up at the plucking station for the entire morning. I think of all the things she could have done, this was the best place for her. Ben started out with me, holding the bags open for me to put the chickens in after I gave them a final cleaning, but he got bored and moved out to help pluck with Audrey.

What I witnessed over the next three hours of work, was only by God. We had a group of junior highers (maybe 12 kids total?) and only 5 adults for the entire process. How can a bunch of jr. high kids work for 3 plus hours, non-stop, no breaks, no food, nothing and not complain? And they weren't getting paid! And they were doing jobs they never dreamed they would do! Some were catching, some were killing, some were removing hot feathers, some were watching Shelli's little kids so she could work!

Ephesians 6:7- Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not men.
1 Peter 4:11b- If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ.
1 Peter 5:2b-not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not greedy for money, but eager to serve.
Colossians 3:24b- It is the Lord Christ you are serving.

All the praise and glory really does go to God. You see, these kids are obviously not motivated by something external- there was no food or money or reward at the end of the day. The most they can hope for is that all the chickens will be done, sold (which they are) and the money earned (which they will never see) will help go towards buying Bibles in a language they can't read to people and children they will most likely never meet here on Earth. Their hope is eternal- that the message they understand in English is the same message people on the other side of the world will understand. That the God they serve in small town Iowa is not contained within borders, but reaches to the ends of the earth!!

Wow! I was so impressed and challenged by these kids. Of all the jobs, I had definitely one of the easier ones. I was trying to suck it up (c'mon, Mindy, you're not gutting them!) and be a good example and encourager to them, but they were the ones being the example. I am humbled.

Over the course of the entire morning, 6 am to 12ish, 45 chickens were butchered! It was a lot! I can't imagine doing any more! I can't imagine that some, like my mom and grandmas would do that for their own meat every year!

Ben thought the entire thing was cool. He enjoyed himself, though when he was done, but I wasn't, he was ready to go home. Audrey said she had a good time, but to please not make chicken for supper. :) No way! In fact, I don't think I will be making chicken for a little while. I need some separation time.

I took some pictures, but not of the gross parts.
This is of Audrey in the foreground, with other kids, some who were finishing the first shift and others who were starting the second.

 Here you can see Audrey and Ben beside her still working.
I happened to look out the window above the kitchen sink where I was working and caught this boy, whose name I don't know, sitting with a dead chicken in his lap, waiting for it to be scalded and plucked. It was probably the last chicken and though my picture isn't very good, you can see the exhaust reflected in his posture but also the casualness with which he has the chicken draped across his legs. What can he be contemplating? Was he thinking about the chicken? Was he thinking about his day? Chances are that up to this morning, he had never seen a live chicken, let alone killed one. I bet he went home, tired but fulfilled in some way. Is that not the way of the believer's life? 
"But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you. So you too should be glad and rejoice with me." Philippians 2:17, 18 


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