WARNING: While I hope these tips will be helpful, I have to admit I’m writing them BEFORE we’ve actually moved, maybe once we’re over there I’ll realize some better ways to do it (or more likely…how NOT to do it).

“Okay kids! Go over to our 5 packed up boxes for a picture!”

Ah yes…cute picture of the kiddos and the feeling of having 5 boxes already packed up and ready for Africa! Just 3 more tubs to go!

Oh wait….as we gather together in one spot all the miscellaneous and random things that still need to be packed and those few things we’re ordering off Amazon…..um guess those neatly stacked tubs are getting revamped and we’re starting all over again!!!!

The whole time I kept thinking back to a post by An Inviting Home. Before I go any further, I have to say this is one of my very favorite adoption blogs, after having 2 bio kids, they adopted a sibling group of 3 from foster care. Okay…back to the subject at hand…She was talking about some friends of hers that are missionaries as well, and when they moved their family, they had to just keep weeding things out. They’d go through everything and get ride of stuff, then six months later do it all over again. You can read more about it here.

Now I give you 5 tips for moving junk overseas!

Talk to people who live there.

It has been such a blessing for us to be able to talk to other missionaries already living in Senegal. In fact, we even have a list of things that people have recommended we bring. Of course, it all depends on the person, different things matter more to different people, but it at least gave us an idea of what’s hard to get there and what’s readily available.

Take versatile-multi-use things.

  • Legos can become a toy space ship, house, airplane and pretty much anything your imagination can think up, and they can even be used as teaching tools.
  • Clothes that match with a myriad of other things and can be dressed up or dressed down are good choices. You can find a lot out there about a minimalist wardrobe, but here’s one post with 4 tips from Money Saving Mom.
  • One of the few kitchen items I’m taking is my pressure cooker, because it not only works to pressure cook food, but it’s a nice tall pot perfect for cooking big batches of things, it’s got a heavy durable bottom, and I can make one of my favorite snacks in it…popcorn!

Take advantage of modern technology!

I’m not all super gadgety, but I sure am thankful that nowadays we can take a nice slender laptop in place of a giant computer and box monitor! I also love how I can take buckets of books on my kindle! I’ve even been stocking up on free e-books from Amazon. Other modern space-saving marvels are things like having digital photos instead of a bunch of photo albums and negatives.

Small and light is superior. For example, one of our laptops is rather big and heavy, so we decided to purchase a new smaller and lighter one to replace it. The new laptop is giving us an extra 10 pounds in our luggage.
Other examples are:

  • Paper back over hardcover books (if you don’t like the e-book option).
  • Polly pockets instead of large barbie-sized dolls.
  • Scrabble Apple instead of the regular Scrabble board game.

What you don’t take with you, can serve as an aid in helping you adapt to your new life.

I know that right now this is still just theory for us, but we’ve heard from others that if we go over with everything we need and more, we’ll have less reason to go out and be in the new culture and language. While we are taking quite a few clothes, we’re also hoping to have some made out of beautiful, colorful fabrics! I am taking some of my favorite kitchen items, but not too many because I want to learn to cook how they do.

Remember, people live and survive where you’re going.

This has comforted me when I’ve gotten ride of things. Not taking a certain item might make my life a little more inconvenient or I might miss something that is familiar to me, but millions of people live in Senegal just fine, so any basic human needs I’ll have I should be able to get there.

If you need more tips on packing light I get most of my ideas from Mr. Bean.

Have you ever moved to another country? What tips for moving did you learn?

Frugal Friday

Sounds like something a greedy little toddler would say, right? But it’s what I’ve found myself saying, in my head at least, multiple times lately as we yet again pack up.

“I love these mason jars, I can’t just get rid of them, surely I can find things to put in them, so I have an excuse to keep them.”

“Getting rid of almost all of our kitchen things and replacing them in West Africa sounds great…but what if it ends up being expensive and it takes us a while to restock everything? That might mean super simple cooking, and making do with what we have may end up being a pain.”

