Wednesday, June 12, 2013

My Traveling Laundry Day

Most of my life I have been blessed with laundry machines at my immediate disposal. On occasion they were coin operated machines within an apartment building but mostly they were machines in my own home.  Never before have i experienced the stages of dependency on and reasons for going without laundry facility like I have in the last eight months.

This has actually been my #2 question asked (tied with how do we shower) regarding our mobile ministry of the last 8 months.  Today I am here to answer!

Like I said, it has been stages.

FIRST it was learning to respectfully use someone else's machines and everything that meant like, "What does this nob do?" and working around other schedules.  One machine seemed to actually have more buttons and knobs then a 747!!

SECOND stage was camping laundry... which we actually had some familiarity with from back when we use to camp for fun and adventure (vs. living and survival!).  We did the typical; once the tent is pitched, run a clothes line for hanging towels and wet laundry left over if we ran out of quarters to dry!  One blessing: the laundry facilities were there at the campground.

THIRD stage was probably the worst, most humbling, and so-grateful-for experience:  living out of our car with no way to get to a laundry mat or shower.  A missionary's budget at that point = just enough money for gas so even if we could find a laundry mat, we didn't have much change for washing.  Praise be to God we only lived like that for a week, but my heart really ached for people who have to live like that all the time.  Standards of comfort were lowered... drastically... and appreciation for the even more simple was found. 

FOURTH stage was actually a step-up from car living... but not by far.  After trading our van for the RV we had no car for running around in.  Once we were parked in Phoenix, we didn't move (big city and, honestly, we thought we would break down if we tried... hence the miracle of our trip back north to Montana!!!)  One of the blessings in Phoenix- dry heat is quiet helpful on Laundry day! 

For our first few months we washed by hand and hung out to dry.  I can't begin to share some of the inner-family jokes we had about some of our laundry day adventures but I can tell you, this stage WILL fondly and laughingly be remembered by all family members for years to come! 

To save wear and tear on our clothes as well as our bodies (I didn't have a washboard so extra elbow-grease was needed) we would:
1.  Wear the same clothes for as many days as we could before it became apparent that washing was necessary.
2.  Shower with our clothes (not ON, but in the shower with us... this was especially helpful for undergarments which needed washing much more often... so grateful for the shower the Association put in at the office for us!!)
3.  Except ANY hand-me-downs we were offered because it expanded our wardrobe AND the amount of time we could go before washing was imperative.
4.  Keep church/dress up clothes SEPARATE.  They were only worn to church and then they were taken off and set aside.  Each of us had at least 2 changes of nice clothes at any given time so we could look presentable when necessary!

It sounds tiresome... it was.  It seems unbelievable to those of us who have grown use to wearing something once or twice then throwing it in the was crazy at first!  I had to dig DEEP DOWN into all the old depression era articles I had read... all the money savor tips I had heard.  And it worked!  We didn't get bugs, we weren't repulsive... we had ingenuity! 

FIFTH stage stepped up again... at least a little!  In the last two months of our time in Phoenix we had the ability to go to the laundry mat once a month.  This came by two blessings:  room in the budget for a roll of quarters each month AND a shopping cart!  Others in the area were seen pushing shopping carts to run errands, so we joined in on this adventure!  (I will explain next week how we came about it.... NO, we didn't take it from the store!!)  It was tremendously helpful and, while we couldn't always afford to dry ALL the laundry, it was nice to not have to hand wash it all!  We would still hang whatever we ran out of quarters to pop in the dryer.

LAST we are still waiting for a home but have been blessed with the use of other people's cars while we wait for God to direct us to our own.  Our laundry goes in the trunk and now that my husband is also working a regular job with a regular paycheck I can go to the laundry mat more often.  I still miss having my own washer but am grateful I don't have to walk it a mile to its destination or scrounge for the quarters and hang to dry (though hanging is still fun!).  We still, like most people, have to watch the budget and we still have a tricky shower/laundry situation so following steps 1-4 on wear-and-tear policy is imperative! But we get so many opportunities for interaction at a laundry mat.  I do enjoy it.  Besides, Jesus is SO worth it!

Life on Mission as a family is not always easy.  Whether the ministry is met with challenges or the day-to-day house-wifery duties need to take a creative turn... it is an adventure for the Kingdom worth doing again and again!

I pray you are truly and deeply thankful for the amenities  you have and that your heart is open to sacrifices for the King that His Kingdom might come through you and radical steps taken to follow Him wherever it leads!


Last week I shared about the #1 asked question of mobile ministry: "How do you cook?"  You can read my answer in the article, My Traveling Kitchen

 Also linking up with some of these

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Monthly Vlog, Overcoming and Psalm 46

It has been more than a month since I last Vloged .  Today I felt led to share a word which has been on my heart lately about the trials and potential celebrations for victory when we are battling hurt, depression and standing up for Truth...

Psalm 46 

1 God is our refuge and strength, 
a very present help in trouble.  
2 Therefore we will not fear,
 though the earth should change, 
though the mountains shake 
in the heart of the sea; 
  3 though its waters roar and foam, 
though the mountains tremble with its tumult. 

4 There is a river whose streams 
make glad the city of God, 
the holy habitation of the Most High.  
5 God is in the midst of the city; 
it shall not be moved;
 God will help it when the morning dawns.  
6 The nations are in an uproar, 
the kingdoms totter; 
he utters his voice, the earth melts. 
  7 The Lord of hosts is with us
the God of Jacob is our refuge

  8 Come, behold the works of the Lord; 
see what desolations he has brought on the earth.  
9 He makes wars cease to the end of the earth; 
he breaks the bow, and shatters the spear;
 he burns the shields with fire.  
10 "Be still, and know that I am God!
 I am exalted among the nations, I am exalted in the earth." 
  11 The Lord of hosts is with us; 
the God of Jacob is our refuge.  

