I recently spent two weeks in the Middle East: Jordan, Israel and Egypt. Last time I wrote about the plane ride over. This week we’ll talk about the first thing that happened to me in Jordan.
I lost my luggage while in the Middle East.
Actually, I didn’t lose my luggage. The airline did. This was rather confusing since it was a direct flight. Obviously it had not gotten on the plane in Chicago.
My first thought was that maybe I offended the person at the ticket counter or the guy who put my bag on the conveyer belt (the last time I saw my bag). I always want to be nice to those people because they have a lot of power. With only a little flip of the wrist, they can send our luggage to Latvia, our bags to Bangladesh, our stuff to Switzerland, our gear to Granada, our junk to Jamaica, our clothes to Columbia, our…. (O.K. I’ll quit). They really are powerful. I know that God wants me to treat everyone with decency and respect because they are created in His image, but I always feel like I have extra reasons to treat the people who put luggage on conveyer belts as well as I can. I don’t want to tick them off. And I don’t think I did. Sometimes luggage just doesn’t get on the plane.
I had some extra clothing in my carry-on so I was okay for a couple of days. But when it got to the third day, I realized we may have to come up with a longer term solution. Part of the solution was learning to wash my clothes in the sink. It really works quite well. And there is a great sense of accomplishment when you can see how dirty the water gets when you wash your clothes. I learned that hair dryers can double as clothes dryers and that you can put socks over the end of a hair dryer and they dry faster.
I also learned that I hated asking for help. I really did.
Pretty well everyone on the trip had offered me whatever they had, but I hated accepting things from others. Finally a couple of people just gave me stuff (was I starting to smell?) and I broke down and asked a couple of people for things.
Two important lessons here:
First: Asking for help is really hard. We want to do things for ourselves.
Second: When providing help, sometimes it’s best not to wait to be asked.
Sometimes we need to just reach out and (graciously) give something. I did have some fun with some of the Amish/Mennonite friends on this Middle East trip.They were wonderful folks and I’ll write more about them later, but it was fun to accuse them of having too many possessions. How many times do you get the opportunity to tell an Amish person that they have too many possessions? That they should simplify their lives? I was living out of a carry-on bag. They had suitcases—sometimes two! I was so proud of my humble status!
Losing my luggage actually wasn’t a big problem at all. I did finally get it back about two days before we came home. That was nice. I could then share my goodies with everyone else (we had all packed some protein bars and such).
I returned the clothing items I had borrowed from others but I was left with one huge, monstrous, significant question…What about the underwear? Does one return borrowed underwear?
Middle East Travels (II) – you’re here, my friend