I’ve been packing suitcases to be taken to the D.R. by James Madison University’s InterVarsity. Every year IV has a group head down on a short-term outreach there over Spring Break.
Can I just stop a minute to say how much I love hearing about college students who are spending their spring breaks bringing Jesus to others! A friend who is a Campus Pastor is taking a team to Knoxville, TN, my church’s college team is heading to Atlanta, GA, and I know there are lots of others, too. Having been in college during the (slightly) apathetic 1980’s, it does my heart good to see these young people’s desire to make an impact. It gets me even more excited to be going on staff with Students International! But, I digress… :O)
I found out they were going from another awesome young lady who went on our First Pres trip last summer. She gave me the coordinator’s email, and we’ve been in touch. At first I thought I’d just send one, but the more I thought about it, the more I figured, hey, why not see if they could carry more! Since I’ll be heading straight from Guatemala to the D.R., I need to get my stuff down to Jarabacoa before I leave the U.S. in June. Shipping is costly as it needs to be mailed to a warehouse in Florida, and then it costs $1.50/lb on top of the USPS cost to get it to the D.R. Yeah, it’s a bit complicated!
Okay, this is becoming tedious. But please stick with me because I want to share this really cool thing!
So, packing. I was told they could take two suitcases, possibly three, if she could get another volunteer. To be honest, I wasn’t completely sure why it would be an issue. After all, it’s just toting another bag. (Believe me, I'm not proud of feeling that way, but in the interest of full disclosure, you needed to know.)
On Monday I found out they would take a third suitcase. Yay! One is taken up almost entirely with cooking stuff and my Indian Spices (yes, an entire plastic container full!). Another is mostly 6-months' worth of toiletries, OTC meds, extra contacts, etc. The third has a mishmash of stuff including my new rain boots, other shoes (don't worry, the whole bunch isn't going!) and bed sheets. Trying to figure out what to send now has been difficult. I’m going to definitely miss my best knives and spice grinder!
According to their airline, each first bag is free, and the second is $30.00. That’s a lot, but still less than what it would cost to ship. I’ve budgeted $500 for shipping my stuff, so there’s some money available. I emailed the Coordinator to ask if she wanted three $30 checks, or just one for $90 or cash. Here’s the email she sent back:
“Actually the three of us are only bringing carry on bags… So it’s free :)”
I was completely dumbstruck. No wonder it was a big deal to find volunteers! These three young ladies are giving up their spring breaks to do mission work, and are now having to pack a week’s worth of clothes, toiletries, cameras, and all the other stuff you need, in their carry on. All so they can take stuff down for someone they’ve never met before!
I praise God for His unexpected gift, given through these young disciples of His. I am humbled and challenged by their sacrifice for me. I don't know if it's a big deal to them or not, but to me, it is huge. Huge because it is helping me out, but also huge because their kindness has given me great encouragement. It has refreshed my heart (see Philemon 7).
When people grumble about ‘these kids today’ I will share this story. As you go through your day today, be on the lookout for unexpected gifts from our Father. And, not just receiving them! Maybe today we can all try to give another person such a gift. It may be a small thing or a large one, but if we do it for the sake of Jesus, it will truly be a blessing.