Reflections of a Polyface Intern

2019 polyface intern team

In case you were wondering…yes, I am still alive! Where in the world did this farm girl disappear to for 7 weeks? I’ve been wrapping up the internship, packing up my belongings, driving home and getting settled back into normal life. I didn’t intend to let blogging lapse, especially not this long. I had even written another blog post back in early October. Today, I dug up the rough draft, put the finishing touches on it and decided to publish it out for the world to see. So here you go, my thoughts from the day I left Polyface…

October 1, 2019

Have you ever felt a million tumultuous, contradicting emotions at once? It’s quite a sensation! Excitement, sorrow, camaraderie, reflection, loneliness, exhaustion, love and joy, all mixed into one swirling, twirling ball in the pit of my stomach. My mind is screaming with memories, ideas, opinions, thoughts and random songs. You see, I’m in the tornado of a transitionary season. A good friend describes it as “that awkward, uncomfortable time after the past but before the future.”

Why? Yesterday, I finished up the last day of my internship at Polyface farms. Quite honestly, I’ve been ready to go home for a couple of months now. The last 8 weeks of the internship have stretched me immensely. Yet when it came down to packing up my belongings and pulling out of the driveway, I was filled with an overwhelming sense of dread. No, I don’t think I’ll miss the chores, the farm or the area that much. I will miss one thing – my team.

The fantastic, diverse, hard-working, smart, passionate and loving people who interned with me have left a permanent mark on my life. Yes, I learned about farming this summer, but I learned even more about the inner workings of the human heart. I shouldn’t be surprised. I guess that’s what happens when you take people from all different walks of life and mix them together for 5 months straight (especially with no wi-fi or cell service and limited time off). I became closer to this team than I could have imagined. Every single one of them has taught me valuable lessons, helped me through the hard days and given me a deeper appreciation for people. Tears flowed down my cheeks as I cried farewell to the people who have become like family to me. Will we ever all be together again? I don’t know. In all honesty, probably not. Yet I will never forget what they have taught me and will always remain grateful for the short but intense time we had together.

As I reflect on the summer, a menagerie of life lessons become apparent, but a major one is this – it’s all about the relationships. As an introvert who loves to get things done, this is something I need to be constantly reminding myself of. Investing in and enjoying relationships is what is the most important, the most influential and the most fulfilling part of life. People trump all other pursuits – wealth, fame, productivity, titles, etc. Chasing those other things inadvertently alienates people, sucking the joy from life. Authentically pursing and pouring into relationships (with God, friends, family, co-workers, etc.) is what’s truly valuable.

My Polyface journey has ended and tomorrow I am heading home. I feel like I have the opportunity for a new start. Not that I didn’t like my life at home before…it’s just that being away has shown me areas in my life that I want to change and improve. I’m setting new goals, formulating new plans and coming up with new ideas. It’s exhilarating and terrifying at the same time. As I reflect and reminisce on the summer, I realize each team member has taught me something unique and important.

Marit – As an apprentice, you were thrust into a leadership position for the first time this year. I am so impressed by how you jumped right in! You were in the trenches with us. You embodied good leadership – not just telling us what to do, but actively and humbly working alongside us to accomplish the goal. Not to mention that it was fabulous to have someone who understands the way I think. Working with another optimistic, rule-following, joy-filled, sister in Christ was an immense blessing. Thank you for always encouraging me to stay true to who I am and not compromise what’s important to me. You are a beautiful young lady inside and out!

Ashleigh – Not only do we share a name, we also have the same northern accent! I know that you felt your responsibility as an apprentice deeply. I appreciated how you believed in me and encouraged me in my work. Thank you for trusting me and pushing me to do things I didn’t think I could do. I’m excited to see where you end up in the future and wish you the best as you continue to learn, grow and discover your path in life!

Tim – You were always the first one down for chores in the morning and the last one up after dishes at night. Whenever you said you would do something, you did it. This quiet, dedicated and admirable consistency was noticed by everyone on the team this year. You’ve taught me that one of the main keys to success is just showing up and doing the work, day in and day out. Keep it up! I know it’ll serve you well throughout your future.

