This past summer was very special for our family as it was our first time growing some vegetables in our very own garden! We weren’t sure what to expect since we are beginners, and the summers in Hokkaido are rather brief and cool.
We were all so excited to see the seed packets and starter plants come out in the hardware stores in May. Everyone couldn’t wait to start growing things! Gardening in Japan is serious business. The community comes alive and nearly every yard has something growing and blooming each week of the summer. Even at elementary school, the students grow flowers and vegetables on school property. Anna’s class grew mini tomatoes in containers, and during summer vacation, she had to document its progress including when the fruit turned red and when she ate it! Nathan’s class grew a type of gourd, but unfortunately, he didn’t have much success, and his gourd died a few weeks into the process. Josh and Abby’s classes help in a garden on their kindergarten’s grounds. The kids can enjoy treats like blueberries and mini tomatoes picked straight from the plant during recess. Thanks to this, Abby is my only child who enjoys mini tomatoes!
Back to our family garden: each kid chose a vegetable to grow. Abby—green beans. Josh—broccoli. Anna—watermelon. And Nathan—carrots.
We weren’t sure the state of the soil beside our house, so we approached this year as a learning experience. We dug, weeded, watered and waited.
Abby’s beans yielded 2 messes. The kids had so much fun picking beans and eating them for dinner!
Josh’s broccoli wasn’t as successful, and he was quite disappointed because broccoli is his favorite vegetable.
The weather didn’t get hot or sunny enough for Anna’s watermelon plant to do very well. But finally, in August, a tiny melon appeared. She was so excited! We waited and watched, but the weather cooled off too quickly, and the melon stopped growing. It was about the size of a baseball! We were all so curious what it looked like inside! And Anna was ecstatic that she grew a real watermelon! It was funny that it was so small and cute, but she definitely still considered it a success. We cut it in half and everyone took a turn scooping out a bite with a spoon. Mmmm, sweet and delicious!
Nathan’s carrots kept getting eaten up by some really interesting caterpillars, but when we dug them up finally, they were the cutest little carrots! Again, we chuckled at their size, but he was still proud to have grown something! I cleaned them off and we had them for dinner one night with meatloaf.
Watching our children invest in growing these vegetables and rejoicing that they actually yielded fruit was very fun. Jonathan and I were discussing how even though the harvest was small, there was still one there! Seeing our kids excited at a baseball-sized watermelon and tiny carrots taught us that we should be able to rejoice in small things, too.
We are working so hard in this language, and it is honestly so much more difficult than we imagined it would be. We see steady progress, and weekly we have victories. But it’s definitely a temptation to be upset that for all our sowing, the harvest isn’t as big as we would like. The lesson we took from the garden was that a small harvest is still a harvest worth rejoicing over!
So whatever God has you laboring in today, keep sowing, tending and weeding in anticipation of harvest. Sunday school teachers, keep pouring God’s word into your students. Pastors, don’t grow weary in caring for your church. Parents, pull those weeds out of your own hearts and ask God to help you with the weeds in your children’s hearts. God will bring about the harvest in His way and time. Until then, let’s keep rejoicing in the little harvests.
And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.