Friday, September 26, 2014

The Missionary Suitcase

There are times when everything falls into place beautifully and miraculously. This is one of those times. I wanted to both document and share it.

Not quite three weeks ago we were over at my in-laws house for dinner. They told us they had my husband's missionary suitcase stored and that we should take it home with us. Because we already have two full sets of luggage we were not too excited about the prospect of another larger suitcase living in our basement and I wondered what on earth we were supposed to do with it. A couple of hours later I got my answer in the form of a link to an article titled Why We Suddenly Have So Many LDS Missionaries from Zimbabwe.

If you didn't read the article (and I highly suggest you do), the gist of it is that there are young people in Zimbabwe with desires to serve as missionaries. The efforts of three professional golfers has made it possible for these youth to get the necessary paperwork and such done that would have otherwise been impossible for them. Now that the way has been cleared that far, they are in need of the other things missionaries need to take with them, clothing, scriptures, towels, bed sheets, certain toiletries, stuff like that. The goal is to fill 10 shipping containers. Below is the video posted in the article.

I was touched by the article. When I went on my mission there were several people who came to my bishop saying they wanted to help support me. I don't know who these people are, but they have my eternal gratitude. Ever since then I made a promise that when I was in a position to do the same for someone else, I would.

Well, right now we aren't exactly in a financial place where we can do much. Kid #2 broke her nose and all of those bills are coming in to the tune of about $2,300. Kid #4 will be arriving shortly and the cost for that will probably be at least as much as the nose. When I looked at the list of things needed for a sister missionary I knew there was no way I could pay for it all, or even for most of it. What I did know was that I have patterns, fabric, and the skill with a sewing machine to pump out a wardrobe. I also knew how I would feel if I didn't try. When you pray for opportunities to serve those opportunities may not come in the way you expect.

So I got to work gathering up my patterns and extra fabric. With an ocean between us, there's no way to fit the clothes to the sister who will receive them. I hoped and prayed to know which adjustments to make. How it all work out was nothing short of amazing to me. I don't keep a whole lot of extra fabric around. I prefer to get rid of it when it's served its purpose. There were, however, several pieces that I just couldn't seem to let go of. Those pieces ended up being exactly enough to make up the patterns I had chosen to sew and with the alterations I had decided the patterns needed. The basic picture of the sewn pieces is below: Four shirts, four skirts, a dress, and a little jacket/shrug thing.

After I got all the sewing stuff gathered I decided that the project was bigger than me. I needed to ask for help if I expected to fill a suitcase beyond anything other than the suitcase and the clothes. The response was humbling. Several people came forward with bits and pieces to add. There were gift certificates, store credits, additional patterns and fabric, items on hand, and a generous gift of cash. Without all of the help there is no way I could have gotten everything together. As of Friday night there are still a few sundry items to pick up, but that much we can handle on our own. The filled suitcase goes in a shipping container on Monday.

It has been a real blessing to see everything come together. The whole experience has been a testimony that if we follow the promptings we receive the way will always be opened to accomplish it. Filling a suitcase may not be as important or impressive as going back to Jerusalem to get the brass plates, but it will certainly make a difference to a sister missionary and to the people whose lives she touches. I just feel lucky to have been a part of it all

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