How do you get your life down to a few trunks and suitcases? What do you need to take? What’s too precious to leave behind?
These are some of the questions that run through the mind of those who answer the call to serve in a land not their own. I remember them well. The first time round, I was single, ready for adventure, but naive and green. I took things I thought I had to have, only to leave two years later, laughing at my own stupidity.
However, from that initial overseas experience, I learned two things: Listen to those who are actually living in the country and ask one crucial question of yourself — can I live without it?
We think we know it all on this side of the ocean. Trust me, I’m not pointing fingers. I left with my permed hair, linen top, and expensive makeup to quickly face reality. The first time I did laundry, my pretty shirt turned several different shades of red. My perm, not only did not like the humidity of West Africa, but discovered lice, when I went for my first haircut. And there is no such thing as drip-proof makeup in 100 degree heat.
Let’s just say, I returned home looking much more like the real me.
You don’t have to be traveling thousands of miles to realize that your bags are overloaded with things of little value in the grand scheme of things. No, a visit to an apartment complex full of refugees will quickly reveal how “stuff-oriented” we are as Americans.
So, whether you’re traveling to Asia or Atlanta, it’s always a good time to re-evaluate what you’re carrying. Sometimes God allows change in our lives just to get us to do a bit of spiritual and physical spring cleaning. Do you want guests to remember your things or the peace they felt in your home? What makes the more lasting impression?
Are you traveling soon? It’s not just a question of clearing customs at the airport, but of blending with the customs of those you’re called to serve. What will you pack? What will you leave behind?
Grace and Peace