In late April 2023, the Waterloo Adventist Church in Iowa invited club ministries and church members to collaborate on a community garden. The goal was to grow together in faith, cooperating with our heavenly Father to cultivate a garden. As we embarked on this intergenerational venture, we embraced the blossoms and challenges ahead. We planned to work collectively on the garden throughout the summer, starting at 5 pm. on Wednesday evenings from May through the fall season.

Notably, both members and friends of members donated beautiful heirloom tomato plants and a diverse array of seeds. Adults, parents and children joined forces in the spirit of cooperation, a principle emphasized by Ellen White in her book Education. Elise Healzer, Pathfinder director, brought a profound conviction stemming from attending Pathfinder leadership in the fall of 2022. This conviction underscored the need for additional meetings to strengthen the sense of community within the church.

By mid-May 2023, the groundwork had been laid, literally and metaphorically. Healzer announced, “The garden is ready for planting next Wednesday. Thanks to everyone who came out to help!” With the dedication of the church and club members, the soil was leveled, the garden prepared, and the fencing installed—all set for planting. As the next week arrived, Healzer reported, “Things are looking good! Flowers, onions, corn, watermelon, peppers, tomatoes and kale are in so far.”

Then we patiently waited and tended to the garden, anticipating the sprouting seedlings and the blooming of plants. The anticipation of forthcoming crops created an atmosphere of expectancy and hope. Pastor Josh, Mayra Hester, and friends managed the garden during the summer, diligently tending to mulching, weeding and watering.

The garden was thriving by August, particularly with numerous tomato plants flourishing and blooming. The garden’s success was a testament to the church’s dedication and the leadership’s care for the plants. Even when a lost cow inadvertently caused damage by trampling and eating its way through the garden, it rebounded and grew fruit. Tomatoes adorned the vines, and monarch butterflies gracefully danced through the air, creating a tapestry of life and growth.

As the garden began to yield produce, the promise of an abundant harvest became evident, especially in the case of tomatoes. Members had the opportunity to pick the tomatoes they needed. Within a few weeks, abundant tomatoes graced the pastor’s table. Reflecting on the situation, Pastor Josh humorously remarked, “I’m a little scared of the garden at this point.” His candid humor acknowledged the blessings “pressed down and running over” from tending to the garden. With an excess of tomatoes, Pastor Josh and Mayra decided to bag up 15 bags of tomatoes and share them with the neighborhood as an act of kindness, giving away all 15 bags in one evening.

The feeling of divine guidance and blessing in carving out this time on Wednesdays seemed evident in the abundance of tomatoes and more that the garden yielded. In the heart of this garden, faith and community flourished, underscoring the power of cooperation with God and others.

 Shoshannah Guerrero is the Adventurer club leader for the Waterloo Seventh-day Adventist Church in Iowa.