Well, Spring is here and in full force. Winter was an EXPERIENCE, and one that we weren’t fully prepared for. Having spent so many years in the tropics, all the snow, ice, and everything else that Winter threw at us kind of caught us off guard. Even though we weren’t fully prepared, it was kind of a novelty too, getting snowed in from time to time! Apparently, a lot of people who live here in the mountains tend to hibernate somewhat during the winter. This makes a little more sense to us now, but we deﬁnitely managed to stay pretty busy amidst the snow. Now that Spring is here, the busyness continues. But I have to say, working outside is a bit more enjoyable! (No more frozen ﬁngers and toes!) Michelle is still teaching classes online in the wee hours of the morning before anyone else in the house is awake, and I’m staying busy doing a lot of clearing and chainsaw work for some people who own a piece of land not too far from us. When I’m not at work, I’m running home as fast as I can to see what I can get done on our own property before the sun goes down. Like always, we have a BIG VISION. The difference this time around is that we have a lot less people to help get it all done.
Coming from 15 years on the mission ﬁeld where we had an awesome group of Filipino staff, carpenters, and people willing to work, developments on the farm on this side of the globe are happening a bit slower than we would like. But in all that, we do know that starting from the ground up involves a lot of patience and hard work. Things will get easier as we continue to break up more ground… literally.
So what’s our vision? Well, it will probably take a few newsletters to explain it all in detail. So I’ll start by explaining a little bit of what we loved so much about our time in the Philippines: TEACHING! Both Michelle and I are teachers at heart, though not necessarily in the typical classroom-style setting. There is a place for that, but we love teaching through real life applications. I guess this is where the line between teaching and discipleship gets blurred. Or perhaps the two actually go hand-in-hand. We’ve both taught in classrooms for years, but our hearts come alive the most when the teaching takes place in a personal and practical way. In most of the world, good educational material is available if you’re willing to search a little for it. But what’s harder to come by is real-life discipleship. So the idea is….. we are aiming to create a farm where people can come and learn about sustainable agriculture, or prepare for the mission ﬁeld, or even just learn how to prepare a garden or raise a pig. As people come for practical training, there are always opportunities for so much more! We loved what we did in the Philippines, and what we’re planning to do here follows a similar pattern. It’s a combination of who we are as individuals and a family, and what we’ve learned about God’s calling on our lives. We have 22 acres of land, with space to develop sustainable agriculture demos, and possibly even build a few tiny homes that could provide housing for interns or others who would want to come learn. We live just outside of the college town of Boone, North Carolina, and young people are everywhere. In fact, we have already had one young couple approach us who are interested in staying in one of these future tiny homes and helping with things around the farm!
Hopefully over the months to come we’ll be able to share more with you about where this is all headed. It’s not going to be the way ministry is typically done, but it’s who God is in us. We’re still in the set-up and planning phase, arranging how things will work and where they’ll go, clearing areas to house different elements of the farm, getting equipment, laying electrical and water lines. The list could go on and on, but I’m sure you get the idea. There is so much to be done! Let us know if you’d like to jump on board and help with development! ? ~Justin, Michelle, and all the kiddos
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About Justin & Michelle Erb
Justin and Michelle spent 15 years serving in the Philippines where they worked alongside Filipinos to establish several churches, schools, home Bible studies, youth centers, feeding programs, and livelihood projects. During their time in the Philippines, they developed a rural missions base where they focused on practical apprenticeship with training programs in animal husbandry, organic gardening, and woodworking, all as a means of helping Filipinos uncover their calling and destiny in Christ.