I wrote this piece in early March, while Andy and I were in the process of packing for the mission trip to Guatemala.
In one week, my husband, Andy, and I board a plane for Guatemala to serve our brothers and sisters in the remote mountainous village of Campur. With a small suitcase containing strictly the essentials, I question whether I will have everything I need for this ten-day mission trip.
For as long as I remember, I travel with much more than I need, or could possibly use. My crammed suitcases contain everything from an array of cosmetics and numerous shoes, to a surplus of clothing and needless accessories. Do I really need my hairdryer? I slog through airports and hotel lobbies buried in luggage, looking like an ant hauling a gigantic load ten times its size.
We parked our two empty suitcases on the spare bed two weeks ago. They rested with tops flipped open, hungry and wanting to be indulged. Instead of feeding them, we must carefully consider every item making its way into this rationed space, as if the suitcases are dieting. Will we be able to bring everything we need?
Andy shoves handfuls of protein bars and jerky into a side compartment. They promise to provide much-needed energy in-between meals. I place the obligatory two rolls (per person) of toilet paper on the bed near the suitcase – rolls that earn the distinction of essential and mandatory. That’s right, B.Y.O.T.P. (One of my co-workers quipped about this with, “What? The leaves in Guatemala aren’t large enough?”) A crumbled collection of plastic grocery bags remain on standby, waiting to serve as containers for our “used” toilet paper. I count the bottles of hand sanitizer to ensure we each have the recommended number – 6. All my toiletries slip into a quart-sized Ziploc bag: toothbrush and paste, body wash, deodorant, bug spray, and sunscreen.
What more does a girl need?
While Andy strains to roll our sleeping bags as tight as a ball of yarn, I rearrange items in my suitcase, and then wrestle with the idea of packing my hairdryer – just in case. As soon as I place it beside my toilet paper, I feel foolish for thinking their simple electrical structures could even support such a surge. Boy, would I be embarrassed if I was responsible for a power outage! I abandon my idea and remove it before I have a chance to envision what my hair will look like by week’s end.
I ask Andy if he thinks he has everything he needs. In reality, I am asking for myself, because I wonder if I will have everything I need.
He said he thought we’d have more than we need.
More than we need.
His answer bumps up against me like someone sharing close quarters. For a moment, I felt as confined as the cramped suitcase contents. Then I step back from the bump – more out of reflex than intention. What else do I need that I am not considering? I head to the kitchen to retrieve my packing list. I study the list as if I would be tested on it. The Lord interrupts me. He whispers, “Ask yourself what you will bring to this mission trip.”
However, this time I respond with intention rather than reflex. I ask God for answers.
The sleeves of Pepto-Bismol tablets crinkle as I slide them into the bag. I hear His answer. The things I really need I can’t stick in a baggie. Confidence can’t be slipped into a side pocket. Peace and love won’t fit in a carry on. Flexibility can’t be rolled up like a sleeping bag.
I rummage through my personal attributes as if I was delving through my suitcase. How could I have forgotten? God has already packed what we need for this trip. We carry these things in our hearts, not in our luggage. I find a cornucopia housed within me. My faith is stronger than it has ever been.
My hands, which hold 35 years of nursing experience, are eager to treat the ill and touch their hearts.
My heart longs to look into the eyes of these people and connect with them – to love them. This longing fills me with such peace and joy!
A confidence settles in my bones telling me I have everything I need, no matter what the situation. Now it is up to me to make use of the tools He has provided. A blanket of gratitude covers me.