“Life was like a Missionary Bootcamp”

In my teens I often imagined that God had put me on the homestead as preparation for a call to a primitive mission field. I read missionary biographies and marveled at the similarities and how familiar their daily routines sounded to me. My life was like Missionary Boot Camp:

  • Hauling water, gathering fuel for cooking fires, learning to cook and eat whatever the woods or garden produced felt like a semester in “Bush Life Basics”. (Jerusalem artichokes, squirrel meat, our common lunch of beans and rice always reminded me of missionary food.)
  • Conserving electricity, learning to start a generator, hauling jugs of fuel by hand, and having to close my book after the sun set was all in the course “Living Off-Grid 101”.
  • Using a latrine, wearing the same outfit for a week at a time to save laundry, and learning to bathe my entire body (including washing my hair) with 2 gallons of water (which I hauled from the spring and heated over a fire I started myself with wood I sawed by hand!) got me extra credit in “Wilderness Practicality”.

Little did I realize, all this was actually training for “My Life as a Trailer-Park Landlord’s Wife”. This became abundantly clear to me last week…

I was half-way through boiling noodles for dinner, and was trying to light a second burner to make the cheese-sauce when I realized I was out of gas.

It was 5:30 on a Saturday evening. We wouldn’t be able to get more fuel till Monday.

The first thing I did was to grab my pot of boiling noodles and transfer it outside to the side burner on our grill. I had to wait for the noodles to finish cooking before I could use the burner to make the cheese sauce, but we still ate dinner before 6. Meanwhile, Jeremy, who’d been tiling in the remodeled office all day, took the chance to shower before the hot water in the gas-heated hot water tank cooled off. I planned on getting my shower in later when the water would most likely still be tepid. I was so warm from running up and down out of the bus to add ingredients and stir my dinner, a cool shower actually sounded quite appealing. (and, due to Missionary Boot Camp, I’d had plenty of them already).

After dinner I confess I decided to ignore the problem temporarily. I piled the dishes in the sink and went out to enjoy the twilight on our front stoop with my husband and my inlaws, watching the kids ride their bikes in front of our lot. (simple, trailer-park pleasures, dontchaknow).

An hour later I realized the predicament I was in. The kids were tired, filthy, and it was Sunday tomorrow. How was I going to get us all clean enough for church (let alone their beds) and get the kitchen clean and make something for breakfast without hot water or a stove? I stood in front of my sink and confess to a few frustrated tears before Homestead Girl kicked in. I proclaimed, out loud, “I can do this!” and set to.

Claire got a chilly rinse off in the shower, but that whole tepid shower thing wasn’t going over well with the children, so I gathered towels and p.j.’s and went across the yard to my in-laws camper where my MIL kindly shared their scanty hot water supply so I could bathe the boys. I got the kids all put to bed by 8:30, then I filled my biggest pot with water and put it on the grill burner to heat for dishwater.

The bus grew quiet as everyone else went to bed and fell asleep. I tidied the bus, made a plan for a breakfast that could be baked in the toaster oven, checked my email on Jeremy’s phone, and finally my dishwater was ready. I washed the dishes, wiped down all surfaces to discourage a sugar ant invasion overnight, and headed to the bathroom with a dishpan of hot water to give myself a sponge bath (Not just for invalids anymore! Conserves water! Effective and refreshing!)

Finally I took advantage of the quiet and read a few pages in my book before turning out my 8-volt battery bedroom light and falling asleep to the hum of the air conditioner in my cozy little bedroom in the back of the bus, grateful for my training which made the evening’s challenge a familiar routine.

P.S. I I’m just wrapping up my lastest newsletter and I think you’ll love it…sign up in my sidebar so you don’t miss it (because I have no idea how to share the back issues with you lol).

13 responses to ““Life was like a Missionary Bootcamp””

  1. Jessica @ Muthering Heights Avatar

    You are a regular pioneer! 😀

  2. Erin Avatar

    Love it Trina! Life in the trailer park… making do or doing without… Bliss! :]

  3. Wendi Avatar

    A friend shared your blog with us because we live in Alabama. We are going to be in the Oxford area on Wednesday and would love to visit with you. We live on family farm and grow things naturally. You can email me and we can talk.

  4. Jess Avatar

    Oh man…what can you do but just carry on 🙂

  5. Sandra at Thistle Cove Farm Avatar

    Been there,
    Done that,
    Don’t want to go back.
    You GO girl!

    1. Trina Avatar

      really, Sandra? Sounds like you have a story, too!

  6. KarieLee Avatar

    Oh Trina! I had to laugh, because we’re camping and this was my story last night! Our elec went off and um yeah, sponge bath was on the menu. : )
    Fortunately I found a shower today. But yes, I had to put on my ‘big girl undies’ and deal with evening meal (snacks) and bedtime routine by the light of a hand wind-up little lantern. (so glad I grabbed it last minute when we went out the door.)
    I was raised in the boy scouts (my parents were den leaders for the small group of boys), and their ‘Always be prepared’ motto comes in handy!
    Blessings on your adventure, and hurrah for passing around your contagious good attitude! : D

    1. Trina Avatar

      Yup. Big Girl Undies are a necessity for every camp mom. Hooray for your ingenuity! LOL

  7. Natasha Avatar

    As someone who has been hauling water from the barn to the house to wash dishes for, uhm, what six months now? I understand. (and am ever so thankful for the large water heater that is-not-broken in the barn.)

  8. Rachel Avatar

    Wow, kudos to you! Nothing causes my resolve to melt into a puddle of tears like a lack of hot water (ashamed, but it is true). Isn’t it rough being the mom? I oftentimes find the realization dawning upon me- “I’m the mom now. I guess its my responsibility to take care of this…hmm.”

  9. Mandy Avatar

    Yeah…I wouldn’t have handled this so gracefully. I think I would have run to the store for baby wipes and wiped us all down or something!

  10. Diane Avatar

    Girl, you are an inspiration! I confess that I would have been nothing more than a basket of of can’ts and won’ts about 2 minutes after I lost the use of that second burner, lol. I love how you not just scraped through with the bare necessities but YOU EVEN CHECKED YOUR EMAIL! You go girl:)

  11. Shannon Coe Avatar

    I love it when a woman keeps going when the familiar is yanked out from under her!

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