Thursday, January 01, 2009

Dog Days

Back in the day when men were nomadic, hunter–gatherers (like in the 60’s), moving wasn’t such a big deal. Because back then the only thing anyone owned was a few sharpened rocks used mostly for stabbing bears, and a wife, used mostly for figuring out what to do with the bear once it was stabbed. When they had stabbed all the bears in a particular area, these hunter–gatherer types loaded the kids into the VW micro–bus and headed off to the next hunting sight, often conveniently located near a venue where the Grateful Dead was performing.

But in the 21st century things have become far more complicated. Moving, for us westerners (by which I mean people that know everything there is to know about the love life of Brad Pitt but that upon hearing that Russia had invaded Georgia, feared that Mississippi might be next), involves the concentrated efforts of a group of people roughly equivalent to the population of New Jersey and causes us so much stress that people who are otherwise quite nice suddenly become grumpier than a Russian President. Which is quite grumpy. Just ask any Georgian.

Take me for instance.

I’m usually a pretty nice, and pleasant guy. But put me in the middle of moving, and suddenly the slightest hick–up in “the plan” and I start to come unraveled as though I were being interviewed by Katie Couric.

For instance, we have a German Shepherd named Rambo that we thought we would have to have put to sleep on account of the fact that he is quite old, completely insane (which we know because when he gets stressed out he starts running around the yard with a cinder block in his mouth) and we hadn’t found anyone to take him off our hands. But at the last minute some missionary friends from Lusaka said they would take him, which meant we would have to make the 7 hr. drive with Rambo in the back of the car. I was not pleased as I was sure that Rambo would eat our Landcruiser before we got to Lusaka. And then what would we do?

I felt like running around the yard with a cinder block in my mouth.

But we finally got Rambo under control (with a little help from the local pharmacy), and were on our way.

Things went smoothly until we came to a police check point, and I misinterpreted the very vague hand signal of the officer to mean “continue on” when in fact he meant to signal us to stop. After which I was informed that I could have been given a very hefty fine for such an act of defiance, a fine which I think the officer was ready to give to me until he saw Rambo in the back.

“This dog looks like he wants to get out!” he said, and waved us on with the very same hand signal that five minutes prior was supposed to mean “stop.”

An hour or so later we got a call from some missionary friends who had hit a dog in the road (who I suspect was committing suicide over the discovery that he was in fact a dog) and had damaged their radiator. They would need us to tow them the 200 kilometers to Lusaka, and that would mean adding another 2 to 3 hours to our trip as we would only be able to travel about half the speed limit.

My love for dogs was increasing by the minute.

Soon we found our friends, waited for the local welder to fashion us a tow bar, and we were on our way. We arrived in Lusaka about 7pm last night, and by then my stress quotient had been fully reached, which I know because my prayer life by then had been reduced to, “Dear God, make it stop.”

But looking back my stress was entirely unfounded. Rambo did not eat the Landcruiser, and in fact probably kept me out of jail, as I was very close to telling a police officer that he needed to go back to hand signal school.

Rambo is now at his new home, with all the cinder blocks he needs for a happy existence. We are safely in Lusaka. And just as I was coming to the end of my rope, we came to the end of 2008.

Jesus said, “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself,” (Matt. 6:34).

Which doesn’t mean that there aren’t genuine reasons to worry. Surely, there are. In fact there are enough good reasons to worry that we don’t need to add to it, by worrying about what may happen (either tomorrow or today).

I don’t usually make resolutions because, well I hardly ever keep them. But today I am quite aware that I could do a better job of worrying less, loving dogs more (though you will have to pray for me on that one), and living a simpler life.

Not that I intend to take up bear hunting or anything.


Netta said...

Your blogs always make me laugh! So funny.
Love & prayers for both of you!

Natasha said...

Hello Jerry,
My mom and I were talking about your blogs. She was saying that you are such a good writer that you should put your blogs in a book. I really, really liked this one. Even growing up in the military, I still never got used to moving. Glad your in your new home and ready to start the next part of your journey.
Love and prayers to you and Paula