Today was Day 3 of our 'Garage Project.'
Here's a run-down of what it was like:
- We woke up to a much colder day, so we bundled up in hats and coats
- We ate our breakfast of rice and beans and cleaned up the dishes at the water spigot like we've been doing after each meal. It's been fun having the girls help with the chores: Bethany (2 years old) is the 'soap girl' (i.e. she pours the dish soap into each item we have to wash. We each have a bowl, spoon and cup. And we have 2 pots and a pan...and a wooden spoon). Ava (4 years old) is the 'rinse girl' (i.e. after Caleb or I wash the soapy items in the spigot, she rinses them out and takes them back to the spot in our garage home where we lay them out to dry).
- Mid-morning we decided that we were too hungry...I felt shaky doing some chores and Caleb said he just felt like we weren't getting enough calories. So he hopped on his bike and rode off to the Save-A-Lot down the street. He had about $3 with him of what we had left of our alloted money so far ($1.50 per day per adult). So he bought a package of hotdogs for $1 and a container of lemonade mix. We ate the hotdogs with lunch and dinner (I have never in my life seen children SO EXCITED for a food item...our two girls started screaming and jumping and saying 'Thank you Daddy, thank you!! Can I have a hotdog, can I have a hotdog???' when we put them on the table at lunchtime. We've noticed that the three meals a day of a large bowl of rice and beans is alot different than their usual meals and snacks that they eat. They've been basically inhaling the rice and beans with no comments about if the food tastes good or not. They're just eating more to satisfy hunger than for preference.)
- With the lemonade mix, we made lemonade and then tried to walk around our neighborhood (people are usually out walking around since it's more of a poor, urban area) selling cups of lemonade for $.50 a cup. We told the girls that if we sold two cups, we'd be able to buy another package of hotdogs. Honestly, it was somewhat intimidating and humiliating to try to sell something to someone on the street. But it reminded both Caleb and I of people we've seen in Latin America (and even infrequently here in New Jersey) walking aorund, trying to sell their wares or their products. I remember when I visited a dump in Guatemala City that there were people living around the dump that dug through the trash to find items that other people had thrown in the garbage that they'd then try to sell so that they could have buy food for their families.
It's been alot more emotional for me to do this project than I thought it would be. I was more doing it to support my husband in the things he's passionate about and in his ideas. But the thoughts that keep coming back to me over and over and over again are ones pertaining to how MUCH I have:
- As I laid in our 'family bed' last night, we were singing a few songs before sleep. Ava suggested we sing one of her favorites 'When Upon Life's Billows' aka 'Count Your Blessings.' And as I laid there, I thought of all I could count as a blessing even as we were living this week with so much less: pots and pans, 2 sets of clothes to cover us, shoes for our girls, coats, running (clean) water, rice and beans (!), wood for the fire to cook food...etc, etc, etc. Then I thought how so often I think I don't have ENOUGH in my regular, everyday life. I don't have ENOUGH CLOTHES. I don't have ENOUGH IN-STYLE CLOTHES. I don't have ENOUGH SHOES. I don't have ENOUGH HOUSE. I don't have ENOUGH NICE THINGS IN MY HOUSE. I don't have ENOUGH EATING OUT. And as I realized that, it made me really, really sad. Our culture has this crazy standard of how life is ideally lived: with SO MUCH STUFF, so many expensive clothes, such a nice house, so MANY kitchen items (that was a random thing I was pondering in the middle of these thoughts. WHY DO I NEED SO MANY KITCHEN GADGETS?!? It's really not neccessary for me to have drawers full of spoons and spatulas and wisks and graters and potatoe mashers...). It's like we've got this idea of how life should be, and we live with this mentality of never-having-enough, never-satisfied.
- The next thought I've had is, of course, 'Is it right?' Is it right that I have so much and others have so little? Is it right that I buy new clothes because I FEEL like it? Is it right that I consume, consume, consume just because I'm keeping up with our culture and the way we've decided life needs to be?
- I've heard somewhere before that God gives people wealth and excess not so that they themselves can enjoy luxury, but so that they can share it with those who don't have enough. Mostly, that's a big, big question mark in my mind this week. How am I supposed to live according to God, the King? Has He given me more than I need (when I look at reality and not my feelings) so that I can bless the poor (who hold a special place in His heart)?
- Of course, next I wonder what that looks like. How can I live in this culture and not use all that I have for myself? I have so many desires...and I know I will have them as soon as I go back to regular life. I like buying clothes when I feel like it. I like not restricting our grocery bill. I like spending money on things that I'd like to change around our house. How can I respond to what God keeps bringing to my mind...and still be part of American culture? What does it look like to live with balance? And do I even want to?
Well, I'm not even sure if those thoughts are articulated well enough to make sense to anyone else...but they're big questions I have after three days of living in the garage.