Jenna Steltenpohl of Jasper, IN, spent time with us as a fall servant from September to October, 2016:
It was a warm September day when I stepped off of the Amtrak train and onto West Virginia ground. It had been a long trip; I was eager to get some fresh air. However, I have to admit that I was nervous. I had never been away from my family and friends for more than a couple weeks. I knew that this next month at Bethlehem Farm would be filled with many firsts, and I was looking forward to the spiritual and personal growth that I would experience there during the special Jubilee Year of Mercy.
I was overjoyed to be visiting the Farm again! I spent most of my first weekend there wandering outside and finding God’s mercy in everything that I encountered. The Caretakers made sure that I felt welcome, and nobody seemed to mind that I was such a quiet, introverted person.
Living with the community seemed to give me the perfect balance of prayer, work, fellowship, and quiet time. Every morning we had group prayer in the chapel. It gave us the chance to thank God for the new day, and to prepare our hearts for the experiences He had in store for us. I would ask God to give me the grace to always serve joyfully, and when I did, this prayer would stay with me throughout the day. My work days were usually filled with me doing small things around the farm, and I also got to help out at a particular work site, Cathy’s home. Even though I had almost no experience with some of the projects, I was always encouraged and never frowned upon when I didn’t know what to do.
When we weren’t working, we would spend time playing board games, swimming in the cold, clear river, and walking the Web of Life trail, among other things. I remember the long car rides, good conversations, and the beautiful mountain views that kept me ever thankful for the chance to stay at Bethlehem Farm, even if only for a time. When we returned from whatever we had been doing each day, I made an effort to visit the chapel and pray the Chaplet of Divine Mercy for all of my family and friends back home.
On my last day at Bethlehem Farm, I remember walking up Bill Mann’s Hill and reflecting on how things had changed since I had first arrived. I had definitely gained more self-confidence, and I had been able to make prayer a bigger priority. It seemed like stepping away from my Indiana home for a while gave me a new perspective on my life there. And now that I am back home, my experiences from Bethlehem Farm still remind me to take care of myself, the world I live in, and most of all, to live simply and trust in God. Thank you, Bethlehem Farm, for this awesome opportunity! I miss you all and hope to return soon!