African Connection links are now in the sidebar to the right, just below the My Travel section.

Click here to see a La Crosse Tribune article about the mission in Uganda.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Packing it In

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...


Anonymous said...

As a former monkey I concur that Duane has written a book worth reading.

Jan Stowell said...

Thanks for highlighting this book! I've never heard of it, but it sounds like one well worth reading. My son spent a semester of college in Tanzania; he was so moved by the needs of people that he wanted to give a year working with a Christian humanitarian organization in a third-world country, but the ones he investigated, like World Vision and Samaritan's Purse, wanted to "hire" only local people, and he didn't have the skills he needed for a Mercy Ship assignment. He's heading for law school this fall and thinking about working with organizations like IJM. I'd love to have him read this book too.

Vicki L Hoylman said...

I'm really excited to read this book. I'm checking out your blog due to McKMama's recommendation. Enjoy your site.

Rachel said...

It sounds amazing! I'd LOVE to read it!!!

Julie Thompson said...

Interesting post. I did not even know books on this topic existed. Will have to check it out.

Cindy said...

Would love to read this book. We're going to Kenya next year and we're reading everything we can get our hands on, but haven't heard of this one. Thanks for the opportunity.

Candice said...

Sounds like an interesting read! I'm very passionate about cross-cultural mission work but do fear the negative impact we can have simply due to misunderstandings rooted in culture. I'd love to read it!

(visiting via MckMama's blog...)

A Country-ish Mom To 5 said...

Sounds wonderful! I've been stalking your blog for awhile - loving all the riding you do and hope we have similar taste in literature!