SAAAANCTUARY!! No, I'm not a hunchback stuck in a bell tower,
but I am really excited that we got our aquaponics greenhouse built, and the aquaponics system inside up and running before Christmas break. It's been a busy quarter, but well worth it. Here's some of the things we accomplished...
Our baby chicks got released into the main coop right before Thanksgiving. They are now integrated into the rest of the flock and exploring their brave new world.
There are now fish living in the aquaponics fish tank! I am happy as a clam to have some wonderful fishie friends back in my care again.
Building a greenhouse was one of the main projects our internship set out to do. It took some time, but we thankfully had a few days of good weather to push through and finish it before the quarter ended.
So here's a recap. I arrived here on September 15th. Since then, I have helped to: roof 2 buildings, harvest the base's garden, replant the garden with winter crops, put new plastic on an existing greenhouse, learn about and manage compost production, raise 20 baby chicks, maintain the chickens, research and build (not to mention go crazy for) aquaponics, build a greenhouse, dig a fishpond, and manage the base's recycling program. We also made lunch every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday for the whole base and had teaching in every area we were doing projects in.
I'd say that's a pretty full quarter. Thanks for getting me here!
Merry Christmas &
Happy New Year!
PS I also got to drive and use a tractor. It's not all toil and such :)
Picture of me and my friend the tractor. While digging a hole for my fish!!
The team So great to work with these guys!
A quick reminder
I am still trying to raise $1200 to go to Indonesia and Thailand in February to help build a large aquaponics system. Below is my contact info if you would like to help get me there. Tax deductible:YWAMEPJ.orgMailing address: Michael Brewer 7085 Battlecreek Rd. Salem, OR 97317 Phone: 303-552-6832
Checks can be sent to: Youth With A Mission (or YWAM)
4444 Edgar Park Avenue
El Paso, TX 79904
*Please do not put my name on the check itself, include a note with my name*
Credit card payments: visit www.ywamepj.org or call 919-757-3387
Online payments through Paypal: Send a personal gift to firstname.lastname@example.org Please put my name in the memo box
You will receive a receipt from YWAM El Paso/Juarez at the address you provide.
Normal Contact Info: Michael Brewer 7085 Battle Creek Rd. Salem, OR 97317 | 303-552-6832 |
Aquaponics Trip number 1!
So I talked about in my November Newsletter about aquaponics. As it turns out I have the opportunitiy in the second semester of my internship to travel with an aquaponics expert named Bonnie Hanszen. It's exactly the opportunity I've been looking for.
She is building an aquaponics system (as a refresher that means growing fish and plants in the same looped system) in Bali, Indonesia and then at an orphanage in Chiang Mai, Thailand. She's been building these systems in communities all over the world for over 20 years, and I am super stoked to be able to go. Since it is the end of the year, I wanted to put this out there for people as an opportunity for tax-deductible year-end giving.
It looks like if I book tickets this week I can get from here to Bali, to Thailand, back to the states for $1200. I really feel like this is a tool that God wants to equip me with, As I research more about it, I get more and more excited for the potential it has to change lives and even just help get people excited about the creative ways you can circumvent a lack of food. If you feel like this is a way you would like to partner with me, you can send tax deductible donations to YWAM El Paso/Jaurez (details to the left).
Thanks for your support! I am so stoked to see what doors God is going to open for me to use these skills I am aquiring. I'm believing for the full amount and more to come in, as I will be needing to start fundraising for an outreach to Kenya after my school in April. It's going to be a busy year of travel!
Please pray if God would direct you to sow into this. As time goes on, this is what I want to be doing more and more. I appreciate all of your help and will keep everyone updated as the money comes in. God Bless!
