tmp_27853-0710160941-694000688Everything was washed and nearly dry from the last storm,  and then we were hit with another. The tents may be salvageable with the some gorilla tape.

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Everyone is staying in the Yurt until we get the Hogan (storm shelter / kids’rooms) built. We are breaking down pallets (Big Guy invented an upgrade to a tool that Papa had found on YouTube and upgraded the first design while we were still Out West before the first adventure in The Great North.) Big Guy is getting pretty good at breaking them down quickly into lumber.  Big Girl takes them to Papa to have the nails ground off.  We’re getting quite a pile started.

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Today, we’re taking a break from pallet wood, though. Some trees came down in the storm last night, and Papa & Big Guy are getting them untangled with the chain saw & come-along.

The rest of us are  hanging out wet things to drip dry until we can get them through the dryer. Two more storms tonight and tomorrow night. We’re thinking fond thoughts of grain bins as a less expensive alternative to shipping containers.  Our little nest egg went pretty fast, with a few weeks off of paying work to drive here and repair & clean the yurt, so we’re saving up to buy them now. Thankfully, Hubby has work here already, which he can do as soon as weather permits.

Meanwhile, we are all healthy and doing well. Keep praying. We know that we are all dependent on the next miracle. It just feels more “real” when we are so close to the elements, and removed from the monthly paycheck. The miracle of not being laid off is probably just as poignant for a lot of folk. Maybe it’s all about perspective. We work and pray, and watch for where our next step is directed.

 

We so appreciate all of your prayers and support! “Living the dream” has its ups & downs, and it’s so good to feel all of you cheering us on.

We arrived in plenty of time on Friday to get the Yurt ready for Erev Shabbat… We had been looking forward all winter to our very own home. At 150 sq ft, with 6 occupants last summer, it was a bit tight, but at least it’s ours. We don’t owe the bank for it, and it works quite well for several months. This year, we thought we’d spend the first night in it, and then add an extra tent for more sleeping space (the kids didn’t shrink over winter) until we get the Hogan ( storm shelter /bedrooms for kids, made of pallet wood & sign tarps) built. Hence, that tent was at the bottom of the packing when we discovered that our “very own” Yurt had been borrowed for the winter in our absence.

Mice are opportunistic critters. Everything that wasn’t sealed (including our mattress)  was a dump fee in place of an amenity.

That first night, we were doubly thankful for friends who had thought to send tent gifts with us from Out West. We were also very aware that there are reasons why people our age don’t often voluntarily sleep on the ground.

A week and a half later, the insulation has been removed, the floor & walls cleaned, resurfaced and sealed, and the sites of invasion repaired. Hubby is amazing! The trailer is unloaded and its contents are in a makeshift garage made of shelving and sign tarps. The kids have really been incredible.

We had beautiful weather for it, and for cleaning the boys’ tent, when we found a straggler. There’s been a drought here, which is frightening for farmers here, but also means working weather for us: no rain and fewer mosquitoes and ticks this year. (Lovin’ that!)

So we were all tucked in tonigot when it finally started to rain… Two inches in just an hour. Both tents leaked badly, and the Yurt had a small leak as well. All six of us in 150 sq ft again… As the kids say, “Slumber party with Mom & Da!”

Life really is good. Warm & relatively dry, and fed healthy food.We have children who are in touch with what is truly valuable. I have a family who believe in our team and in our Provider, because we’ve seen the miracles repeatedly as we walk the Ancient Paths. They are optimistic that YHWH will provide agin. It’s a different kind of wealth.

I planted heirloom zucchini and cold-hardy lavender ( tick repellent). A few seeds went in for a veggie garden of Egyptian Walking Onions and Collards (Real Food!) yesterday. Just before the storm. Maybe the next miracles are beginning to form.

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The mind of man plans his way, but YHWH directs his steps.

Proverbs 16:9

As stated in our post from this winter,  our plans didn’t pan out as expected. AND there were reasons why.

