The great hunt for boxes happens at the end of every home assignment. We make phone calls and search out stores that have boxes suitable for packing, storing and shipping. Sometimes we get pretty fussy. Boxes are for three purposes.
- Storage boxes
These can be in a variety of sizes. Apple boxes and Rubbermaid containers are great for this. We will stuff these boxes with things we used this year but won’t need until we come back in five years. In goes stuff like family photos, books, bedding, and a crock-pot. Finally, we label them and put them in a storage locker to sit while we are in Japan.
- Shipping boxes
Shipping boxes are more difficult to find. They must be sturdy boxes but can only be a maximum of 60 inches in length and 108 inches in girth. These we fill with lots of extra cosmetics, new birthday cards, packages of taco seasonings, new shoes, our winter wardrobe (new and old), crafts for Sunday School kids, and some great books. But we have to be careful that they don’t weigh over 44 pounds. We entrust these to the Post Office. About six weeks later they will pleasantly surprise us by arriving at our door in Japan.
I’m also packing away a box full of memories of this year that will brighten my days in Japan. There are memories of Christmas dinner with family in Minnesota, an early spring with family in Chattanooga, my cousin’s lighthouse at Pigeon Point, fishing for bass, the Yankees beating the Twins, a comment by a high school girl, “Your talk was really interesting. I didn’t get sleepy like I usually do in church,” icicles on my eyelashes in Minnesota, the California sun on my face on a winter day, a free massage from a new friend, and surprise birthday parties.
- Carry-on/Check-in luggage boxes
In place of suitcases, we usually take the maximum size boxes we are allowed on the plane because they hold a lot more. Maybe we will buy Rubbermaid Action Packers®, which seem pretty big and sturdy. We will need one suitcase for the clothes and items we will use as we make some stops enroute to Japan.
The check-in luggage, however, contains things we will need right when we get back. Among them are lots of gifts (Japanese custom) for the church people, the children, our neighbors, English class students, and Japanese pastors. As we give them each a small gift, we want to show them that we love them and thought of them. But as we go back to Japan, the best gift we want to give is not one that fits into any box. It is the gift of God’s love and grace, and the gift of eternal life through Jesus Christ. As I pack boxes I pray that many will receive this gift during our next term in Japan.