Sunday, February 26, 2012

Packing for Africa

    Packing to move your family of 5 (soon to be 6) to Africa for at least 2 years was an endeavor that, I readily admit, I was not fully prepared for. I thought that all my previous travel experience, including our 5 month stay in India as a family of 4, gave me significant background for this task.

     Boy was I wrong!

     I thought I could condense our life into 10 checked suitcases. This included some pots and pans and silverware, homeschooling books and supplies for J & L, some medical equipment (including a microscope), and medical books (those suckers are heavy!) for Jeneson and I, enough clothes for 3 girls (our baby due in July will be girl #3!) ranging from newborn to some 5T and a growing boy, a portable crib for S and then the new baby, cloth diapers, toys and activities for the kids, rain boots and sandals for everybody, clothes for Jeneson and I (including maternity and non-maternity clothes for me), and miscellaneous odds and ends (those certainly add up!). Needless to say I was wholly unsuccessful; we ended up taking 2 additional bags and leaving lots behind that I had wanted to take.

     Having this sense of failure at the start of this kind of journey is not a good way to start. The whole time while preparing to pack, packing, and repacking I had this relentless internal struggle: try to make things comfortable for my family and provide for their actual, perceived, and anticipated needs in a remote part of Sierra Leone vs the knowledge that the vast majority of people in Sierra Leone, and certainly in Mokanji do without many of the items that I was packing.

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