Boxes Inside of Boxes

Most of my interactions these days seem to begin something like this, “Are y’all about ready to get going?” While I realize most people probably mean psychological readiness, when we hear “ready” our minds cannot help but revert to a single word- CRATING! Those of you who speak with us often have likely heard us use this word a number of times. But for any/all who would like a glimpse into our lives over the next month and a half, here is a brief primer on the glamorous world of “crating.”

Basically, for M’s traveling to less-developed areas, the company allots a certain amount of cubic feet for shipping personal items and/or items that may not be available in country. For our family, between the 400 cubic feet for Kyndra and I and the 100 cubic feet allotted per child, we are looking at a whopping 1100 cubic feet to fill. While this doesn’t sound like much, it is probably way more than we will actually use. Some of the main questions we are using right now to prioritize what to crate are: “What do we actually need?” “What can we buy cheaper here than there?,” and “What will we need within the first few months of our term and what can we wait on?” Once we have a list narrowed down (huge thanks to Taylor and Jess Wolfe for all of their guidance/help in this area) we get a moving company onsite to pack up. And this is the beginning of a journey.

The moving company will begin by wrapping and packing all of our stuff (that we aren’t putting in luggage for the initial trip) into 200 cu ft. wooden crates like this one.

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Once these wooden crates are loaded, the moving company will then transport these crates by truck to their shipyard where they will be packed into 20 foot international shipping containers. You may recognize these containers from “Doomsday Preppers” fame. And while we won’t be using ours for a post-apocalyptic dwelling, it will contain a good deal of our livelihood and earthly possessions.

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container-shipping-from-uk

This is the portion of the journey where we can especially use your PRAYERS! The shipping container with all of our belongings will not be allowed to leave the shipyard until we have obtained a Temporary Employment Permit (TEP) from the Republic of Zimbabwe. This is the visa I will need in order to be able to enter and reside within the country for a year and be employed as a theological seminary professor. I will not bore you with all of the documents we must supply in order to obtain this permit, but suffice it to say they stop just short of requiring a vital organ (although we do need a full chest X-ray for every family member to certify we are not importing any infectious diseases!). A specific prayer request in this regard would be to pray that all of our documentation would be approved on the FIRST SUBMISSION! Apparently there has been a trend recently of having the first submission denied and a TEP only granted upon appeal. Please pray that we are approved the first time through and do not have any delays due to a visa appeals process.

As I mentioned, this process also affects our shipping. The sooner we obtain a TEP, the sooner our container can leave the shipyard and be loaded onto one of these (eat your heart out Captain Phillips) and can begin the journey to Africa.

20-feet-container

The way I understand it, once the container reaches this point in the process, the projected travel time to our doorstep in Zim is only about 8-10 weeks. So (theoretically) if we can get this TEP approved while we are going through training in Richmond (July-Sep), then we can head on to the field in early October and only 2-3 months would go by before our crate full of supplies arrives. Please pray that the process will happen in this way as this would make the transition for our family so much easier!

Thanks for all of you who have prayed for this process up to this point. Please continue laboring with us by presenting these requests to the God who is not limited by any port policies or international visas.

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