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Up to this point, the majority of our deputation trips have been in Washington State. Which means the longest we’ve had to drive is about eight hours. But, the time has come for us to leave our home state and venture out further, telling new churches about our burden for Missionary Acres.
In 2020, we will be presenting in Missouri, Illinois, Ohio, and Montana. And we’re praying that we could schedule a few more meetings in churches along the way. The thought of traveling cross country with nine kids has seemed impossible at times.
But thankfully, we serve a God who can make the impossible happen. Through each stage of the deputation process, He has been faithful. He provides wisdom, resources, and the encouragement to keep going even when things are challenging. God is so good, and we are so thankful for all of His provisions.
Many people have asked how we’re going to accomplish deputation with such a large family, so here is a quick peek at how God has been helping us prepare.
We knew we needed to keep our expenses as low as possible, even when traveling.
Each night we have to spend in a hotel requires at least two rooms. Many hotel chains want us to have three because we’re a party of 11. Two to three rooms a night adds up quickly. Especially when we’re averaging $75 a night for each room.
Once we realized how expensive it was to stay in hotels, we knew we had to find a different type of lodging. As we prayed, the Lord kept bringing travel trailers to mind. We had a towing vehicle that God provided, so we started looking into what type of trailer we could haul.
We learned that many trailers have bunk beds in them, which helps make more room for kids. And we researched the towing capacities of our 2011 Chevy Express 15 Passenger Van.
After we knew what we were looking for, we started praying for funds.
And God provided.
So we started our search in earnest. We prayed the same thing before each trip to check one out, that God would reveal any problems so we could have wisdom in making this big decision.
We looked at many that weren’t going to work out.
One of them we walked into and it smelled like mold.
Another was just too small for all of us.
And then we found one that looked great. Until we opened the oven and saw a huge mouse nest. And found another one inside the cupboards. And yet another inside the vents. All of those nests were made from insulation that had come out of the walls.
We prayed about increasing our budget, but knew we didn’t want to go back in debt for the trailer. Our sending church took a special offering, and that allowed us to look for trailers at a higher price point.
But, we still didn’t find anything. So we decided to put our search on hold temporarily while Owen had his g-tube switched out and Bryan had some ministry travel to do.
But God had other plans.
And we found a great looking bunkhouse style trailer on Facebook Messenger. It was at the top end of our price range, but the pictures looked promising.
The only problem?
It was down in Lincoln City, Oregon, about 8 hours away.
We looked at the pictures. And then we found the same model on other websites so we could see a video tour to get a better feel for the layout.
And we prayed some more.
Last Minute Trip to Check It Out
God said go. So we made arrangements for a last minute trip to Oregon on a Wednesday with some of the kids.
And when we finally made it down there and stepped into the trailer, it just felt right.
It was clean, and didn’t stink.
There was a slide out, so we could easily imagine all of us having space to sit.
Instead of the two double bunks we’d been praying for, there were four singles. In a separate “bunk room.”
And it was light enough to be towed by our van.
The lady selling it was really sweet. We ended up purchasing it for $500 less than was listed on Facebook. And the purchase included many extras that we originally thought we’d have to purchase out of pocket, including:
- The special hitch and sway bars
- All of the septic hoses
- A fresh water hose
- Two new batteries
- Upgraded propane tanks
- A new power distribution center
- Chock blocks
- X-chocks for the tires
It was such an amazing answer to prayer. God is so good!
After purchasing the trailer and hooking up, we pulled out of the driveway down in Oregon and started home.
We learned some important things that first trip:
- It takes a lot longer to go anywhere hauling a trailer
- Your gas mileage plummets
- You need to plan stops, since you need to have a lot more parking space, with a pull through
But, God protected us and provided even as we learned these the hard way. We were planning on stopping for the night down in The Dalles, OR, but couldn’t find a place with room for our trailer. So we kept driving.
Beaverton, OR was full as well. At this point, it was after midnight and we were definitely feeling fatigued. (We’d left at 6 that morning to drive down.)
Thankfully, we did some quick Google searching and came up with a Trucker’s Route app. We downloaded it and found a place to park in Pasco, WA. We spent the night in the trailer and were able to make it home mid-morning the next day.
The kids all loved it. And we spent a couple of nights out there, just to test things out.
Here’s a video walk through, if you’d like to see what God provided.
Making Plans for Longer Trips
Now, it’s time to begin planning for the upcoming longer trips we have. We leave in just over a month for a mission conference in Missouri. It’s so exciting to not have to worry about hotels or buying food along the way.
So we are preparing for the trips. We’re watching organizational tips for travel trailers, buying plenty of Command hooks, and revisiting our annual meal plan to make sure everything will work in this kitchen.
As we evaluate each meal, we’re making changes as necessary. For instance, this year we’ve been eating breakfast pizza every Thursday for breakfast (just homemade pizza with sausage gravy instead of sauce, topped with scrambled eggs.) But, this isn’t a good recipe to cook in the travel trailer.
The small oven will only fit one pizza at a time, and we’d need to burn a lot of propane to cook the three we need. So, we changed that day’s breakfast to oatmeal. I can make that in the Instant Pot, and have enough for everyone.
Now that we have our menu plan ironed out, we’re moving onto other tasks. Like figuring out how to condense and consolidate our homeshcool materials. The kids will still need to keep learning while we’re on the road, so we’re turning the entertainment center into a homeschool command center. But, we aren’t quite sure what each child is going to bring. So we’re working on the details.
We found the best place to put Owen’s inflatable bed. And are contemplating enclosing one of the lower bunks for him instead. We’re praying for wisdom in the best way to give him a place to decompress when he gets sensory overload. Having a “home away from home” will be so good for him. He can get used to the travel trailer, instead of constantly having to adjust to new sleeping areas in churches or in the homes of others.
As we continue preparing, we learned what size storage containers fit underneath the bunks in the bunk room. So we’re beginning the process of purchasing those as the budget allows. This will give each child a space for their clothing. We’ll also get smaller containers so everyone has space to put their personal belongings they want to bring (like toys or favorite books).
We’re so thankful for the amount of storage in this travel trailer. God is so good!
Looking Forward to Hitting the Road
Our first trip will be a learning experience for sure. There will be things we forget. And other areas where we over pack.
But, we know that through it all, God will provide. Just as He has done up until this point, and how we know He will in the future.
Before we hit the road, we’d love to know – do you have any tips or tricks for travel trailer life that we should know about? We’re trying to learn as much as we can before it’s time to pull out on the road.
Interested in Helping the Tanner Family Get to Missionary Acres?
We are still praying for more churches and individuals to join our support team. If you are interested, you can visit this page for the details.
We also greatly appreciate your prayers.
We can’t reach the Acres without you. And we are so thankful for everyone who is already on our team.
And if you know of any Baptist churches between Washington and Ohio that may be interested in having us present, please contact us! We still have openings in our schedule for 2020 and are also scheduling for 2021 at this time.