Thursday, August 11, 2016

Imported or Impounded, Lost Dogs & Excess

Here we are, six days in. Most of the suitcases are put away, not all of them. We've been here before, a migrant family in transition. We're professionals now I suppose. We're comfortable with the uncertainty, maybe even we thrive a bit on it. We've learned that these times of waiting on the LORD precede times of promise.

The van sits unpacked and awaiting a paperwork process. The physical nature of change is more than simple geography. There's paperwork to complete, and our emotions must be given time to catch up to our obedience. Our family has learned to cherish this in-between time. These days always draw us closer and refine our vision.

Caleb and I had just picked up an aquarium left for us at Triple Moon Coffee Company (like them on Facebook) by my friend, Jacob Farler. On the way home I realized that we didn't have enough rocks for the tank and that I'd forgotten my wallet. We improvised by using the 2004 Jeep Cherokee that I bought on Tuesday, grabbing some stones from alongside the railroad tracks in West Middletown and the creek bed beside the volunteer fire station in Trenton. 

After returning to the house, Caleb and I were upstairs installing the tank for his turtles, Anakin and Luke, that I'd smuggled to Ohio from Guatemala (ok, it wasn't technically illegal, but "smuggled" just sounds fun, like I'm a turtle pirate or something) when Sterling came dripping up the stairs, a sobbing, snotty mess.

"Poppy, I'm so sorry." My heart sank... Sterling has never used these words. She's usually very brave even in bad situations. "I opened the door and Remus ran out. I tried to go after him but he crossed the street."

I asked, "Did YOU go into the street?" She's only FIVE! She answered between gulping sobs, "Yes, but I looked both ways." OHHH.... I am such failure as a father in this moment! My five year old was running in the streets!

With Sterling safe in the house and Caleb standing guard, I sent a text to Kellie and her mom who were nearby in the city. We assembled at the house and launched a search committee for Remus the dog who has always been a symbolic reassurance to our family that everything is going to be all right.

We had to say goodbye to Bentley 3 years ago and his absence left an obvious gaping hole in our hearts that highlighted all the things that our kids gave up when we moved to Guatemala. When Remus came into our lives, that hole was filled and life again felt secure, normal, doable.

And so I drove 3000 miles in no small part to get Remus here for our families' sanity.... and now there is a heartbroken 5 year old feeling guilty in the house while the rest of us tear through the neighborhood by car, bike, and on foot in a search for Remus.

Kellie's Mom, Sharon was the hero of the day... of the year really. She found Remus. Sterling pointed the way that Remus ran, and that's where he was found, running along the fence line with another dog. 

While I drove around the neighborhood alone in my search, I had a lot of time to think and I couldn't help but be overwhelmed by the excess. I don't think that re-entry for a missionary is as difficult now as it was in decades past. Social media and enhanced communication keeps us pretty well up to speed on societal changes. 

But... there are things that we forget, and when we return, we see things will a changed and deeper perspective. There is just so much extra, unneeded, excess everywhere I look. I stopped in front of a beautifully manicured two story home with two Harley-Davidson motorcycles and a giant Ford extended cab truck sitting in a spotless garage. 

We went out to eat last night and the amount of food on our plates was far more than we could eat. Every yard is perfect here. My mind could only see the beans and rice that I ate while sitting on the dirt ground floor of the house of a generous family in central America. 

I contemplated wealth, poverty, and what it means to be generous. I've shared a bowl of rice with a mother who spent a day's wages to eat, and her generosity eclipses the character of us all here. In that moment I just felt poor. I missed the generosity of the destitute. Here we starve our souls while we wallow in the excess of our hearts.

Well... I took a breath and realized that each place comes with both problems and perspectives. We all need the same thing, to know God more. That's the only answer I have in either place. 

Like a conduit that links both places together, the van awaits a new journey tomorrow as I drive it to the Department of Homeland Security Point of Entry in Erlanger, Kentucky. The necessary paperwork is assembled and ready for the Customs agent who will inspect the vehicle and determine if it meets EPA and Department of Transportation specifications. There are two outcomes for tomorrow, the van will be imported or impounded. It'll be an adventure either way.

If all goes well, I park it back at Journey Church, West Chester tomorrow with an EPA 3520-I and a DOT HS-7 form, both signed and stamped. Then the next stop will be a local inspection by the DMV and a new Ohio Title.

So, things are going well... six days in. We're thankful. We're all still together. God is good and He is our constant. We look forward to the days ahead as our path continues to open before us.

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