We are now officially homeless, at least for a few weeks. We departed Colorado on Thursday, 15 January to begin our new adventure. On our key ring, we have one key – the key to our car. I can’t remember a time when I didn’t have a collection of car keys, house keys, church keys, and office keys weighing down my pocket. I guess in some ways we really have simplified our life.
We are now in Provo, Utah, and tomorrow we enter the Missionary Training Center to learn to effectively teach the gospel of Jesus Christ. Over the next two weeks, we will also learn more about how to best serve those in the military, our relations with local church leaders, the reports that we will need to complete, and how to be effective in building relationships with military chaplains. We are eager to get started.
For those of you reading this who might be considering senior missionary service, we have some words of advice – plan ahead. Come up with a detailed plan of the tasks that need to be done to uproot your household and move to some unknown point on the globe. Once the plan is done, figure that it will take twice as long as the plan calls for and you might be close. Then allow even more time for the plan to go awry with unexpected complications like illness.
When we applied for missionary service, we showed that we would be available any time after 20 October. That was the plan. In order to be ready for that date, we began packing things for storage in mid-August. When we still hadn’t heard any news of our mission call at the beginning of October, we were at a point where further packing would disrupt our day-to-day living. We didn’t want to do that until we had a firm departure date. We got that date on 17 October, which had us reporting for training on 19 January. The plan was now changed.
We now had time to kill. We used that time to travel to see all of our children and grandchildren. We also squeezed in a week-long cruise to the Bahamas. We were also faced with things for which we hadn’t planned, like being home for holidays. Did we pack our turkey rack and roasting pan? Where are the Christmas decorations? We need to go Christmas shopping, but we had to make sure that people understood that we didn’t want more things to store or take with us. Did we have all the accoutrements for our traditional New Year’s Eve fondue dinner?
The ideal situation is to find someone trusted, such as a family member, to live in your house and care for it in your absence. Renting to strangers is less than ideal. I am convinced that the majority of people who rent houses are morally defective (to those readers who currently rent a house, you know we’re not talking about you). We have rented our house in the past and the damage, filth, and pilferage were unbelievable. You just wouldn’t think that people could behave the way some renters do.
None of our family were able to take advantage of an offer of rent-free living in our home, so we had to find a reliable tenant. We were very fortunate to find such a couple for the next two years. But that meant that everything had to be packed for storage. Fortunately, our tenants did want to use some of our furniture, as well as garden implements. They were also nice enough to allow us to keep our year’s supply of food tucked away in a corner of the basement. But that still left a lot of things to store.
Determining the fine line between trash and treasures is not easy and will take more time than one would think. Every paper or object has a story. There was a reason it was saved, and there are strong emotions connected to many of them. Ask yourself if you have worn it, used it, or even looked at it in the past five years or if you think it likely that you will during the next five years. If the answer is no, then the decision becomes somewhat easier.
Finding a place to store our goods was a challenge. We were not impressed with the self-storage places with a roll-up garage door to stand between the elements and our stuff. Most of the units are too small, many were in dubious locations, and security was superficial at best. Since most units are rented month-to-month, storage unit managers can’t tell you when the size unit you need will be available. Getting multiple smaller units is not optimal, either, because the rent is significantly higher and they could be scattered throughout the complex.
We also determined that we wanted a climate controlled unit. The seasonal temperature and humidity variations in Colorado are not good for furniture, fine art, or family history documents. Insect or rodent infestation can be another problem in non-climate-controlled facilities. We found good facilities in the Denver area, but availability when we needed them was uncertain.
We settled on a variation of the “pods” concept, where storage pods are dropped off a one’s doorstep, allowing us to pack it up and then it would be taken to a warehouse for storage. We went with a company called Zippy Shell. They bring an enclosed trailer (the shell) that contains a 7x7x15 foot steel “cage.” We load it, they pick it up and take it to their climate-controlled warehouse where they wrap the cage in plastic, then stack it and store it. The price was competitive and it allowed us to scale to what was needed. It also saved us the hassle of packing up a truck, only to have to unpack it again at a storage facility.
We ended up needing four cages for our things. We are very grateful for the assistance (particularly with heavy and awkward items) that we received from members of our congregation, who were most selfless in sharing their time and muscles with us. We were placing (stuffing) the last items in on the day we left. We had hoped to depart for Utah at 8:00 AM, but weren’t able to leave until 3:30 PM. Exhausted, we gave up and spent the night in Grand Junction. Thank goodness the weather was good driving through the mountains.
The bottom line: Moving is not for wimps. Moving yourself is really not for wimps. This was the most physically and emotionally exhausting thing that we have done in decades.