Thursday, November 13, 2014

Homeless


Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” Matthew 8:20

I’m tired.
I want to go home.
What home?
Oh, yeah, right, I’m homeless.
Jesus' comment to the potential recruit in Matthew has new meaning for me:

Over the past couple months, Bill and I have been dependent on other people’s charity. Now don’t get me wrong. I am deeply appreciative of the generous hospitality shown to us. It’s not easy inviting two people that you might not have seen for a few years, or at least a year, into one’s house and having them invade your privacy, disrupt your routine, and block your vehicle in the driveway. I am very much indebted to the wonderful welcome so many of our friends and family have shown us. In fact, I am so thankful that I am also struggling with guilt. Why am I so unsettled and tired of living from house to house when so much kindness has been floated my direction? I feel ungrateful.

I should be more thankful. Less unsettled. Less grumpy.

Guilt and loneliness has a way of sneaking up and rearing its sinister little tongue in my ear at the most inopportune moments. For example, driving down the speedway from Zion National Park to San Bernardino California after a fabulous camping trip. And when I say fabulous, I mean it was perfect. Great weather. Great company. Delicious food. Inspiring views of nature’s beauty. It was a flawless get-a-way. I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect adventure.

It’s over now. We’re driving away toward the smog of the L.A. West. We’ve packed up the little red Honda Fit once again. Although our clothes smell like campfire smoke and items might have “shifted” a bit making the piles in the back more ‘poofy’, everything is settled enough that one can view out the rear-view mirror. Our temporary tent shelter is cleaned and packed and now a distant memory. We are driving onward to another yet another temporary shelter.

Our yellow duffle bags contain most of our clothes. Our two backpacks contain the other essentials, like a laptop computer, documents, and electrical wires for charging the mobile phone and iPad. The camera and day planner are in my shoulder bag. Bill and I can carry all our necessities in two hands.  We don’t need much: deodorant, toothbrush, clean underwear, pyjamas, and a nail clipper. Our life on the road is pared down to the bare essentials. And yet, with all our comforts more than amply supplied, why do I feel so “homeless”? Like a vagrant or a gypsy?

How many more WiFi network passwords can our MacBook remember? McDonalds, Starbucks, Panara, and even Zion National Park have public Internet access now. I’ve used them all. The downside of daily changes in my IP address was that my Google account locked me out. It noticed "erratic usage patterns" in my account!

How many different ways of brewing coffee can we learn? Instant…Drip… Pods… Press… Fancy machines and not so fancy machines…
How many varieties of soaps and shampoos will our skin adapt to?
How quickly can our bodies adapt to the ever-changing time zones and schedules?
How many different brands of washing machines and dryers are available in the U.S. these days? The fully automated ones practically require a PhD to be able to utilize. I never new laundering a pair of wool socks was such a complicated science!

Our new Honda Fit has driven over 16,000 miles in under 4 months and passed through 26 different U.S. States. Our Visa company is almost on speed dial so we can let them know we’re in yet another country.

I have one address on my driver’s license. Another address for my Visa Card. When someone asks for a mailing address, which one should I give? My Amazon account contains over 20 potential addresses for shipping.

Oh, and a phone number, you ask? Well….I have  a new mobile number this year. A Trac phone. One of those pay-as-you-go phones. Great for avoiding the FBI if I were a secret agent spy; not so great when others want to contact me or I want to look up a friend in my phone’s contact list.

Want to confuse someone? Try scheduling a doctor visit or a dental check-up with the receptionist. The conversation can be a bit awkward:

“I can put you in for an appointment with the doctor on Wednesday, December X,” the receptionist pauses, waiting for my affirmation.

“Um… I won’t be in Virginia then. We’re only in that State for the last week of November. Might you have another appointment slot open, please? We only come back to the U.S. for a short period of time for our annual holiday, you see. Sorry for the confusion.” I apologize. Sometimes one can make appointments more in advance but then one risks misunderstandings through the crackling, unsteady Skype connection.

The receptionist (rolling eyes on the other end of the line most likely) finally answers after a significant pause, absorbing the information, “Well…let’s see…” I wonder if she thinks I’m making up the situation to entice her to try for a more urgent slot. I have no idea.

~o~

One day it will be nice to have a home address again. A home to ship our belongings to that are scattered all over the world. Some cartons are waiting on the dock in Douala tagged to cross the Atlantic soon -- we hope. Other boxes are shelved in our longsuffering parent’s basement. Our dog is lodged temporarily with my parents while we drive across the country like migrant workers in search of a permanent position. Our cat is distributed to a friend of a friend until we have a final destination. Other mementos are stored in at my husband’s relatives. And the rest of our things -- those little essentials that we can’t bear to part with -- like our guest book, a favourite pillow, and my husband -- are nestled ‘fittingly’ into our Honda Fit.

One day Bill and I will have our own bed again. One day we’ll be able to set our toothbrushes down on the bathroom counter and not worry about forgetting them when we pack up again. One day it will us giving out the password for our own WiFi network. But, for now, we’re homeless and on the road. Two days here. Three days there. House to house. Friend to friend.

I am thankful. I am grateful. I am blessed by the interactions and the opportunities. I wouldn’t trade this unique experience of transitioning from Cameroon back to the U.S. for anything. I won’t forget it.

And yet… I  think I will be glad to finally unpack…one day. At least for a while.

~o~

Lord, I cannot fail to see the spiritual lesson in all of this. What a reminder that yes, we are pilgrims and sojourners on this earth. We cannot get too settled. Earth is not the final home; heaven is our destination. Heaven is our home. Until then, we keep travelling.

And I do ache for that heavenly home. These past few weeks have demonstrated that more than ever to me. Home is heaven.

 The hymn in church last week seemed fitting. It is probably a familiar hymn for many of you. The words have been filled with additional meaning for me recently. Here they are: (the YouTube version is quite nice, btw).

This world is not my home, I'm just passing through.
My treasures are laid up somewhere beyond the blue.
The angels beckon me from Heaven's open door
And I can't feel at home in this world anymore.
O Lord you know I have no friend like you
If Heaven's not my home, then Lord what will I do?
The angels beckon me from Heaven's open door
And I can't feel at home in this world anymore.

They're all expecting me and that's one thing I know.
My Saviour pardoned me and now I onward go.
I know He'll take me through, though I am weak and poor.
And I can't feel at home in this world anymore.
O Lord you know I have no friend like you
If Heaven's not my home, then Lord what will I do?
The angels beckon me from Heaven's open door
And I can't feel at home in this world anymore.

I have a loving Savior up in glory-land,
I don't expect to stop until I with Him stand,
He's waiting now for me in heaven's open door
And I can't feel at home in this world anymore.
O Lord you know I have no friend like you
If Heaven's not my home, then Lord what will I do?
The angels beckon me from Heaven's open door
And I can't feel at home in this world anymore.

ust up in Glory Land we'll live eternally.
The Saints on every hand are shouting victory.
Their song of sweetest praise drifts back from Heaven's shore
And I can't feel at home in this world anymore.
O Lord you know I have no friend like you
If Heaven's not my home, then Lord what will I do?
The angels beckon me from Heaven's open door
And I can't feel at home in this world anymore.