Giveaway Winner! Let's make that TWO Winners! Cindy and Vicki were randomly selected from the commenters to receive a copy of Duane Elmer's book, Cross Cultural Servanthood. If you send me your contact information (jack0063 at aol dot com), I'll send the books on their way!
Getting ready for the trip to Uganda gives me pause to consider the weighty subject of packing. Where and how you go makes a difference of course. Most trips these days include air travel where you have to deal with the airlines' inability to reliably deliver checked bags and the fees they charge just to try. The Darwinian response to the threat to belongings and cash reserves is to commit everything needed for the trip to carry on bags. This is quite a feat for some, as it seems that 47% of all their worldly possessions are going to be needed for the few days they are away from home.
There are a few who buck the trend though and pack light. You know who they are: the ones who get on the plane, go right to their seats and sit down. No wandering around looking for empty overhead bins or blocking the aisle while trying to stuff a bulging rollaboard into a space designed for a light jacket. For example, there was this encounter reported in my February 12, 2009 post: A young lady boarding the flight from Dallas to Chicago, after struggling mightily, and unsuccessfully, to get her bag stuffed into the bin, said, to no one in particular, "This is an odd sized case, it NEVER fits." Really?
It's a simple concept: pack enough. Not too much, just enough. I'll have a chance to practice in just a little over a week as I set out for my fourth visit to Uganda. It's a long way from Kansas. I'd be well advised to not pack like as if I was trying to close the gap.
Packing for Africa, 2010 Style
The "what to take" thing is pretty well taken care of. But the secret is in knowing what to leave behind. It is natural to think that if our motives are right, then whatever we do will be OK. And to think that any solution we see to a problem will be seen in exactly the same light by those with whom you are with. You'd be surprised at how far from the truth this ideas are. And these are the things that are best not packed.
Duane Elmer has written an excellent book entitled Cross-Cultural Servanthood. I would recommend it to anyone considering undertaking a work of service. It does specifically address interaction with other cultures, but in my opinion, there are principles that work in just about any situation. I'm tempted to go on about the lessons in his book. But let me say that if this is a topic that interests you, it is well worth getting the book and reading it yourself. Look for the story of the monkey and the fish. And pay attention to the phases of learning he talks about. Learning about. Learning with. Learning from.
We've more or less been through the first and second phases. It's that last one that's harder to get to. And more difficult to pack for.
OK. About that giveaway: I will select at random from comments left before noon on Monday, May 16 someone to get a copy of Duane Elmer's book. So, comment away...