That is Silver Falls, it's gorgeous!!! I am keeping busy in Salem, and it's been a great month. Below are more specifics, but I've learned a lot of useful things, as well as had the privilege of getting to visit Denver for a few days of catching up and staying invested in the people whom I did life with for the past 8 years. As Thanksgiving approaches, I am thinking about how faithful God has been in my life, and how in only six months he has taken me from having no idea in what direction to go, to having more doors opening for me than I can possibly go through. It is so important to be able to stand on the shoulders of people who have been pushing things through before you came along, and I feel like I have some very good shoulders to stand on as I am "apprenticed" by a couple who have been traveling and training for quite a while. To everyone who made and is making this year of training possible, my sincerest of thanks. May the Lord bless you!
Producing food in a small space
The fact is that many families, whether they are in Kenya, India, or right here in the USA, struggle to put enough nutritional food on the table. Having a resource that helps encourage people to work together to produce what they lack is a big step toward seeing people get involved in each others' lives and experience what it is like when we love our neighbor.
Aquaponics is an innovative solution to this problem that arose in the 70's. There are inherent problems with growing fish intensively, and just as many with growing plants in a nutrient solution. When you take these two production methods (aquaculture + hydroponics) you get.... AQUAPONICS!! In nature, there is something called the nitrogen cycle which turns harmful waste into plant food. This achievement belongs to the hard work and determination of millions and millions of bacteria in every sqaure inch of whatever surface they can cling to where they can get Oxygen.
Aquaponics mimics that natural cycle to lessen the maintenance, input, and failure rate of needing to produce food in a limited space. The system you see in the picture should be able to produce enough vegetable nutrition for a family of four (though realistically, not an American family, we eat a lot)
In life God rarely forgets the experience we have and the things that bring us life and will often use them to bless others. I grew up taking care of my aquarium and learning all about how to keep it healthy. I then got a job building koi ponds and learned all about keeping that larger, more expensive system healthy and functioning well. Now that I have actually done a hands on build and put all of the theory I have been researching well before I ever came to Salem, I am ready to start going and building these with people and training them how it works. It looks like California in January will be my first trip. Stay tuned for details.
There's no place like home
Once you've been somewhere for 8 years where you had a huge number of momentous things happen in your life, that place becomes like a second home. I can't really describe how good it felt to be able to go back to Denver for a few days this past week and do a whirlwind trip catching up with old friends, seeing a bunch of the students that went with me to Thailand earlier this year and the ways they are walking out the growth that happened in their lives. I also got to grab my camping gear from my old house.
It was great to see everyone again!
They grow up so fast
Did you know that a chick is ready to be introduced to live in the regular coop with the adult chickens at only 8 weeks? It will begin to lay eggs at 6 months.
I have been learning a lot about caring for these very useful birds in my time here. I was amazed to find out how quickly they grow up.
Learning about caring for these birds is an important skillset to be able to take to places that maybe already have chickens, but don't know how to get the most out of them. This is not to say we get the most out of livestock by forcing them to just produce and not worry about their quality of life, but that a mutually beneficial relationship forms when we as humans care for the animals that produce food for us in a way that is good for the animals as well as for us.
Winter in the Northwest
It's a whole different ballgame
Everybody knows that it rains a lot in the Northwest. While this is not my favorite, I am increasingly impressed by the useful things that having so much warmth come in off the ocean does for a garden.
Up until now, it has maybe dipped down to freezing once or twice, which is awesome (it was a shock when I woke up in the morning in Denver and it was 19 degrees!). Because of that fact, it is possible to grow cold crops later and more easily than other places. We will have to cover them to protect them from frost still, but they will grow and produce throughout the winter.
The most interesting thing I take away from it is learning to look at drawbacks as advantages. Many places that have widespread poverty have not been taught to recognize the advantages to their local area and cooperate with the way it is there. Learning to work along with the established systems is part of learning how to live together, bring the kingdom of God, and experience community in our lives.
Mailing Address: Michael Brewer 7085 Battle Creek Road Salem, OR 97317
Email: MB1985@gmail.com Phone: 303-552-6832
I am so thankful for the prayers, encouragement, and donations which keep me on the road and moving towards being able to work with the poorest of the poor. Happy Thanksgivng, I pray it is a wonderful time for you with family and friends.
