Monday, March 21, 2011

A Visit to Ephesus

As you know, I've been scanning my late father-in-law's slides.  It is a time-consuming job, but interesting at the same time.  Thankfully he had written a brief description on each slide, otherwise we wouldn't know what any of the pictures were.  While they were in Turkey working from 1959-1962, my father-in-law was able to travel around Turkey a fair bit and was able to visit several historical sites.  One of the places he visited was Ephesus.

Ephesus is, of course, mentioned in the Bible.  The book of Ephesians was written to believers in Ephesus and Revelation 2:1-7 addresses the church at Ephesus.  Ephesus was most widely known for its temple to the goddess Artemis. (I don't know if these pictures are actually of the Temple of Artemis or not...)

Browsing through the book of Ephesians after seeing these pictures adds new meaning to some of Paul's explanations to the believers there, especially these verses in chapter 2:  "Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God's people and members of God's household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord.  And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit."  (v. 19-22)

They had been set free from idol worship and no longer needed to visit the Temple of Artemis.  Instead, the temple was now the group of believers, with Jesus himself as the cornerstone.  

In Revelation John speaks to the church at Ephesus about having lost their first love. He says, "Remember the height from which you have fallen!  Repent and do the things you did at first."

Today the ancient city of Ephesus lies in ruins.  There is a modern town there, but it no longer has the glory it once did. I imagine it exists mainly for the tourist trade.  This picture was taken in 1962, so I don't know what it looks like today in 2011.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Missionary Packing 101

By the time we return to our mission field, we will have been in the USA for two years.  It is easy to collect STUFF....and then have to figure out a way to get it back to Africa.  I have tried to not buy more than what was on our list of things we really need...a list we made while still there.  Otherwise I get overwhelmed by the amount of STUFF in the stores and am tempted to buy far more than I need or even really want.  However, there are things that we either can't get there or we can't find a good quality version of it.

I found out that a container will be shipped in May so I need to get anything we are shipping by container to them by the beginning of May.  That works perfectly for us because we go to Daniel's graduation on May 7, then move back to PA on May 16, and then John leaves for England on May 19.  So getting the boxes to the shipping place by May 1st gives me a good, do-able deadline.

We use to take everything in boxes with us on the plane and pay excess baggage.  But now it is increasingly difficult to do that.  So this time we're shipping stuff and trying to stick to the allowed number of pieces of luggage we are allowed to travel with.

Now, all you seasoned missionaries already know this, but if you're getting ready to pack up for the first time, or if you think missionary packing is easy, this blog will show you how complicated it can be.  If you've ever seen suitcases being literally thrown around by luggage handlers, squeezed on conveyor belts, and otherwise mistreated, you'll know that luggage needs to be carefully packed.  Even though this luggage is going to be on a container on a freighter, one has to consider the possibilities of some pretty rough handling on the trip, not the least of which is the trip on the back of a truck across West Africa to its final destination!

So, first off, you must get some very sturdy cardboard boxes or Action Packers....great plastic boxes with lockable lids.  Not only are these good to pack in, but they also are great for storage on the other side where termites will eat everything and anything made of cardboard, paper, or wood.  It also helps to lay out your stuff that needs to be packed so that you can see what item will fit in that odd-shaped empty spot that needs to be filled.

Everything that could possibly break needs to be wrapped in something soft.  
I also like to line the box with something large like a sheet or table cloth.  That just gives it a little extra padding.

To optimize space, put littler things inside bigger things.  These food storage containers came in graduated sizes, but smaller things can go in the littlest container.  Even things inside containers need to be wrapped in something soft. 

I put things like spices in a ziploc bag before packing it.  That way, if it DOES break, the bag will contain the spillage.  And NEVER EVER pack things like soap anywhere near things like pudding mix.  Unless you like pudding that tastes like soap. I don't take toiletries any more because all of that can be purchased there now....but just in case you do.....

When packing glass items, stuff the inside of the cups or glasses AND wrap the outside.  With plates, put a layer of something soft between each plate. 

Cut all the tags off clothes and, if possible, take items out of cardboard boxes.  You'd be surprised at how much extra weight all that adds to your box.

As you pack, keep a list of what goes in each box.  If a box doesn't turn up, you'll know what you lost.  Also, those packing the container need to know what you are shipping and if any of it needs special handling.  For example, we used to ship batteries and acid for our solar system.

Packing time is also a great time to get rid of stuff that you aren't going to take with you and that you don't want to store.  After all, it will probably be out of style four years from now! So keep a box or bag aside for stuff to be donated to the thrift store.

Finally, clearly label the boxes.  Otherwise, it may end up on the other side of the world somewhere!  This is my days work for Saturday....two action packers and three boxes of books and DVDs.  Oh, and speaking of books....smaller boxes are better or nobody can lift them!  The weight adds up quickly.