Presbyterians Today

JUN-JUL 2018

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38 JUNE/JULY 2018 | Pr e s by te r i a n s To d ay Shortly after, the ladies of the church began crafting other plans for us. The summer and fall seasons in upstate New York are beautiful, but the winters can be long and brutal. The church members knew we were bound to run into severe dilemmas over the winter months, worse than the challenges we were anticipating ourselves. With love and sincerity, the members of Dailey Ridge extended an invitation for us to relocate our camper and park on the church property. It was an enticing option we could not decline. We were soon going to be church "boondockers" — people who camp without hookups in a remote area. The congregation was excited and threw us a surprise party. They showered us with gifts to make our camper a home: a welcome mat shaped like a dog paw, camp chairs for around the fire, dishes, homemade dishcloths, some American flag solar lights and a wooden sign that read "Mr. & Mrs. Miller." Even Chaco was included in the gift-giving, receiving treats and new toys to chew. Every church member went above and beyond to help us get settled in. From moving the camper to decorat- ing it, members continued to show their generosity. The first night the camper was parked at the church, Kyle and I took a walk around the property. We felt overwhelmed by the gifts, both physical and emotional, that had been given to us over the past few weeks. The servant hearts of Dailey Ridge, though, were just beginning to demonstrate their love. Autumn in a country haven Parked on a grassy knoll behind the church building (circa 1853) sat our camper. We had no sewage hookups. My husband, being the woodsman that he is, was content using the great outdoors. I, however, did not want to go outside at 2 a.m. when the temperature was as low as 5 degrees. So we purchased a "chamber pot" — a potty training toilet — for those moments during the night when you just gotta go. We also discovered that we had to prevent our water tanks and lines from freezing, which meant going without a water hookup. The idea of living in a camper was becoming less and less grand. It was only October. Thankfully, the church allowed us to use the restrooms and kitchen inside their fellowship hall and gave us a key to access the church day and night. This gesture is truly what made living in the camper year-round possible. We joined a local gym to have access to showers and for an occasional workout as well. We chose not to install internet and instead utilized the university library as much as possible, learning the value of sharing the day with one another and reading together before bed. Chaco learned to love Sundays. Sunday meant friends, lots of atten- tion and, of course, more treats. Dailey Ridge welcomes dogs, so Chaco was even allowed to join us for worship. One Sunday morning, there were a lot of children Chaco had not met yet running around. Kyle and I thought it might be best to let Chaco stay inside the camper while we attended the church service. After the service, we went to check on Chaco. To our dismay, she had communicated very clearly how she felt about missing church. Our screen door was scratched to shreds. As autumn slipped by, it was soon time for the church's annual work day to ensure plenty of wood was split for winter, the kitchen deep cleaned, and the overall facilities given a little extra attention. It was a joy to see so many hands contributing to one cause. Despite rain on the day sched- uled for work, the members of Dailey Ridge proceeded to split, carry and stack wood for hours. November came, and Kyle needed to build a roof to protect the camper from snow. Once again, our church family showed their support by offering their insight, tools, resources and time. One man helped Kyle brainstorm how to get started with the project and allowed us to borrow his tools. Another man came to the camper on his only day off to help Kyle build. With the roof completed, Kyle skirted the bottom of the camper with bales of hay, which we later dis- covered the mice and rabbits would be grateful for. We found ourselves enjoying the camper life during the fall months: frequent camp- fires, evening walks, sleeping with windows open to let in the crisp air, and being blissfully unaware of the winter challenges ahead. Winter wonders and woodstoves Winter arrived. New York had a record streak of low temperatures. Condensation from our breath froze The Millers' dog, Chaco, was a welcomed member of Dailey Ridge. When not walking up and down the aisle greeting worshippers, Chaco could be found curled up by one of the church's woodstoves. NETTE MILLER

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