In May of 2002 my wife Paula was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma cancer and our family of six had to vacate our large house in Chiang Mai Thailand within only three days and get on a plane for the states. A number of OMF missionaries helped close our house and distribute all the earthly goods we had accumulated.
Yesterday a missionary who coordinated stashing my stuff many years ago sent me a note, “I’ve been getting rid of accumulated stuff and I found your juicer … I’ve never used it so I’m returning it to you.”
I read an article in The Los Angeles Times entitled, For Many People, Gathering Possessions is Just the Stuff of Life. The article states, “The average U.S. household has 300,000 things, from paper clips to ironing boards. U.S. children make up 3.7% of the children on the planet but have 47% of all the toys and children’s books.”
I’ve noticed on furlough that many of the homes I’ve visited with two-car garages park their cars outside! I have a PowerPoint presentation where I show all 30+ homes that our family has lived in over my 41 years of service with OMF. Yes, moving so often was a pain, but it did force us to downsize regularly (yet I do remember counting 18 bags on the carousel during one trip back to the states).
Today I’m staying in one room in a student dormitory at my seminary and have transferred most of the books I’ve hoarded over the years to the library or onto my kindle. Many times when I’ve needed something quickly, I’ve wished I could be back at my parent’s house which was like a combined hardware/commodity store with access to most any item on my list. There are obvious drawbacks to the minimalist lifestyle I’ve chosen, yet it has hopefully freed me up to concentrate and focus on the many opportunities for ministry here in this needy country of Thailand.