Thursday, June 5, 2008

It's the End of the World as We Know It

I've been thinking about the end of the world, lately. There have been a lot of world disasters, and food prices have gone up (well, in America at least. Here they haven't changed at all; small blessings), and gas has gone up - it's at about 4.64 a gallon - and that's in British Pounds. That's $9.28 a gallon!

In the blogs I read, in the conversations with my Mom about my siblings back at home, it seems like everywhere Food Storage comes up repeatedly.

We don't have any Food Storage. We have the opposite of food storage - we're using up any spare food in our cupboard or fridge/freezer, and after this week, should have almost no reserves of food at all. Of course, we are moving to America in two weeks, so this is understandable, but it still makes me a little nervous. I know that I don't need to fear for the end of the world, but that's because I don't need to fear because I'm prepared. And I'm definitely not prepared.

Back in Provo I used to be. I had a bucket of wheat; what's more, I even used it on regular basis to make homemade bread, along with my powdered milk and honey that I used in the same recipe. I was borrowing long term my mother's wheat grinder, while she was on a mission.

Well, her and Don are home from their mission, they have the wheat grinder again, and I moved, so I got rid of all my excess food storage anyway. I had a lot more than just the basic survival stuff, too. We may have lived in an apartment with less than 600 square feet of living space, but that didn't stop us from storing (and regularly using) cases of tuna fish, tomato paste and sauce (Avram always makes a homemade tomato sauce; it's great. We haven't bought store canned/bottled sauce since we've been married), and massive amounts of olive and canola oil, among other food items.

We got rid of those all, too.

The only food that we saved, apart from spices, is some honey that I helped can at Welfare Square, because according to Avram honey never goes bad. Apparently they've found honey from ancient Egypt that is still technically edible. Count me out.

So now food prices have risen a bunch, and everyone is either grateful for their food storage, or starting to build theirs like mad, before it's too late. And we have nothing.

I know we can start at square one just fine again, and that no one, least of all the Lord, expects a technically homeless, itinerant family who'll be living with their in-laws this summer to have a working food storage system. Until we move to Ohio, I'm not even going to get to reconstituting our seventy-two hour kits, because I'm not even sure where everything got put from them over a year ago, when I last saw them.

I'm not sure why I'm writing this, except as to say; pray for us. Pray that tomorrow Oxfordshire doesn't flood horribly from all of the rain we've been having, and we have to live for weeks off of the food in our pantry because the road washed out, because then this'll be our last goodbye. Or pray that we'll have enough extra in Ohio money-wise, so that we can start food storage up again, so that way my children can also know the joy of drinking powdered milk (actually I only use powdered milk for cooking with; I can't stand to drink the stuff straight, so I certainly couldn't make my kids do it. Except for a couple times this year, when we had run out of milk before we could get to a store to buy some more, and Lydia was throwing a fit for milk, or for milk and cereal, and so one of us would distract Lydia, while the other one surreptitiously mixed up a glass of milk on the counter, and then opened the fridge and pretended to "pour" the glass behind the cover of the door, and then served it to Lydia, who drank it down heartily, never seeming to notice it wasn't cold, and tasted like yuck. The things you do as a parent.)

Another thing I've been thinking about is being poor, but also about the Lord providing for you. When we planned for England, we had to prove to the University that we had planned for and had already provided the money needed for a year of school in England. Let me tell you, that's a lot of money you're supposed to already have in the bag. We had plans for money; student loans, Avram working, dissolving a mutual fund Avram had from before his mission, Tax refund, etc. So I presented this all out to Avram's paternal grandfather, all the while assuring him that he wouldn't have to help fund Avram's master's degree at all, and he then graciously had his people tell Oxford's people and the British government's people that we were covered for funds (Avram's Grandpa is wise in investments, and so is quite comfortable in his retirement).

All well and good. Until they gave us less student loans than we applied for. And what we were given was disbursed in four disbursements, the last not being until June, when we needed to make rent and tuition payments all earlier in the year. And Avram didn't find a job here for the first four months. And the Mutual Fund lost money for a year straight. And the money we had saved up over the summer didn't go as far as it was going to, because the rate of exchange between pounds and dollars had worsened a lot since we had made our budget. And.... And.... And before we knew it, we ended up borrowing enough money from Grandpa Shannon to pay the rent every month, totaling to $6,000 by the end of the year. Thankfully, he's a grandpa, and not a loan shark, so we're paying him back interest free for the next three years, starting this fall, once we have enough income.

Even with this extra help we still started running out of money. By the end of November, we could count about three weeks into the future before our money all ran out, and we had nothing to eat. We would talk to our respective parents, who all worried a lot for us. Then everyone we knew seemed to send us money as Christmas presents this year. So we ate off that (and had some fun and bought things too). Then by the end of December, once again we were down to enough money for 2-3 weeks of food. Then my brother Soren and my sister Amy and her husband Todd both gave generous and unexpected gifts, which kept us eating through mid March. By this point Avram had a job, but his first paycheck wasn't until March 20. And we had filed our taxes, but didn't have anything back, yet. But my parents came to visit at this time, and they fronted our visit to France until our taxes came back. And since then, Avram's paycheck has supplied all of our needs except for rent. So we've been thoroughly covered, to the point where we canceled our last loan disbursement completely.

Although I grew up without much money, some would even say poor, I have never been in a position where I didn't know how we were going to eat until this year. And without the promptings of the Spirit and help from family we wouldn't have survived this year.