John – I greatly admire your attention to detail. You want things done with excellence and work hard to make sure your work measures up to your standards. You’ve shown me that the little details matter. Big success is built on the small things. I love how you light up when you start talking about a subject you’re passionate about. You are smart, hardworking and always know how to get the team laughing. I cannot wait to see where your big dreams and deep interests take you!

Mariah – From the very beginning, I admired your ability and willingness to jump right into a task. Whenever we worked on group projects, you always seemed to know exactly how to help and didn’t hesitate to go all in (meanwhile I stood back wondering what I should do/waiting for direction haha!). You encourage me to try new things, jump in and give it all I’ve got. I’ve loved getting to know you, sharing late night conversations with you and working alongside you.

Ethan – You approached each day with 100% energy and enthusiasm. You brightened my day numerous times with your incredibly positive, contagious attitude. Not only are you extremely driven, you are outrageously smart. Many of your academic, science-filled conversations flew right over my head, but I enjoyed listening to them all the same. I hope to approach life with the awe, excitement and fun-loving attitude that I see in you.

Sadie – I love your passion for productivity. You love to be doing something worthwhile – no wasting time! You are a delight to work with as you love to contribute your thoughts but are willing to hear other people’s ideas too. I loved listening to you play violin. It was the perfect way to relax at the end of the day. Whatever you decide to do in the future, I know your hard-working attitude will propel you toward your dreams!

Ryan – Your smile is contagious! You are a reliable, hard-worker who is easy to get along with and fun to talk to. Whenever I was unsure about how to accomplish a task or work a piece of machinery, you taught me in a humble and encouraging way. I loved working alongside you this summer and hearing your plans for when you get back home. I can’t wait to see how you put all your plans into action and get your farm up and running.

Adam – I always thoroughly enjoyed our conversations. You are not only full of philosophical wisdom, but also help lighten the mood with your witty sarcasm. Your determination to stick with things, even as you were wrestling with what you wanted to do in the future, was admirable. I’m still amazed at how many books you managed to read this summer and will miss hearing about all of your adventures growing up in Brazil on the Amazon.

DJ – You’re not afraid to question the status quo. You taught me to think outside the box, to really think things through and evaluate a situation from all angles. Not to mention you are extremely talented at the work you do. I really appreciate you showing me how to work with tools and teaching me about farming, forestry and woodworking. I’ll never forget your laughter, your dancing or your singing (especially your rendition of a certain song 😉)

Hunter – You are a natural leader. You helped hold this team together through everything. The way people respect you is a testament to your character and work ethic. Your fun-loving personality brings out a spontaneous side in people, yet you can also sit down with a listening ear, give wise life advice and push people towards their goals. I really enjoyed getting to know you and am thankful for the quality conversations, egg yolk battles and random attempts to scare me out of my wits. I know big things are in store for you and can’t wait to see where life takes you next.

Emma – Small, quiet and kind yet tough as nails and full of grit. Your genuine care for others is a huge inspiration. If you saw someone was a little off, you never hesitated to ask them how they were doing and lend them a listening ear. You were always there for me, helping me stay realistic and keeping me grounded. The way you stand up for others is truly admirable and your persistence and determination during your time here is extremely commendable. I’m excited to see where life leads you next!

To the 2019 Polyface team, I will not forget these lessons you’ve taught me. Thank you for being there for me, for inspiring me and for sticking it out through all the struggles. You have truly changed me for the better. I will miss all of you dearly and wish you nothing but the best. We’ve learned, we’ve grown and now the rest of our lives are ahead of us. It’s time to embrace the next step. It’s time to move forward. It’s go time – and I know y’all are going to rock it!

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  1. Ashley, I enjoyed and looked forward to every one of your posts but this one was the best one yet! I had tears in my eyes as I read it. As you took the time to share the details of each one of your team members, you illustrated your most important lesson perfectly! As I reflected on it, I realized it was also real-life examples of what Jesus taught us too:

    36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

    37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

    In some of the toughest conditions, you and your team lived this command. Well done good and faithful servants!

    1. Thank you, Tammy! I am glad you enjoyed following along on the blog this summer. I am so grateful for all of the lessons I learned over the past 5 months, I know they will serve me well in the future!

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