Saturday, August 20, 2011

How to Pack For Africa

"I think I'm bringing only one pair of jeans," he says as he picks up the cumbersome suitcase to judge whether or not it exceeds fifty pounds with the inaccurate scale of his biceps.

I wonder what do you pack when you are going to Kenya, the horn of Africa, neighbor to the desperate Somalia that's been in the news. What can you possibly put in a suitcase that can make a difference in a place where famine is rampant, and HIV/AIDS is indiscriminate, there is corruption, and some children don't even have shoes between the soles of their feet and the dust of the Earth.

There's already been many vaccinations against yellow fever, typhoid and rabies. There's been prayer and tears, and new friendships with others who also pack and go.  There's a renewed friendship with Wesley, and a coming together as one to go ye, therefore, into all the world, and preach my gospel to every creature. There are plans and prayers and hope tucked in his suitcase, and how much do they weigh? For all I know, they lighten the load and give love wings to fly.

There've been things unpacked in preparation as well.  The bibles seem more like journals now because they are a record of his life.  Since the days of Mike's cancer, he has systematically worn out three with the living of eight years. Each testifies to how a life devoted is lived between its pages, its lines, and words.  This is what a bible looks like when a laid-down life intertwines with the Word.  It bursts the bindings and pages let loose.  It's always Revelation that escapes, the future hope that refuses to stay pinned down. It wants to flutter away, a note of good news that's been pollinated with devotion and looks for new ground in which to germinate.

Mike searches those pages and finds old outlines, sermon notes, and his documented life there.  He remembers hovering fragile at death's door.  He remembers clinging to hope when there was nothing else to cling to and energy for little else anyway. There are oily pages that soaked up the oil from anointed cloths that had hands touch it and prayers breathed over it from pastors too far away who couldn't come lay hands on Mike and pray for him. But their anointing oil touched his live in these pages anyway. Those oily pages whisper now, "Go, touch, be there, don't send a cloth substitute if you don't have to." 

This is what you pack in an American suitcase to bring to a third world country that is desperate and poor, sick and dying, in need of hope and good news. You pack your own story intertwined with His that is bursting at the seams to be told. You go and tell of being desperate and in need yourself, you walk as living proof that the sick and dying can live, and you deliver hope and good news just in the going.  God may not fit in a suitcase, but a testimony  and the gospel are all the better when delivered in one. The body of Christ squeezes into a suitcase because hope and love and salvation are transportable.


Related Posts:

Linking with Michelle because I took him to the airport on Sunday, and will miss him on Monday, Tuesday....12 days in all...

and Laura, because this will be a playdate with God if there ever was one.

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This post was featured in the HCB Community. Christian Blog Network


  1. "For all I know, they lighten the load and give love wings to fly... It wants to flutter away, a note of good news that's been pollinated with devotion and looks for new ground in which to germinate." This whole post is so tender. To go and be there. . . To bring one's self to the hurting. Showing up to show the hope. Great post Dawn. Praying. . . Not until every tongue and tribe and nation hears will Christ's return be. So, thank you Mike for helping to hasten the day!

  2. Dawn,
    Love the post, the words, and especially the written-in Bible.

    What an exciting time for you. Hope you will share your experience and adventures here.

  3. Beautiful words Dawn, my heart is breaking for Africa also. I will pray that Mike is able to bring some comfort to the hurting souls.

  4. I've been thinking and praying for the horn of africa so much lately .. the overwhelm of it all. and your words have brought a hope to my spirit. praying for Mike as he travels and as you miss.

  5. Dawn, He will do wonderfully! My daughter left a week ago yesterday for two weeks in Kenya. However, she leaves from there to go to South Africa for 5 weeks. So I how your mother's heart feels. They will come back changed kids!

  6. Hi Dawn,

    I came across you're blog through the Hear it on Sunday hop.

    Many send money, and many pray, but only a brother or sister traverses the world to comfort those in need. This is why Jesus sends us.

    My prayers are with your family as they go in the name of Jesus. May many come to know Him, and may those who don't find encouragement in trying times.

    God Bless!

  7. Love the images of pain worn Bible pages...thank you for supporting your husband's heart to go to Africa and telling us so we can pray.

    We can't all go, but we can pray for those who do go and thus be partaker in the work.

  8. Oh, wow. You are such a gifted writer. I'm visiting for the first time from the Hear it/Use it link up. I'm struck by the worn out bibles and how you called them journals. That is so true - sending prayers for the Africa trip.

  9. God is with him. And God is with you in the silent places Mike leaves behind. 12 days of blessings.

  10. Wow, Dawn, this post knocked me off my feet. Beautiful and compelling.

  11. OH, my goodness, you aren't kidding. This is the date where we invite Him into every tiny millisecond of it, isn't it? Oh, my goodness, praying for your sweet Mike. Praying for that LIving Word he carries with him to take root in some African hearts. How brave he is. And you too. Praying, praying. That is my best to give.

  12. Dawn, having just received a literal lifetime of marked up Bibles from the son of a dear friend who walked her whole life with God, I am so excited about those treasures winging their way to people who need the truth they carry!! Beautiful, beautiful post!

  13. I followed Laura here, and this--oh my.

    I love this: "This is what a bible looks like when a laid-down life intertwines with the Word."

    How I hope one day to flutter my own way to that country. Praying for you both.

  14. May God keep you both and your family while you are separated.

    Such a lovely post... Your writing and heart amaze me. Glory to God.

  15. Love this, Dawn. All of it.
    May I feature it at

  16. Thanks, Dawn!
    Here's the link:

    Thanks for letting us share these beautiful words and images.

  17. :-) that is so true, Jesus is what you should have packed to take with you anywhere.

  18. I was just talking to a young friend last night, who is moving to Africa to work with AIDS widows and orphans. We chatted awhile about what should she pack . . . an important question. I just helped my daughter pack for her ministry move to England. Putting this practial packing aside . . . your post is beautiful. Both of these young women have a long walk with God. I'm sending them the link to your post. It will be such an encouragement.


  19. I found your post through Michelle DeRusha's blog, Graceful, and I'm so glad I did. I pray every morning for people in the Horn of Africa and those, like your family, who are helping. God bless you for your part in answering those prayers.

    Would it be OK if I pulled some excerpts about the Bible and quote you in my blog? It's about my years in Africa working of behalf of Bible translation. I find it mindboggling that millions of people go through life's tragedies without a Bible in a language they understand. Your husband's well-used Bibles testify to the importance of having Bibles in our heart language.

    Thanks for considering my request.
    Linda Thomas

  20. Hey Dawn, Just wanted to let you know I featured your post over at my place today. Thanks for rocking my world with it.

  21. Dawn - Amazing. Yes, wherever we go, the best thing we can take are our lives transformed, testimonies of grace and mercy. Your husband has taken with him everything he needs, and he goes with God. Thank you for these words.

  22. What beautiful observations, and wonderful pictures. I especially loved the perspective of having your life recorded in the markings and use of your Bible. Beautiful post. :)

  23. Hi there! I read this post (from Higher Calling) the night I got home from my first meeting about my upcoming mission trip to Africa. Plus, my husband had a heart transplant last year. I wrote just this week about how I didn't want to go to Africa, but God called me to go. I couldn't imagine what I could possibly do to help the third poorest country in the world. Your post gave me perspective. God's timing was perfect in bringing your post to me. Thank you for writing it and sharing with me!


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