Popular teen novels include The Olive Tree Covering. Field Trip is the title of the third chapter in one of the popular teen novels.
I pedaled my bicycle at a steady rate, watching the front tire spin on the road. To my right were the woods marking the boundary of Franklin Park. The residents of the houses on my left remained inside their homes. Only the singing birds and the barking dogs disturbed the peaceful and calm atmosphere of the neighborhood. As I approached the middle of the street closer to Piscataway Parkway, I saw a deer in the woods ahead of me and slowed down. A fawn was standing next to her mother munching leaves as I rode slowly by. My bicycle tipped to the left and I grabbed both my handlebars to straighten my front tire preventing my bicycle from falling on the pavement.
I remembered the first time I went with Mike to the sheep farm to look for orphan lambs. Mike’s mother drove Mike, Mallory and myself to a historic working sheep farm. Mike told us this was the best place to research information about wool production and sheep farming for the world history papers that Mr. Keating had assigned on the first day of school.
Mallory sat next to me in the back seat and used her artist pad to sketch the scenery and objects that we saw out the window as we drove by. She drew a red barn with a white picket fence that surrounded cows and a few horses. She was a talented artist, and her rough pencil sketch would look nice in color. When we arrived at the farm, Mike’s mother parked the van in the grass near the farmhouse.
Mike opened the sliding door and held my hand as I stepped down onto the firm ground. I loved staring into his hazel eyes. He wore glasses like me and his medium length blonde hair trimmed neatly above his ears attracted my attention.
I followed Mike down a path and stopped in front of a wild olive tree. It seemed unusual that this tree was here and I wondered what its connection was with the sheep farm.
Sometimes popular teen novels reveal historic places.
In the 18th century the owners of this farm belonged to the Anglican Church and they were very devout Christians.” Mike pushed away some of the dead branches covering the path in front of the tree.
“What does the olive tree have to do with that?” I picked up one of the dead branches.
“The head of the household read the New Testament passage in Romans 11 that referred to an olive tree. He decided to plant his own olive tree grove on his plantation for his family as a symbolic reminder of this passage. You are like this branch.” Mike pulled off one of the branches and handed it to me.
“What’s the significance of this?” I waved the olive branch in my hand.
“I’ll talk to you about it later.” Mike took my hand and led me back to where his mother and Mallory were standing.
Our group walked over to the farmhouse purchased and restored by the Historical Society of New Jersey to serve as both a museum and working sheep farm open to the public. After paying the entrance fee, we took our own tour of the museum exhibits. We took notes about what we learned from the exhibits about sheep farming and wool production for clothes and blankets.
Dead lambs were stacked in a heap in the backyard of the museum. I didn’t want to look at the pile and turned away trying to erase the deep, dark thoughts of death from my mind.
We walked toward pens containing two live animals. A mother sheep nursed a lamb in the first pen next to the shed. In the back of the pen, another scrawny baby lamb was bleating, probably because it was hungry. However, the mother ignored this lamb and continued to nurse the larger, well-fed lamb. A lone sheep occupied the adjacent pen.
“Do you have any questions?” One of the museum workers walked over to where we were standing in front of the sheep pen.
“Why is that baby lamb standing away from the mother?” I pointed in the direction of the lonely lamb near the fence.
“Sometimes when an ewe gives birth to more than one lamb, she may reject the weakest of the pair and refuse to nurse it. We encourage another motherless ewe to adopt the orphan lamb as her own. Come with me and I’ll show you how we do that.” The museum worker entered the shed.
“This is a lamb that was born but didn’t survive.” He began to cut the wool from the lifeless body. “We entice the childless mother to adopt an orphan lamb by convincing the mother that this is her lamb.” The worker handed me the piece of wool in his hand.
Popular teen novels -- will the mother lamb adopt the orphan baby lamb?
I rubbed the wool on the orphan lamb’s forehead and led the animal to the next stall. The mother sheep sniffed the lamb’s head and nursed the animal.
“It worked. She will take care of this baby now as if it was her own.” The worker closed the door of the pen behind us.
“You are similar to this lamb.” Mike leaned over the rail.
“In what way?” The fingers of my right hand brushed against Mike’s arm.
“You can be adopted by Jesus if you will believe in Him. I know that this doesn’t make sense to you now but we will go over some scripture passages later and then maybe you will understand.” Mike reached for my hand as we walked back to the van.
My stomach was upset and I placed my warm hands over it during the long drive. I felt the urge to throw up my lunch remembering the sight of all the dead lambs. My head was spinning from Mike’s words comparing me with the orphan lamb looking for its mother. I didn’t understand how my acceptance of Jesus into my life would make me feel loved and wanted. What did the love of Jesus have to do with my own father’s demonstration of love towards me? I felt dizzy and nauseous and wanted to lie down in my own bed.
After Mrs. Brille drove Mallory to her home, she called my parents and obtained their permission for me to stay and have dinner. During the meal, Mike and his mother explained their Messianic Jewish faith and beliefs to me. They gave me a small copy of the New Testament to take home and read. I wasn’t sure if accepting Jesus into my heart and asking forgiveness from Him for my sins was a good idea.
Popular teen novels often showcase the attraction two teens may have for each other.
It was getting late but Mike wanted to spend more time with me alone so he offered to walk home with me. He held my books and walked on the outside of the sidewalk near the street. Mike was someone who cared about my inner thoughts and dreams.
“Where is the olive branch I gave you this afternoon?” Mike took my arm in his.
“Here it is.” I took it out of the right pocket of my skirt.
“This branch represents where you stand with Jesus right now waiting to have a relationship with Him.” Mike grabbed the olive branch from my hand and waved it around.
“I believe in God.” I peered deeply into Mike’s hazel eyes.
Popular teen novels -- the invitation.
“Yes, I know but you should also believe in Jesus. Come visit us at Ohev Shalom then you will understand more.” Mike reached into his pocket and pulled out a piece of paper.
Sometimes one teen is introduced to a new idea in popular teen novels.
“I’m confused and not sure I understand.” I shrugged my shoulders and looked up at the stars in the sky.
“This is the address to Ohev Shalom, the Messianic congregation I attend with my mother. I belong to a youth group there and we usually meet in the afternoons. If you can get permission from your parents, I’d like you to come there with me.” Mike handed me the piece of paper he held in his hand.
“I don’t think that’s possible Mike. They will never let me go to a place of worship where the name of Jesus Christ is mentioned.” I sighed and looked down at the ground.
“You will find a way. I had fun with you today.” Mike brushed away a strand of hair from my eyes. “Goodnight Tamara.”
“See you in school.” I stood in front of my house for a long time after he had gone, mesmerized by the look in his hazel eyes.
Will Tamara accept Mike's invitation to attend Ohev Shalom in this one of popular teen novels? Find out in chapter four.
Historic sheep farm in New Jersey.