Our Wilderness Experience

I love it when the Bible comes alive.

We were preparing to move to the ‘Field’ in Padstow, and our friend, who was towing one of the caravans for us, asked me how I was finding the Wilderness.

Slightly taken aback I said that it didn’t feel like I was in the Wildeness, but as I was saying it I felt that I needed to spend some time pondering that thought.


I am Yehovah your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery/bondage.

Exodus 20:2


God took His people out of Egypt, full of pagan idolatory. It was 400 years (Genesis 15:12-14) after Joseph, and I suspect that God was not followed in the same way that Abraham followed Him. And to bring His people close again he took them out of that land, and away from all the idols etc. and met with them and gave them His righteous instructions, that they may be a treasured possession amongst all the peoples, and to be a kingdom of priests, and a holy nation (Ex 19:5 – 6). Wow, what a God, to want to give that to His people.


I guess I have always seen the wilderness experience as a bit of a drudgery. Listen to the complaining: “no water, better food in Egypt, we want to go back, it was better there… “ In many ways the first Wilderness Experience probably was worse in their eyes. Yes, in Egypt, they were slaves, but they had food, and they knew where their water was coming from. Life was hard, but they had a house and stayed in one place: Comfortable Pain.


And so, in so many ways my friends comment resonated with us, and made us look at this journey with fresh eyes. Yes, we have been released from bondage, suddenly there is are no big bills to worry about, our clothes and belongings are down to a minimum and suddenly that makes us lighter. And God has miraculously set Pete free from the “daily grind” while still earning an income.


On the other hand, we are now nomadic with no safety net. Dependent on God’s direction and provision, we have to wait on Him for instructions on when and how.


The question is: Do we learn from the Israelites mistakes? Will we see each stripping away as a blessing? Will we stand in front of Mount Sinai, washed and dressed in our best ready to Hear and Obey? Or will the demand to stand there without our ‘worldly comforts’ be too much for us. Will Egypt continue calling us to the cucumbers and melons?

I asked the children in the van on the way up what is the one thing that you NEVER do in the Wilderness? You guessed it: COMPLAIN!


So we are going to embrace whatever God sends our way, and make the best of it, knowing that He will lead us to the destination, hopefully as more mature followers, whilst learning to be joyful in all things.


And so, having pondered this journey, I think all of us, including the children, would not give up any single part of it. It is a joy and a delight to be led by the Cloud of His Presence. He has in one motion stripped us of any desires of houses and holidays and empty treasures and delights. These things suddenly have no value to us, and we desire only to walk in the way in which He directs. Whether that is in Israel, or a Caravan (or two) in a field. And we can’t be happier.


And so our vision for this particular leg of the journey is to be focused on our children. The last 3 and a half months have been very busy, and it was amazing and taught us so much, but now its time to hunker down and fix some wrongs and just enjoy being parents.


*UPDATE*


So we have been here for 3 and a half weeks now. It’s amazing. We are living in two touring caravans. A small one for the two girls and a larger one that houses Pete, myself and the three smallest children, and the two elder boys have a pod in the awning. It’s much easier than having all the children sleep in the one caravan, which we did for a week or so while we were at Pete’s parents. Nine people in a five berth caravan…


Both caravans have an awning, and there is a tarp up between them so we can sit in the shade and have shelter in the rain. Pete put up a composting toilet to save on emptying the toilet cassettes. Up until now we have either eaten inside on the table, or outside on camping chairs which is not very easy for the little ones . When out the other day we saw some large pallets, and so now we have a table again.


I think the greatest fun is the laundry. I said to Pete that if we were going to camp like this for an unknown length of time then I need a washing machine. We bought a small portable twin tub. At first it took quite a long time to do the laundry. I am talking hours. It takes 3.5kg per load. I think I am getting a good rhythm now. Get enough water ready for the next day, and generally you can do two loads (sometimes three) in the same water, and then you have to drain it and add rinse water. If you use the water too many times the clothes smell like a dog blanket.


Oh, water. There is a tap at the top of the field. We have four water barrels. Laundry uses quite a lot of water, so the children have to do frequent trips to the tap to fill up the barrels. We have a really good siphoning method going now to get the water out of the barrel in to a bucket to use for various things like laundry, washing up and filling up the water filter. The caravan also uses the barrels for water, so we have hot water and showers, but you don’t really realize how precious water is until you have to go and get it yourself. There is a song in South Africa about children not playing in the water because the old people want to drink it. I think I can understand why now.


Cooking is also quite interesting. I found an easy spelt bread recipe, so I can make a reasonable easy loaf, and manage to get it cooked in my very strange caravan gas oven. Thanks to my time in Devon in the static it’s not a complete shock to the system. Pete also treated me to a cast iron gas hob with two rings. It sits on a table in the awning so I don’t have to cook inside. We had a chuckle the other day. I always wanted one of those range cookers, with six hobs and however many ovens. Now I have two ovens, two grills and ten gas rings.


We were thinking that our time here would be very quiet and allow us to find our own rhythm again, spend time together in Gods word and relax. God had other plans and we have never had a quiet moment. We have had a steady stream of visitors and been quite busy. I had to spend some time really looking into myself and dealing with how I felt about that as I can be a precious about having my own space. And so far it’s been wonderful. We have looked after our friends three boys for a few days, as well as a couple of surprise visitors. We had twelve children one day… I am really looking forwards to see how God is going to use this time that we are here. If we only have one month here then I think it is going to fly by very quickly.


So we are praying for lots of miracles right now. Praying that my passport will arrive, and that the Israel borders will open for us to be able to go and help with the harvest. Due to HaYovel not being able to operate, the grapes are ripening on the vines with no one to harvest them except the few HaYovel staff still onsite. The harvest is plentiful but the labourers are few. Pray that God will send the labourers. We are so longing to be in the land and do what we can to help, spending all our time there harvesting grapes, even if we didn’t get to do any tours or site seeing, would be such a blessing and its where we want to be.


So we are expecting exciting times ahead!