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The Pages of My Lif in Third World USA Part 5
by Jenny Fulton 
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Part 5 – Welcome to Passing Sheep Valley

July 30

I was getting ready to head to my new home and I didn’t even have a mattress. A family close by mentioned that they had placed an extra bed at The Mission for storage purposes, but that since I needed it, I could go down and take it. Feeling more than a little awkward at the prospect of going to some unknown person’s house and saying, “Hi, I’m here to take the bed,” I nevertheless headed down. The girl had been informed we were coming, so it wouldn’t be quite as forward as I imagined it, but probably still awkward.

As I entered The Mission grounds, I had a sense of nostalgia and longing. We had a little bit of time before the girl would be ready to give us the bed, so I walked up to my rock. It was the rock I had sat on over a decade ago, praying – begging God to let me come back to this land. After my time spent pleading with Him, I had simply sat still in the quietness, and then I had received my first definite feeling of peace that my visit there wouldn’t be my last one. God had heard and I would be coming back. I had absorbed and stored every detail of that moment – the sites, the sounds, the smells, the feel of the cool air around me and the hard, cold rock beneath me. The memory returned without much prompting, as I inwardly claimed my Jericho.

The girl soon opened the door and welcomed us in to claim the bed. She had a friendly, open way about her. A Navajo girl who had formerly attended the school at The Mission, she was now living and teaching there. I had known and been friends with her sister, and immediately liked her as well.

The mattress just barely and perfectly fit inside my blazer. There was then the matter of the rolling metal bedframe. This required us to return to my uncle’s house to get some cables to attach the bedframe to the roof of the blazer.
Overall, the trip to The Mission had been far less awkward and painful than I had imagined it. I still love that place, which is perhaps why the negative feelings seem so much stronger when they emerge.

I said good-bye to my uncle, aunt, and cousins, and set my mind to the next phase.

It rained off and on throughout the drive and I prayed that it would pause at least long enough for me to unload. I also prayed that there would be someone around to help me take in the bedframe and mattress. Usually, I enjoy my independence and the knowledge that I can decently fend for myself. Trying to get that metal thing off my roof by myself, however, would probably cross the line into stupidity.

Not surprisingly, both prayers were answered.

It was cloudy and muddy but not raining when I parked in front of my new house. I was able to pick up my keys without incident, and then the guard came by to see if I needed any help. For a couple of seconds, the proud-independent part of me wanted to say, “No, that’s ok. I’ve got it.” Fortunately, the more practical side of me told the proud-independent part, “Don’t be stupid. You’ve got a metal bedframe on your roof.”

And so I told the guard, “Yeah, thanks! That would be great because I’ve got this big metal bedframe on my roof and I really wasn’t sure how I was going to get it down.”

I did unload the boxes by myself, and then stood for a moment to enjoy the fact that I had made it. I was here where I wanted to be. The house was bare – no curtains, no furniture, no wall decorations. The only things now taking up space in the house were my bedframe and mattress, and a bunch of boxes. I couldn’t wait to buy a bookshelf so I could put away all my books. Then, it would feel like home.

Since there were actually shelves and cupboards in the kitchen, and none in my bedroom, I decided to start unloading there. The window had been opened to let a breeze in and there was dust and dirt everywhere. The stove had been moved so work could be done, and hadn’t been moved back. I decided to clean and put things away as I went. As I worked, I noticed that it had begun to rain again – downpour, actually. I smiled at the coziness of being tucked away inside my own house during such a storm, and continued with my task.

When I had finished storing the few kitchen items I’d brought, I began to go ahead and clean the rest of the empty drawers and cupboards. I shuddered each time I found a dead bug, and was always slightly skittish about what I might find when I opened the next drawer.

I was nearing the end when, out of the corner of my eye, I caught glimpse of something big and brown coming toward me. I jumped up and back and quickly turned to see streams of muddy water flowing into my kitchen. My first horrified thought was that it might get into the carpet in the living room. I ran to dig out my towels to create a barrier between the kitchen and the living room. More rational thinking finally arrived and I realized that if I really wanted to keep the water from coming in, I should probably find the source. This wasn’t hard to do. All I had to do was look toward the back of my kitchen and see the water steadily coming in from under the back door. I grimaced, rolled up my jeans, prayed that nothing alive and gross had accompanied the water, and then sloshed through the water with my towels to fill the one inch gap between the ground and my door. After being satisfied that the towels would at least significantly slow the flow, I sloshed back to the living room, wiping my feet on my barrier which so far seemed to be doing its job.

With a sigh, I took a moment to look over the damage. My kitchen now looked like a pond. It wasn’t deep, less than an inch, I think, but it was completely covered with brown, muddy water and even had weird white-ish bubbles.

What do I do, now? Why hadn’t something been done to prevent such a flood from occurring? Was I expected to clean this up? I didn’t even own a broom.

I went outside and called the principal (the cell phone service in my house was basically non-existent). He told me it was the maintenance men’s job. I called the maintenance men – left half a dozen messages on each phone. I called the guard. It seemed everyone had left the area.

Staring in shock, wonder, disbelief, and bemusement at my welcoming gift, I contemplated my options. I could continue to leave messages, which wouldn’t be answered. I could clean up and just go to bed…with the knowledge that I had a pond in my kitchen… or I could go to the empty house next door where I had seen a mop and bucket and clean it up. Option one seemed obnoxious and pointless. Option two was out of the question – I didn’t like the thought of some kind of pond culture growing up during the night. Option three it was. I was already muddy and there apparently wasn’t anyone around to care what I looked like.

It took me a good two hours to mop up the whole mess, empty the bucket a couple of times, and wring out the towels.

I was finally starting to clean up and settle down for the night when I heard it begin to rain again. Hard again. A sense of foreboding filled me and I rushed to the kitchen, newly wrung out towels in hand. Yep. Water had started to flow in… again. This time it was slower and I was faster. The towels went back under the door and back in front of the carpet and the water only filled the back corner of the room.

By this time, I was too tired to care and definitely too tired to mop again.

Water dries.

I washed my feet and went to bed.

That was only my first day.

Welcome to Passing Sheep Valley.

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