Last year, I took an English composition class. Toward the beginning of the class, I was assigned an essay with the writing prompt, "What trait do you want to cultivate this semester?" I chose integrity – and I have been thinking about cultivating integrity ever since that class. One of the dictionary definitions of integrity is “the quality of being honest; sincere.” I believe that integrity is very important to our faith. To keep our faith growing, we must be honest with ourselves and with God; in order to spread our faith, we must be honest with others. We must be sincere and able to admit that we don’t know everything – and able to move forward with that understanding.
I was continuing to think about all of these things while I was in Japan, and I observed integrity in many forms at Menno Village. I saw it in the sincerity of communication – the willingness and eagerness in our conversations, despite the language barrier and cultural differences. I saw it in the relationships between our hosts – they all treated each other with respect and extreme kindness and patience. I saw it in the purity of their farming, in the effort that all of our hosts put toward keeping everything as local and organic as possible. It was obvious, even after just the first day that we stayed there, that all of our hosts were extremely passionate about their work, and they seemed to have relationships with their customers that went beyond just selling their produce.
Another definition of integrity is “the state of being whole and undivided.” I saw this at Menno Village, especially in the community and willingness of the work being done. All of our hosts were so enthusiastic – even with the small things like potatoes. I especially saw this with Aki and her organic rice fields. I saw how passionate she was about keeping the fields weeded, and the wonderful attitude she had about it – even though weeding rice fields is a very long and difficult task. In prioritizing staying local and organic, I see Menno Village living out the "whole and undivided" definition of integrity. They seek to keep their crops growing as nature intended them to, and they are very purposeful about knowing who their customers are and where they come from. Menno Village creates community by being sure to stay connected with their customers and neighbors, and they keep the land whole by staying conscious about their effect on the environment. I want to thank Ray and Aki and the rest of Menno Village for giving me the opportunity to stay with them and learn a bit about Japan and the work that they do there.
**This post has been edited and was originally published on Emily's Youth Venture team blog. To learn about this year's Youth Venture teams, click here.