Things I Learned from Waiting and being ‘Homeless’


A little more than a year ago, an opportunity to work and live abroad for a few years, came our way. We embraced it and since then we have been on a journey of waiting. I know. A journey needs motion, you would argue. Well, life’s journeys sometimes take place a very, very, very, very, very slow pace. Probably because some of us learn so very, very, very slowly. Or maybe God just have other plans. Anyway, we waited to hear if the opportunity was real. We waited for my husband’s appointment to be signed. And now we wait for an accreditation process to come through so that we can leave.

It doesn’t sound very daunting, but between the above mentioned activities demanded – and is still demanding –  a l-o-t of patience from our side. There was the wait to hear if, then the wait to hear where, then the wait to hear if again and now the wait to hear when. Again.

I always knew that I was a little bit impatient, but I never, never, never, ever thought that I needed such an intensive course in Patience. I think we (read ‘I’) made it through 101 and 102 and 103 and even the honours degree, but I’m telling you that the Master’s is another story.

It is January now again and the thumb suck date to leave was at the end of November. We prayed and we planned and we worked and we planned and prayed more. It is very difficult to plan ‘in the air’ – without having a target date. One of our colleagues were eventually sent out middle December and two more are in the process. So, it seems that there is movement.

We did what we could, working with the end of November/December scenario. Our house was sold miraculously (really, but that’s another story for another day) quick and we moved out at the end of November, but there was still no determined leaving date. So, we took an unplanned, but well deserved holiday to see our family in the Cape and enjoy the sea. It was marvellous, although the uncertainty hovered in the back of our minds the whole time. It was more than okay though, because we were on holiday and met with wonderful friends we haven’t seen in years, and we were not pressed for time or by something else.

We knew that when we return, we didn’t have a home to come back to, so we would have to rely on the goodness and mercy of friends and family for a while. We just hoped that the accreditation letter will arrive soon, so that we could have a date, say our good-byes and don’t have to rely on friends’ and family’s kindness much longer.

Our journey celebrated its first birthday a week ago and we are still here. Without a leaving date. Without accreditation. Without a house. We’re just waiting.

This is not the easiest life journey I had been on, but it definitely isn’t the worst either. As a matter of fact, when it starts one day, it promises to be quite an adventure which our little family of three were/are very excited about.  The long wait had dampened our excitement a bit. But in spite of feeling unsure and uncertain of the future and in spite of the waiting and the wondering and the thinking and the over-thinking and the what-if’s, I – and we as a family – had learned a lot and enjoyed this time a lot.

We learned that we live with too much clutter around us. We sold a refrigerator. We threw away a lot of stuff. We gave away more. We learned that it’s okay to give or throw away things, but that it’s the hardest thing on earth to say good-bye to loved ones – be they people or pets. We had to say good-bye to our little Labrador family which was one of the hardest things I ever had to do. I still can’t think about them, without my heart breaking through the tear walls in my eyes. We still have to give away our little Maltese poodle to family (thankfully), but we’re going to keep him until the end.

We learned that nothing is really certain. Even when we live uneventful, routine-filled lives, things can change in the wink of an eye. We learned that not having any debt is great. We learned that it feels wonderful to not have so many, many responsibilities. But, with everything taking so long, our son had to start school again.

We learned that to live in the moment is something that has to be practiced. It doesn’t come by itself. We are so used to dreaming dreams and living for the future that we often forget to use the only time we have – now. We don’t even always have today. All we really have is now. I am very thankful for this lesson, but I am also very scared that I will unlearn it as soon as this journey is over and we fall back into routine.

We also learned that family and friends are more important than things and that we are very thankful for every night that loving family or friends spared two or three beds for us. We know that it isn’t always easy to have house guests, what to say ‘homeless’ guests!

On the road we learned a lot of practical stuff too, like:

  • We miss our own beds!!! (We had some good ones to sleep on though.)
  • I can’t believe I say that, but I miss a washing machine and have come to appreciate every opportunity to wash clothes! And laundromats are wonderful places.
  • I also appreciate a tumble drier so that we don’t have to go for the out-of-the-laundry bag look all the time.
  • I always loved and appreciated being alone with my husband and son, but now it’s even more special.
  • I love reading a book on our tablet. I love reading a real paper book.
  • A cupboard to put your clothes in is a wonderful luxury!
  • To be able to retreat and lie down whenever you want to is a great privilege.
  • You need a residential address to do anything and everything in this country!
  • To have somewhere to pack out your toiletries means you have a home.
  • An easy reachable place for a toilet paper holder isn’t always the first thing on an architect’s mind when planning a bathroom/toilet.

And so the waiting continues. Maybe I need to learn still more before God can let me loose in this world…


© 2014 Riëtte de Kock

I am trying hard to be a Proverbs 31-woman – excellent wife, finest mom, greatest lover and successful entrepreneur and freelance writer all at the same time! I share a living space in Pretoria, South Africa with my husband, son, mother, four dogs and sometimes the neighbours’ cats – and my head with way too many ideas and multitudes of story characters.

Visit my website at and buy my children’s ebook, Yeovangya, on Amazon Kindle at

My Afrikaans blog is available on my website – or just click on this link:

2 thoughts on “Things I Learned from Waiting and being ‘Homeless’

  1. Ineke says:

    Excellent story! Love the way you write.


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