My journey to the country began when I moved out of my parents’ home at the age of twenty. While in my growing up years, I never really lived in any large city other than Phoenix for a very short period. I did live in some sizable towns as my dad was a pastor and during those years, it was the practice to move pastors to different locations about every three or four years.
I never had any desire to live in the city but, to the contrary, I had a dream of living in a remote area of the country surrounded by mountains and trees. When I say remote, I mean remote. No neighbors for miles around, a long rough road, if any, for access and a crashing creek that I could use to generate power for my home site since there wouldn’t be power lines to the property or even phone lines for that matter. That was before cell phones and satellite internet or any internet in fact. Communication would have been by CB or shortwave radio.
I also dreamed of having a family to care for and to share my dreams with. I knew that in order to care for a family, I would have to have some way of providing for them and it would have to be some trade that I could do from nearly any location. I also had a pretty good idea that this kind of lifestyle while being very rewarding would also take a considerable amount of hard work to bring it to fruition.
In order to make all this happen, I had to set some goals which I did. Maybe I set my goals too high because I failed at some of them and others took many years longer to meet than I had anticipated. I knew that in order for me to live the lifestyle that I dreamed of with a family to care for, I would have to live on a fairly low income and in order to be able to do that, I would need to be debt free or nearly so before my dream could take place.
I would have to make this move to the property of my dreams in steps. As I stated, I moved out on my own when I was twenty years old. Previous to that, I had learned a trade in auto body. Not just auto body. In wanting to live in my dream place, I couldn’t rely on going out to work every day, so I had to have my own business. Also, I couldn’t rely on customers coming to my door either; I had to be able to take my product or service to them.
In my final year of High School, I began working for a Christian gentleman who really made an impact on my life through his Christian walk, gentleness and patience and desire to always follow God’s direction for his life.
He was in the business of buying late model wrecked cars that the insurance companies had totaled. He would then rebuild them so that they were like new again and sell them. He did such good work and his prices were so fair that most of the cars he rebuilt were sold before they were even finished.
God has given me the talent of working with my hands, so I was able to learn quickly and within about six months after I started working for him, he was able to turn me loose to do most of the automotive work while he worked in the tree trimming business which was another business that he had. I was even able to do a few cars of my own while I worked for him so when I moved away I was ready to start my own business.
I moved to Eastern Oregon where I had already arranged to rent an apartment over a church member’s garage and a shop at the back of his property. This property was two or three miles out of a town of I would say around a population of 20,000. The town was set in a valley with mountains all around it and I hoped at some time to find my remote property somewhere in those mountains.
My next goal was to buy a house, have it paid for, and be debt free by the time I got married. I bought an old farmhouse on a half-acre of land in a little town of about 200. It was a fixer-upper built around 1900 and I purchased it on an owner’s contract for $17,500. I got married when I was 25 years old but I hadn’t reached my goal of being debt free. Looking back, I believe I could have met that goal if I had been more diligent in my business and been less foolish in my spending.
Being young and inexperienced and thinking I had to have things like a $1000 home stereo, a mountain bike, touring bike and a racing bike all costing between $500-$1000 each and other things that I ‘just had to have’, I ended up in debt instead of meeting my goal of being out of debt. Those foolish mistakes cost me years in finally meeting some of my remaining goals.
Next, we started looking for remote property in the mountains around the valley we lived in. We searched for about three years but either couldn’t find just the right place or what we did find was more than we could afford.
We never had any thought of moving out of that area, but one weekend we were visiting my dad in Northern Idaho and he wanted to show us a piece of property that one of his parishioners had for sale. We reluctantly agreed to go see it and after looking it over we both fell in love with it. We didn’t consider it as remote, but it was a 20 acre parcel backing up to an 80 acre section of state land. It had neighbors on both sides but they couldn’t be seen from the building site.
This property had power and phone to it, a developed spring and septic already installed. We made an offer and purchased the property for $20,000 with a $500 down payment. This, I believe was in about September of 1989. Our next step was to sell our house in Oregon which we did the following January. Up to this time there had been little or no snow that year where we were moving but when we finally made the move in February we had just received three feet of new snow.
