Rocky Mountain Mennonite Relief Sale – 2012

We think of adventures as hanging off cliffs, living in the middle of a jungle, fighting off zombies, outrunning a tsunami, or finding a hidden treasure. That’s not untrue, but that’s not the entire scope of “adventure.”

“Adventure” does not have a singular definition. It has multiple definitions: prescriptionS.

Adventure isn’t all about just-me either.

An adventure can come in the form of service. I support the service-work done by the Mennonite Central Committee. (www.mcc.org) I’ve put together health kits and school kits. I’ve sent money so families in poverty and famine stricken countries can purchase a cow or a chicken, pay for their children to attend school, or buy seeds to plant.

This last weekend, I went to a Mennonite Relief Sale where I gave and received at the same time. These sales are held across the United States and Canada. (http://reliefsales.mcc.org/)

The Relief sale I went to always sells German sausage, cheese, bierrocks, baked goods, pecans, and Neu Jahre Kuchen (New Year’s Cookies )– that are actually fritters. They have a big machine that turns boxes of apples into apple butter and apple cider. This aroma is mixed with that of corn popping. These sounds are blended with a barrel train filled with children and pulled by a small tractor.

These sounds are interrupted by that of a vintage John Deere tractor — putt..putt……putt, putt…..putt…a sound that is music to the ears of the farm folk who attend, and to some of us who are not farm folk, but remember that nostalgic sound on our grandparent’s farm.

And thus people stand around in the autumn sun and examine the tractor which is for sale in the live auction, right before lunch. Some have their pictures taken against the gleaming green restored tractor. Others mill around and then go inside the large metal and concrete exhibit hall to line up for a slice of pie, which is suitably located next to the ice cream booth.

Inside this county fairground exhibit hall are other booths, too: the Christmas booth; Craft booth; the Silent Auction tables with old books, vintage glassware, intricate lacework, yellowed pictures, and other memorabilia that people of a certain age reminisce about and people of a younger age ask questions about. The MCC booth describes the work the Mennonites do around the world, along with adventures that people can volunteer for, for hands-on service.

The live auction begins at 9:30 am and starts with the auction of a loaf of bread.  The bread represents the need of all people for the basic staff of life. It represents God as our spiritual Bread of Life. This year it sold for $1,100. Next up are old tools, wooden crafts of rockers and benches, large cross-stitched pictures, a hand-made dollhouse, collector china, quilt racks and quilt wall hangars. The list goes on.

At 1:30, the quilt auction takes place. It begins with hymn # 606 “Praise God from Whom.” There is no need for overhead projected words. There is no need for keyboards and drums. A simple pitch-pipe gives one note. Everyone stands. Everyone knows his or her part and sings in harmony and in accapella. It is a rich and poignant sound that whispers of traditions of Mennonite service and giving, and pulls generations together. I listen. I remember years of standing beside family members who are no longer with me. I’ve accumulated years of this tradition – and coming here brings me closer to those loved ones.

In late afternoon, the sun moves to the west, the pie and ice cream have sold out, the tractor is sold for nearly $5,000, the popcorn machine shuts down, children still beg for just one more train ride, and  I write one more check to Rocky Mountain MCC, and walk out with another quilt.

I have received much. I trust and pray that my dollars will give much to the world that hungers for the bread of life.

~ What do you give, that gives back to you, that makes you both a giver and a receiver? ~