 (copied from the NRSV, emphasis added)

I could write and speak for hours on Psalm 46... such power in this passage.  I pray you will find refuge in this Psalm and in the Lord of hosts when the world is too heavy on your shoulders.


 Also linking up with some of these

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

My Traveling Kitchen

As we have traveled, one of the most frequently asked questions (usually from women) is How do you cook?  Cooking on the road has had its challenges.  I have always found adventure in campsite cooking... but when you live it for 7 months straight.... well, it is still adventure, but of a different kind.  I think I will be giddy as a school girl when we find ourselves in a house again AND with our kitchen essentials out of storage!!!  But we have managed.

Learning to cook in someone else's kitchen for the year-and-a-half prior to our outreach had its challenges.  They didn't always have the "tools" I was use to.  But at least they had running water and everything right there.  A contrast to what we have had for parts of September and consistently since December:

- camp fires

 - camp stove

- NO cooking source
 - small hotel microwaves (when we were broke down in Nashville for 10 days and when we were waiting out Isaac in Jackson, MO)

- church kitchens (somewhat luxurious but I have to cart my things in and out each time)

 - slow cooker

OK, that last one isn't too foreign.  I LOVED my slow cooker when I had MY kitchen once upon a long time ago.  Can I just say that a slow cooker has been a life-saver in an old RV with no working stove?  Especially while driving... we can throw dinner in the pot, drive to our destination, sit back with a nice warm meal in the evening.

So how do we do it?

First, we plan.  Everywhere we have stayed has had some sort of ebb-and-flow.  We learn what it is and work around it.  If you can't be pliable... you won't make it!  (That first 4 months living under someone else's roof really paid off!)  Whether it is budgeting left-overs to throw into the crock pot or boiling hot dogs once a week (not my fave).  We not only had to accommodate plans of others if we had access to church facilities but we also had to watch the weather for those days when camp stove cooking might be our only option. 

Second, we think outside the box.  Ever baked a cake in a slow cooker?  Ever fried burgers for 5 in a pan that only holds 2?  Ever make pork fried rice with left overs and a borrowed skillet over an open fire? Ever washed dishes with no running water?  It can all be done with patience, research and even some good-ole ingenuity.  We have had to be willing to try new things, not get upset if they fail, and laugh at the process.  We have let go of what seems 'normal' and realized: we are so spoiled in even the simple things in this country.  We can truly make due with far less than we realize... even when cooking!

Able to do a small batch of cut-out cookies in Pecos, TX at a church during Christmastime. Carried them down the road with us to Phoenix and frosted them at our small table with tin cups for holding-food color added-store-bought frosting.

Third, we recall regularly that we are not alone.  Not only is God with us, but I am reminded how my feelings of being overwhelmed or weary or tiered of another night of make-shift cooking are shared by my family too.  I am so grateful for the small things, we celebrate simplicity, laugh a lot and seek each day to love each other with total abandonment.  What does that have to do with cooking?  EVERYTHING when meals are simple and favorites are missing from the table.  No home-made pizza, no Sunday evening pie, no home-made bread, no four and five course dinners, rarely hot lunches or breakfasts (unless it is oatmeal packets or hot water in canned soup).  We all grow weary but we are reminded: food is simply nourishment in any form.  Our mission is greater than our favorite dishes lined out each night.

In the end, we seemed to have formed better team-work in and around the production and clean up of meals during this trip and tight quarters than we ever had before in a big house with all the amenities.  We are closer not just to God (though that is the greatest part!) but to each other as the result of our traveling kitchen!

My only regret?  That I didn't have accessibility regularly enough to share all the great recipes as I cooked them!!  But I can still post them :-)

May all your cooking adventures be just that:  adventures and may they nourish more than your body.


 Also linking up with some of these

Monday, June 3, 2013

Vistas to Behold

We had just left Las Vegas, Nevada... the drive around, not the visit, and I was knitting peacefully on the 'couch' as the RV puttered along making the eastward trek where we expected to dip across the corner of Arizona one more time and then up into Utah where we would begin searching for a place to pull in and sleep for the night.

So dip, we did, into the northwest corner of Arizona, our last hello/goodbye to this state which had been 'home' for over 4 months. I let myself get lost in my knitting figuring a day-long drive through the desert and mountains had become redundant - knitting dish rags seemed more interesting!

Then came the scramble and the squeals... the unexpected treat that was ours....

At first everywhere I looked was rock face.  My husband called for me to grab the camera.... are you getting pictures of this??  After missing any chance of seeing the Grand Canyon from the typical vantage point we had stumbled into the 'back end' of it when we dipped into the corner of Arizona.  We have been told by natives that it is not "technically" the Grand Canyon but that it is a jewel which does sit within the park's technical boundaries.

It took some time in my scramble before I could capture pictures worth sharing.  We wound down...down...down, meeting with canyon bottom and practically sea level before we began the ascent out.

One bend beheld caves in cliffs and another... mountain and cliff vistas in the not-so-far distance.

It was breath-taking and after our unexpected steep-climb out of the Hoover Dam area, it was a welcome retreat to a slice of south-western heaven.

Today, on Group 412, I blogged about those mountain climbs.  And while the simplicity of these pictures is the sheer beauty and reward of our obedience to take the path less traveled which God ordained... the spiritual side is the perseverance and joy we find in climbing those mountains... whether expected or unexpected... which God allows before us.

Check out my article, Scaling Mountains, and remember:  God is with us on this road we travel.  Turn to Him, trust Him, rely on Him and he will make your paths straight!


 Also linking up with some of these