I am pumped for this next year. From the very first day when I was recruited to help roof 2 buildings, I have been quickly getting involved here at YWAM Salem. I have met lots of new people, and already made some good friends. I am even more excited to see exactly how right of a fit it is for me to be here. I am part of the first steps here to get an EARS training center going (more on that below) and it is an adventure to start something new. Thankfully, the couple that have come in to develop these things here are well experienced in that sort of thing. So far, we have done projects around the base, sorting a lot of recycling, harvested a TON of produce from the garden here, planted fall crops, received a shipment of baby chicks, as well as several other projects. In the midst of that, we have been learning about the history of EARS and what we are a part of, about project planning and management, and about each other. Seven of us make up the EARS team here, and I am looking forward to working alongside these people to further develop the steps this base has already taken to responsibly utilize its resources for the kingdom of God. I am also looking forward to how doors open to use the skills I am learning overseas.
Craig and Jen Woodring Had their first taste of working overseas in India in 1988. Both then received PhD's before heading to YWAM in 1994. They first got connected with YWAM's EARS program then and have been developing EARS centers around the world in and outside of YWAM ever since. I am really honored to be working and learning under them in the time I am here, they have a wealth of knowledge and experience that will help equip me for doing projects like they have been doing all around the world.
YWAM Salem is on a really beautiful 35 acre tract of land It has been running for about 38 years now and I am blown away by the facilities they have here. There is a stream running through the property, several dorm buildings, separate houses for families, and spots for campers to come so they can host volunteers. It's a bustling campus with about 80 staff and this fall they have about 50 students. It is fun seeing how a different YWAM base operates, as each one is a separate entity with a slightly different flavor than any other base. I'm in a room with my fellow intern, Dain and a guy from another secondary school.
Team Unity: Craig and Jen, Leah and Bakari, Sarah, Dain, and myself make up the EARS team here at Salem. Please pray for us as we learn about and work with each other. Wisdom: We want to spend a lot of time learning about ways to do sustainable practices oversees, but we've also got to make sure those same projects are doing enough for the base here. We need wisdom to know how to balance learning knew things and maintaining the systems here. Relationships: I'm getting to know people here, but could still use prayer that I am able to generate solid friendships during my year here at YWAM Salem. Provision: I am quite a bit short of what I will need monthly to stay here a year (and to continue after that) please keep this need in your prayers. Baby Chicks: We want our baby chicks to grow up to be healthy egg producers. Pray for their health and our knowledge to care for them. God cares about them too! Matthew 6:26
Much of what I will be learning centers on food production on a small scale. Most of the projects already running here have to do with providing extra food for the kitchen to prepare, rather than having to purchase everything. We've got about 2500 square feet of gardening space, including a small greenhouse to help bolster fall and winter leafy vegetable production. We also have 19 laying hens and a rooster, as well as 20 new baby chicks that just came in the mail to provide eggs for the kitchen.
My first Monday here I ended up getting recruited to help shingle a roof as that was a rather pressing need and we are here to serve the base first and foremost. It was a great opportunity to bond with some people here, but also a good feeling to be able to jump back in to the craziness that is YWAM community. As time progresses, we will be serving the base by running their recycling program, taking kitchen waste and composting it, and producing some of the food required to feed everyone. The goal is to save the base having to pay so much to take trash away and buy all of its food.
Mailing Address: Michael Brewer 7085 Battle Creek Road, Salem, OR
Email: MB1985@gmail.com Phone: 303-552-6832
I would appreciate hearing from anybody. I know we are all really busy, but if you're thinking of me or praying for me and want to send me a note of encouragement or anything like that, please feel free. I will try to be posting day to day things on my blog at www.michaelbrewer.me as well as a progress report on our chicks. I hope you are well, and that everyone has an enjoyable October.