Tomorrow, our team of 18 will fly 2,460 miles to Quito, Ecuador for a week of jam-packed VBS, ditch digging, basketball camp, and Lord willing, many one-on-one conversations with people who need to know the love of Jesus.
As of Wednesday, my suitcase contained five t-shirts, a poncho, an umbrella, and a blanket. Marty is almost completely packed, which is pretty amazing. It's not that I'm dragging my feet about packing. I feel like lists are growing like weeds around me. Lists of what to still buy for Ecuador. Lists of what to buy for my girls for the week. Lists of what to do (copy passports, copy coloring sheets to take, refill prescriptions, etc). Packing lists for us and for the girls. Lists of what the girls can eat while we are away. Lists of what medicines they might need. Like I said....
Yet despite the lists, I don't want to look back over this week with regrets. I want to enjoy the water gun fights and the roasting of marshmallows. I want to say "yes" to an impromptu tea party for breakfast. It's definitely been a struggle this week. I have felt pulled between the need to pack and the desire to spend time with my girls. Sleep definitely hasn't been the priority that I had hoped, so once again, coffee has become a dear friend of mine. But on my last day with my girls, I pray that our time will be sweet. A simple trip to the library and our favorite bakery... Pizza and movie night with Daddy... To be completely honest, it almost kills me to leave these sweet faces. I love those little arms wrapping around my neck and catching a glimpse of those toothy grins that find joy in every circumstance.
It has definitely been harder than ever before leaving our girls, even though I trust my parents and sisters more than anyone else in the world to care and love on them. But in order to make things a little easier for all of them (& maybe to ease my conscience a little in leaving them), here are a few things we hope will help while we are away.
- a gift for each day (I left with my mom gifts for each girl for every day while we are away. She's going to put them at their spots at breakfast. They are simple gifts from mini tissue boxes to new water bottles and gardening bags.)
- notes from Marty and I (Marty and I have divided the days and have written each of them notes to be read every day.)
- our bedtime songs on an I-pod (I simply recorded several songs I sing to them at bedtime, ones I've sang since their births and our new favorite "The Boat Song" by JJ Heller. I'll leave this up to my mom whether or not to play these for the girls. It could help or make things harder. This is for emergencies.)
- a hidden gift in their suitcases (My parents always did this for me when I went to boarding school. I could open it as the airplane took off or would sometimes find it when unpacking. Special memories for me!)
- favorite foods (I've stocked up on all their favorite snack foods and mealtime favorites to help make meals a little easier for my parents.)
- packed all their clothes in ziploc bags for every day of the week (This ensures that things match and underwear is included.)
We will most likely not be able to communicate much while there due to very little internet connection and high phone prices. This may be for the best as I usually fall apart talking to my girls when I'm away. I would so appreciate prayer as I struggle to balance my heart being pulled toward my children and my desire to minister with my husband. Pray that once we arrive, our focus will be entirely on what God has called us to do in Ecuador. May any glory or recognition be only given to Him!