Editor’s Note: Lay Missioner Rhonda Eckerman discusses the uncharted waters of packing “do’s and don’ts” within the process of moving to her new mission site at the US-Mexico border. She shares the difficulty of packing tangible items, as well as the necessity of intangibly packing moments that bring a sense of home.

THE PACKING

I recently packed my belongings to move to Douglas, Arizona where I plan to live for the next several years in community with those on the border. I had no idea how much anxiety this would cause as I deliberated on what clothes, shoes, skincare products, hair products and other items to pack. There is no missioner’s handbook with a chapter on packing “do’s and don’ts” for me to reference. The struggle between living simply and taking only what I need versus taking what I want and not necessarily need, was making me just a little crazy. I found I added and then removed items in my “take” pile and often felt guilty when I put in the “take” pile something somewhat luxurious and not necessary. For example, a stack of books that I would love to re-read, my blender, or a manicure kit with an electric nail file. Yet the list of “important and necessary items” grew as I included pictures of friends and family, a cork board to display these pictures, and a canvas bag of art supplies. I had become so obsessed that I found I was often packing in my sleep!

I was so preoccupied with the task of packing that the fact that I would be facing a more difficult task of leaving behind my friends and family completely eluded me. Once again I decided to change my list of important and necessary items removing the books, pictures, and art supplies so that I could pack in my bags one or two of my friends. Sadly, none of my friends would agree to be part of my “take” pile. So I had to go back to my original list.

THE UNPACKING

Arriving at my destination after driving from Colorado Springs, Colorado to my new home in McNeal, Arizona, I spent the first day unpacking my car, carrying out so many bags, boxes and suitcases. It was when I was almost finished that I began to have an overwhelming feeling of anxiety and fear. What was I doing here? Am I sure this is God’s plan for me? However, these doubts did not stay with me for long as I began to unpack the pictures of my friends and family, encouraging cards and the handmade notebook of inspirational quotes from my friend, Nola. I have so much support and love that it never really mattered what I packed.

Here is what I know, I will not be the best choice to author the chapter for the missioner’s handbook on packing “dos and don’ts”, but I do know it is important to pack what brings you comfort and joy.