As all these thoughts roll around in my head, I think the main thing I’m trying to avoid is  discomfort. I really, really hate not being comfortable, whether that discomfort is inconvenience, not getting my “me time” or worried about what others think of me.

But that’s focusing all on me, and the purpose of my life should not be to make it as comfortable as possible. Not that my purpose is to make it uncomfortable either. My job is to spread Christ’s love…..often that means I’ll have to get a little uncomfortable.

Living on this earth wasn’t fun and comfy for Jesus, neither was dying on the cross, but “…For the joy set out for him he endured the cross…” (Hebrews 12:2).

Paul’s life was full of prison, persecution, ship-wrecked and so much more, but he said in regards to the things he lost suffering for Christ, “…I regard them as dung! – that I might gain Christ,”(Philippians 3:8).

As I struggle with a love for my stuff, I’m so thankful that when Jesus was talking with the rich young ruler, who also felt sad about giving up his things, it says, “…As Jesus looked at him, he felt love for him…”

As you go in that story, the disciples are confused at how Christ said he should give all he had to the poor and follow Christ. And that it’s easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for rich people to get into God’s kingdom. When they say, who can be saved then??? Jesus says some words I absolutely love, ” This is impossible for mere humans, but not for God; all things are possible for God.” (Mark 10:27)

In conclusion:

  • I’m thankful for the many wonderful things I’ve been able to use and enjoy.
  • I’m reminded that they’re just tools, and if they don’t help further Christ’s message of love….then I’ll be just fine with out them.
  • And it’s okay if my life isn’t perfectly comfortable, I’ll be plenty comfy in heaven for the rest of eternity. :)

Lord, help me to not just say these things, but really believe them!

…So I’m wondering, if you have a list or remember, exactly what you packed when you moved. I have a fantasy of moving everything in one car, too, in a year when my husband gets into residency. It’s going to be extremely exciting, after 8 years of him being in school. It’s also going to be scary, because we’re going to lose my income….

Just the other day I was talking to Cameron about how much possessions can cost so much extra money. Before our big move we had a garage sale and made about $400 off of it. If we hadn’t had the garage sale, we would be out that $400 and then if we had brought all that stuff with us,we would’ve needed to rent our buy a trailer, which would cost us more. And hauling a big heavy trailer would’ve added even more money because our gas mileage for the drive would’ve been horrendous (it was already bad enough with a loaded down car, stuff on the roof and bikes on the back). And then if we were to ever rent a storage shed, that’d add to the cost of our things again! Now, I do realize that not everybody has the same benefits we had, for example we knew we had furniture already supplied for us and we knew there was a mission barrel where we’d be able to get some used items for free, and on top of that we’ll be moving over seas eventually, so it’s not like we’re getting completely settled.

As I think back to how we decided what to bring and what to get rid of, a few main points stand out in my mind.

  1. If you don’t use it, get rid of it…. pretty simple in theory, but harder when you get down to it.
  2. Would it be easy and cheap to replace after the move? For example, a broom is bulky to pack and easy and cheap to replace.
  3. Make the most of your space and pack well. I’m terrible at packing efficiently, but Cameron does a pretty good job. Use your clothes as packaging for delicate items instead of wasting the space with newspapers.
  4. Before the move do your best to eat up the food in your fridge, freezer and pantry. This can actually help you cut back on your grocery bill right before the move and then you can use that savings to put towards restocking after the move. And if you did well eating up your food you won’t have to waste it or try to pack it to take with you.
  5. Multi-purpose items are amazing! I didn’t bring my tea kettle, cuz my pot boils water just as well.
  6. What about things you’re saving to re-use? This is a hard one, since saving and re-using items is cheap and green. For example, I had collected a nice little stash of wrapping materials and cute gift bags. Saving these allows me to purchase very little wrapping paper, but as I thought about our limited space, I figured I wanted as much space for other things that are more important to me and I could always start collecting gift bags after the move anyways. I also made the decision to get rid of all of Gracia’s baby clothes except my favorites. If I were living in the same place for the rest of my life, I would probably hold onto these for future babies, but given our circumstances I sold and donated them instead.