Two friends began chemotherapy this Spring. The tools I have to offer are not always conveniently packaged into a standard office visit. It requires intimate understanding of the total picture of the patients’  lives.

I am honored to know these friends so intimately,  and further honored to have been included among their resources. It would have been impossible to have served as intensively from such a distance as The Great North. We were kept there longer so that we could serve, and so that we could be blessed immeasurably.

When we initially arrived,  we were in shock. The house we were promised was unliveable, with mold, sewer gas, and deteriorating carpet in every breath. Once, it truly had been a “great house,” but it wasn’t the reality we experienced at 2 AM when we pulled in. Two months ( and seven moves) later, we were blessed with a home for the  Spring that worked beautifully.  It came complete with a lovely housemate, and we were grateful for several opportunities to serve her as well. The timing was exactly right for all concerned.

If we had been able to keep the original arrangement,  we’d have been headed back to The Great North a few months sooner, which wouldn’t have allowed us to be there for so many friends who needed us in so many ways. It also wouldn’t have allowed for time to receive the depth and expanse of generosity from so many friends who gave time, practical goods, health tools, and other gifts for our family.

Timing is everything. It’s good to know One Who stands outside of time and space, directing our steps, no matter what we have so “responsibly” planned.

Shalom, All, from a tent back in The Great North! (explanation of what happened to the Yurt in the next blog)

Blessings,

Yochanna

 

When we arrived here two months ago, we’d put everything we had (and then some) into working on the homestead all summer. We had… *still have* a vision for being self-sustaining and independent, with a healthy level of interdependence and greater capacity for tzedakah (giving / justice) and tikkun ha olam (healing the world). We came back here to rest, to recover, and to build a nest egg to be able to go back and complete that task. The trip back wasn’t easy, but we were blessed with multiple miracles along the way, and we finally made it. When we arrived, we found that the promised “great house for the winter” could not offer us breathable air.

“Pachad,” or fear, is not knowing where you’ll put your children to bed at night, or what you’ll feed them, or if you’ll survive to continue to care for them long enough for them to learn how to take care of themselves. I’ve felt that kind of fear. It can readily give rise to anger at the very real and very rigged game that has been played to oppress those who weren’t born into a lineage of people who have worked closely with politicians and CEO’s for generations to secure their continued privilege and dominion. It is not by accident that wages have not really risen since the 1970’s, or that the price of food and housing and sick care have more than tripled.

Basic needs are three times as expensive, while income has remained stagnant. Those who own stocks in banks do not want the vacant housing to be put back on the market. That would cause housing prices to plummet back down to where people could actually afford a home, rather than scraping and scratching for money they can barely sustain for a few years, only to have that money lost to the bank when the home is repossessed, where it sits and rots, becoming an unhealthy environment until the bank deems the market to have “recovered” sufficiently to put it back up for sale again. The next buyer (or renter) who lives there is then oppressed not only by the high price of housing, but also by the health ramifications of sick housing. The diseases caused by mold, formalin gas released from moisture-compromised particleboard, or whatever other issues the structure may have, send the tenants or “homeowners” to the doctor. The doctor, being “the only choice for an educated person” for health care will then write them a prescription to medicate the symptoms of the “incurable” disease. Those prescriptions translate directly into money for big pharma, the majority of whose stocks are owned by the same trillionaires who own the majority of the bank stocks.  While all of these concerns are real, it’s also depressing and debilitating to focus on that reality for too long. That kind of fear can kill from the inside just as quickly as from the outside. In Hebrew, “Pachad,” or dread. The letters spelling the word are as follows:

