From Bliss to Mess: An Overseas Story

Stow-away minivan seats solved our packing mess.

Planning a wedding and a move across the world is not difficult—it’s insane.

Before my wedding, dozens of well-meaning people told me first-year marriage horror stories. With stress about my dress, the weather, and the flowers, I had no brain space for anything other than my wedding. After July 28 I would be a new woman. That’s what I told myself.

Unfortunately stress persisted due to the next looming date: August 10. Two weeks after our wedding, my new husband and I would begin our journey overseas as missionaries.

Packing Mayhem

The wedding was beautiful and everything I wanted. The honeymoon was blissful relaxation.

The week after the honeymoon was mayhem. Our emotions were a mess. Joy came with marriage and stress with the move; excitement came with the adventure and sadness with the goodbyes. Our dominant emotions were peace and joy. But doubt, fear, and worry made appearances as well.

On the eve of departure, we picked up the rental car and began loading. After 15 minutes, we realized the SUV did not have enough space. Of course the rental company was already closed for the day. We planned to leave early in the morning, it was 10:30 p.m., and all our bags and boxes were piled on the driveway.

Overwhelmed, I saw all our possessions as junk. I mentioned throwing away my wedding dress, my shoes, a guitar that belonged to Nick’s dead cousin, and all his other precious instruments. I flopped (tantrum style) on a pile of flattened cardboard boxes, releasing my frustration in a magnificent yell.

Nick lay down next to me and gently shifted my perspective. God chose us to go to Eswatini, everything would work according to His plan, and in three months we would be settled in our new home, laughing about the ridiculousness of our journey.

He was right.

The next morning, Nick exchanged the SUV for a minivan (our new favorite vehicle—those stow-away seats were a wonderful invention). We managed to pack everything in time for a farewell breakfast with our family. After a total of 39 hours of driving and 25 hours of flying, our ten-day journey ended. We arrived in Eswatini (formerly Swaziland) happy and exhausted. Three months later we felt settled in our home and jobs and indeed laughed when reminiscing about the journey.

Perspective for the Journey

Sometimes all I need in a difficult situation is a better perspective. I wish I could say the rest of the road was carefree, but I continued giving in to frustration. It’s a battle I still fight. Do I let my circumstances control my attitude or do I keep my eyes on the One who is in control of my circumstances?

When the bags didn’t fit in the car, when the location of our new home changed days before arrival, and when the luggage was overweight by 20 pounds, I needed to remind myself to gaze at God. His magnificence, power, and love turned my “huge” problems into specks of dust.

My mind can be hard to rein in, but one thing helps me focus on God. I call them Power Verses. I read these verses every morning and keep the most relevant ones with me throughout the day. I found Psalm 138:1-3 especially helpful. It reminds me to praise God always, knowing He hears my struggles and gives me the strength for each day.

I will give You thanks with all my heart; I will sing Your praise before the heavenly beings. I will bow down toward Your holy temple and give thanks to Your name for Your constant love and truth. You have exalted Your name and Your promise above everything else. On the day I called, You answered me; You increased strength within me (Psalm 139:1-3 Holman CSB).

Reading verses like this forces my eyes to the Father, even when my mind tries to focus on daily problems. He is the only thing worth obsessing over and He is the only one who gives me what I need to live each day—joy included.

Molly Kozlarek serves in Eswatini with her husband Nick.

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