The Learning Process

Dear Mishpacha v’ Chaverim,
It’s been forever since I wrote a blog, but I’ve been asked to take it up again. We’ll see how often I manage to post. Thank you to those who offer encouragement!
Last night, H, E, K, and I spent some extra time at the laundromat. S and J spent some extra time in the basement at S’s job-site (our friends’ home). We got to experience our first real tornado warning, and got to watch the storm go by, without touching us. It’s an intense experience. We got to say some more “shechechiyanus,” blessing God for new experiences. We returned to camp to fine all but one of our tents unharmed. We were astounded. The town only a few miles from our campsite was hit pretty hard. Even the quail were happy and dry under their “rain gutter.” The girls make sure those birds are well-loved, and it pays off! One even laid an egg in spite of the storm!
No one ever promised a convenient, clean, neatly-packaged learning process over the long-term. We may conveniently bump into canned curriculum and computer- or book-based knowledge now and then, but gut-level wisdom is born of experience. We weathered a tornado last night, and we’ve been blessed with the instinctive, primal wisdom that you can see on the faces of the youtube / TV tornado victims and survivors.
Before we left the NW, we designed a home that would most likely endure a tornado. We’ve been designing our own personal green, alternative, sustainable, low-cost, low-time-budget, energy-efficient home for over a decade, in preparation for this opportunity. Now we’re here, and we’ve been swayed by the lure of inexpensive housing (apx. 1/10 the cost of homes in the area we just left) and low-interest-rate loans. There are plenty of homes, built around the turn of the century, which proudly stand 2 or 3 stories tall. They stick up out of the ground with their wooden sides that have somehow been missed by every tornado since their construction.
The home that we would build is an experiment, as no one has ever built one quite like it. Our design is humble: an expandable 720 square feet, which would be buried underground, except for the south-facing side: a light-drenched hobbit hole. None of the existing housing here could possibly provide the level of enviro-friendly health benefits, nor the stability and durability in a tornado, let alone the long-term financial independence that our design would. The only thing it *would offer is the fact that it is already built, and looks the part of a “normal” house. Alternatively, in a month, we could have our very modest design built, and be significantly less dependent on “the grid” for our basic necessities, at an even lower over-all cost. For the price of the down-payment on an inexpensive, pre-built home, we could have the basic structure of modest, clean durability in place.
We’re praying for the business phone number to sell (we still have one more buyer thinking it over), or for an investor to see the vision of the home that we’ll build, so that we can buy shipping containers, and put in a sturdy home that should, (YHWH willing) withstand the next tornado. We can’t afford the homes already built in the hill country (where the tornadoes usually break up and don’t do damage), but we CAN build the modest design on the land we have, which is already in the perfect location.
We’re clearing more brush, and hoping to get the driveway put in this week. We’re showering at the Y, and smelling the forest wash off of us as we do so. Our water is still being hauled in from town, and up the hill by foot. We have two batteries that alternate in operating minimal bug-zapping and mattress-inflating tools. We are healthy and well and strong. We’re looking at a power hook-up to get our freezer closer to us. It doesn’t make sense to have the freezer plugged in an hour away when the grocery store is only 45 minutes the opposite direction. Obviously, we’re still working a few things out. Maybe, by hooking up to “the grid” temporarily, we’ll make more long-term progress toward the independence, health and stability we need.
A little anecdote for you:
We were enjoying our 2nd Shabbat on the land (each Shabbat becoming progressively easier and more restful than the one before it), when the kids began to discover frogs here & there. We now have an entire puddle and “crop” of baby frogs in the “play tent” (refuge for children from mosquitoes). On that second Shabbat, K and E shouted that one particular frog, lying on the top of one of the tens, was Jewish! I thought it cute, and asked, “So, how is the frog Jewish?” “It’s resting, Ima!” (Mama in Hebrew)
Love to all of you, and thank you to those who were praying for us last night! We were all in sound, brick structures that evening, in towns that had more warning, as YHWH had provided. May “He Cause To Exist” (YHWH) what He has planned for us. May the Nursing Mother, Elohim Shaddai (another Name for the same God), help us to care for that which already exists: for us, and for all of you as well!
B’Shalom,
–Yochanna.

 

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