Pey: The open mouth, signifying break, eat, open

Chet: The tent wall: separation, division

Dalet: The tent door: moving in & out

The next miracle arrived the next morning, being offered a room in our Hebrew teacher’s home, just as her son was moving the last of his things out, was a door out of Pachad and into Yare. I will not say that I am forever and perfectly changed to recognize Pachad (the lower-level fear) as only a door to see the awe in the other side of the miracle from behind the veil. I’m just not that highly-developed yet. I still get angry at “the system” that makes money off of demoralizing human beings here and abroad. I still have all of the lower-level instincts of survival to contend with. Some of that its functional, in that it drives us to continue to work to provide for our families, and to fight against oppression and evil in high places by making what buying choices we do have wisely. Oppressing the Chinese children by purchasing slave-labor-built toys for ours serves neither their physical good nor our personal development, but it’s also abhorrent on the level where we do not want to support the same trillionaires who own the petroleum / plastics / toys corporations. Allowing our children to make their own toys out of recycled materials serves their personal development and teaches them honor for the earth we’ve been given, as well as for the children in China, in whom they now feel invested. Our lower-level pachad is soothed by knowing that, in some small way, we’ve refused to contribute that mite to their power to oppress.

“Yare” is a different kind of “fear.” It’s better-translated “Awe.”

Yud: The arm: strength, administrative authority

Resh: The head: Leadership, top

Aleph: The ox’s head: strong, first, authority

This form of “fear” or “Awe” is all about doing something good in the world, leading with the head and putting our strength into functional administration of the empowerment we feel, knowing that we are provided for by the Almighty. We stand in AWE of the Source of our strength, so we implement it for function and for tikkun ha olam, out of respect for the One who gave it.

May our Yare be stronger than the Pachad, and may the Pachad we do experience only serve to open that “tent door” toward the Yare beyond it.

L’Shalom,

–Yochanna.

 

 

 

I’ve always loved the quote, “Wealth is not his who has it, but his who enjoys it.” We are blessed with a variety of wealth in our lives right now.  May those who have helped to build it be blessed richly with the enjoyment of what they have, and with greater abundance!

By the time we winterized the property in November, we had hot and cold running water, (Huge thanks to my brother, who helped us out when Hubby’s knee injury would have prevented our being able to afford the water tanks and a few other necessities!!!)  a functional driveway (with drainage system) up the cliff to the building site, electricity, a hot water heater, washer / dryer, and an insulated, 150 square foot yurt with in-floor, twig-powered heating in which we all slept. Yes, we were still living in a “tent,” but we were warm (even down to 22 degrees at night!) and dry and well-fed, breathing cleaner air than we’d experienced in 13 years living in “normal” housing.

The water was still outdoors, so yes, we accepted the job landscaping a home to improve the sale value in the spring in trade for winter housing in the area where clients were still calling Hubby to come back & do projects. The homeowner / client assured us over the phone that the house was “very nice” and “mold free.” This is very important to us, as we had lived in a house with mold once, and had some pretty major health issues as a result.  It seemed like the most sensible thing to do.

We’d had a miracle car wreck a few days before Rosh Hashana in the Shmitta Year, in which no one was hurt, and the insurance company owed us nearly the entire price we’d paid in work-trade for the minivan. We owned it free & clear the month before the big move to the Frozen North. We’re so thankful for a dent in the back end, which we refrained from fixing in order to pay for other car repairs that couldn’t be put off, as well as gas & KOA cabins to get back across country for the winter job. The timing of it was beautiful: deliverance in the Year of Release!

The day before we left town, we met a family who offered help in the groundwork for the garage / shop / “first house.” They’d moved to the area about 8 years before, and remembered the challenges they’d faced. We’re thankful for their memory and friendship, and are looking forward to their help in the spring. They also sent us off with parting gifts to make the journey easier. Praise YHWH for kindness from so many amazing people this summer & fall!!!

On the way across country, we had the ONLY bad experience we’ve ever had at a KOA, where the cabins are located right next door to a feed lot. We all were getting sick within 20 minutes of our arrival there at 1 AM, so we packed up and went to a hotel for the night. It “just happened” that there was a guy staying the same night in the same hotel from the little town in the Frozen North about 15 miles from the land. He had “just happened” to see Hubby’s van, and recognized it in the parking lot. We chatted with him for a while, and he asked us to give him a call when we get back, as he’d like to help us with the build!!!

