Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Experiment (02/16/12)
TITLE: Keep Serving
By Gail Burks
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In answer to your question, I am certain my mission on this earth was to help my fellow man, using both my faith in God and my education.
However, when I was a boy, I didn't think I had any future, because my life was so difficult. Do you know that soon after I was born, in Missouri, I was kidnapped by some people and taken away, along with my mother? I was later found and sent back to my foster parents; but my mother never returned. She was a slave.
I'll never forget that when I was about ten years old, I accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. That decision was the best decision I could have made, and directed my entire life. Even though everyone told me I wouldn't live past the age of twenty-one, I believed in my heart that I would live, and not die, and declare the works of the Lord. (PS 118:17).
I guess God had a plan for me, because, even though I was sickly, I was still able to attend a school for people like me. I was nearly twelve when I began formal schooling.
By the time I started High School, I had left home, never to see my foster parents again. In between, I always worked and made a small living, and by my late twenties began college. I studied subjects like art and piano and really enjoyed painting portraits of plants, flowers and the like. I think you have one of my earlier portraits. Soon, one of my favorite instructors encouraged me to study botany at Iowa State Agricultural College. Again, I was the only one like me in my college classes, but learned much.
I wish my mother had still been around to witness this accomplishment. Following graduation, though, I was encouraged to remain in Iowa to earn an advanced degree in plant pathology and related work. That is when I began experimentation in plant pathology and mycology.
After a few years in Iowa, I was tremendously blessed, being asked to direct the Agricultural department at Tuskeegee Institute, in Alabama. It's amazing that I spent nearly fifty years at the Institute, and I always tried to work onto the Lord.
You probably are wondering what was my most gratifying work? In retrospect, I think being able to help both the white and black farmers with their crops. In those years, a terrible disease had attacked the cotton fields, and the economy of the southern states was dwindling. Agriculture was the main staple back them. Therefore, telling the farmers to plant peanuts, sweet potatoes and soybeans was a way to put nutrients back in the soil. But, after a while, the farmers complained stating there was no economic value for the peanut. I really had to seek direction from the Lord.
My research assistants wondered why I closed myself off in an office room and spent hours, even days, alone. Here I talked to God --- something I had done from a youth walking in the fields. I prayed and asked the Lord what else could be done with the peanut. When I exited, days later, God had give me over 300 derivatives from the peanut. The Lord told me that chemically analyzing the composition of this legume, several products could be made such as: peanut oil, face powder, axle grease, and printer's ink.
Also, working with the sweet potato and other plants was equally important. We tried to issue monthly bulletins on ways to further help the agriculture of the south and I think we did. I imagine all the experiments and research we performed at Tuskeegee will be continued by great minds like yours in the future.
As I recover from my recent fall, I am grateful that the Lord gave me wisdom and patience to deal with Presidents, business leaders, educators, and the public. Sometimes challenging, but often rewarding.
In closing, my life was to be a servant and I believe that is true success. That's why I always encouraged my students, like you, to work hard. My philosophy centered around the point that a truly successful person was the one who had learned to serve others.
George Washington Carver
Scientist, Botanist, Inventor
December 21, 1942
Wikipedia.com and Answers.com; George Washington Carver.
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