I have started to think about packing. How I am going to get my life back into 2 checked bags and one carry on bag plus one personal item. It is slightly overwhelming and to be honest it is more appealing for me to blog about it than to actually do any packing!
We recently were asked to help with the packing list for the next group of YAGM coming to South Africa, it made me start to think of what I wished I had brought, what I did bring and couldn't live without, and what I brought but didn't need. I think each says a lot about my time here.
Things I Wish I had Brought
-More warm clothes. It is cold here and luckily when my family came my mom brought me a few sweaters but I now wear those sweaters in a 3 day rotation.
-An extra pair of jeans. I brought 2 and since winter has set in I wear them on the same rotation as the sweaters. After many holes and patches on pair had to be sacrificed to be more patches for the other pair.
Needless to say it has been much colder than I imagined it would be. I had been warned that South African winters are not a joke. But I thought living in Colorado and Iowa I knew cold and would be fine. However, I am accustomed to houses with insulation and central heating. We don't have either of those things here in Soweto so if it is 50 degrees outside it is 50 degrees inside too!
Really though there are very few things I didn't bring that I need. I find it true again and again that less is more. Living simply is a gift. Moving for a year in suitcases in way forces simplicity. You cannot take everything you think you "need." But really what do you need that is tangible that can't be put in a suitcase?
What I Brought That I Couldn't Live Without
-This can almost go without saying but my pictures. I brought pictures from college, pictures from Denver, pictures of friends and family. The first night here I put them up and they will be the last thing I take down when I am packing up. They make me smile and know that I have an incredible people in my life and I am so lucky.
-My headlamp. I bought this right before leaving and I use it every single day. My room has two outlets. One has a space heater and the other is usually charging either my computer or my phone. They are located far from my bed and therefore I do not have a lamp. I read every night with the headlamp. It has also been useful as the winter months mean more power-outages and I find myself in the dark.
-My pocket knife. Anyone who knows me knows that this could never be on any list of things I couldn't live without before this year. I am not crafty, handy, or outdoorsy, mostly I am not usually doing activities commonly associated with pocket knifes. But this year I have used it more times than I can count.
-Sleeping bag. It seemed ridiculous when I saw this on the packing list. I couldn't imagine giving up that much of my precious suitcase space for a sleeping bag. But it has been so useful! I take it along when I am not sure of what my sleeping arrangements might be at a conference, retreat, or other event. I even use it in my own room now as an extra blanket.
What I Brought and Didn't Need
-This is mostly clothes. While I could use more warm clothes I still brought too many summer clothes. Who doesn't when packing?
Much of this year has been about living simply. What do I NEED? And the answer is not many THINGS. Life is about relationships and not what you have and while I think I knew this before this year has solidified this belief for me. Especially now that I think about packing and looking back at what things I have here and what things I will take back. Yes there are some things that I am bringing back that will make me smile and always be cherished. But it is just like my pictures that have been the most important thing to me here. They are a representation of the relationship not the actual picture that are so important. I know that in the coming weeks as I pack it will be the relationships that I have built that are the most important thing I have gotten this year.