Bolivia #1: Packing and Pondering

In roughly 12 hours, my 17-year-old daughter, Kate, and I will board a plane bound for Bolivia. We are part of our church’s high school team that will spend two weeks in Cochabamba working at Ninos Con Valor, a community that cares for orphaned children, infancy to age 18. Our team has planned this trip for over six months, working together to raise money, and participating in events where we learned more about interacting with people experiencing poverty. We are on a great team and will be joined by two families with younger children. It will be an amazing adventure!

Tonight, Kate and I sat at our table, reviewed our packing list, and gathered supplies for the trip. We are allowed a small carry-on suitcase (which will be checked) and one backpack for all our belongings. As a notorious over-packer (ready for everything!) I looked at my half of the pile and decided I needed to play a little solitaire! I am not procrastinating, just “resting” and gathering my energy to begin tossing out all non-essentials.

This is my first big trip overseas. And Kate’s. We’ve made several treks to Canada this year, and I’ve dabbled south of the border in my youth, but nothing of this magnitude. We recently marked the first anniversary of our big move to a new city, new job, new church, new everything. Now it’s time for another adventure – into a land , a people, an experience that is straight from God’s hand into ours.

As the departure draws near, I have been slightly obsessing over two things. Will I get altitude sickness or a parasite, and embarrass myself by passing out, throwing up, getting a migraine, have some sort of horrible lower intestinal experience, or a combination of the above? And, will I fit in as the oldest person on the team? These things have tended to keep me up at night or wake me early in a state of mild panic.

I keep telling God I trust Him, no matter what, and to my chagrin, I am not very trusting when I am panicking! I have done what I can, purchasing things like charcoal pills, gingko biloba, and special tissue for tidying intestinal  grossness. I have a large supply of other essentials, including antibiotics, chap stik, hand sanitizer, and gum. Still, on the eve of leaving on the trip, I am up late and checking my list again. Am I prepared? Am I ready? is there anything else I need to get before we take off?

All this convinces me that I am right where I should be  – once again flinging myself into God’s great, beautiful, loving heart. I am hopelessly, permanently human. As such, I tend to feel small and weak in the face of big decisions and big trips into the unknown. I love simple things – quiet mornings on my balcony talking to God, weekends with nothing to do but read and spend with family, the peacefulness of my office and weekly routine.

What was I thinking saying yes to Bolivia?!?

It is this other side of me, the adventure side, that calls out to me. Be brave! Trust! Step into new experiences with God! There is no way I can be fully prepared for this adventure, and God knows that. He knows that I stagnate without risk, without looking for Him in hard places, broken places – in others and in me. In the quiet mornings on my balcony, God reminds of this. That I am His, that I am beloved, and that He is calling me to know Him more deeply, to love His people, and in it all, to find Him loving me.

I hope to write often in the next two weeks, keeping all who are praying for Kate and me up to date on our adventure in Bolivia. I hope that, in reading these posts, you will join with us in spirit – and will take time to talk with God about your own adventurous heart. Where do you want to go with the Lord’ What are your dreams for travel, adventure and mission?


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