Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Nomadic Lifestyle

One thing I have been forced to get used to living on the mission field is a nomadic lifestyle.  That hasn´t necessarily been an easy thing for me.  When we built our "dream house" in Purcellville, Virginia we imagined that it would be the house where our grandchildren would come visit us.  We had no idea God would call us to Bolivia and a life spent moving.  We have lived in four different houses in our little more than 2 years on the mission field.  We hope we are in this house until we come back to the States on home assignment, but then that will entail moving our entire caravan back to the States to live for a few months before packing up once again and coming back to Bolivia.  No easy task with any sized family, much less our herd.

We aren´t the only ones that endure such trials.  Missionary life is a life spent moving...a bit like the military.  We are after all in God´s army and He has troops all over the world.  ;^)  Two of the orphanages here in town are moving in the next few months.  Can you imagine what it is like to move a bunch of kids who already have attachment disorders from being abandoned and all sorts of other challenges?  Please pray for these kiddos that their transisitions would be as smooth as possible.  Our church´s orphange will have moved twice in as many years.  Almost 30 kiddos call the House of Dreams their home and they will be moving on the 28th of this month.  One of the problems with housing here in Bolivia is uncertainty of the political future.  People who own more than one house and renting one out are selling the ´extra´ one and liquidating their funds.

Recently I went to the airport to see my friend Krista off as she and her family moved back to the States after 7 years as missionaries in Coch.  Let me tell you that I didn´t envy her.  Even though her 3 boys and her baby girl were extremely well behaved and as calm as could be there in the airport I couldn´t help but think of the long journey they had ahead of them.  It wore me out thinking of it.  Then last week my friend Kim moved back to the States with her family.  Actually she and the kiddos went ahead of her hubby so he could finish up some things here.  So, she took 3 kids 4 years old and below, 6 suitcases packed full, 3 carry-ons, a couple of backpacks, a double stroller and two carseats....BY HERSELF on a plane bound for Miami.  I think she is superwoman...but I also think..."What was she thinking!?"  I don´t even want to think about our going back to the States on home assignment with 9 kiddos, 22 suitcases, 10 carry-ons, etc, etc. etc.

But the nomadic lifestyle isn´t all bad.  What has been good for me is realizing that this world is not my home, that stuff just weighs you down, and that looking after ´things´ is not why I was put on this earth.  As I am getting ready for spring cleaning and clearing things out and paring down once again I am reminded how easily and quickly I can accumulate treasures here on earth and just how much of my time and energy the stuff can take...storing it, cleaning it, caring for it.  How much do we really NEED?  I once again vow to lay aside every weight that so easily besets me and push toward the goal.  I want to carry people to the goal with me...NOT STUFF.  I don´t wanna spend (waste) my life looking after stuff.  I want to invest it in people.

I remember when we lived in Denver going to a museum and hearing about the pioneers as they moved west in wagon trains.  When they left the East they took only what they thought were the essentials.  Yet, many times along the way they might have to leave some of their ´necessities´ behind in order to move ahead.  Their wagon might be too heavy and their animals too weak to pull it.  It might bog them down fording a river or crossing a muddy prairie, so they would leave their treasures there by the river or on the plain.  There were places at the banks of some of the larger rivers that were ridden with beautiful antique furniture that had been in families for generations, expensive clothing, rare China dishes, precious books and all sorts of other material possessions.  Things that in another life held so much meaning to them, but now they were just things holding them back from reaching their goal.   Sometimes they even had to leave real essentials like food behind.  If they were to reach their destination they really did have to lay aside the ´extra´ weight.  It was more important to save the people and leave the stuff behind...even things that they had considered essential or things they had treasured.  What a great lesson for me.  Leave the stuff.  Save the people.  Leave the stuff.  Love the people.  Use the stuff.  Treasure the people.  Get rid of the stuff so I have time for the people. 

As a postscript to this blog entry I recommend that you check out the book Material World.  It is an awesome book that takes a statistically average families from countries all over the world.  A photographer takes their picture with all their possessions outside of their house.  Very eye opening. 


Leyla said...

Denise, this is such an excellent blog--thank you. I have been reminiscing ALOT lately about growing in Cairo, Egypt and can relate to so much of what you say...I feel physically ill sometimes thinking about all the "stuff" we have and how much of us it takes up...God bless you! Leyla p.s.---I tried looking for the book you recommend, can you tell me the auther/publisher? I would love to read it.

The Holmans In Bolivia said...

Leyla, great to hear from you. Thanks for the encouragement. It was so great to see you a few weeks back! My kiddos love the pics that your kiddos colored for me. That was so sweet of them. Please tell them that they are on the table by my bed so I can look at them often. As for the book, here is a link for it on Amazon... but I think you can also find it at Borders or other bookstores. At least you could a few years ago. I hope that someone updates it soon. I would love to see a new edition. Our whole family loves the book...littles and bigs...we just sit around looking at it and reading it. I hope you enjoy it too.

@ngie said...

You are wonderful Denise! I consider it an honor to know you. You know that writing books stuff that was mentioned the other day at my table that you graced with your presence? You should do it. I think it would be great!

D and A said...

I really enjoyed your post. We are new here in Santa Cruz (not too far from you) and I have been realizing that I may never really feel settled here since when we rent we will be using other peoples things along side our own. The moving around thing is nuts too. I am also coming to terms with how much less we have and actually need here esp as the holidays are upon us and the prices for nice toys is crazy!
I appreciated your post as it is right where I am at.

The Holmans In Bolivia said...

Angie, what an encouragement you are. Coming from such a good writer as yourself, your compliment is a huge one. Thanks!

D & A thank you so much for your comment. How long have you been in SC? I hope you enjoyed your 1st (?) Christmas here in spite of the high cost of toys. Feel free to email me anytime ( I´d love to connect more with you.