Last fall, Thistle Farmers Becca, Penny, Katrina and Chelle made a trip to Iowa to visit students at Wartburg College. The experience was moving for both groups and, as promised, some of the students made the pilgrimage to Nashville for their spring break this past month. Following are some beautiful reflections from the young women of Wartburg:
-Hannah Burgus and Hannah Haupt
We wish to thank you for the amazing experience you allowed us to have when we visited Nashville during our Spring Break. We walked into Thistle Farms with a fear of the unknown. As a group of small town girls, we weren’t sure what we would see, or what kind of people we would meet. We walked out of Thistle Farms with gratitude, new outlooks on life, inspiration, and most of all a love for ourselves, the women of Thistle Farms, Becca Stevens, AND Tea Tree Mint Lotion! ☺ As you can see in many of the girls’ reflections from our trip, the stories that you all shared with us really made an impact. We would like to thank you for helping us to see what strong and inspiring women you ALL are, and for allowing us the opportunity to share in the joys of all you have accomplished!
Since the day Becca Stevens came to Wartburg, I couldn’t wait to go to Nashville and meet the Magdalene women and see Thistle Farms myself. My absolute favorite part was getting to know the women and experiencing the meditation in the morning with them, hearing their stories, sharing in the pain and love… it was their determination to change themselves and change the cycle that affects so many others that inspired me the most. They have overcome more obstacles in life than I will probably ever encounter, and I have nothing but gratitude for the blessings I’ve received in my life. I think it’s absolutely wonderful that they can turn around and make such beautiful and high quality products to share with others and support each other (Thistle Farms has one more faithful customer!). I wish that I could have spent more time with each of the women, and look forward to coming again for a visit whenever it’s possible!
As for me, it was an eye opening experience. It helped me put many things into perspective and gave me the understanding of what losing everything looks like. I am both thankful and grateful for everything and everyone I have in my life. It makes the simple things seem more enjoyable. Those women are amazing women to have overcome everything they did and are still overcoming and have such a faith in God that they have. My whole experience was just amazing.
Being at Thistle Farms was an awesome experience. To see women being so independent and overcoming their struggles was really inspirational. The women are the most ambitious and hard working women I've met and they deserve everything they are working for. To see a program that actually works and meeting Sheila was proof of how good the program really is. I'm glad I got the chance to spend time at Thistle Farms and got to know some of the strong women.
Visiting Thistle Farms was such an inspiration to me. I was amazed to hear how grateful the women are to be alive and to be clean. It was very moving to hear how many of the women were able to overcome lives of prostitution and drugs and what steps they are implementing in their lives to remain that way. The Thistle farms organization helps move the women closer to independence by allowing them to have a job creating naturally-made lotions, body gels, chapsticks, and other items. My favorite part about visiting Thistle Farms was listening to the devotional and hearing what everyone was thankful for in their lives.
The thing that I liked best about helping at Thistle Farms was listening to the women’s’ stories they told us about their previous lives. There are many myths and misunderstandings about women in situations such as the ones at Thistle Farms. Giving people another chance at living is a great gift. Along with giving them another chance, they also provide jobs to help keep them on their feet. Thistle Farms and the Magdalene House are great ways to help people out and I believe that this organization deserves to be supported by the community.
My time at Thistle Farms is something I will never forget. I met numerous people who have had a rough life and here I am complaining about little things in my everyday life. I have a place to live, food to eat and a family who loves me and I have always simply taken that for granted. I will admit, I came into this trip a bit skeptical because I had a lot of prejudgments of these "types" of people. I thought that they all got in with the wrong crowd and then picked the entirely wrong men to be with and ended up addicted to some awful drug and began prostitution to get a fix. I was wrong. These women were fighters, they may have made mistakes but all of them had tried to get back on their feet for one reason or another, but they did try. They may have fallen into a bad crew and therefore gotten into things such as drugs but it's not this that causes the prostitution and complete lack of being. It's when they feel like they stop being loved. For some of these women, their family members were the ones who hurt them. How could someone possibly feel loved when the people who are genetically engineered to love you, have hurt you in such a deep way. Overall I loved this trip and the people on it were great. It was by far one of the most humbling experiences that I have ever had in my life. "All you NEED is LOVE"
Smelling the power of love each time that I walked into Thistle Farms change how I see people. During the few days that I was there the love that I experienced made a huge difference in me. After talking with Becca and the stories that I heard from the women, love is the answer for positive change in this world. I was amazed at how I saw love everywhere. Coming back home I hope to have been able to share the love that I have seen. The experience I had will be with me forever.
My experience during the two days we spent at Thistle Farms was amazing. You always hear stories about how strong a woman is through her battles in life, but once you have heard it, you tend to forget. Life gets crazy and her story, however awesome, gets lost in all of the monotonies of life. But meeting the women of Thistle Farms makes you remember. To hear a story told many times, but is still difficult to tell, to see the emotions cross their face with word, to receive her embrace so full of love-these realities stick with you. Every time I pull out my chap stick, I see Thistle Farms and hear the voices of the women we met there; when I smell the lotion on my hands after a long day, I remember the work we did and pray for the women who let us join them. Thistles remind me to stop and reflect on the person inside, not just her appearance. This prickly purple flower is a memento of our work and of the amazing journeys I encountered in that space. The remarkable women of Thistle Farms showed me just how strong a woman is and how much love is encounter when strangers join hands to create new lives.