Sarah and I have long been “Little House on the Prairie” fans. We own all nine seasons on DVD as well as many of the tv specials. My favorite episode is Season 1, Episode 1 - A Harvest of Friends. The Ingalls family has just moved to Walnut Grove and they are doing what they must to get on their feet. They have purchased a farm but don’t have the money to buy a plow and seed. Charles “Pa” Ingalls makes a business agreement with a store owner to fix his the store roof and stack sacks of grain in exchange for a plow and seed. The store owner has Pa put up his team of oxen as collateral. They set a date that the work must be done by and the episode proceeds.
Pa works his job at the sawmill in the morning, works to repair the roof in the afternoon, and works to break sod on the farm in the evening. The entire Ingalls family pitches in by doing chores around the farm and making sure Pa is well fed and the house is quiet when he needs to sleep. Once the roof repairs on the store are complete and the only thing Pa has left to do is stack the load of grain, he decides that he has been to grumpy around Ma and the girls so he suggests a family picnic. They are having fun, laughing, playing, and eating. Everything seems wonderful until Pa gets the kite stuck in a tree. Being the fit, brave father that he is, Pa climbs the tree to save the kite and the day. You can see where this is going. Pa falls and breaks a few ribs and with that, the story takes a turn for the worse.
He only has a couple of days to finish the job of stacking the grain or he loses his team of oxen. Ma pleads with the store owner to make an exception, but business is business and there is no leniency for the Ingalls. Despite the doctor's orders and the pleading of Ma, Pa drags himself out of bed and heads to town to stack the seed. With daughters, Mary and Laura, watching from the bushes, he struggles with every bag and is in excruciating pain as he works. Eventually, the pain overtakes him and he falls helplessly to the floor. The store owner watches as Mary and Laura rush from the bushes to take over the work. It is obvious that they are not strong enough to get the job done, but that doesn’t keep them from giving it everything they have.
As the girls struggle, the camera pans to the street and from every direction you see townspeople coming to the aid of the Ingalls family. They make a bucket brigade style line and start stacking the bags of seed. In no time the job is done and Pa’s side of the agreement has been fulfilled. The townspeople of Walnut Grove aren't done yet thought. Knowing that with broken ribs Charles won’t be able to plow and plant his first crop, they ask for his permission to hold a plowing and planting competition in his fields so that the men can settle the argument of who is the best at the task. Their generosity is truly overwhelming and the Ingalls have been given one of the greatest gifts of all, “A Harvest of Friends”.
Since the day Sarah was diagnosed, we have had people from every part of our lives joining the bucket brigade to help us. We’ve had family and friends helping us around the house and with taking care of the boys. There have been monetary donations, gas cards, gift cards, hotel rooms, meals provided and much more. There is no way that I can even begin to list all of the people that have joined the line and that we owe a debt of gratitude to, but please know that we thank God for your presence in our lives!
On Thursday, January 12th, a benefit fundraiser was held in Sarah’s honor at the girls basketball game between Pawnee and Auburn. There was a meal, they sold Sarah’s Warriors bracelets, a silent auction, and a chance for people to donate during the game. I don’t know the final total yet, but over $13,000 was raised and we have commitments from countless people to continue to pray for us. The lead organizers for the event were Jami Bowman (member of Blooming Grove Christian Church and teacher at Auburn High School) and and Dave Farris (teacher and girls basketball coach at Auburn High School). So many people contributed to this event to make it such a success and we want you to know that we appreciate everything from the people who served food, wiped down tables, made signs, decorated cupcakes, donated to the silent auction, donated cash during the ball game, or helped out in any way. We feel awful that we can’t thank each of you personally, but please know the gratitude that we have in our hearts!
As for Sarah’s treatment. She completed her second cycle of chemo with many of the same symptoms as the first cycle. Some symptoms were a little better and some were a little worse. But, she has managed to keep that beautiful smile through all of it. We praise God that she was feeling well enough to make an appearance at the benefit for her and we got to visit with some of you. It was truly a blessing to be surrounded by so much love.
She will have her next cycle of chemo from January 25th through the 28th. Prior to starting that cycle, she will have a CT scan and MRI on the 20th to ensure that the chemo is having the desired effect on the tumor. Please pray that the tumor is shrinking and that God continues to give us strength during this journey.
We love you all and thank God daily for our “Harvest of Friends”!
Jeff, Sarah, Sawyer and Augie