The next day, after visiting with Hubby’s uncle, we were gifted an extra night in a hotel so that we could thoroughly rest on the Shabbat. We are so grateful to the kind folk who own the hotel!

In spite of having had both the service van and trailer brakes checked professionally before we left, they both had issues going down the passes, so we stopped again and were held over an extra day: two more nights in a hotel at the next town (where most of my family live), and more of Hubby’s time fixing them with a friend (thank you for all your help!). It “just happened” that some of my relatives had been out of town, and we would have missed them entirely if we’d not been delayed the extra days. A gift from my grandparents covered the extra expense of the hotel (thank you again!).

Traveling across the next two states was relatively uneventful, but then the alternator went out on the service van. Apparently, that’s something that’s likely to happen around this point in the mileage on that vehicle. We were in the mountains in the middle of nowhere when it went out, but we “just happened” to not have been able to sell one of the batteries from when we were still on generator at the homestead. We’d packed it, and it fit the service van. A kind gas station owner allowed us to plug in the charger & charge the other battery so that we’d have a back-up to get us to the next town, in which we found the right part in stock, and got it installed. We were delayed a while that day, but we hoped not to have to pay for another hotel or KOA that night, as we’d spent most of what we had from the miracle car wreck on the pre-trip repairs, gas, KOA’s & hotels, brakes & alternator already. We drove until 2 AM, and finally pulled into the “very nice” house we’d been promised over the phone.

Well… it was probably “very nice” at some point in the not-too-distant past. It was about 3,000 square feet… but NOT home. So we packed the kids back into the vans, and found a hotel room with very nearly the last of our money.

The next morning, I called up our synagogue administrator, Hebrew teacher, and friend to ask if she would put an ad in the weekly newsletter to let folks know we’re looking for housing. I never got to that question. She told us to come right over, as her son had just moved out, and she was not looking forward to the “empty nest.” So we checked out of the hotel, and landed in her son’s old bedroom as he was moving the last of his things out. If we hadn’t been delayed by so many car repairs, we’d have been here too early for the room to have been available. We wound up renting the room from her for a month. Praise YHWH for unexpected hiccups in our plans, and for her kindness!

More miracles since then… but I need to stop for now. Love to you all, and thank you for your prayers and blessings and support! We are truly wealthy people!

L’Shalom,

–Yochanna.

It seems like the blessings are coming in as minor miracles lately.

Another Jewish family in the “Land Of No Jews.”

A tallit (Jewish Prayer Shawl) in the thrift shop for 50% off, and the lady at the register had been waiting for us to come in & tell her what it was– in the town of only 2 Jewish families.

A dead generator traded for a working washing machine from a guy who “just happens” to have a new engine so that the generator will run for him!

TWO large water tanks! (Running water, here we come!!!)

A loan sufficient to buy the second water tank and take care of bills that piled up when the truck needed repairs and S. hurt his knee. (May He Who Causes to Exist bless!)

A tripple stainless steel sink (something I’d been drooling over for a few years, as it’s more efficient for us than a dishwasher!) , a few hallogen lamps, an outdoor heater, lumber,a coffee table, electrical cable, and too many more gifts to mention from friends of friends and strangers from Craigslist.

The kitchen is moved over next door to the yurt site, and across the driveway from the refrigerator & freezer. A much shorter hike between the two.

Yurt (gifted to us by a kind neighbor who used to build them!) was set up last night! Looking forward to moving in this week.

So many “little things” just fall exactly into place– just enough of a particular size of pallet wood to be ripped into flooring. Just enough of a dozen other provisions at just the right time!

Venison and grass-fed beef gifts just when groceries were getting tight.

So thankful!

Miracles raining down on us.

Learning not to have a pre-conceived notion of what provision “should” look like.

