LIFE’S LESSONS Chapter 4

I know it has been 5 months since the last chapter. In this series I have been sharing how God worked to move us to Iowa and have us start a Christian Camp. The last 5 months have been consumed with moving out of Iowa and back to the South. We are now moved so I can continue my story.

God provided the perfect site for us to build Living Water Farms Christian Camp. But, we still needed a place to live. It is a little hard to look for a house to rent or buy when you have no regular income and your house has not sold to at least provide a down payment. So, Larry kept driving 45 miles each way to work on the property and we waited and prayed. One day in August Dave Phelps came to us and offered for us to use his father’s farm house. Mr. Phelps had died and the will stipulated that the house was to go to whatever family member needed it. At that time, no one needed a house. Dave told Larry that we were welcome to live there rent free while we got the camp up and running. It turned out that we lived there for 1 1/2 years rent free and the only thing we paid for was our telephone. Dave took care of the electricity and we used wood to heat the place in the winter.

What a blessing to see how God could provide for our family even though we had no income that we could count on!  This house was only about 3 miles from the camp property so it saved my husband tons of time and gas while he was working on the buildings.  This also gave us a place to keep staff and speakers during the first few summers of camp.

The first summer we held camp was called the “Pioneer Year” for good reason.  We had no electricity or running water.  All the meals were cooked either in my or the cook, Dorland Abernathy’s, kitchen.  Then Dorland and 2 college boys carried it all out to the camp and when they were done, all the dirty dishes came back to my kitchen to be washed.  When the weather was good, they could drive the food right up to the dining area.  Rain caused problems.  In Iowa if you don’t have gravel on the roads, rain turns that black dirt to thick mud which is almost as bad as driving on ice.  We had day after day of rain that year.  Many times the boys had to walk all the food and dishes in through the woods and haul it back out.  Many of the staff have lasting memories of what it was like without gravel on those roads. 🙂

For showers, Larry built an outdoor shower for us to use.  There was a gravity fed black hose going from the 1000 gallon water tank to the showers.  If it was a sunny day and you were one of the first in line, you would have a nice, hot shower.  Otherwise, brace yourself for cold water!  There were so many things that were not done that first year.  But the speakers did their best, the staff worked hard with a smile on their face, and God worked in hearts.  Years later some kids actually said they missed the camp being so rustic.  Not me!  I was delighted when we finally got running water, a water heater for the kitchen and electricity.

What’s the lesson here?  Most of us in America take for granted that our electricity will work.  We can plug in our appliances and they will work for us.  We expect to have hot water when we turn on the faucet and unlimited water to wash whatever we need to clean.  In short, compared to the rest of the world, we are spoiled!  Those first few summers at camp taught many of us what we were capable of when faced with the lack of modern conveniences.  The right attitude and a sense of humor goes a long way to help us overcome in difficult circumstances.  Also, it is easier to keep the right perspective when other Christians are there working beside you to help ease the burden.  Many of the trials that God allowed us to experience in building Living Water Farms were shared by others who had a burden to see the camp up and running.  I believe we all learned to say with Paul “I have learned in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.”  Philippians 4:11b

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