The Last Opportunity

Kim Shin-hyeong from Gwangju, Korea

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Gurye, located between Mount Jirisan and the Seomjingang River, is famous for persimmons. However, an embankment along the Seomjingang River collapsed due to torrential rain, and the persimmon farms were severely affected. Restoration efforts had to be made quickly to save the persimmon trees and harvest the remaining persimmons, but due to the successive heat waves, it was difficult for the elderly farmers to work long hours.

We, the Church of God Young Adult Worker Volunteer Group [ASEZ WAO], visited Gurye to help the farmers in trouble. The head of the village welcomed us, being thankful to us for coming all the way despite the hot weather.

Almost all the trees in the large field had fallen. It seemed that restoration work would take a considerable amount of time. It wasn’t something that a farmer could do alone. There were also traces showing that an elderly farm owner had tried to save the trees somehow but gave up after all.

Even after experiencing a severe flood, some trees had large green persimmons hanging on the branches. “This restoration work is the last opportunity for the upcoming harvest,” said someone. These words echoed in our minds, and we rolled up our sleeves and started working hard, hoping that the persimmons on the trees would be ripe for harvest.

We divided the work. Some managed to cut rotten branches or severely bent branches that could not be straightened up again; some removed particles of dust and mud from living branches; and some put small and large-sized wastes, which had been swept into the field, in bags and carried them outside the field.

Even young adults like us were sweating buckets in the hot weather, but one of the farm owners did not take a break and worked together with us. We were so worried about him that we told him to take a break. But he said, “How can I take a break while you volunteers are working so hard with your clothes covered with mud, carrying heavy vinyl and hoses?”

To be honest, if my Zion family members were not with me, I wouldn’t have been able to endure the scorching sun until the work was finished. Although we were exhausted, we encouraged one another with thoughtful and inspiring words, because we didn’t want to adversely affect one another. It was very touching to see everyone working with a smile out of a sheer desire to help the affected farmers.

I hope that the persimmons in the farm, which has been restored through our unity and care, will ripen well and comfort the hearts of the elderly in the coming autumn.