with Lorelle and Brent VanFossen

Journal: Falling Trees and Friends Part Three

Journal: Falling Trees and Friends Part Three
Greensboro, NC
July 6, 1998

The next morning, I awoke to a kitten in the truck and an angry old cat in the trailer. I put the kitten back in the trailer and let the old cat get angrier, and caught up with Linda, the healed Southern Baptist, for our early morning walk the next morning. At the end of our walk, we neared the campground office and found Martin talking with a woman also staying in the campground. Thank goodness, her stay was temporary.

She was among the many in town for the “Reverend Leroy Jenkins Revival and Healing Ministry” tent show setup not far from here. Linda had been attending when she could get a ride, but hadn’t told me much about it yet.

Both Linda and I could see that Martin was more than a little uncomfortable to be snagged by this woman, so we walked up to join them and rescue Martin.

Next to Martin, this woman was a stick of a thing, all wired and electrified with intent. We could hear her rattling on, her voice more shrew than bird-like, going on and on about how Martin MUST go to the “tent” to get healed. It would heal his heart, head and hopefully his trailer (okay, so I’m exaggerating a little, but her enthusiasm was…VAST).

Linda, trying to ease his discomfort and add some grace to this woman’s obnoxious intensity, advised Martin that she has attended and, indeed, wonderful healings were happening. She quietly added that he needed to do what he felt comfortable with and not feel any pressure to attend the revival.

Janet went on, stomping over Linda’s tempered words and hooted that “GREAT HEALINGS are HAPPENING there. The LORD IS THERE with Reverend JENKINS and I’ve seen some incredible HEALINGS! GOD is IN that TENT!”

She was the incarnate white wind we’d experienced the day before. Her hands flew around her, adding to the explosion of her voice.

“You MUST go there and BE HEALED by Reverend JENKINS! GOD will save YOU!”

I’ll spare you her exaggerated and non-stop flood of outbursts during the next few minutes, and sum it up by telling you that she went on, in great detail, about how not only were people being healed with small things, like alcoholism, family troubles, incest, divorce, and other psychological problems, they were being healed from diseases, cancer, and….tumors…

Okay, it is at this point that I hope you have a strong stomach. The next part is hysterical but also disgusting.

She raged on, ignoring her audience, caught up in the moment of passion for her quest to bring people to Reverend Jenkins for healing. It seems that she follows him around in her trailer from place to place, leaving home and family behind, just following the “master” and helping with his healing work. At one point she pounded her chest as her hands flew around with emphasis, then leaned forward and poked Martin a few times in the chest to literally make her point, about the tumors.

Yes, the tumors. She explained in graphic detail how amazing it was to “watch these sinners puke up their tumors”. And indeed, we weren’t spared an illustration. She could have show us photographs for the detail we were about to hear about the colors, textures, and fluidity – or not – of the regurgitation process of people “giving up” their inside ickies and sins.

Like I keep saying, I do my best to keep my judgements about anyone’s whacked beliefs in my head and not in public, no matter how far fetched the belief sounds. On this one, I was sorely tested. I was grossed out. Having worked for years in hospitals and emergency rooms, and helped sick and dying people, I’ve seen a lot of gross stuff in my life. But this discussion was making me ill.

I think it is great people are getting healed or believe that they are. I think that a lot of “healing” is belief driven, so that’s not my issue. I suddenly had a new appreciation and understanding about how important it is to NOT reveal all of the unpleasant details associated with such healings.

I could tell that Martin was getting a little green, literally. Poor Linda was rather put off by Janet’s diatribe and shocked at the detail we were being exposed to. But what can you do when you are held in the grips of such overwhelming….okay, I’ll use the word but only because the English language is limiting….passion?

Linda came up with the solution, and I cheered her for it later.

“Let us pray for Martin.”

The woman halted in mid-puking tumor description. A call to prayer had been made and while we could tell that she wanted to spend more time relishing in her graphic story, church training slapped her mouth shut and bend her head, albeit reluctantly, and listened while Linda began to pray in soft tones.

Janet couldn’t restrain herself fully and we suffered through the frequent “Amen!”, “Praise the Lord”, and “Hallelujah!”, but we made it, hands held and heads bowed around the mountain that is Martin.

I hoped it would end the gory Halloween Movie stories. Maybe then we could get on with our day without insulting this woman who actually needed some insulting to shut her up. And if we made our escape, I knew that my stomach would retreat from my throat and the acid would settle back down, and maybe I’d be better in time for lunch.

We finished the prayer and before the woman could breath again, I maneuvered Martin towards the campground office, and Linda started asking questions of Janet to distract her. Linda, you are an amazing and brave woman.

In the office, I sat him down, worried about the greenish white tint on his big round face. It was clear he was still in shock from everything that had happened the night before, and terrified about facing all the trauma.

He had just let his insurance expire as he couldn’t afford it on his disability income, out of work and waiting for the heart surgery. Clearly the lack of attention to the rotting tree, complained about for a couple of years, was indeed the fault of the campground, but he didn’t know where he would live while they worked on the trailer. He didn’t know what would happen, how much they would do or pay, or what was going to happen next. He made it through one night in his leaking destroyed trailer, but what would happen tonight?

