Thursday, February 28, 2013

Monday, February 25, 2013

Reducing Stress: Packing To Do List

If you're anything like me, you might focus so much on what you're supposed to take on a trip and neglect the process -- inevitably making the whole process stressful despite your detailed list of items to bring.

When packing for this 3-month trip to Ghana, I was determined to enjoy the process, have times to relax and enjoy final moments with people around me, and leave confident that I hadn't forgotten anything and would return to a welcoming environment. It's really important to me to have everything neat and clean before leaving, so we feel welcomed back on return. This is what I did... Keep in mind, that I would love further ideas/advice from your experiences packing and traveling.

Packing To Do List
  1. Start early (if possible) and with a list
  2. Research what to bring (optional)
  3. Distribute items among bags
  4. Pay attention to carry-ons
  5. Keep a record

Entertaining Elijah with the simple things of life
& recording contents of bags
Now the longer version for more committed readers... :)

1. Start early (if possible) and with a list
I try to start with a list right away. Often it's just handwritten, but with a bigger trip like this (and even more for our later move to Sierra Leone), I use wunderlist. For me, it's super important to have a list that the hubs and I can both access and add to from the computer or our phones. Also, I like to save my list for future trips so I don't have to redo everything. I like to keep a running shopping list with this -- mostly because I hate shopping and only want to go once, if possible. Shout out to Amazon and 2-day shipping!
2. Research what to bring (optional)
Depending on what type of trip, this may or may not be needed. I wrote to a few missionaries and looked at a couple lists, like the CDC packing list -- so super helpful for missionaries.
3. Distribute items among bags
Once I had everything together, I pulled things for the carry-on(s) and then divided everything else into piles based on the number of checked bags (for us 3). So, each bag had clothing and other essential items, as equally dispersed as possible. This is for in case a bag gets lost. Also, it ended up making each back about equal in weight. I had to do very little shifting and guess work to get them the right weight.
4. Pay attention to carry-ons
I made sure anything super important or heavy was in our carry-ons along with a change of clothes. So, things like all our medications (didn't need to be included with our one quart-size liquids baggie) and copies of itinerary went in the carry-ons. Plan for delays, especially when traveling overseas. If you're stuck in an airport several hours, you want to be prepared. Also, it's a good idea to minimize carry-ons with small children, if possible.
Side note: Our checked bags were lost/delayed on our honeymoon, and I'm so glad Josh had me pack a few essentials in my carryon. Lifesaver! 
5. Keep a record
After the bags were packed and weighed with this amazing scale, I unpacked each bag and took pictures of the contents. And yes, I did use the pictures, not because luggage was lost, but to know which bag had what items! :)

Saturday, February 23, 2013

"Oh, you must be terribly busy!"

Sometimes people make me feel more stressed than I am. Have you ever heard the following?

"Oh, you must be terribly busy!"
"I know everything is crazy right now..."
"You're probably stressed/overwhelmed/tired."

Don't get me wrong, transition is difficult for anyone. It seems that anything in life could cause stress... moving, packing, going to school, going to work, having babies, having children or grandchildren of any age, pretty much anything one does in life. Does everything have to be "overwhelming" or "too difficult"?

My sister Mary &
my baby E at 3.5wks
My sister is moving to a new home. She is a hard-working pastor's wife, has four children, and has lived in 6 states in the 10 years they've been married. This time it's winter in Iowa, but she's not pregnant like most other times. Rather than saying, "How on earth do you do it?!" I want to say, "How exciting to have a new home! What are you working on? What are you looking forward to? How can I help/pray for you?" Because, I know, in the midst of the long to do list, she's thrilled to be moving!

As I was packing for our 3-month trip to Ghana  (and for our 3-year term in Sierra Leone), I questioned and doubted myself much more when I heard something negative. Sure, it's good to be honest with difficult tasks. But if you're like me, your attitude about those tasks is greatly affected by what people say. I loved hearing something like...

"You must be so excited to go on this adventure."
"Be sure to have fun while you're at it!"
"What an exciting change."

Up next... packing to do list to reduce stress. Learning to wife!

Taking a taxi to the airport in Accra to fly to Northern Ghana.
(Taken by Joshua Wagner)

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Mastering Mommy

I was 18yrs old when I took my first class in linguistics. I didn't even know what linguistics was. I just wanted to work with Bible translation. That was 2005. Yesterday, my sister-in-law sent me these pictures of what came in the mail.

M.A. in Applied Linguistics
with a concentration in Bible Translation

Thanks to my husband's support and encouragement, I finished classes when Elijah was 7wks old and my comprehensive exams a few months later. When I heard that I passed and would receive my M.A. I said, "Now, I can be Mom!" 

I look forward to seeing how God uses this training for his glory alongside serving in my primary role of wife and mommy. My desire is the same now as when I started -- that I would have the honor of participating in the efforts of getting Scripture into the heart languages of the people.

Blog silence for the past year. Explained.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Hello. It is enough for today.

Antere. N Dagban yuli Wunpini. 
M bohindi la Dagbanli. Di sagiya zungo.

"Hello. My Dagbanli name is Wunpini. 
I'm learning Dagbanli. It is enough for today."

This is Elijah's babysitter, Rafia.
She named me Wunpini, meaning "God's gift,"
a local name people enjoy and can pronounce.
(Taken by Joshua Wagner)

I love that this is not only okay to say, but it's recommended in my training right now.* We all have limits, right?

Language learning is a very important part of being a missionary, whether you're learning a new language or simply learning how to communicate effectively cross-culturally in a common language (e.g. English and Ghanaian English).

My big takeaway is that it's okay to acknowledge where I'm at in the process. AND, it's good to say it aloud. "It is enough for today," or "This is all I know." People here are very patient and friendly and continually say that little by little we will learn. Biela biela - "small small" or "little by little."

This is an even bigger lesson for me. I'm a missionary wife and mother, planning to work and live in Africa for several years. Pretty much everything will take time and will come biela biela. That's okay.

Each of us takes a day at a time, uncertain of what each holds.

*Here in Ghana, my little family is getting ready for life in Sierra Leone. Josh and I are sitting through classes on cross-cultural living/working, particularly in West Africa. We are also learning some of the local language to learn a method taught here and tackle common barriers with language learning.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

When it's 106, sometimes you just need to ask

The palace of Ghanaian female chief
Taken by Joshua Wagner
My hubs, 7.5month-old, and I moved to Ghana for three months. I'm super excited to write about some of the experiences that I'm having here. Some days absolutely everything seems different from my wonderful and frozen Minnesota, and other days, I feel like this could be home.

When we moved into our room here in Ghana, we were so impressed with the accommodations, we thought little of the fact we couldn't get the A/C to turn on. We adjusted quickly to the 102-106 degrees F. Or, should I say 39-41 C? Our neighbor was talking about her A/C last night, so I thought I might as well ask the receptionist about ours. In a beautiful way, she walked down the porch, stood on a chair, and flipped a switch. 

A week and a half into our stay, we turned on our A/C.

Between the extreme desert dryness and the blast of heat when I walk outside, I'm not sure using the A/C is the best idea. But that decision isn't for tonight since we're enjoying it sooo much.

The Sun of Tamale, Northern Ghana
Taken by Joshua Wagner

how 'bout this...

Related Posts with Thumbnails