We left our house in New Hampshire on August 27th and began our journey west to make our new home in Colorado. All of our things had already been shipped out and were in a storage unit in Fort Collins. When we left on August 27th we took with us only those things that were absolutely necessary. We would be living in our camper for an undetermined length of time and so there was no room to take anything that would not be used on a regular basis. As of this writing we are still living in our camper and we still are not sure how much longer we will be calling our camper "home". I have enjoyed living in our camper. Life is simple and I have everything that I need even though space is at a minimum. Sometimes Ed and I just have to get out of each others way and give each other some space. This usually happens in the morning when Ed is trying to make his coffee and I am trying to make a cup of tea and make breakfast. There is only room for 1 person to be "in the kitchen" at a time. There is also only room for one person to get dressed each morning in the bedroom and only room for one person at a time in the bathroom. We pretty much have a good routine figured out in the morning so we aren't constantly bumping (literally!) into each other or getting on each others nerves. Our camper is our home and after being out for a day we look forward to coming back to our camper and settling in for the evening.
Since we arrived in Colorado we have been living at a KOA Campground in Wellington, Colorado. It is a nice campground with lots of space to walk the dogs, enjoy being outside and enjoy the wide open Colorado scenery. There are horses that live right next to the campground and they always walk over to say hello when we go for a walk. We also have a gorgeous view of the Rockies from the campground. They have a laundry mat here as well which makes doing laundry very convenient. There are quite a few other campers here who are living here year round. The couple living behind us has been living here for over a year and they both work in Cheyenne, WY. The neighbor across the way works as a driller and we hear him leaving for work every morning at 5 a.m. There is an elderly lady who lives here with a little dog named Peaches and Peaches does not obey her owner so we often hear the elderly lady calling for Peaches all over the campground. Aaaah….life in a campground….it sure is interesting and yet I am soooo very thankful to be able to live here and feel safe and for the time being to call it home. Living in a campground has also given me the opportunity to have a very small tiny glimpse into the lives of homeless families. This glimpse has occurred when we are out and about meeting new people and the question always comes up…"Where do you live?" or "What town do you live in?" It has also come up when we opened up a new bank account and the bank needed our physical address. Ed and I will look at each other, kind of chuckle, hesitate and then say something vague like, "We'll we don't live anywhere yet" or "we don't have a physical address…we only have a post office box" or "we are living at the campground in Wellington." Sometimes we will come right out and say "we are homeless" (which we are!). The reactions and responses we get are more vague than the vague answers we give to their questions! People just do not know what to say or how to react to us when we tell them we are living in a campground with only a post office box! Most often the response we get is "Oh". "Oh" is a very small word, but I can tell you that we can read quite a bit into that little word "Oh" and what we read is that we don't matter or that people do not know how to interact with us. A wall immediately goes up when people assume that we are poor and homeless. The wall does not come down until we explain that we just moved here from New Hampshire and that we are selling our house there and looking for place here. Why is it that money and material possession matter so much? Why does it take money or material possessions to give people value?
I am very thankful that we have had this opportunity to live in a campground not only because it has been my home since we arrived here and because I feel safe here, but because it has given me the opportunity to just barely dip my toe into the waters of a true homeless person. It has strengthened my resolve to treat the homeless families who will be living at Soaring Wings Ministries with respect and joy instead of an "oh". I want to respect and love the families for their strengths, skills, uniqueness and not for how much money they make or how much stuff they own. Houses, money, stuff…..none of that matters. What really matters is that we love God and love our neighbors as ourselves….LOVE OUR NEIGHBORS AS OURSELVES….that means caring about them, sharing our lives with them, spending time with them, giving them a genuine hug, a heartfelt hand shake, encouragement, hope….the list goes on. Loving our neighbors as ourselves is a tough assignment as it is our natural inclination is to respond to homeless people with an "oh". It is only with God's love, our love for Him and His love for us, that we are able to respond to homeless people with heartfelt, genuine thoughtfulness, care and respect. May our Lord give all of us the strength and courage to love our neighbors as ourselves.
From the Campground in Wellington, Colroado
Anita Rennells is the author of this blog. She and her husband have moved to Colorado when Ed retired and are in the process of opening a ranch to help homeless young adults.
Soaring Wings Ministries