Our Journey Out Of Debt

It’s one o’clock in the morning. The incessant humming of mosquitoes fills the air. I’m flashing the torch around our room searching for the culprits that have succeeded in making sleep impossible. I’m wondering how we’ll survive a steamy summer with even more of these unwelcome visitors. "There must be a sign on this net, "All you can eat smorgasboard!"

My husband sleeps, blissfully unaware of the mozzie massacre that is about to take place. But as the battle begins, he sleepily joins in, "It’s them or us!" What started as frustration ends in riotous pandemonium as the children join in the battle. We laugh till our sides ache.

The humour lifted our hearts. It was like balm in what had become a difficult stretch of our journey as a family. Three months ago, desiring to escape the snare of debt, we moved from a ‘well appointed, well positioned’ home to what we describe as a ‘bare cave’ This 6 metre corrugated iron shed has become our home. There are few of the usual comforts: no toilet that flushes (we have an outhouse dunny), no stove, kitchen, bathroom, bedrooms or running water (we carry our water from a rainwater tank to supply kitchen water). We were told the previous tenants had even fewer conveniences, bless 'em!

In all these circumstances, we are learning to be resourceful. To make the load easier, I decided as part of our home-schooling program, to study the resourcefulness of our early pioneers. One characteristic of this period of history was ‘making do’. I find it helps to read stories of how others overcame hard situations. Our grandmothers learned to ‘make do’ in harsh circumstances. For example, if all a farm had was cauliflowers, they learned to cook cauliflowers in a variety of ways and learned to be grateful. Our life is much less difficult than the pioneers, but we could relate to many aspects of their lives.

We all sleep in one area of the shed, which is pretty cozy to say the least! Cupboards are placed in strategic spots to give privacy to dress. We ‘de-junk’ regularly to reduce storage needs. Each person has one small chest of drawers for basic clothing and we share the two cupboards for hanging clothes. A dollhouse serves as shoe shelves.

Some days I get discouraged. On one such day we were to inspect some carpet that we had been offered before deciding to bring it home. Amongst the rolls, a familiar pattern caught my eye. Discouragement faded as I realised that God had a special present for me – a pure wool Persian-style rug in tones that would perfectly match our home. (One of my home-making dreams was to have a Persian-style rug). When we placed it in our ‘lounge’ our ‘bare cave’ transformed into a ‘home’!

We carry our water from the rainwater tank wherever we need it. Our eldest son does most of the carrying when my husband is not here. One day both were out. I remembered that the Proverbs 31 woman makes her arms strong for the tasks she has to do. I worked out that with a little teamwork at the toughest part (the stairs), I could carry the 25-litre container myself.

Like pioneers we bathe in galvanized tubs in water by a 60-year-old copper. Jason, our eldest, built a ‘camp shower’. He used a 10 litre paint tin, nailed a number of holes in the base and strung it up to a pulley, so that we can lower it to fill and raise it to shower. He also spent a day building an enclosure around the shower for privacy. We now have a splendid 3-5 minute shower with a ‘skylight’ second to none!

Each season has its own challenges. Summer days here reach 38 degrees Celsius (or 100 F) with recent temperatures being a scorching 42c (108 F). Whenever it rains, our bathroom and yard become awash with mud. We almost have to wear gumboots in the shower. Our strategy with the heat is to get up early and finish major chores early. We fill our basins with tank water to stay cool and spend the day reading to each other under the house, join puzzles, finish our models of pioneer homes, do math, grammar and phonics, while the little ones play with rocks, until the sun sets.

Sometimes we have had to choose to "consider it all joy" whenever we face trials, even if they are in the form of snakes in your bedroom and kitchen! The work is hard and continuous but we have to keep in mind the ‘BIG PICTURE’. We want to be free of debt and to invest in our own land to pass down to our children.

We plan to make the most out of our ‘making do’ by learning skills which will help us to be less reliant on regular means of supply. We make soap, candles, bread in an outdoor clay and steel-drum oven (which cooks fourteen loaves of bread in one sitting), preserve fruit and vegetables, make quilts, woodwork and whatever else we can fit in.

A major benefit of this lifestyle of resourcefulness is that it banishes grumbling and ungratefulness. It’s commonplace to focus on what you don’t have instead of learning to be content with what you do have. The scripture says, "Godliness with contentment is great gain." To relax, the children sit beside the creek, pick mulberries in season, walk in the field, collect fire wood, tend the garden, ride bikes, read books, chop wood, fix things, sew, invent helpful gadgets to make life easier, play with Lego or Duplo, write letters, etc.

The peace in our home is increasing as the Prince of Peace is permitted to reign, and as we trust Him and cultivate faithfulness through simple acts of ‘making do’.

Oh! That’s right! We solved the mozzie problem! Jason put up some old mozzie nets at the door and window of one end of the shed, while Joanna placed lace pieces over the other window at the other end of the shed. We also spray above and below the beds and paint ourselves with "skin-sensitive’ Aerogard. Viola! No more midnight battles! Blissful sleep, hmmm…

KAREN McNEICE

Laidley, Queensland, Australia

Bruce and Karen have five children, Jason (13), Joanna (12), Danielle (10), Samuel (7) and Rachel (5). They are also pioneers in Home Schooling and with two other Home-schooling families have founded the Christian Academy of Life which has been serving families all over Australia.

 

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