I’ve lived off-grid since before the term off-grid was coined. Now, what most people think of when they hear this is the beautiful views we enjoy. Rightly so, it is absolutely lovely. Here is our mountain meadow early in the morning when the trees were coated in frost. Perfect peace, indeed.
However, in order to live at and run a remote Bible camp, we have to do so many things for ourselves. We plow our own roads, pump our own water, and produce our own electricity. Pictured above is the small generator I inherited from my 104-year-old grandfather. It is supposed to run power to our home and charge up a bank of batteries that should then give us enough subsequent power for several good hours of work on the computer for Scruffy (my camp director husband), writing and cooking for me, and homework and computer gaming for our three teenage sons. And vacuuming, don’t forget the joys of vacuuming. You laugh, but have you ever spent a week without power and been unable to vacuum? Yeah, gives it a whole new angle doesn’t it? So, that is what is supposed to happen, when the system is working.
We had just faced an incredibly exhausting week. Too many crazy things to list, but Scruff, Bomber, and I talked. We absolutely had to have a day off that week. To recover and revive. To keep insanity at bay. The rental camp would leave on Sunday and so we chose Monday. No matter what, we were taking a day off on Monday.
On Sunday night, the power at our house completely died. Though our generator had stopped working, the camp generator was running and should have been charging our batteries, we had nothing but complete darkness. Scruff ran out to the generator shed to see what had happened. He was met by a cloud of toxic fumes. Coughing, he tried to press forward. However, the voice of reason was shouting and thank the Lord, Scruff listened. He backed out, warned our youngest son away and waited for the fumes to clear. Later, he went to investigate and our batteries were the issue. No power. A failed system. But as a woman who lost her dad to carbon monoxide poisoning when he was working on our family’s power system, I was so so thankful to still have my husband. Bomber (our maintenance gal) looked it up. Those fumes would have killed him if he’d stayed too long.
So clearly, the system needed a professional to take a peek. I used a phone book and our ancient phone that still plugs directly into the wall to start calling electricians. No one would come all the way up to where we live. The only off-grid mechanic in the area gently informed me that he was retiring and not taking any more clients. He gave me the name of a guy at the PUD to call for recommendations. They didn’t have any.
All was well and truly lost in the power department. Yes, I was SO thrilled to still have my husband and sons alive and well. However, as I transferred all of our food outside into coolers and hiked to Bomber’s house to use the internet for all of our school and work tasks with no end in sight, I admit despair crept across my heart. I’d tried everything. Absolutely, everything.
So we prayed. Again.
We asked the camp board to pray for us. My mother asked the camp prayer team to pray for someone who knew what they were doing to appear and help.
I stared at these written prayers and I told the Lord, “Welp, You are just going to have to make this magical electrician appear out of the floorboards because I’ve tried everything.”
Despair continued it’s slow march.
Scruff tried to work, using neighboring power, and one of the things on his list was talking with rental directors for upcoming camps. One of them was running a men’s retreat and his group wanted to help out with some work projects. They made plans to help us with the 50+ trees that have fallen this winter and then Scruff mentioned the impossible. “What we really need, is an off-grid electrician.” An impossible request.
The impossible appeared.
A navy-trained electrician went to their church. Navy, as in, he’d worked on electrical systems on ships … ships that are off-grid!!!
He came up the next day. All of our connections on the batteries were corroding. Yes, our batteries are failing and we will need to get new ones. However, he got the system up and running again so that when the camp generator is on, we have power! We even have a few hours of battery power after that generator gets turned off.
God still surprises me. His power. His grace for this tired doubter. His love. His terrible, beautiful, impossible love for us.
Thank you Lord for stepping down into our trouble, one more time and doing Your thing.
Even though we never did get that day off.