We are moving back to the States tomorrow and one of the unique things about moving from here is the length of time it takes to get stuff from point A to point B. Our household goods will be flown in two shipments, one that has already left and one that will leave this month, hopefully this week. From here our goods are flown to Hawaii, put on a boat and make their way to somewhere in California and then up the coast to the Seattle area.
Needless to say this process takes four to six weeks and so we had to pack our stuff out five weeks before we planned on flying out. It is interesting living without the bulk of your household goods for that many weeks. The government warehouse supplies things like beds, couch, desks and a TV. They also have what is known as a “hospitality kit” for the kitchen which has four plates, four cups, 8 glasses and some silverware. It is okay but some have also called it the “hostility kit” since it doesn’t quite cover the needs of cooking and baking.
This leaves a person in an interesting position of having some things that are needed but other things like a vacuum cleaner, ironing board and iron baking dishes etc… are on a boat, or a plane or a truck heading east (we hope). Needless to say we had to borrow a lot of things from our friends here on island. It reminds me a lot of Acts 2:44 “all the believers were together and had everything in common”. Our neighbors are members of our congregation and they have been invaluable in helping us through this time of transition. They have graciously loaned us so many of the basic things we have needed and done with a wonderful sense of grace and kindness. It is another way Jesus grants us “daily bread”.
Learning to borrow has been an interesting journey. I hope you noticed that I wrote “learning to borrow” since I am discovering that borrowing is a learned skill. In the States I rarely borrowed anything. There are times when I might have borrowed something like a car from my parents while mine was in the shop or maybe a coat when I forgot one or a piece of outdoor gear from my brother-in-law. I can probably count on one hand the number of times I have borrowed something from someone who wasn’t part of my family. I can’t remember ever borrowing anything from a neighbor.
In my experience of living in the States borrowing is something that is seldom practiced. I think that part of the issue is ready availability of goods and services. Here are on Kwaj there is a scarcity of goods and services to the point of people hoarding certain things. The latest shortage here on Kwaj has been Diet Coke (actually all diet drinks). We have been out for weeks and when it does come in people will stock up. In some sense it is rare to need a neighbor in the States since the goods are there. On a deeper level I think that needing a neighbor shows weakness and perhaps failure.
As a performance oriented society we don’t have much room for weakness and failure. We are a people who pride ourselves on succeeding and showing it though the homes that we own, our job title, the cars we drive and the clothes we wear,. To need something from a neighbor would mean that we somehow failed at the American Dream and most of don’t want to admit defeat or failure. It is humbling to not be self sufficient in terms of the things we need. I have that to be a wonderful part of my Kwajalein journey. To have to borrow has been good at teaching me humility. It has helped me receive grace since that is what our friends are showing us and it has made me thankful for people who are willing to invest themselves in us for the sake of obeying Christ’s command to love your neighbor. I hope that is has helped me to rethink what it means to live in regards to my stuff and my neighbor. I hope that it has opened my eyes to the wonderful possibilities that we who live as part of the body of Christ have in terms of how we share and make our resources available.