I had the pleasure this past weekend of meeting five of my high school girlfriends in Texas for a mini-reunion. It was a lovely weekend. We shared memories of our school days and the turns our lives have taken in the decades since. One member of our group is packing up her life, putting it in storage, and moving to Namibia in Africa, with her husband, for a four-year mission assignment. For many reasons, they will not be taking much with them; the luggage limit is very low. Late one evening, we began talking about what she would take with her to make a new, sparse place seem like home. We came up with a few of these, and I added others:
- One or two tea towels. No room in a home is more important than a kitchen, and having a familiar towel that smells like home would b welcome. I would take two that are well-used and that I can remember using on special occasions.
- Photos. There won't be much room to pack frames and glass and such; but a few well-chosen, favorites of the children, grandchildren, parents, and friends would be very nice to have. I would take a nice big stack of 4" x 6" pics and hope that my family back home would send new ones regularly.
- Art. Again, not much room, but surely one special piece. I would take my painting of young African women playing hide and seek among the trees. It would remind me of home; yet it will fit in the new environment, too.
- Recipes. I am sure there would be no room for a library of cookbooks, but what about a few family recipes---at least the favorites. I would take my family recipes for egg custard, grits casserole, pound cake, and macaroni and cheese---all good comfort food---and maybe I could sneak in my favorite cookbook, Frank Stitt's Southern Table.
- Bath soap. I would take a few bars. We use Dial at our house, and I would love that fragrance after a shower at the end of a long,busy day.
- Books. Okay, we have to take a few---at least the ones that seem like old friends. I would take, in addition to the Bible, East of the Sun, my favorite about three generations of women in Africa, When Bad Things Happen to Good People, Emily Dickinson's Poems, and journals for me to write my own stories.
- A dress-up outfit. I have this picture of a remote outpost with only utilitarian amenities, and I can understand the reasons for that. However, I know that on occasion I would want to dress-up as a celebration. My mind's picture of African women is that they like to dress up, too---brightly colored clothing, many bangle bracelets, and other jewelry. I would want to bring along my pearls, some sparkly jewelry, a few scarves--they don't require much room---and one pair of to-die-for shoes---you know, the ones about which you might say, "Oh, I just love them, and they don't hurt too much!"
- Bed pillows. I would just have to have my own, the one in which I have nestled my head for years and that has absorbed the smells of myself and my room.
- Sewing machine. Old fashioned maybe, but necessary. I would enjoy being able to sew pillows or curtains or throws or wall hangings from wonderful African prints. Oh, and I would want my well-stocked little sewing box, too.
- A fan of some sort. Whew! My mind tells me it will be hot. A ceiling fan would be wonderful, or at least a table-top oscillating fan.
- DVDs and CDs. Again, for a little taste of home. My baser self is evident here; I'd be looking for pure escapism---The Godfather series (can missionaries watch that?), Dirty Dancing, An American President, maybe even Lonesome Dove for my husband. And for the CDs, a little Tony Bennett, Etta James, Willie Nelson, a Christmas CD with the old carols and hymns, and a little classical for balance.
- Hubby's tools. Just the basic set---a screwdriver set, pliers, a measuring tape, hammer, and nails.
- Duct tape and WD-40. You know---duct tape for the things that shouldn't move, but do; and WD-40 for the things that should move, but don't.
What would you take on a four-year trip away from home?
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