When Edith Glei daydreamed about her future as a child, she always pictured herself serving Christ faithfully … just not in the same way Christ envisioned. “I always thought I was going to be a missionary,” says Glei, but her faith-directed path took her in another direction.

“I found myself in a kindergarten classroom. That was my place to serve and to be there for children who didn’t know Christ. I will always remember the year I had parents who came into my classroom and said, ‘What can we pray for this week for you and your children?’ And for me, that was just one of the best years I ever had because I had praying parents behind me.”

Any time she could, Edith also sought out opportunities to serve her community, which fit well with the family business. In addition to her teaching career, Glei was behind the scenes supporting her husband, David, and the family business: Glei’s Orchard in Hillsdale, Mich.

Glei’s was established in 1918 by Alma Glei and her son, Carl. The 40-acre farm began with 50 apple trees and slowly expanded to 100 acres of apple trees when Carl married Ruth Haskins [David’s parents] in 1929.

That greenhouse quickly grew to include more buildings and cultivated land as the Glei’s Orchard expanded over the years en route to serving the community as a premier orchard. Glei’s has since expanded to over 300 acres, including more than two acres of greenhouses.

While the family business has been fruitful for the Gleis over the years, the business and the family have endured their fair share of struggles and heartache. “We had our first fire [in 1990] and it was pretty devastating. And yet, we had to praise God that nobody was hurt; it was property that was taken,” says Glei. In addition to the1990 fire, in 2007, the business survived a second fire.

“The challenge of that particular fire, for me, was that David was in Detroit.” David often traveled to pick up produce for the company. Trying to locate him in an era that pre-dated the prevalent use of cell phones proved to be a challenge.

The Gleis rotated help so that everybody was able to work and keep insurance. “You hear about how employers are not taking care of their employees, but that was something we were very mindful of as far as our employees were concerned.”

“So challenges? Yes. But God worked through it all. No one was hurt. And in February when our son was married, we went to Georgia, came home and the [replacement] building was already in progress. By Easter we were back in business.”

Glei credits her years at Spring Arbor for cultivating her faith. “Spring Arbor’s concept has always supported that God is in your life and by keeping God first, he keeps your path straight,” says Glei, who received financial help to attend in the 1950s.

“He [God] just allows you to grow and your faith becomes stronger. You begin to step out in new areas and begin to do things. I know within the church, I never thought that I would become a Christian education director,” says Glei.

“The older we get, the more I am depending on him to give guidance for the steps that he would have me to go. Sometimes it’s hard to sit and be quiet, but I’m finding that I have to listen for what God wants out of me and what he wants for me in the community that I’m living in.

“I want to be ready and waiting in this world for who might need our help or might need encouragement,” says Glei.

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