It is amazing how talking to people from other nations can give a person perspective. This past week a trade group from the Philippines came to Minnesota. They are on a harvest tour in the U.S. to see agriculture in the country from which they buy most of their soybean meal for their hog, turkey and aquaculture industries. Along the way, they made many stops in Minnesota to visit grain and livestock farms, getting a different view of agriculture compared to that in their own country.
At one particular farm, they were able to ride in a combine. After a ride, they climbed down the latter and walked up to the group with a huge expression of awe on their faces. When asked what they though of their ride, numerous responded with the same answer: “That is combine is really intelligent!” Now, for those of us farming, we know that a combine in a complex and expensive machine that can do many things. In fact, when farmers shell out as much money as they do for a machine that is only used for a fraction of the year, but is needed for a successful harvest, they expect it to do what it does. What I’m saying is, here in America, we do not really spend much time thinking about how intelligent the machine is, but rather we expect it to be that “intelligent” with no questions asked.
While talking with the Filipinos throughout the day, I learned that agricultural production in their country looks quite different. There is little mechanization. For example, while we combine corn for our harvest, much of their corn harvest is done by hand.
I also had a discussion with one Filipino man about the cost of living expenses and how much of their income is spent on food. He said that in the Philippines, people spend around 45% of their income on food. That compares to you or I only spending approximately 11% of our income on food. Now these may be averages and it might look different for each respective person, but the point remains – that is a LARGE gap. Imagine spending 50% of your income on food just to survive. That’s not including the out-to-eat meals many Americans often enjoy!
Despite the high cost of food, I never once heard any man or woman who was part of the Filipino group complain about their cost of living or compare themselves to how we live in the U.S. They were more excited to explore and asked so many questions about how farmers do their work and provide quality, safe food for the world. They truly respected and appreciated those who cultivate their crops because they know the work that is involved.
Another thing that impressed me was their sense of joy. Every location we went to, they were excited and enjoyed developing new relationships, finding fun everywhere! And their curiosity was such, that they kept asking all of their questions, bubbling with the desire to learn about the people around them and the agricultural practices.
Their curiosity and joy made me realize that in all of our circumstances, we are to pursue the Lord with all of our heart, mind and soul. We should be thankful in all of our circumstances, whether we are spending 11% of our income or 45% of our income on food. Thankful even if we have to work hard to keep our families clothed, full and with a roof over their heads. We should approach the Lord and His Word with curiosity. Asking Him questions and seeking His goals for our lives and His desires on things. Let’s be FASCINATED with the Lord again and how He provides in each one of our lives. I want to be so hungry for wisdom, understanding and knowledge from the Lord that I am continually asking questions, seeking His Word and exploring Him.
“A Psalm of David, when he was in the wilderness of Judah. O God, You are my God; I shall seek You earnestly; My soul thirsts for You, my flesh yearns for You, In a dry and weary land where there is no water. Thus I have seen You in the sanctuary, To see Your power and Your glory. Because Your lovingkindness is better than life, My lips will praise You. So I will bless You as long as I live; I will lift up my hands in Your name. My soul is satisfied as with marrow and fatness, And my mouth offers praises with joyful lips. When I remembers You on my bed, I meditate on You in the night watches, For You have been my help, And in the shadow of Your wings I sing for joy. My soul clings to You; Your right hand upholds me.” -Psalm 63:1-8
It was a joy to get to know the Filipino delegation and hear who they are and what they do. Their fascination and joy will always be etched in my mind as a reminder to be fascinated with the Lord, joyful and thankful for all He does.
“You will make known to me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; In Your right hand there are pleasures forever.” -Psalm 16:11