I will start by saying that I hope everyone had an Easter that was at least half as wonderful as mine was. My family spent Easter in Texas with some very dear friends who were kind enough to open their home to us. We had some wonderful visiting time with them, along with some great conversation.
For the week prior to Easter, we were with some distant cousins whom we have grown rather close to. It was not a vacation or anything (they are in the midst of moving), but we had a good time nonetheless. Since they had only a very short time to be out of their house and as they are expecting their eighth child, we decided to go spend a week helping out. It was a very enlightening in many ways. For one thing, they live very simple, frugal lives and are none the worse for it. Upon asking most of the 9 people in their household if they wanted to move back to the city, I got a surprising response...a resounding "NO WAY!" Intrigued by this answer, I set forth to find out why that was. How could it be that they could actually prefer living the "hard life"? They milk cows, gather eggs, slaughter pigs, will soon be living with little or no electricity, have no Internet (gasp!), didn't even have a land line phone for a year, have no central air or heat, have 7 children sharing everything, including beds, have to feed a million animals (well, not a million, but it sure seems like it when you're trying to feed them all)....and yet, they wouldn't trade it for anything!
My cousin (actually, she's my 2nd cousin's daughter, but who's counting?) who is 13 stated that one of the reasons that she didn't want to move back to the city was because of the peer influences there. Since they are homeschooled, I was a little surprised by this answer. She said that her neighbors and other friends in the city were mostly horrid, and that the youth at her church were not at all better. This was a sad statement, that the "Christian" youth at church were no different from the world, even a worse influence in many cases than the non-Christians. An interesting note: my friend Matt (with who's family we spent Easter) made a statement in passing that I thought interesting. When my mom mentioned something about not being involved in youth group, Matt said "That's a good thing." "Why?" asked his younger brother. "Because! It's horrible!" And that was the end of the conversation on youth groups. Coming from a 17 year old, that wasn't the response I would have expected. But then again, considering some other conversation we've had with him on the subject of youth in general, I suppose I shouldn't be too surprised...we have had the "all the reasons we hate teenagers" (though we are all considered such) discussion on more than one occasion.
Anyway, back to simplicity: Since I have never lived a simple life, it was nice to be involved in one for a week. Actually, I think I could get used to it. It's a lot of work, granted, but we worked together, therefore building relationships. I have observed that it is a true statement that striving together brings people closer. When you go through hardships with people, you get to see who people really are and learn to love them anyway. I got to know my cousin more while out milking the cows than I ever got to know people at church by being on the music team with them every week. I became close the other family we saw by going through very hard times emotionally and spiritually with them at the time of my parents divorce than I have with most people on the planet. Even though we don't see either family very often, we still have a connection and closeness that enables us to, more or less, pick up right where we left off on our previous visit. Interesting.
Well, we've been at home for almost 15 hours now (though most of them were spent sleeping) so we must be going again! We're off to Mississippi to visit more family.