It’s not much fun when God leads you to serve in a town where there is no housing available. Neither is it fun when every lead you have on a rental is taken and you and your husband are sitting in his office empathizing with homeless people. Most of the belongings you haven’t parted with in the move are stored in another place in another town. All you really have are the clothes and toiletries you brought with you as you hang out in the motel patiently praying that some sort of living space will open up.
The feelings of hopelessness and helplessness in this situation lead us to do crazy things…Things that include responding positively to statements such as..”we know it’s pretty rustic, but we have a place you could land in if you really have a need”. Well yes, there is a need. Umm, could you please define ‘rustic’? Does this include outdoor ‘facilities’ maybe? Oh, there is a shower? There is a flushing toilet? This place is located where? 10 miles out in a ghost town? (This is a fact that wasn’t stated, but was stumbled upon with the help of googling “Talmo, Ks” on the internet). Oh…well….yes… that is so kind of you, we are interested (translate ‘desperate’!) Thank you.
There is a feeling that people get when they wonder what led them to quit a comfortable job and house to sign on for something that is less pay and a more ‘modified’ housing arrangement. In fact this feeling is best conveyed in sentences that display the sentiments “what were we thinking!” “Have we lost our minds or were we just born with half a brain?” That fully expresses our heartfelt first impression of Slim’s Boars Nest. Yes, the name alone could send one screaming to the ghosts to move over and make room for one more!
We did notice the cute, claw-footed bathtub and the cool barn sided walls. There was a deer head hanging on the wall who we quickly dubbed “Elliot”. There was an old antique kitchen hutch that was stocked with dishes and an old cupboard with utensils and supplies. Each room had a propane wall heater but only one bedroom out of 3 was insulated. There was a small shower and some quaint little touches throughout the cabin. This would be home for awhile.
Lest I am thought of as a shallow, spoiled prude, I must describe the little place as having lots of dark paneling and not many windows. I can do without a lot of luxuries in life but the lack of a sunny house is a hard thing on my senses. This would be an affliction my husband has as well, so of course, we sat that first day wondering in our darkness what we had signed on for.
We knew that God had provided Slim’s place and that it was an answer to prayer for us. Not wanting to wallow in self pity, we decided to apply one of our favorite verses out of Philippians “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength.” We could not grumble about God’s provision so we decided to make the most of our circumstances.
Thus began some beautiful country walks exploring country roads. We walked two miles and found an old bridge that went over a creek, we speculated on abandoned barns and houses wondering who used to live there and what were their dreams? We made friends with a cute little neighbor dog and named her ‘Bandit’ because she had a little black mask around her eyes. Everyday Bandit learned to greet us for a treat that we would keep for her on the porch or in the car. Without television, we would rent movies from the library and sit up watching them on our computer. We read good books, ate simple food and occasionally had fresh food from our neighbor’s garden.
We spent one evening chatting with the owners of the cabin and found out about Slim and the eccentric old guy he was. He was an orphan that landed in the Talmo area years ago. He lived simply with not much of anything to his name and despite people buying him clothes or offering him dishes he only had a small amount of either. He was a friend to the few people who still lived there and the memories and stories of him brought smiles to us all. It gave a new meaning to the little rustic place just knowing that to one person this house was very much a home.
After two months another rental has opened up. It will be in town near the job. It will have all the updates and beauties of civilization and comforts of a nice home. However…I can’t help but think that we just might find ourselves missing the simple life we’ve experienced these past couple of months. Maybe our question of “what have we done?” is answered in reflecting on “what has God done?” He has taught us to find joy in whatever our circumstances whether in plenty or in want. We have seen that maybe what we want isn’t what we need. Maybe what we have really needed at this season in life is a few lessons from a little ghost town in Kansas and some cherished memories to carry away from our time at Slim’s Boar’s Nest.