Many of you may be wondering why we chose to build a schoolie. What made us decide to go tiny? What made us decide to be minimalist? What made us switch to a primarily plant-based diet? The answer…h.e.a.r.t.
H.e.a.r.t. is a 501(c)3 organization located in Lake Wales, Florida dedicated to eradicating hunger through hunger education and small scale farming with an emphasis on permaculture. My husband and I met at h.e.a.r.t. 3 years ago and were both students in their 15 week missionary training program at different times. Their program consist of living in a simulated 3rd world village setting.
No plumbing, no running water, no electricity, an outdoor kitchen, outdoor classrooms, and a loving community who cares deeply for people. During our time at h.e.a.r.t. we learned first hand the struggles of others around the world. We learned how to grow our food and gained a deeper understanding of our connection to God through the earth. We learned how to take care of small farm animals, and how to administer basic first aid. We dove deep into intercultural communication and appropriate technology. We lived without modern technology and limited communication to the outside world. We gathered and carried our water from a well and learned how to clean it. We were thrown into a world that is so prevalent for so many people around the world yet so distance for us. And this experience changed us. It changed our perspective and ignited new passions in our lives.
My personal habit of over consumption was challenged. And I noticed I bought things from a feeling of desire instead of necessity. If I saw a cute top I thought, “It’s on sale and I’ll never be able to buy it again so I have to buy it.” Or when I went grocery shopping I bought so much food that most of it ended up going to waste.
Now, you can spend your money however you want without judgement on my part. And I’m not saying it’s bad to occasionally splurge. For me, I realized that I had a lot of clothes I never wore and wasted a ton of food. I was buying things as a way to fill something missing inside myself. And I was overbuying food out of poor grocery shopping habits. So I started to make little changes. I sold or donated all the clothes I no longer wore or didn’t fit me. I started to reduce my possessions by only keeping one box of sentimental items and getting rid of things I had not used or seen in the last 6 months. And I’m going to be honest with you, it was hard. And I’m still a work-in-progress. It was hard to get rid of stuff even if I had never worn the item or used the item. But after months of purging I started to feel free.
I learned how to meal plan. I switched to a mainly plant based diet and saved a ton of money. My debt started to go down because I changed my lifestyle habits. And I started to learn how to make my own products. When one item would run out I would try to make an all natural alternative and this saved me a ton of money and allowed me to live more aligned with my values. There are products I still buy at the store like shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste and deodorant. My husband uses a special kind of shampoo for his scalp and I have really curly hair and it would be incredibly matted if I tried to make my own…and I’ve tried. I’ve also tried to make my own deodorant and I’m not going to lie I was pretty smelly…
But trial and error is beautiful because it gives you experience and allows you to know what areas are okay for you to change and what areas you want to keep the same. The point is we were trying. We made small changes that turned into large changes. We become conscious consumers and tried our best to value others through our purchases. Our time at h.e.a.r.t. gave us the experience, knowledge, and tools to live simpler and make a commitment to living more sustainability.
I find that most alumni from h.e.a.r.t. that I’ve kept in contact with have the same conviction and have made the same lifestyle changes. Some of them are planning on going tiny. So if living in a schoolie, van, or tiny house is something you are considering I would highly recommend doing a semester at h.e.a.r.t. Our time there helped us and others gain the experience and knowledge that prepared us for our switch into tiny house living.
Ministry Update: Please continue to pray for us as we are still in search for a ministry to serve this year.
Disclaimer: Information expressed in this article is solely the opinion of the writer. The writer is not held liable for any damage or health concerns resulting from information or endorsement from this article. If in doubt, always contact a health professional before using a new product on yourself or others or testing out a new food product or recipe especially if you have any known allergies.
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