We borrowed a snow blower to clear our long driveway, borrowed a 24’ travel trailer which we later traded some auto body work for and settled down for the winter. By using straw bales around the trailer for skirting, we managed to survive the winter.
That spring we began by constructing an outhouse and then built a small 10’x16’ two story cabin out of mostly salvaged building materials. As I recall, the total cost to build this cabin was around $2000. It was comfortable and warm. It had a shower and a kitchen sink along with a full size refrigerator and kitchen range. We heated it with a small wood burning stove. It had a table for two that folded up against the wall and shelving all around the upper walls for books etc. Our closet was under the set of steep steps that went upstairs where our bedroom was. It was compact but organized and quite comfortable.
Because I didn’t have a shop to work in, I got a job in a commercial body shop about 30 minutes away. I worked there for about two years until I had built a shop on our property, much of it again with salvaged materials. I then began working from home again.
We began building a house, doing the work ourselves as we had the money with the goal to pay cash as we went. Unfortunately our plans took a major change. The opportunity came up for us to adopt three children all at once. That’s another story in itself, but as we were visiting the family that had guardianship of these children, they asked us if we would take them for the weekend just to see how it would go. We agreed, but after the weekend was over we called to see when they wanted us to bring them back and were told not to bring them back.
Here the two of us were living in a 300 square foot cabin and now all of a sudden we were five! We actually adjusted quite well though and lived in the cabin for about a year after acquiring the kids.
Of course our building project on our house went into high gear at that time. We didn’t think that the home study for the adoption would go over too well while we were living in such a tiny house without separate bedrooms for each child so we ended up taking out a loan so we could finish our house.
We did finish the house and were able to move in just before the adoption home study which went well and we were able to finalize the adoption, but this put us into a financial depression which we were not able to recover from.
Eventually, we put the house up for sale and after it sold, we were able to make a down payment on a 10 acre parcel of bare land on which we moved a run-down mobile home onto which we had purchased for little of nothing.
Unfortunately, after the stress of all this and other factors, our marriage dissolved and I found myself trying to take care of myself, my business and my three kids by myself. Again, the property went up for sale and we moved into a rental in a small community nearby.
During this time and throughout the following years, I also began to transition into a new line of work. I still do auto body work, but with the experience of building my own house, I began working for a custom home builder and then a concrete contractor and eventually became a general contractor building homes and additions myself which has become my primary business.
Eventually after remarrying, and moving onto a portion of my mother-in-law’s property, my wife and I started looking for that remote piece of property again. We looked at many different properties in a fairly wide area. I don’t think our realtor ever really understood what we meant when we said we wanted something remote, either that or there just wasn’t much out there like we tried to describe to him. I still wanted that crashing creek too but we soon found that we didn’t have a creek budget so we lowered our requirement to the property just having water such as a spring.
One day we were looking through a real estate guide and saw a picture of a cabin on 26 acres adjoining forest service land. It looked interesting and was in our price range so we called the realtor and asked some questions about it. Unfortunately we were told that there was no water on the property so we wrote it off, but one day as we were just driving around looking, we happened to see a realty sign and decided to investigate. There was a locked gate, so we had to walk in the driveway.
After walking in the driveway we found a cabin and recognized it as the one we had seen in the real estate guide and had written off because of no water. We had to have water, but liked the property otherwise, so decided to call the realtor again and question him. Again, I asked him if there was any springs or any other source of water on the property. This time he said there was a small spring, really just a damp spot that didn’t amount to anything, but it piqued my interest and we asked him to come out and show us the property.
We spent the next five hours looking over the property and of course the first thing we wanted to see was the spring. There was a little trickle of water and a depression in the ground which had standing water in it. I thought that we could make this work and develop it enough that we could get the water that we needed.
The next step was to make an offer on the property. The owners were asking a full cash price which we didn’t have. After making it a matter of prayer, we decided to make an offer. We offered a down payment that we could afford with an owner contract and low interest. We had prayed that if it was God’s will that we purchase this property that the owners would accept our offer without countering at all otherwise we would keep looking.
