From Out Of The Darkness & Into The Light
October 11, 2018 - Lori Jagow
A PCUMC Pumpkin Patch Story
It was the year 2011, and after twelve years of marriage, I found myself a single parent, homeless, and destitute. My family and I had been through a horrific and shocking experience that left me with little faith in humanity. Trust was something I no longer knew. Humbly, I moved in with my mother, though it was not an ideal situation. At least my preteen daughter and I would have a roof over our heads until we could get our own place, and for that I was grateful.
The effects of divorce are devastating. Suddenly all my friends and family who were once a regular part of daily life were gone. The hope of one day enjoying future retirement with my husband was now shattered. I would have to start all over again with no money, no means to provide for my daughter. Such a task was more than I could bear and I sank into a deep, dark depression.
For three months I stayed in bed and was barely able to do the most basic tasks of daily living, such as brushing my teeth or putting a meal together. Each day my daughter would come from school and ask me to help her with Girl Scouts or just spend some time with her, but all my energy was spent worrying about the future and grieving the past. It wasn't until my daughter confronted me with words that pierced my soul that I woke up. She said, “Why mom, why I am I not important enough for you to get out of bed?” That was a turning point for me. I got up and decided that I must keep going because God had given me the task of raising a child and I maybe I did have a purpose in life.
Shortly after my wake up call, I heard there was a DivorceCare support group at my church, Pendleton Center United Methodist Church. There was also a group for kids called Angel Wings meeting at the same time. Perfect - something my daughter and I could do together. I had not been to church much in the past several years but was comfortable enough to come back and I was welcomed. My daughter and I began to make friends and enjoy fellowship at the church. Before I knew it, my energy was slowly returning.
Lori Jagow, a counselor who ran DivorceCare, asked my daughter and I if we would help with the church pumpkin patch fundraiser. It sounded like a fun project and we both agreed.
The pumpkin patch was set to take place on the front lawn of the church. A truckload of thousands of pumpkins was to be delivered to the church on a Sunday after the service, and parishioners would unload them. The excitement was building as we would soon have our very own church pumpkin patch.
On the day the truckload of pumpkins arrived, dark clouds rolled in along with it. It was almost cold enough to snow, but instead, it rained. “How many people will stay after church to unload thousands of pumpkins in freezing, pouring rain?” I wondered. Church let out and almost everyone stayed! There were people handing out rain ponchos. A group of men was unloading the truck, and smiling children rolled wagons full of pumpkins through the patch and placed them on pallets. Inside the foyer, the aroma of coffee and apple cider filled the hallway. Some ladies were pouring hot beverages for those who came in to warm up.
Chilled to the bone, I handed off pumpkins to the next person in an assembly line. Suddenly, I felt a warmth inside. Not a physical warmth, but an emotional one. To be a part of something bigger than myself, and knowing that such an enormous project of unloading thousands of pumpkins in a downpour could be done if we all work together. I began to feel that maybe I could have hope in humanity once again.
Some of the pumpkins were enormous, weighing over 50 pounds and my daughter, of course, wanted the biggest one. If only I could give her that pumpkin, but the cost was too much and we would enjoy our time volunteering together.
The next the day rain cleared and the sun broke through the clouds. The weather was unseasonably warm that October. I offered to volunteer several times per week to work in the pumpkin patch. Each day, the warmth of the sun and fresh air helped me to feel alive again. I was getting out of myself and thinking about others. It was purely magical the way it cheered me up.
During the hours when the pumpkin patch was closed, a wishing well was placed on the lawn for people to leave money in on the honor system. In my cynicism, I thought, “Yeah right, like anyone will really leave the money.” The next day as I opened the pumpkin patch, my hand reached deep into the well and I pulled out cash. I don't remember how much, but there were maybe five or ten dollars. I began to wonder if there could possibly be trustworthy people in this world.
As we closed the pumpkin patch on Halloween, I was getting ready to leave and noticed my daughter struggling to get a 50-pound pumpkin into my trunk. Just then, a man approached me and said that it had been bought as a gift for her. My hardened heart was softened a little more and tears welled up in my eyes. I never would have thought that volunteering in a pumpkin patch would have brought me so much joy, health, and restoration.
Interview with an Anonymous PCUMC member.
Written by Lori Jagow
“God pick us up. He washes us from our sins, the scooping out all that is unclean. The new carved face shows that we are a new creation in Christ. Then He gives us light. The light we need to shine in a dark and dying world. That light is His Light, the light of Jesus, which shines brighter the darker the world gets. So let your light shine before men!”