I’m convinced some people have the spiritual gift of packing.
I am equally convinced I am not one of those people. Just thinking about the process of packing up my home makes my blood pressure rise.
Moving is stressful when you have a team of professional movers arrive at your home and pack everything for you and transfer it to your new house across town (or so I’ve heard).
But when you have to go through literally every single item in your possession and decide to either
a. trash it
b. give it
c. sell it
d. store it
e. ship it (for a zillion dollars)
f. pack it (into bags weighing not an ounce over 50 lb.)
for life in a foreign country you’ve never lived in before… well, “stressful” seems to be putting it mildly. And that doesn’t even include the mile long list of things you need to BUY before you leave.
If this is you right now, in the chaos of packing up your life before you head to the field, here’s a big hug to say, “You are not alone. Velvet Ashes is a whole community of women who have been there and done that, and we know how overwhelming it is.”
First, I want to first offer you a bit of practical help. To do that, I’ll turn to someone who does have the spiritual gift of packing. Check out Kelly Hallahan’s helpful post and for all those who are lovers of lists, her free Expat Packing Planner is truly a gem.
If your packing process looks much less organized, well, you’re not alone in that, either. Just know that somehow the rest of us make it to the other side, too.
I thought it’d be fun, interesting, and hopefully helpful if all of us veterans shared the answers to two simple questions:
What’s the #1 thing you wish you would have brought when you moved overseas?
For me – spices. Somehow, cooking was not on my radar when I packed. That whole realm was so unknown I simply said, I’ll figure it out when I get there. Big mistake. We ended up eating scrambled eggs nearly every day for months. Finally when November rolled around, I bummed some cinnamon and nutmeg off of my teammates and attempted an apple pie in my tiny oven. Something resembling a pie was the final outcome and my husband and I both nearly cried at the first bite, something that tasted like home…
What’s the dumbest thing you packed in your bag?
Paper. Yep, I brought paper to China. And, no it wasn’t some special kind of paper, just plain, old… paper. No idea what I was thinking. Newsflash, they have paper in China.
Tell me I’m not alone in smacking my forehead and asking “Why did I waste precious suitcase weight with that??” Do you all remember your rookie mistakes?
Alright, now let’s take these packing tips to another level.
What do we do with all the baggage we carry with us that isn’t packed in our suitcases? The emotional baggage…
I remember when all the pre-field books and trainers would say, “Living overseas will magnify any struggle you’ve ever had and bring out struggles you never knew you had.” Well then.
Not exactly something you put on the recruiting posters, is it?
But … it’s true.
So here’s a few words about the emotional baggage we all unintentionally drag along with us to the ends of the earth… (Looking forward to hearing what you all have to add!)
1. Resolve consuming struggles, physical ailments, and relational issues before you go. It’s not too late. A canceled plane ticket is better than crashing and burning on the other side. For real.
2. Let God speak. Regardless of how prepared you are, you are going to see your ugly come out. Stress will do that to you. But if you allow God to speak to you, it will be a refining fire. Remember how you best connect with God, and then make sure you’re continually do that. If you find Jesus in journaling, music, art, meditation, then see that those things are part of your new life. And don’t let prayer and Scripture fall to the wayside in the midst of the transition. Those are your anchors.
3. You don’t have to prove yourself. I think there’s something in most of us that wants desperately to do big things for God. There’s a whole host of emotional baggage reasons for that. But when you arrive on the field you’ll feel incapable of even the smallest daily tasks much less doing great and impacting things for the kingdom. Feeling worthless can make you strive even harder to prove your worth and that’s a spinning hamster’s wheel that will only wear you out. (I just might be speaking from experience here.)
So before you board that plane, know that nothing you do or don’t do will change your worth in God’s eyes. He declared you priceless when he formed you in the womb. No great feats of service will change that and neither will any great failures. You are his treasure, no matter what.
Now let’s here from you.
Newbies, what questions, fears, hopes do you have as you are packing?
Veterans, what do you wish you would have packed when you first moved overseas? What’s the worst thing you packed? What do you have to say about the emotional baggage you brought?
Come share on our prompt “Pack.” Here’s how:
- You can share with us in the comments, if you don’t have a blog of your own. We have the amazing ability to post images in our comments! So post images of your art and/or share your words there.
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- If you have a blog, write or make art based on the prompt and join the link-up!
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- It will walk you through selecting which image you want to show up in the linky.
- Then your picture and link will show up below!
- Then be sure to go visit each other’s sites and share some comment love! It’s the rule. We applaud brave hearts!
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