Yes, we always book some time to stay with Christy's mom in Wisconsin and Steve's mom in California, and occasionally pop in on cousins or siblings around the country. Both moms have extra bedrooms, so the family members can stay in the house if they want. On rare occasion we are invited to stay in someone's home, or park in their yard and use their walk-out basement, or some similar set-up.
If we are singing in a safe neighborhood, we park in the church's parking lot. Occasionally we are invited to park at a church member's house, or even stay in their homes, which we do on occasion. About once a week we head to an RV park for laundry, tank emptying, and showers that last longer than 45 seconds. If we have an extended break, we try to find an affordable state or county park, beach, or campsite in the country or the mountains to breathe deeply and soak up Creation. We don't sleep in Walmart parking lots or rest stops, because there are too many unknowns. Safety is our first concern.
We do not have a house-house. We exchanged our big beautiful Steve-made house-house for a music mission and life on the open road at the end of our first year as full-time music missionaries. We didn’t feel we could give our best to the mission with our hearts and finances tied to a house. What you see is what you get.
There are four single bunks in the back of the trailer for the four older girls. The table drops down into a bed for a fifth child, and the sofa jackknifes into a bed for a sixth child. The littlest Travel Bag has a bed made from modular drawers with padding on top, and she gets to sleep right next to her mama. There's a master bed in the front for Steve and Christy and whoever shows up in the middle of the night. The dog gets the floor...almost the entire floor with how big he is. The Passport sleeps ten, and we are only nine, eight if you don't count the baby sleeping on the modulars.
We have a small three-burner stove which we don’t generally use. We also have a tiny little oven which we rarely use. We have a microwave which we (as in Steve) use to reheat forgotten coffee. But if we had to, we could use those three things.
What we use is an infrared induction cooker similar to these. Ours is the as-seen-on-TV version available in Walmart, and we love it! Love it! It heats quickly and we can use a pot or skillet on it to cook just about anything.
We also have two rice-cooker/crockpot/steamer combo units that we use quite a bit. And we have an indoor grill and a griddle under the bed, which make their appearance from time to time.
Sometimes churches have kitchens which they open up to us, and if we’re at Grandma’s house, we use her kitchen.
We eat out on very rare occasion, usually with the intent of experiencing something local and different. For example, we had empanadas in Florida and tacos from a food trailer in Texas.
Every once in a while someone treats us to a meal or treat somewhere. We always ask them if they’ve counted us first and give them a chance to retract their invitation guilt-free. Ha ha!
We try hard to be good stewards with the mission funds, and can’t often justify the cost of eating out. Plus, it is very difficult to find a restaurant than can accommodate Hannah’s dietary needs.
Of course you can feed us. We love itwhen people deliver treasures like warm bread or fresh local produce or their hunting game or oranges from their tree or an apple pie or a bag of nuts or a pizza or whatever! Grin! We also love the potlucks and dinners we’ve been invited to, especially when they consist of local cuisine or someone’s signature dish.We love to try the local fare. Occasionally, someone takes us out to eat, and that’s great, too!
Relax. We let them eat sweets, but we have to be smart about it.
We generally have 14-ish events a month. Consider the fact that people often cover the tables with treats after the events, not to mention the candy and cookies lavished on the kids at Sunday School and children’s church programs. Add nine birthdays a year, Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving, plus desserts at potlucks, cook-outs, and special dinners, plus the local fare we like to sample, plus the spoiling the relatives like to do when we’re in the vicinity, and that’s a lot of junk. I mean…a lot of junk.
Diabetes runs in both sides of the family, and digestive disorders have already struck home among the kids and one grandmother, despite our precautions, so we have to be smart. What to you is a special event with treats is our regular life. What to you is a little binge could send Hannah to the hospital and Ellie to bed with “tummy hurts.”
We let the kids try things that look homemade or unique to the area, and sometimes we give tummies a complete rest from sugar and say no to all sweets for a time. The older kids self-regulate and don’t usually eat many sweets. Popcorn, however, is another story.
Boo. Yes, we do.
Our oldest daughter, Hannah, has Crohn’s disease and is consequently on a restrictive healing diet called the Specific Carbohydrate Diet. If she veers at this stage, she can trigger another flare and land in the hospital again, so please don’t be offended when she brings her own food.
When we are in the trailer, we eat the SCD diet with Hannah, but the rest of the time we eat whatever our hosts serve us or whatever is delivered to the trailer door.
We (we as in Steve) drive a 2014 Chevy 3500 Express van. It’s a 6-liter, 1-ton extended van, has a 9500 lbs towing capacity, and is just about the biggest, baddest van known to mankind. We call it the Bagabus.
Do we ever! We lost a transmission in Cheyenne, Wyoming, a tire in the Donner Pass and another in Florida, and had all sorts of weirdness happen in Texas. We had a perpetual engine over-heating problem, which hasn’t caused too much trouble in the cold flatlands lately. Overall, Steve takes great care of the van, the Lord protects and provides, and the Bagabus has mostly moved along smoothly.
Possibly, but the Bagabus is the only vehicle that is big enough to hold all of us and the music equipment, and at the same time still strong enough to tow our house on wheels.
If we were to upgrade, it would be due to a stellar deal on a used diesel van of the same type. That way we could still all fit, and we would have a higher towing capacity, which would be safer and allow for a roomier trailer. Still, we’re content with the Bagabus, and have no plans to swap her out.
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