Why a Night at Forgotten Seasons is the First Prize of the 100 Day Challenge: An Interview With Kathy Wenger

 

Kathy Wenger and me on the front porch of The Hershey Home Place. Now a B & B, Forgotten Seasons. Historical marker on the right commemorates Count Zinzendorf's visit to this house, then Jacob Hoober's Tavern, in 1742.

Forgotten Seasons, a bed & breakfast near Lititz, Pennsylvania, holds a special place in my heart. When I thought about a prize for the 100 Day Challenge, a night at Forgotten Seasons seemed like a natural.

All across America, family farms are disappearing. They are either turned into residential and commercial development or into much larger agri-businesses.

So when a family loses its family farm, a country also loses a little of its heart, a little of its history.

The children of H. Richard and Barbara Ann Hershey were the sixth generation of Snyders and Hersheys to farm 103 acres near Lititz, Pennsylvania. I am one of them. My parents purchased the farm in 1960 from Daddy’s parents, D. Paul and Sue Hershey.

My father died in 1980 on his 55th birthday. After that, the fate of the farm hung in the balance as my widow mother managed. My memoir Blush describes what happened. The farm was sold for development. However, working with the township and the Mennonite Foundation, the family was able to create new community resources and to preserve others  — a lovely linear park with a wetland, soccer and baseball fields, playgrounds, jogging track. And an important part of the farm remains intact — the house built sometime between 1735 and 1742!

Kathy (pictured above) and Jay Wenger now own this house. I want you to meet Kathy. I think you will be able to tell why our family considers her to be among the angels who have been sent by God to care for this house. The questions below are mine. The answers are Kathy’s, with help from Jay.

 Q: How did Forgotten Seasons get its name?

A. Forgotten Seasons was named by Dale and Suzanne Groff, (the first owners of the B & B).  Their friend, Steve Mellinger from Parkesburg, is an artist and a graphic arts designer.  He had painted a series of old buildings that were key in the founding of the town, but have been torn away.  He called his series “Forgotten Seasons of Parkesburg ” and gave Dale permission to use the name Forgotten Seasons.  They liked the name as they delved into the history of the house and Dale uses this quote on the cover of what he has compiled-

“While many are those that traveled through here in seasons past, they will not be forgotten.”

Q: How do your describe your calling to this place, this work of hosting a B & B?

A. We have bought this property not because of our own personal agenda, nor in pursuit of fulfilling a dream of running a B&B, but simply because we felt God calling us to do so as we sought His will for our future.  We had faced many changes prior to this decision; we were newly married, and had faced a series of losses in rapid succession. Initially, Jay wanted to go through the house since he had worked on the farm as a hired man at age 18; I was intrigued by the history.  But we were unable to dismiss it from our minds, and soon we felt God was giving us clear direction that this was His will for us.

Q: What does it mean to you live as a plain Mennonite today?

A. Having been born and raised in the conservative Mennonite setting, being “plain”  was a way of life that was normal to me.  As an adult, I needed to decide if I was embracing this way of life as my own choice or doing what was expected of me.  I feel our churches try to follow the Bible closely and live out the New Testament teaching and feel at peace in choosing to live my life for God and to serve Him where He has placed me.

Five years ago in June of 2008 we made the decision to buy Forgotten Seasons, stepping out in faith even though we didn’t see how we could financially make the improvements we felt were needed to make it a business that would succeed and not having any background or training in the hospitality field.  Many times we did feel overwhelmed and were tempted to give up.  But I feel guests were sent to us by God and we were called to be a witness to them, more through our lives, at times, than what we said.  Your family of Hersheys and Snyders were the only ones we have met, but we have felt blessed by what guests have told us.

One young woman, with tears in her eyes, told me ” God is here in this house; I can feel His Spirit of peace here.”  Another woman said, ” I like what I feel here. It’s like love is here in these walls and the people that lived here loved each other.”

Many more times I have heard comments about the peace in this place.  It makes me what to continue to create a home and a haven where those who lived here years ago would smile their blessing of approval if they could see it today.

 I feel like we have been reaping a blessing from the families that have lived here.  As we continue to restore the original stone on the outside and each room on the inside, I like to think of myself as someone traveling on a cold winter night on horseback back in the 1700’s.  I am cold, hungry and tired to the bone. Suddenly I see the lights of the tavern ahead on the Newport Road.  I know there will be warmth, light, a warm meal and food for my horse and a place to rest and find strength for the rest of my journey.  This is symbolic of what we want to continue to create- a place of beauty and tranquility, a retreat where God meets us as we seek Him.

We are here for a season and for a reason at Forgotten Seasons and love to unveil the hidden beauty and treasure that has been here for 275 years.  We want the restoration of this house to be a witness to the work God continues to do in each heart that is open to Him- that others may see His glory reflected in our lives.

We look forward to reading your book!  It’s exciting to hear that it will soon be here!

My thanks to Kathy and Jay. I think you can tell by reading their words what dedicated people they are. If you become a guest at Forgotten Seasons, you will experience their lovely hospitality first hand in the clean, bright, and warm space they have created in the house and in the delicious breakfast they prepare. The lucky winner of the 100 Day Challenge will get to stay one night free.

After mopping the floor. A blessing on the new owner in Brooklyn.

Did you miss the challenge yesterday?

Here’s why you didn’t hear from me.

I was mopping the floor after the movers emptied the Brooklyn condo where Stuart and I took care of grandson Owen last, and where some of the words of Blush were written.

That stage of life is now past. I’m writing this post in Montclair, NJ, after the whole family has left the city for greener, larger quarters. The Verizon man has just left. I’m connected again. But the real action in the next two days is playing with Owen and Julia and then attending my niece’s wedding in Lancaster County.

I’ll try to shout out to all of you, and I’m thinking of many memories in multiple places.

My New Beginning today?

I played hide-and-seek with this guy in his new house.

Another family has found a shelter in which to build love that lasts, not just for a season, but for the the seasons of the past and future also. Other families built the house. God builds and keeps the love. May God bless all the families.

Want a chance to win the stay at Forgotten Seasons? Sign up here!

Here's Owen! What fun to explore all the new spaces.

How many days? 76! Until Blush Launches. Icons will be back tomorrow.

 

 

 

 

Shirley Showalter

1 Comment

  1. […] Bed & Breakfast, the colonial-era farmhouse I grew up in. I interviewed her briefly about her mission in hospitality here. The Home Place Farmhouse — Now Forgotten […]

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