Combined with the rest of his life problems, awaiting the heart surgery, trying to lose weight, and now this, the whole thing was overwhelming.

I stayed with Martin to talk to the campground manager. She was upset by all of this and the fact that the campground was a mess in general. They’ve been working so hard on cleaning it up, this is a serious step backwards. She admitted that she couldn’t make a decision right now. I thought, “And you think YOU got problems. Trade them for Martin’s and see what it is really like with the shoe on the other foot.”

But I just helped Martin out of the office to slowly walk back to his trailer.

He was a mess. Inside and out. He didn’t know which way was up, but he knew he was down. Sweaty from the early morning walk, and pissed off but energized from the battles with the ridiculous religious fanatic and the campground manager, I sat him down inside his broken trailer and explained that we were going to come up with a plan. That’s what I do and it works. We make a plan. Break it down into its smallest pieces.

I handed him a pad and pen and told him we’re going to write everything down that has to be done, step by step, no matter how small, and just start doing it. Every little thing. Pick up the broken glass outside the trailer. Take the books out of the broken shelves. Move the television and computer to the bedroom. Clean the cat box. Wash dishes. Pick up the broken limbs outside of the trailer. Just little things so that he could check them off and feel like he was back in control again.

As we talked, he started crying, “Lorelle, you don’t understand. This is my home. And now it’s destroyed! What am I going to do?”

Ah, this was a good sign. The dam was breaking. I smiled and corrected him gently, sharing with him profound lesson in my life.

While Brent and I were falling in love, we were playing the game of not telling each other. Who would say it first? Brent would wrap his arms around me and hold me tight and whisper, “Home. Home is where Lorelle is.”

Over the years, through all of the ups and downs, giving up our home, moving into a trailer, and then creating temporary residences all over North America, Brent reminds me that no matter what, no matter where we are, home is where Lorelle is. I’ve learned through this wonderful patient man of mine that no matter what is going on, no matter what happens, what is lost, what is gained, as long as we have each other, home is wherever we are.

I told Martin that home is wherever he is. I doesn’t matter if he has a love or not. The same applies. Home is an attitude. For those cultures who migrated constantly, living here and there for months at a time and then moving on, chasing food and weather and better times, they all knew that home is something you carry inside. It isn’t a house, a car, a trailer, a job – it’s wherever you are, not where it is.

It helped, but I could tell it was too early for him to “see the light at the end of the tunnel.” So we went back to the list. Get the broken flag pole off the top of the trailer. Put the bird feeder back up. Tape up broken window. Take out the garbage.

After we had a good 20 things on the list, and a few more breaks of stressful emotion, Martin started talking about the prayer we did over him this morning. I thought of that horrid woman and all the vile things she spewed about spewing of tumors and healings. I was still angry.

All of sudden we looked at each other, sitting in his half destroyed trailer, sun coming in through the one unbroken window on one side, and both of us cried out “Puking purple tumors!”

We laughed and laughed until we had tears running down our faces. We’d just look at each other, say that phrase again, and the laughter would roar.

We didn’t mean to be disrespectful, but this was just so outrageous. Think of it. People cheering and shouting hallelujah while someone is spewing purple tumors and other gross stuff – well, I won’t presume any prayers were answered, but the laughter broke the tension and color started coming into Martin’s face and things got a lot easier to handle for the rest of the day.

An hour later, list in hand, he and I went out to get the film processed of his tragedy for the insurance company. We had a great oriental lunch and went to see the movie, “The X-Files”, and returned to pick up the film a few hours later. We laughed and talked, and he returned home that afternoon feeling a little lighter, and I felt better for getting out of the trailer for a few hours.

He keeps thanking me, but I keep telling him to stop.

I learned this from all of our travels and travails.

First of all, everyone is family and everyone helps everyone when you are RVers. You are family on the road. We all know that this could happen to us someday, so we all help each other. We know we live in homes that can be statistics in a hot second.

Second, I believe it is our job as humans on this planet, no matter what your religion or beliefs, to help each other. To make a difference, no matter the scale or volume, in other people’s lives. It’s not hard. A kind word here and there, fighting ignorance and stupidity with laughter and education, and just doing simple things as well as the big things to help the road we travel be a little smoother.

Third, believing that “home is where Lorelle is” or at least wherever you are, if you want your home to be in a “good neighborhood” surrounded by caring people, become the person who cares about your neighbors.

This is all part and parcel of the reasons I write these silly journals to you. It isn’t just to share our woes with you, though that is a small part. It is my hope you will learn from our adventures, maybe share a little of the excitement of our travels, and finish reading this a little wiser, a little happier, or at least more distracted from the woes of your own life. I’m just making my little bit of difference and flooding your email with my babbles.

I hope that’s okay.

One Comment

  • Randy
    Posted August 12, 2006 at 10:53 | Permalink

    I loved your story about Martin, and puking purple tumors. About being the friend or neighbor you want others to be. That is how I was raised. And your story was so refreshing & uplifting. God Bless you and yours. I love nature photography too. And hope to be an RVer soon. Although I just found out I’m going to be a father for the first time, I’m 45. So early retirement is out of the question for now. But God is Good

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