Our neighbors in the five-plex next to us will leave Sunday morning.  They’ll be gone all summer.

Ruby’s little friend Jenny will go, too.  Ruby finds herself in the awkward position – again – of her good friend of next-door fame moving away.

Yesterday afternoon, I got the skinny.  Jenny’s mom, who speaks no English, and her older daughter, Sammy, who does, asked me to step outside.  I haven’t seen Sammy since we last discussed insurance and paying off the dent she made in my fender.  Another day, another post.

Sammy said, “We’ll be going away this weekend to work blueberry near Canada’s border.  Our landlord, he let us pay one month and then take one month off.  It’s how work is for us.  But now, he said he’s giving the building back to the bank.”

I digested this.  She watched my reaction.  All I could felt was sadness. The house is kind of a dump on the inside, to be frank.  The landlord has made minor improvements over the years.  We’ve enjoyed the families living next door to us, quiet, hard-working folks.

Sammy continued.  “We’ll be gone for 2 months.  We don’t have time to pack up our stuff and move it somewhere else, so we’re leaving it all behind – couches, tables, chairs, and most of our clothes.”

Sammy’s brow furrowed.  Her mom stood beside her, adding comments now and then.  She could understand most of what Sammy said and my responses, but not how to respond herself.

Sammy’s mom held a large, clear plastic carrier. She handed it to me.

“We would like to ask you a favor.” Sammy’s eyes turned serious now. “Could you take in our mail every day?  We have to leave our cars behind, too, because they don’t work – at least for now – but we don’t want our mailboxes to get shut down.”

I held the bag in front of me.  Such a huge bag!  I could fit both cats inside it with room to spare.  How much mail did they get?!

“Of course”, I said.  “We’re neighbors.  I’ll take in your mail.”

Both women relaxed then, all smiles.  Sammy had more to say on the subject.

“My mom likes to pay people when they help us.  We can pay you for doing this.”

I shook my head.  Seriously?  No.

“One more thing.  My uncle will be by and my cousin, too.  They’re pretty young.” She gave me general descriptions of both parties.

“If you see any older people hanging around, could you let us know?  Or if you see furniture coming out of the building?  I’ll leave you my phone number.We have some people who can take some of our things if we need them to.  We’re hoping the bank won’t get to us in 2 months’ time.”

Light started to dawn.

“So…you want me to *open* your mail, if I see anything that says ‘foreclosure’ or ‘notice of eviction’ on it, and give you a call?” I gulped at the thought of this family of 6 women dependent on me and my attentiveness.

Sammy nodded.  “Yes, exactly.  We need to know what’s going on.”

Would they even be able to get back into their house after deserting it?  They plan to keep paying electricity and water while absent.  I’m not even sure the landlord will know.

As if reading my thoughts, Sammy said, “We haven’t paid rent for 2 months now.  We haven’t had work.”

Okay then.

We talked a little more about banks and foreclosures and evictions, then we parted ways.  I told them I would be praying for them.  They thanked me. I wish I could do more.

So, it’s official. I have no idea about tough times.  I can’t imagine leaving all your belongings behind, unsure if you’ll be able to reclaim them after a season away.  What’s it like to get pushed out of your home because you have to go where the work is? Our lives look like a cake walk in comparison. Jonathon and I have known lean times, growing up and while married, but nothing like this.  May God go with them and bring them back safely to us.




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