S. applied for a job. The phone quit ringing the first week of school here (it always does). Frightening in a new area, though, and with winter coming, and a house to build fast. Phone started ringing again, though. Work lined up for next week.

Neighbor took S, J, H, & E fishing while K & I did laundry.  At least 2 or 3 good meals of fish in the fridge from that one catch in an afternoon.

Good experiences for kiddos.

Gotta go feed the natives. They’re working hard.

Will fill in pix when I can get a minute in town with good internet.

Love to all of you.

–Yochanna.

Yesterday, we spent a “severe thunderstorm” (did NOT turn into a tornado warning: just a “watch🙂 in our tent, watching The Little Engine That Could. “I think I can, I think I can…”
The wind is blowing at 37 mph right now. There are no tornado warnings, and it isn’t raining. It’s chilly. The locals are in short sleeves and jeans. I’m wearing a winter coat / parka. It’s August, and in the 50’s today. I’m told it’s “unseasonably cold.” Hmmm…
We bought a hot water heater, a freezer, and a toaster oven, all very inexpensively, second-hand. We had power installed here to run everything. It “just happened” to be *just in time, days and hours after the generator and the inverters both died, respectively.
The people who installed the power were very kind, and dislodged some “large-ish pebbles” that were blocking the driveway from being wide enough to get a container up the hill. They’re neatly deposited on the downhill side, now supporting the structure of the driveway, and making a lovely entry.
A neighbor used to build yurts, and has one from a few years back, which needs some major cleaning, but should keep us housed for a few months longer than the tents. He’s donating it to the cause.
A client has gifted a refrigerator, hotplate, and toaster oven, as they’re clearing out “schtuff” from their recent move.
Some people S bumped into have offered volunteer labor to help with the construction.
We’ve been given some windows and a glass door, and the local Habitat for Humanity has offered more materials, once we can bring pix of a building site in progress.
A gentleman in town has gifted some lumber to us. Some of it will be useful for walls, and some would make great beams.
Another neighbor has offered more pallets (aka wood / building materials).
Some people we met last night at the neighbor’s outdoor concert offered tarps from their sign-making business. They’re large, thick tarps, which will make beautiful roofing. We had just bought some tarps from a sign company a few miles north of here. Free is so much easier on the budget, which is already strapped.
Some friends from back “home” sent some natural mosquito bite ointment as well as netting. We’re missing all of our friends / “family” out there. We have a beautiful community here, and we’re feeling welcomed and loved already. It’s good to find friends and support so far from the people we love so much.
Thank you to all of you who have kept in contact with letters and photos! We’re finding that it’s a full-time job for all hands to keep us functioning in tent life, but our hearts are with you, and we’re grateful for the encouraging words and support you’re all sending. May Yah bless you all richly!
We’re so thankful for so many people who have donated and offered so much!
We thought we’d found a spring, and started digging today, but it turned out to be a damp spot on the surface. We’ll need to go deeper to get to good water, which will take renting machinery. That’s a bummer.
We’ve been spending ‘way too much on quarters for the laundromat. Running water is a priority right now. We’ve hit a few hiccups along the way, a few highlights are a molded tent, Stephen’s knee injury, a major vehicle repair that we weren’t expecting, and a lost day of work waiting for it to be fixed. The major budget buster, though, is the lack of running water. We’re spending too much at the laundromat and on gas to get back & forth to town to do it.
Today S gets paid from a job he’s been working on through the knee injury. Praise Yah, it’s getting better with Arnica, Aconitum, and Great Mender.
Yesterday, we rested, letting the richness and abundance of the Shabbat sink in. It’s good to find space to be thankful and celebrate what does exist. There’s sanity and grounding in the rhythm that the Shabbat gives us. I don’t remember who to credit with the quote, but, “More than the Jewish people have kept the Sabbath, the Sabbath has kept the Jewish people.”
Shalom, ‘yall, from the Frozen North.
–Yochanna.

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