More Gleanings Love


Gleanings for the Hungry is a romantic getaway for my husband and me.


We don’t get to spend much time together while we are there. I don’t even have a photo of Andy and me at Gleanings.

We start each day with breakfast at 6:45 a.m. I’m not a morning person, so I’d like to emphasize: breakfast at 6:45 a.m. I know some of you are already done with your morning coffee, devotions, and a jog by 6:45 a.m., and one day I want to be you, but I am not there quite yet. So I don’t wear any makeup while I am at Gleanings, and my hair is usually in a low, messy side bun.

After the morning chapel and worship time, which is always a huge blessing, I work the morning shift in the field, lifting trays and turning the peaches to the cup-up position. The week’s attire consists of t-shirts and shorts, sun hats, and work gloves.

While I work, Andy has the kids. He actually gets to spend wonderful, quality time with the kids. He swims with them in the Gleanings pool until the 12:00 p.m. lunch.

kids swimming

baby swimming

After lunch, Andy works in the peach plant, sorting good and bad peaches, removing cores, and working with the rest of the team to help the process run smoothly. I take the kids back to our room, where we get washed up, play some games, take naps, and dress for dinner, which is at 5:30 p.m.

Side note: Most volunteers have to work a full day and I only work a half-day, so I guess I don’t have the perspective of a typical volunteer. But it’s one way for us to get to go on the trip even though we have kids! This organization is very kid-friendly and they even have a playground next to the cafeteria. Plus, the kids actually do get to help with some of the work, as long as they stay with Mom or Dad. This year my daughters checked the dried fruit for rocks, pits, and sticks, picked green beans off the vine during their time with Daddy, and cleaned the cafeteria bathrooms with Mommy.


Why is it so much more fun to cut green beans and clean bathrooms at Gleanings?

Then we have a delicious homemade dinner together. I don’t have to cook or do dishes. (YES!) The Gleanings staff does all the cooking, but sometimes they let volunteers help in the kitchen when there are enough workers in the peach plant.

We hang out with our team in the evening, learning about the mission of Gleanings (Monday night) playing soccer on the field (Tuesday night), going to the water park (Wednesday), bowling (Thursday night), or going to Foster’s Freeze for dessert (every night).

My kids love it. I think Foster’s might be Andy’s favorite part of the trip.



Friday night is the Love Feast, where we get to eat a more formal dinner and listen to a guest speaker: always an amazing night. It was particularly awesome this year. The Gleanings Summer Staff did a skit where, one by one, they held up pieces of cardboard with one side saying where they used to be, and the other side stating how God has freed them or saved them. Then one of the Gleanings full-time staff members shared her testimony. How can I describe it to do it justice? I can’t. It was just glorious to see people’s lives changed because of her honesty about the power of Jesus in her life.

Gleanings is a Monday through Saturday work week, but Wednesday is a half-day of work. This year, instead of going to the water park, we spent Wednesday afternoon visiting Hume Lake and the historic redwood trees up the mountain. Gleanings is located in Dinuba, CA, just at the foot of the mountain. It took us about an hour to get from Gleanings to Hume.


At the end of each workday, we go back to our room, a motel-style suite with a mini fridge and six twin beds. Andy and I push two of them together for our bed. Next year I’ll have to take pictures of the room so I can show you what it looks like. It’s clean and nice. Gleanings does their best to arrange for families to stay in private rooms, even though youth groups stay in girl/guy camp-style rooms with bunk beds. There is even a brand new ten-plex building on the premises with fully furnished rooms for families to stay comfortably.

Maybe this trip just helps us relax and take our minds off of ourselves. We enter into a community of believers who cover us with love and prayer. With soft hearts, we worship God together, and he changes and cleanses us, which is always so good.

When I see my husband bring a team from our church to Gleanings For the Hungry, I remember that the man I married loves Jesus more than he loves me. I remember that a big reason why I married him is because he loves all the people in his life, and he loves the poor and needy.

It’s romantic to see him living out who God made him to be. It’s good for me to remember that our marriage is not about getting what I want or need from Andy. It is about serving the Lord together, using the gifts and talents that God had given us, and doing our best to raise our children well.

I just love this guy.

fam at Gleanings

xo, Chelsea

P.S. I can’t wait for you to read my book. It’s about my search for true love as a young person, and how God never let me go. Part II of the book is all about how Andy and I met, and how our friendship grew into true love. Hopefully the book will be ready in November or December! Enter your email address to receive my posts in your inbox–that way you can be sure to get my ebook for free.


Chelsea Rotunno is the author of Goodnight to My Thoughts of You, a novel about life as a Christian teen searching for true love.


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