With just days left before we step onto a plane to fly away to our new lives that await us in Africa, I have decided to take a moment to write. The past couple of months are amounting to a colorful blur mostly…please do not take offense if we graced your presence. The memories made are sacred to our family, but for now they are hung up on the top shelves of our mind until we have a moment to digest them with tea and cookies. So as the ticker makes its way down to the day of departure, we wait as a family on this side of life that we are familiar with.
Before Randy and I got married, we were preparing for a journey similar in nature, because it was forging into the unknown. Many of you know that we hiked the lower portion of the Appalachian Trail, fourteen years ago, before backpacking became cool and received the attention of major motion picture enthusiasts.
We had been dating and were engaged to be married at the end of the trail, should we make all 2200 miles. The preparation that went into making this trek sweet was not for the faint of heart. We shopped for supplies so that we would be “comfortable” while making our way through the woods. We read books written by those who had forged before us, wincing when they made mistakes and laughing when their story gave us permission to. Food products were heavily researched through tastings and more realistically, cost. We had pellet potatoes that made the real thing seem less palatable. We mapped out all of the drop spots for our presorted packages to be mailed to us as we made our way through the woods, addressing boxes to post offices that we would visit along the way.
You see, planning is something I have always been gifted at, so preparing our families bags for a two year trek to Tanzania should be easy. Well, I wanted to be honest with you, because you seem like nice people that I can trust. There are no roses or rainbows here. In fact, the most colorful thing has been my mouth and the steady diet of television that my children have been consuming as we have foraged about attempting to think of everything that we will most definitely need coupled with what we already have and what may or may not be available once we arrive.
What I can share is that all this purchasing and packing is the result of one thing…comfort. How can we best achieve being a little bit comfortable in a place that we have never been? How can we create an environment similar to that of which we already have? A grueling process, I can assure you. Let me provide you with a glimpse of how the conversations are going around our table in order to better achieve our “comfort.”
Randy: Are you really going to take those?
Heather: Well, they are packed in that box labeled “to Tanzania.”
Randy: Do you really want to go down that road of taking something from home that we probably will not be able to find there once they run out?
Heather: I think I have entertained that idea and that is why they are in that box.
Randy: Well, I don’t think it is a good idea. You know we have to burn our trash there?
Heather: (crumpled brow) I don’t think like that, I am just trying to provide us with enough to transition us through the first month until we figure out what is available.
This was a conversation that we had over pull-ups, our nighttime diaper of choice, as all three of our girls still use them at night. I am thankful that Grayson (11) has been toilet trained.
We have gotten our luggage down to ten 47 lb. bins and two large NorthFace Duffles that have the majority of all of our clothes within. I feel like a wimp somedays, because the early missionaries traveled to distant lands with nothing more than a carpetbag of belongings. Their faith was so firmly placed in the Lord and my creature habits still lead me to snuggle up close to my earthly cravings of comfort whenever and however I can.
We leave on Thursday, fourteen and half years later, from the same state that our Appalachian Trail adventure began, but on a slightly less worn trail, with more gear in tow, and definitely more lives impacted with the decision to go down the road less traveled. May Christ be made known as we continue hiking as a family in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.