Monday, July 03, 2017
If you are wondering what you're looking at, it's my bed covered with my suitcases and what has to be packed in them within the next 48 hours when I check in at Houston's Bush Airport to fly to Vietnam. If you're wondering about the title of this entry, it's the maximum weight in pounds allowed per bag by Singapore Airlines. Actually, it's 23 kg which translates into 50.7 lbs. I did a prelim weigh in and I have about fifteen pounds left for my own clothes and maybe some extra t-shirts. Most of the stuff in that pile won't come home with me, including one of the suitcases. When I land in Houston on August 2, I'll only have one bag to take through customs instead of the two pictured above. I leave as much as I can with the folks in the congregation I work with; they don't have much to begin with.
But the issue with packing is never on the return flight. It's what happens at the Houston check-in. I've become a pretty good shopper over the 21 mission trips I've made outside the US. That equates to twenty-one trips to Wal-Mart for supplies, eighteen flying solo. When I unpack my supplies, I first break everything I can down into smaller units. (Ziploc bags are a staple of my trips!) What I'm not great at is guessing weight. I have a scale with digital readout that comes out of storage every July. I weigh myself and then I weigh myself holding the packed bag. It may require moving a pair of shoes from one suitcase to the other or stuffing jeans into my backpack. I may have to leave a flashlight in Texas (the power is often off in Can Tho) or remove a bag of trail mix. In the best case scenario, if I haven't maxed out on the weight, I can stuff more t-shirts in for the children. (This year, I'm carrying new sets from our school, our youth group, and Crowley's Ridge Basketball Camp!) Of course, there's always the second issue to packing, even if I come in under weight; closing the suitcase and zipping it up tight! One step at a time.
As much as I hated packing for my early missions, I've come to almost look forward to it now. My first trips were to Honduras where we took bedding but I never took along food. You learn tricks like always take your own supply of Sweet-N-Low if you are a coffee drinker. The packing takes planning and skill tempered by experience. Sometimes, a little creativity is needed in the mix. I've come to look at the process as a challenge. Look at that heap of stuff in the picture- no way it all fits in those two bags, and yet I can pull it off! But you know the real reason I have evolved to the point where I love the tedium of packing? It means in just a couple of days I'll see Dat and Nhi, Thuy and Ngan, and all the others I have come to love so dearly over the years. In 2 Timothy 2:4, Paul wrote:
Recalling your tears, I long to see you, so that I may be filled with joy.
Now, I know what he means. Tears carry more weight than all the supplies in all the Wal-Marts in the free world. And it's not close.
Applicable quote of the day:
To me, the most worrisome part of traveling comes before any of the traveling actually occurs: the suitcase-packing process. It's a challenging and anxiety-filled process - I am caught between wanting my suitcase to be light and worrying I am going to need every single item in my bedroom.
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Posted by Steve Hawley at 9:00 PM