Saying good-bye to Cookie Monster until we unpack.

One last note, I highly recommend the book Organized Simplicity.* In Tsh’s book she covers the whole idea of possessions and how to scale down and simplify. She also blogs at Simple Mom.

*Amazon affiliate link.

Linked at Frugally Sustainable and A Blossoming Life.

Our plan when we move is to take all of our things with us in and on top of our Honda CRV. The other night we pulled out our tubs to see how many we could fit in the car, and we were trying to figure out the best way to pack. Sitting in our car looking at the small amount of space I have to carry our possessions to Missouri, I was a pretty overwhelmed. I felt like I had already gotten rid of so much between the 2 garage sales plus multiple runs to Goodwill.

Then later that night as I was laying in bed thinking about it, I realized what a first world problem this was. Fretting over if I can carry all of my precious junk with me. Having so much stuff, shows that we’ve always had enough money to buy the things we need and even things we want. It’s so easy to forget that for many people in the world, they don’t have enough to fill a car up, if they tried. Yet here I am lamenting over the fact that I have too much stuff.

I want to make an effort to be thankful for all the things I own and for the circumstances that are forcing me to take a closer look at what things I actually use and what I don’t. Maybe some of the things I get rid of can better be used by someone else.

Gracia & me in Mexico (2011)





WARNING: This post doesn’t have much of a point…I just feel like rambling!

So, we’re going to be moving from Texas to Missouri in 2 and 1/2 months….when I start thinking about all we want to get done between now and then, I get pretty overwhelmed:

  • Cameron finish the overhaul on the plane.
  • Get the airplane’s annual check done.
  • Cameron get his Commercial license.
  • Sell the plane.
  • Have a garage sale here.
  • Have a garage sale in the town we used to live at, where a bunch of our stuff is stored.
  • Sell the trailer, shed, washer, dryer and moped.
  • Pack and load everything up.
  • Move.

And that’s just counting the big stuff, there’s lots of little stuff that needs to be done too! I’m just trying to take it one day at a time. If I can just get a few things sorted for the garage sale one day, then I figure that’s a step in the right direction.

I’m also starting to think about getting all of our food eaten up. When we moved from Wisconsin to Texas, I didn’t do a good job of this and ended up with bags and bags of food to give away before we moved. This time I’m trying to plan better, so I’ve already made a list of things that I’ll have to make a conscious effort to use up, things I don’t use very often or just have a lot of, like:

  • Cornmeal
  • A big jar of vanilla
  • 4 bags of frozen pumpkin puree
  •  An unopened jar of yeast….and the list could go on.

But food isn’t the only thing I’m thinking about, there’s also the toiletries and cleaning supplies. I have 2 1/2 bottles of body wash in the bathroom. It’s taken me about 4 months to use 1/2 a bottle…I know I’m not going to use 2 1/2 in the next couple of months…should I take them with me….but that will probably just take up too much space. We’ll be moving all our things in our Honda CRV with a small trailer pulled behind and maybe some things on top. It seems silly to jam it even fuller with some bottles of soap that probably cost me a buck each.

Then there’s the decisions of what to take and what to get ride of. I’ve been thinking a lot about the book Organized Simplicity. She talks about everything in your house being useful or beautiful to you. Something that I found very helpful was instead of making a list of things to get rid of, I made a list of things to keep. Every time I wrote something down I wanted to keep, I asked myself when I last used it. A perfect example is my angel food cake pan. It’s a really nice pan, but we’ve only used it once and that was about 4 years ago. I’ve held onto it just in case I want to make angel food cake sometime….but when I thought about the fact that it’s only been used once and that was years ago, I realized the chances of me using it again are slim, and it would sure be nice to have one less unused thing taking up space where I could pack something else, that really does get used!

There’s my blabbering thoughts…if you actually read through this whole boring post, then congratulations! You should probably get some kind of reward! :)

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