Let the furlough packing begin! Umm…Susan, furlough isn’t for another 7 months. Aren’t you getting ahead of yourself? Maybe, but then again, maybe not. I’m the type of person who likes to have things planned out in advance and well organized, and so when Brian and I recently started seriously talking about our first furlough coming up in August, one of the first things that popped into my head is that I’d better start thinking about how to pack our stuff. (Brian’s first thought was what kind of car we need to get while on furlough, so that gives you a look at our completely different priorities!)
We plan to be back in the U.S. for a year, and we hope to have renters in our Ukarumpa house while we are gone, so that means that all of our personal belongings have to be packed and stored in a way that mildew, cockroaches and other vermin can’t destroy. But it gets more complicated than that. In the back of every missionary’s mind when they go on furlough is the possibility that they might not be able to come back. We plan to return to PNG after furlough, but there are no guarantees. What if our financial support drops and our organization won’t let us return to the field? Perhaps something unexpected may happen while we are in the States, and we can’t return to PNG for medical or family reasons. It sounds pessimistic to think like this, but the honest truth is that it happens all the time. We’ve seen it happen to our colleagues here. I figured that if I started packing at least some thins now, then hopefully our last month before furlough won't be as hugely stressful as we have seen it be for others.
And so, I’m packing with the possibility of not returning in mind. In the event that we didn’t return, we would probably have to ask someone here to dispose of all our stuff. We want to make this an easy task, so as I pack I’m labeling each box with a number, and also whether the box is “Ship” or “Sell”. Boxes marked “ship” will contain items that we would want to have shipped back to us in the States, and the “sell” boxes are things that can easily be replaced in
or which aren’t worth the expense and effort to ship internationally. I’ve also created an Excel spreadsheet to keep a more detailed list of what is in each box. (I love Excel… I’m such a nerd!). America
This morning I started with something easy – the drawers in Greg’s room, which were full of things that he has outgrown or no longer uses. I divided them into three piles: The “ship” pile, the “sell” pile and the “yard sale” pile, (the third pile is for things that I plan to get rid of before we leave). While working on this, I realized how very few things I would want to have shipped back home. So many of our material possessions just aren’t that important, and I could easily live without them. So even though we have accumulated a lot of stuff (especially since having a baby!), it’s nice to be reminded that the most important things I have are going to be sitting on the airplane with me when we go.