Lists very often order and delineate my world. They are my saving grace when we prep for travel. I have processed through over a dozen lists in the last weeks. This is far more than my normal every day, but right in keeping with what I can expect to emerge from the swirl of furlough preparation. Lists protect my sanity and help me rest. In short, lists make me a better person. I will depend on my records and inventories for all the months we travel. Today’s blog will be no exception. Please enjoy this list of observations compiled for this blog a few weeks ago as we planned for furlough.
- Preparing for furlough with teens and preteens is physically a much less daunting enterprise than when they were little. They pack their own bags. They clean their own rooms. They help me with all the household prep tasks. This is simply remarkable. I well remember the days of packing for five and I will never cease to marvel at the gift my children’s independence is to me too. So thankful!
I personally vetted and packed each item of the four bags you see here. And chose the clothes they are wearing.
I have absolutely no idea what is in the four bags you see here. Didn’t even think about it once until right this minute. (Upon further review, I discovered that one of the boys packed a football and all have swimsuits. Fingers crossed this will last us four whole months.)
- We barely keep the mold and mildew at bay when we are living in our Uganda home and cleaning it regularly (one of the gifts of living in a rainy tropical environment). So, when we are away for any length of time we stand to lose some of our belongings to mold. In the past we have lost mattresses, sheets, clothes, photos, books, movies and anything leather. In preparation for our furloughs we now pack our clothes, pictures and most precious possessions in plastic bins. This doesn’t always work, but it’s the best we can do. This makes it feel like we are moving instead of just going away for some weeks.
- Rats. They WILL invade and reside while we are away. I hate this. I fight this. But it will happen. They are already knocking at the door, sneaking into our pantry and chewing placidly on our bananas while we slumber. I plug holes (with steel wool), I leave D-con in all the places and I whisper inhospitably into the attic, “You really are not welcome here.” But they know and I know that they will storm into this space when we have shut and locked and secured. I wish there was a better way. (Some wise reader just whispered, “Get a cat!” But unfortunately we have several who are allergic.)
- The emotions of leaving, no matter what side of the pond we are currently on, are heavy and analytical. We find ourselves looking at old pictures and remembering lots of ‘back when’ and we speak sadness for what we will be missing in our days away. Rather than a momentary lapse of farewell endeavoring, this specific experience is our constant. It never gets easier, but it does feel very familiar.
- We do so much better in this process of departing when we take time to be thankful for things out loud. Especially each other. In the bustle and planning and all the remembering of what needs to be done we must say please and thank you often. When we don’t things unravel quickly.
- I am so thankful for our life. There are many deficits in third world living but the redemption in every loss proclaims long and loud. Our God is SO faithful. It is truly our honor to serve Him here.
- My people amaze me. The emotions of stepping across the ocean and strolling alongside the lives and happenings of others are big and deep and sometimes overwhelming. As the Cashlings have aged and matured we can shelter them from the emotions of being ‘other’ less and less. They experience the cross cultural re-entry as maturing people now and thus feel all the struggles and blessings in their own ways. And yet, they go. Packing and planning and talking through what they feel and think. They courageously process and set out to engage in a culture that is very different from the one they operate in daily. It leaves me stunned. Not just that they can do this, but that they embrace the process so valiantly. Praying, helping each other and boldly stepping forward together, their strength and dignity inspire and teach me. Every time.
Soon it all begins. We will eventually count down to one. One more night in our own bed, one more evening walk with my sweet dogs, one more morning coffee ritual in my own kitchen with my favorite cup and then we begin our sojourn. Time with our family and dear friends lures us away from our regular and our well acquainted. We simply cannot wait to look into some precious eyes and feel some actual hugs from those whose sacrifice reaches all this way too. It is time for us to physically be in the same space again. I’m so thankful for the opportunity to make this happen.
As we venture into the vagabond life for some months we lean confidently into an embrace that stays familiar and never fails.
He is good.
“Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea
even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.”