Today I am going to talk about phones.
Land line phones: When we first moved here the church and parsonage had the same phone line. The phone would ring at both places. The church paid our basic phone bill, we just paid for long distance. After a couple of years here they disconnected the church phone and just kept the parsonage phone. After the church next door disconnected their phone the other two churches in the tri-parish decided to do the same thing to save money.
There were several reasons the church disconnected their phone. Some kids got in the church once and made some long distance calls. Sometimes the phone would ring during services-it might be a phone call for us, not for the church. There isn't someone at the church very often so it didn't seem worth the cost. They could always come over to our house and make a phone call if they needed to.
At first I was thankful the church phone got disconnected. It always freaked the big city girl in me out that anyone could go over to church and listen in on my phone conversations. I'm not aware of that ever happening and I doubt that would ever happen here, but I always thought of that.
Since the church phone got disconnected, the copy repair man and the candle supply company and the florist, etc. don't have any other number to call besides our home phone for any of the three churches. Telemarketers don't have any other number to call. (I am so sick of companies calling about our youth group!) Also, sometimes there will be a repair man over at church and his cell phone won't work so he has to come to our house to call back to his company or have a place for his wife to reach him etc. This seems to always happen when I'm in the middle of changing a diaper or something like that.
We used to also have dial up internet. Once someone was trying to call Ram for an emergency and I was on the phone with my mom. They had to call someone in town and they had to walk over to our house and tell us the message. I felt really bad about that. Soon after that happened we got high speed internet so we didn't have to worry about the phone line being tied up by the computer. But it could still be tied up when we were on the phone.
We now pay the entire land line bill since it is not connected to church any more. I don't see any way that we could give up our land line phone to save money. The phone number for the parsonage has always been the phone number for the parsonage. Sometimes we receive phone calls from members that have moved away but they still know the church phone number by memory. There needs to be two ways for people to reach Ram as a pastor-both land line and cell phone. There needs to be one main number that doesn't change for the parsonage and tri-parish. Land line is reliable in our small town when cell phone service is not.
Cell phones: I do not have a cell phone. Ram has one with the most basic plan possible in case people would need to reach him when he is not home. It is very rare for me to go some place without Ram that I can't either borrow his cell phone or get along without the cell phone. I was telling this to Glenda once and she said that as the Lambs get older I will probably take them more places and need a cell phone. I disagreed with her-if we still live here, I still don't think I will need a cell phone. There just aren't the options of activities for the Lambs to be in that there would be if we lived in a big city. I can't imagine spending the money for me to have my own cell phone. I wouldn't use it or need it often enough for it to be worth the cost.
Sometimes it would be a lot more convenient to both have a cell phone-like when we lose each other in Walmart, or we are running errands in a bigger city and he drops me off at one place and takes the Lambs to another place. But we can always make it without one, one of us just has to wait a little longer for the other one. This really doesn't happen very often because we don't go to a big city very often.
When friends/family visit us, they always play the game of seeing how long they still have cell phone service before they get to our house. Verizon is the only cell phone provider that works well in our town.
Last fall we tried getting me a Walmart pay as you go phone. I'm glad we got it so I had one for our trip to IN and to make phone calls without paying roaming charges when Ram was at Mayo. But it did not work until you got about 10 miles east of our house and not at all if you went west of our house. When I visited some friends outside of Rochester it did not work at their house (also a small town).
When Ram's dad visits, he enjoys a true vacation when his work can not call him on his cell phone (no cell phone service out here), but they have our phone number if they truly need to reach him. It is relaxing for him. If we all go to a town 1 1/2 hours away to go shopping, etc., he ends up on the cell phone most of the time we are there because his work can reach him finally.
In 2002 Ram and I took a vacation out west. When we left Mt. Rushmore we planned to call our friends we were going to stay with as we traveled through NE. We traveled down the highway for hours with no cell phone service. After living in Fort Wayne I just couldn't imagine that. By the time we had cell phone service (near the interstate) it was too late to go to their house. We told them we would get a hotel instead. Sometimes I feel like I moved to that no cell phone service place that we experienced on that vacation.
We don't use our cell phone to make long distance calls. The service is not reliable. We have a basic cell plan so it would be expensive to use it for long distance. Instead we use calling cards on our land line. This saves us a monthly fee to have a long distance carrier on the land line. Is it a pain to always dial the calling card number first? Yes. Am I used to this way of making long distance calls now? Yes and it's worth it because it saves us money.
When we first moved here we couldn't make any cell phone calls any where in our town. In the almost 8 years we have been here things have improved so especially outside of the house you can have a conversation on Ram's cell phone. But when Ram's parents or my parents visit, they can't use their cell phones in our town. There are so few cell phone towers out here that the bees that make honey out here are in high demand all over the country. Gradually the last 8 years a few more cell phone towers have been built to improve the service out here.
Some may be surprised that I don't have a cell phone when we live in a rural place because of an emergency. That is one reason why I don't have a cell phone. It's not worth the money because cell phone service is not reliable out here. I would be really upset if I was stranded some where and the cell phone didn't work.
A few years ago Ram tried Alltel. He still had some time left on his Verizon so he had both. We thought we would give Alltel a try for a month before quitting Verizon or he would give one to me and keep the other. Each time he drove to a new town and tried to use the Alltel he had to call Alltel on the Verizon phone and tell them he was in a new town that he had never made a phone call from before and they had to connect him before he could make a phone call from that town! We turned in the Alltel phone before the month trial was up and continued with Verizon. Perhaps they have solved this problem in the last few years, but we were very disappointed with Alltel. The Alltel phone would not have worked if he would have needed to make a phone call in a new town if he would have had an emergency.
I am glad that Ram has a cell phone that we share. I often take his phone when I run to the town 7 miles away. He'll call me when he has a question when he is picking up something at the store on the way home. He'll call me if he's going to be late getting home. If we go out of town the church members have a way to reach him.
This is what our experiences with phones has been out here in a rural town. What do you do about land line/cell phones in your rural towns?
I plan to post for a few more days about practical topics about being a rural pastor's wife. Then I have some more ideas of a little more serious topics about being a rural pastor's wife to discuss with you.