We made the offer on a Thursday or Friday and didn’t hear back from the realtor until the following Monday. Later we found out that he had contacted the sellers on Friday with our offer and they simply told him they couldn’t accept our offer at all. They wanted full cash and besides we had offered considerably less than their asking price. For some reason though, the realtor didn’t call us back that day, but waited over the weekend to call us on Monday, but before he called, the sellers called him. After thinking about it over the weekend they had changed their minds and decided to accept our offer just as we had made it. No counters or anything.
We felt that it was pretty clear that that was the place God had prepared for us. The property had an unfinished 24’x32’ cabin which we little by little finished and eventually added on to as we could afford to without going into debt.
We developed the spring, initially getting about a quarter gallon per minute which is about 360 gallons per day which is enough to supply our basic needs. Eventually after adding to our garden, we found that we had a shortage of water and so we developed the spring some more and nearly doubled the output which helps considerably.
After a few years, the Lord made it possible for us to completely pay off the property. We had a lump sum but it was several thousand dollars short of being able to pay the whole mortgage, so we contacted the sellers with an offer to give them the amount we had for payment in full. They accepted our offer, signed off on the mortgage and we had our land free and clear.
God is good! When we are determined to do His will and follow His leading He will meet all of our needs and many times even our wants if they are in accordance with His will. Why does it take so long sometimes? Many times it’s because we have lessons that we need to learn, like what’s really important in this life.
Do we have to have the ‘toys’, the best stereo system, the nicest car or boat or whatever? Not that these things are bad, but what are our priorities? We have counsel to avoid debt like the plague. In most cases, if our priorities are in order, we can do that. We don’t have to have the nicest or biggest house. We can start with what we can afford and if the Lord provides then we can better our circumstances but we need to learn that we don’t need to have it all right now.
Those are some of the lessons the Lord has taught me. Many of them I had to learn the hard way, but we don’t have to all do that. We can learn from the mistakes others have made and avoid the same pitfalls.
I have also come to the conclusion that if we really believe that the end of all things is near, really at the door, we would live our lives completely different then maybe we have done in the past. I know I would do things differently even in regards to my current property.
I believe that Jesus is coming very soon, and as I develop my relationship with Him more and more I began to understand more and more how great a sacrifice He made not only for me but for all humanity and as I contemplate His love for all mankind my own burden for souls grows and I want to do all that I can to bring them to Jesus and to give the final warning to prepare for what is soon coming on the earth.
I’m not a preacher but I can do something for the Lord either by my means or by using the other talents that He has given me in some practical way. All of our talents no matter what they are have been given us by the Lord to be used for Him. When we understand that we are here for a purpose, not to please ourselves but to be a beacon to our world, we will find that we don’t ‘need’ all the things that we think we do.
God doesn’t expect us to live in a cardboard shack, He is a God of neatness and order, but we certainly can learn to live a much simpler lifestyle within the means that we have been given so that we can devote our lives to saving the souls that He died for.
Not all of us are called to live in a ‘remote’ area like I do, but we have been given the counsel to be out of the cities with room to grow a garden and where we can be free from the sights and sounds of evil.
I didn’t have the support I needed in my ‘journey to the country’. My friends thought I was crazy. There were a lot of things I had to learn the hard way and that’s not all bad. There will always be trials and difficulties but if we let God use those things to smooth out the rough spots in our characters it will all be worth it.
This ministry ‘Last Call Out’, while it was born primarily to give the last warning message to the occupants of the cities of America, is also here to help those who have listened to the call to leave the cities and to help them transition into life in the country. It was founded by a group of individuals who have ‘gone on before’ and have felt the need themselves of having that support that just wasn’t there for all of us.
The less time, the less expense that it takes to settle into the country life, the more time and means we can put into the Lord’s work and the sooner we can all go to that perfect country where we can all be together with Jesus!
Co-founder “Last Call Out Ministries”