Packing bags

A week ago I packed a suitcase with jeans, yoga pants, an MSU T-shirt, and tennis shoes. I was headed to Cincinnati to visit our son, daughter-in-law, and granddaughter.  I pictured lots of snuggling and laughing, a glass of wine or two, a Spartan win, and a weekend of refreshment.

I was disappointed on all counts.

We were supposed to leave on Friday morning, but I became ill and had to watch, instead, as my husband left to take the trip on his own. No snuggling, no wine, and I don’t want to discuss what happened to the Spartans.

Granted, I was thankful to have the time to recover. I read an entire book.  I crocheted two scarves.  I laughed quite a bit with my son. I watched an entire season of Call the Midwife.  Yes, it tugged at my heartstrings when my husband sent me photos of our granddaughter, but I knew I was where I needed to be.

This week I’m packing my suitcase again.  It’s a much bigger suitcase for a much bigger trip.  I’ve packed dresses and slacks, gifts and snacks, and all the necessities to carry me through a week in South Africa.  I’ve got to admit that, looking back on how last week turned out, I’m a little anxious.  Just one week ago, I was fully planning on going to Cincinnati, but I didn’t make it.  Today I am fully planning on leaving for South Africa in forty-eight hours. What if I feel this Friday like I felt last Friday?

It could happen.  After all, I didn’t have the flu or a head cold; I had an autoimmune flare. I felt like I’d been hit by a truck while recovering from the flu.  I call it “getting knocked down” because I am literally doing fine one minute, and then I notice that I feel nauseous, my guts are in knots, I have all over body aches, and I can’t do anything but lie in bed.  That’s phase one, which lasts a few hours.  During phase one, I typically am so uncomfortable that I can’t even read or watch Netflix.  I usually fill a tub with warm water, epsom salt, and baking soda, slither in and lie there groaning.  After about an hour in the tub, I can usually move on to phase two.  During phase two, I eat popsicles while reading or watching Netflix. I put an ice pack on my right SI and heated flaxseed pillows across my abdomen to continue the soothing that started in the tub.  This past weekend I moved in and out of phase two for about forty-eight hours.  I got spurts of ambition during which I organized my desk, graded papers, and did laundry, but then I headed back to the couch.

Traveling to South Africa is ambitious. It would be ambitious if I wasn’t teaching and tutoring.  It would be ambitious if I didn’t have an autoimmune disease.  It’s super ambitious because I am teaching and tutoring and I do have an autoimmune disease. Last weekend, while lying on the couch watching the fourth or fifth episode of Call the Midwife, the thought might have crossed my mind — what, are you crazy? Who do you think you are?  Why are you even going on this trip?

Why, indeed? I probably won’t be able to fully answer that question until I get back.  That’s usually the way with these things.  We were invited. We’re going.  While my husband has some ‘official business’ while we are there, my role, as far as I can see, is more to be a witness to what is happening and, possibly, to write about it.  That’s my hope, anyway.

But I can’t help but wonder what else I will find in South Africa.  How will this adventure shape my heart? How will it alter my views?  How will it direct my path?  I don’t know, but I want to find out.  So, I’m trusting that God, who provided the opportunity for this trip, will provide the health that I need to get on that plane this Friday.

God is faithful; won’t He do it?

Psalm 89:8

Who is like you, Lord God Almighty?
    You, Lord, are mighty, and your faithfulness surrounds you.

 

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