This all comes up in my mind now because in some ways we're the poster child family for how not to live; no food storage, no savings, living hand-to-mouth, etc. For that matter, adding another member to our family in all of this (babies, aside from medical costs, which don't apply here, are practically free, really) could seem odd, too. Yet, I know that when we have, and when we will trust in the Lord that all will work out. It had worked out here in England this past year, when as we have prayed over our food every meal, and thanked Heavenly Father for the food, it wasn't a generic comment, but rather a heartfelt gratitude for the specific food on our table that we hadn't known how to pay for until He provided it. Because He has provided for us.

I know that as the world sees more and more natural, food and economic disasters that He will provide as well. Even if all I have to offer on my side is some honey and fervent prayers.


  1. wow lydia drank the powdered milk! I dont think my kids would. But thankfully I have WIC and so i dont pay for their milk so I can still afford to have them drink all they want.

    What a lot of blessing you have had to make this year work for you! Its amazing how the lord blesses us. Soren asked once when we were going to have our third child ( this was when theo was about 6 months i think) and I told him i didnt know, and all the reasons we were unsure what to do ( my health, money, etc) he told me that if it was just money then we should get pregnant and let heavenly father worry about the money. The reason i say money is becuase you cant fit three kids in carseats in my car.. not that the other baby expenses are that much we couldnt cover them since i breastfeed and diapers we could work into the budget. But a car payment was just so large and no matter how i looked at our budget we couldnt fit it in. Fast forward three months and I was pregnnat. Still no idea how to pay for it... but just thought I would wait and see if the baby even made it past the first trimester before i got all worked up and worried about what to do. Then here i am due in 8 weeks and cory just got a raise at work.. a big one for a new tech position. He is making 4,000 more a year. Plenty enough for a van payment and the extra insurrance and gas etc. Isnt it amazing how when you pay your tithing and have faith that the lord always provides? I swear the money just falls from the sky sometimes. Its always the amount we needed too.

    Oh and you can count me in the people that are starting to get all their food storage backed up... we used to have so much more but we ate it! lol. Not because we couldnt buy the food really, but becuase I have been so tired this pregnancy that I dont want to go shopping! So we ate alot of the canned goods up!

  2. Things are tight here in the states as well. We appreciate having what food storage we have.(Thank you Thora for some of the things) We learn to live though. We're lucky Moab has a free health clinic and we get all our furniture and clothing needs via a very supportive mother in law who lives to go to DI. God watches out for his children but just enough sometimes to keep us humble.
    We are lucky to have a car and a house and good jobs. Sure it may be hot in Moab but that keeps our heating needs down we rarely run our AC. We've trimmed the fat on a lot of our expenses though we could do better and are trying to. You are right though things are tight for the young family. However as my mission president said, "These trying times will bring you closer together and can make you stronger than you could ever know."

    We send our love from Moab
    The Schencks

  3. I hear ya. Every time I go to the grocery store I buy extra food, but it just doesn't seem to be enough. And it's hard to be a ton of extra for food storage, due to the tight budget issues.

    Thanks for posting on my blog, btw.

    It's good to hear from you. I'm so jealous that you're living in England. What an adventure!

  4. Thora, I don't know if I ever told you, but we had a small miracle happen on our end too. After sending you that money, Todd got a Christmas gift from his boss. In a meeting he handed everyone on Todd's team an envelope, and said that they usually buy each member on the team a Christmas Ham, or give a gift card to a grocery store, or something like that. Todd opened the envelope, and inside was cash, in the exact sum that we sent you.

    We were blessed by being able to bless you guys, and we were happy to do it, and glad that we were able to help you guys so much.

    Our food storage is not what it should be right now either, but I'm on the list of people wanting to rectify the situation. My excuse for not working on it now is that we are moving, and I don't want to have to move boxes of heavy food. But I have space planned in the new house for food storage.

    We saw a year, the year before we adopted Oliver, I think, where we didn't know how we were going to eat and still pay all our bills, and some how, it is beyond me, we had enough. No extra, but we always made it.

  5. You know, it was exactly people "getting rid of" food storage for moves that kept my family fed growing up. I don't think my parents ever bought wheat, but we always had pleanty for my mom to grind and make 8 loaves of bread every week of my life.
    We are slowly building our food storage here, but I don't think because we have been remiss in the past, just finally in a situation where it is possible. And we were just greaty blessed by my brother moving out of the state this last month. Much as I will miss him and his family, he passed on an entire car load of food to our household that they just didn't want to transport.
    Someone described to me once (maybe it was even you) the two philosipies of earthly posession--including food, I would argue--the open hand and the closed hand. When you leave your hand open, things simply come into it when you need them (especially when you are relying on the Lord), but things also go when you don't need them (or are moving). When you grab things that you want and hold on tightly, they won't leave you, but your hand won't be ready to recieve the blessings that were going to follow.
    When we moved from Provo to the Northwest, we gave away almost all of our furniture and things. We originally intended to sell some of it, but as we heard of people that needed or wanted things, they just went. But somehow after moving up here, we have aquired a magnificent collection of funiture to outfit our home, almost entirely from the generosity of others. I don't think we've spent more than a couple hundred dollars to fill our bedroom, a baby's room, living room, office, kitchen (including major appliances). The Lord blesses. Oh, he will bless you.