Although Regina's family didn't farm, as a young girl, she too looked forward to summer visits on her grandparents' farm in Pennsylvania. She has vivid memories of animals, a root cellar filled with jewel toned preserved fruits and vegetables and a long lane on which she and her brother were sent to retrieve the mail. She and Brent knew each other as children. They were neighbors and attended the same small Mennonite church where Regina's father was a lay pastor. After Brent returned from Bangladesh, he started his own large market garden and farm stand. He and Regina rediscovered each other when she returned from living and working in Boston and love blossomed.
Brent and Regina were married in 1993, with plans to volunteer again with the Mennonite Central Committee, this time in a tiny village called Bitkine in Chad, West Africa.
Regina says, "We were asked to establish a small scale agriculture demonstration plot to create farming opportunities for young people. Bitkine was a village of several thousand people 8 hours from the capital. We learned a lot from our half acre garden including humility, as we realized how much we didn't know about arid climate gardening or the tools and techniques."
Nevertheless, they persisted, and worked on demonstrating how to grown onions and garlic as seed for other farmers. They shared family life with a Chadian family that had seven children.
"In the rural villages in a country as vast as Chad, no police forces or government agencies exist. People rely on tribal structures that have existed for centuries. Millet is the primary grain crop in Chad, and the potential exists for substantial loss at planting and at harvest by large flocks of birds. These losses are tempered by the Chef de Terre, who determines the day of planting and the day of harvest. In this way no one person suffers severe losses. Without millet a family cannot eat and has nothing to sell with which to purchase additional food or essentials at the market. There is a realization that the good of the whole is more important that the good of the individual."
Indeed, this seems to be a cornerstone of the Beidlers' perspective.
Regina and Brent returned from Chad in 1996, with little materially, but with a wealth of faith. They were fortunate to reunite with friends Bob and Beth Kennett, a Vermont dairying couple who provided them jobs and a home. During their two years with the Kennetts, Brent and Regina raised fifteen heifers, which formed the base of their own dairy herd. In 1997, The Kennetts also helped them to find the farm of their dreams. "It all came together beautifully." Remembers Brent. In May of 1998, they spent the first night on their own farm. They were finally home.