Thursday, August 21, 2014

What Happened When We Had the House Fire / Lots of Really Long Sentences

There's this bunch of bananas on my counter that would change whatever it is you think about genetically modified food. They're gross, man. We got them at Zehrs and they're organic apparently but they kind of turned this Technicolour Dreamcoat version of black and green with this hint of yellow, and for some reason tonight I was looking at those bananas for a long time, and I got the urge to blog.

We had a house fire about a month ago. One month tomorrow, actually. It sounds worse than it is, because our house didn't burn down, and we don't own it, but I can't just tell people we had a smoke-damage situation in the apartment we rented because of an electrical fire upstairs that somehow involved our kitchen and living room, and that most of our stuff is unusable and some restoration company gave a whole bunch of our belongings these red circular stickers that mean that some stuff-disposal-organization can come and take our things away and throw them out and they would write us a cheque for whatever they were valued at, minus their depreciation, because things like toasters depreciate in value once you've gotten them super crumby.

[That was an AA Milne-inspired sentence there for you, hope you liked it.]
[If you haven't read the Winnie the Pooh novels, you should.]

We didn't know the fire happened until about three hours after it actually did. We were at our friend's house and left our phones in the car, and while we were there we got six free tickets to Disney they kind of had floating around (don't worry about that detail too much, it's true), and came out to the car to call my mom to tell her, guess what, you won't believe this but we're going to Disney next week, and our phones were filled with text messages telling us our house was on fire.

Actually, John had 2 texts from our landlord that went like this:

Text 1: "Man"
Text 2: "The house is on fire"

Of course, it was accompanied by a whole bunch of other people texting / calling / voice mailing / sending pigeons to ask us if we were alright and where the heck are you?

I don't think we've ever been less surprised our lives. Earlier that night our friend was poking fun at us about how much we downsize. First we moved to this city and lived in a 2600 square foot house. Then we moved to a 1000 square foot apartment. Then we opened up discussions about buying a plot of land and living in an RV because earlier that night it seemed like a good idea. Now, apparently, we were homeless.

We just laughed and laughed, as we drove home through an area with no cell phone reception and nothing we could do and two kids under three in the backseat. We have plans to go overseas (except not really overseas... more downwards over land) to Nicaragua this November until next March (4 months) and this was just kind of one of those immediate reactions where you shrug your shoulders and assume God knows what he's doing.

So we came home and sat our kids outside with people we didn't know (our landlord's parents) and wandered through what was our house in some kind of a shock-state and laughed in the backyard with our pastor and his father in law and then slept over at a friend's house and kicked our feet in their pool at twelve in the middle of the night and just sort of tried to wrap our head around what was next.

Tell you what was next: Disney was next. Six days after the fire we were on the road, leaving behind all the things we couldn't control, throwing a little caution to the wind and using that vacation budget we had thankfully saved up and eating takeout and watching our toddler have temper tantrums in the backseat while we could kind of do nothing except videotape and listened to a lot of music and talked.

And we saw princesses and met Mickey and swam in a Little Mermaid themed pool in our Little Mermaid themed resort and went back to our Little Mermaid themed room and ate so many peanut butter and jam sandwiches I thought I'd swear them off (I won't). We let The Caterpillar put her feet on the table at dinner and watch Disney Junior TV shows on waking up and rode the bus to the Magic Kingdom back and forth and skipped nap time and went to bed late and literally didn't bathe our children once because we decided that the pool was probably good enough.

Chlorine is like soap, right?

But then we came back, and coming back hit us hard. Our apartment still wasn't ready, and won't be until early October they estimate, but considering that we leave early November there is really no point in uprooting once again just to uproot... once again. We considered skipping the trip we feel God is calling us on. We considered it hard. We looked for apartments or houses in town and discussed upsizing and panicked. But then we prayed, refocused and re-rooted in scripture and remembered that we need to follow through with the things we say we're going to do, and Nicaragua is just that.

Right now our experience with our insurance company is, I'm assuming, as bad as it gets, aside from not having insurance at all. Our adjustor is mean and we haven't been given $1 of reimbursement after thousands on expenses (not including Disney obviously), and it's looking like we're going to be nickel-and-dimed for necessities like clothes that our company simply doesn't want to cover the cost of. (Don't worry about the details. It stresses me out).

But despite that hard hit of reality and despite the experience with our insurance company that I wouldn't wish on the world (I am pretty close to sharing the company's name with you, but let's see how it all pans out first), we are living in a pool of provision.

Accomodation-wise, we're in a bachelor studio apartment our church owns that is decked to the nines in coolness. Exposed brick walls with an Ikea trundle bed as our couch and a clean kitchen and hardwood floors and a little table to eat our meals at. We are sharing a bedroom (which most of the year is really a board room) with both of our littles and sleeping in a murphy bed that we're loving so much we are considering getting a Murphy ourselves, one day. Caterpillar is on the bottom half of the Trundle, separated from the top of course. Little Bear is with us (see my co-sleeping post) but is transitioning into a pack 'n' play.

Our community has rallied. My friend started a fundraising campaign which we needed more than we'd realized (Costco doesn't take credit, and re-stocking a kitchen - a cost that won't be covered by insurance because we've "permanently relocated" to this apartment until we leave for our trip - is expensive) and we are grateful for everyone's help. (We're not asking for money here, don't worry.) Any need that we've had has been met, including the watching of my children so we can just get our heads back on straight. People who share the living space with us (without giving away our address, I'm talking about offices and a community meeting place) pretend they don't hear my toddler's temper tantrums. Our clients have been gracious in the hiccups of our timelines (which surprisingly have been decent given the circumstances). We've received prayer at just the right moment, and dinner from just the right cooks.  I have more on this community one-ness to come but first I have to share it with a few people I know before I share it with you, who statistically speaking, I do not.

It's been hard, having a house fire, which was really more of a smoking-out. But it's where we're at, and this strange bunch of bananas inspired me to write about it. Probably more to come later.

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