Thursday, January 28, 2010

Be Prepared...

....It's not just for Boy Scouts. Missionaries need this motto as much if not more.

We never know when a routine shopping trip is going to turn into an adventure or when a bus trip already full of adventure will become even more exciting. For this reason I carry with me at all times my not so little bag of tricks.

Tom's mother gave him this backpack for his birthday shortly after we moved to Africa but since he prefers a fishing or police vest to carrying a bag I became the proud owner of this nice courier bag. I love the little pocket that holds me cell phone so when I'm walking down the road the phone is nestled in the strap across my chest in easy access.

Here is a peek inside the bag--My 'necessities' for a day in Africa.

I never go anywhere without a book. Tom mocks me but it saves me from losing my mind when we are delayed over and over again here. We have to wait in an office for someone--no problem, pull out the book. A bus ride takes 19 hours instead of 12--extra reading time!
I read at least two books a week and so usually have two books in my bag when I go to town and if I'm traveling it's not uncommon for me to take 5 books! A Kindle would be wonderful for this reason.
Carrie at Reading to Know is holding a challenge for the month of January where she is encouraging people to get to know L.M Montgomery's work or to revisit some of her books. I love the Anne of Green Gables books and decided to read this one above, Emily of New Moon. I'm enjoying it so far.

Another huge form of entertainment is listening to music. I'm so thankful for my little Nano.
The black sphere thing is a speaker. It produces amazing sound and allows us to listen to music in the car.
We also take it into the kitchen or use it for dinner music. It's wonderful!

Very important! My wallet. (See the photo of my precious in the corner?)
Our money here is quite pretty. That large wad of cash is not actually worth very much. The largest bill here is only worth between $10-12. I routinely carry 2 million kwacha with me but that is only just over $200.

Some of my favorite things:
  • My pink snakeskin planner. I've had it for years and use it all the time.
  • My head lamp. This I lose or break frequently so this is a recent model. It really comes in handy.
  • My gold business card holder. This makes me feel like a professional (missionary!).
  • The red notebook takes down my thoughts from day to day. If you could see inside you would see my notes taken during the Policeman's Ball.
  • That blue, stripey thing is the case for my oversized sunglasses. So important!

My little trusty cell phone.
See that green thing at the back? Those are little cards containing credits for our cell phone.
Nearly all cell phones are pay as you go so we have to buy little scratch cards and type a pin code into our phone in order to add time. Sometimes we can get the big ones--$10-20 worth but these little ones are just over $2 each. We go through about $10 a week each so that is a lot of scratching and entering.

Big time essentials:
  • Eye drops--things are so dusty.
  • Allergy pills (see above)--risky though because they're kinda illegal here.
  • Mints (front right)
  • Pain pills
  • Mosquito repellent
  • Lotion
  • Sunscreen (the sun is really intense here)

Other essentials:

And lastly: hair scrunchie and bandana. With no airconditioning our windows are always open and a hair drifting across your face over and over again for hours can make you slowly lose your mind.

So, there you have it! My daily pack. What is in your purse?

Can you tell me what is missing from mine?


  1. I agree, Amy. Books are absolutely necessary for one's "emergency pack." If I go anywhere without a book, I always regret it.

    Allergy pills are illegal?

  2. Yah, an Anne of Green Gables fan. Emily of New Moon is a great series. Enjoy our Canadian author.


  3. I don't know why but I got the biggest kick out of that! I so readily related to you on every object and why you would think it necessary!
    A Kindle is a wonderful idea. I got a nook for Christmas and I LOVE it! I figure, with the most expensive of the new releases being, (on average), $9.99 a download, it will pay for itself in no time. And I take a book, (or nook), with me everywhere I go if I am going to have to wait at all.
    That's funny that the over the counter allergy pills are illegal and not the pain pills!

  4. It's the specific ingredient in Benadryl (and generic) allergy medicine that is illegal.

    The pain pills are either acetaminophen or ibuprofen.

  5. I think you have all the essentials, but do you have a separate bag for things for kids?
    I have 6 kids too and my bag always has a thing or 2 in it for them.
    Crossword or word search books are almost always on hand. As is some sort of ball or hand held game. A ball or frisbee is helpful at rest stops to get them moving and use up some of the energy that's collected during the trip.
    Looking forward to your next post already!

  6. What a fun post! No keys? Those add the most weight to my purse. This children's pastor has a large ring with attached whistle and 16 keys...the secretary has assured me that I have a key that will open every door in the church. Last Sunday most of the staff was gone and we were locked out of the nursery! ha! I would probably stir up loads of attention with my Rescue Remedy and assorted tiny vials of homeopathic remedies...we had to sneak in remedy to a baby at the hospital last night...even in the U.S. God bless you with good reads and quick trips!

  7. Dawn: Most of the time I'm not traveling with small children. My big ones know to bring stuff in their own bags. I used to have more kids stuff in my bag but now if I go out and take a child with me I take a separate bag with toys, books and a change of clothes.

    Anonymous: you're right! I'm missing a basic first aid kit. I need to get a small bag and carry rescue remedy, antibiotic cream, and a few bandaids.

    My daughter pointed out that my hand sanitizer was missing. It had been moved to my smaller purse. That is a majorly important item!

  8. You are definitely more prepared than me. I typically have my debit cards, cell phone and chapstick. That's the minimum. Then I add the sunglasses, lots of receipts, check book (why??), pens, notebook, gum and bandaids. Then I complain that it's too heavy...

  9. Wow! You certainly are prepared. I never have what I need in my purse. I blame that on the fact that I try to carry a small purse so that I won't overfill it with nonsense stuff. But if I can't carry a large Sonic drink in it I won't purchase it!

  10. Oh, Anonymous, I forgot to comment on the keys. I don't generally carry keys with me for the reason that we don't leave the house alone very often so we rarely have to lock it. If we travel by bus, no car keys even. We do have about 3-4 dozen doors on the property so we have a huge basket of keys all labeled but only a few that have to be used on a regular basis.

    Stefunkc, how do you carry a Sonic drink in your purse?

  11. my purse is full of useless rubbish UNLIKE your blog! Wow, found you courtesy of the SITS website - and what an amazing thing you are doing.I look forward to reading more!! Inspiring stuff! I am from Australia :-)

    sharni_montgomery at yahoo dot com dot au

  12. Hi!! Saw u on SITS. just like you, kinda new there too. Neway, book is a great companion on long travels, and waiting games. Happy SITs sharefest.

  13. Wow, you got a great variety of 'essentials' in your backpack. I always need to have most of what I 'might' need along with me and this bag seems to carry it all.

    Yes, a book, always a book. I have the same portable speaker for my iPod and I LOVE it! I have bought three looking for one I was satisfied with and this is it.

    Love your blog, think I'll stick around.

    Thanks for visiting me on my SITS day. Please come by again.

  14. I have never seen the scratch cards before what a great idea. Nice post. Stopping from SITS!

  15. So funny reading about your purse! I have stopped keeping sunblock and piriton and insect repellent in mine now that we're living in the UK, but I STILL have a small torch light in there! Why, I wonder? The electricity isn't going to go, and there are lights EVERYWHERE! It's like a security blanket. I just can't let it go yet.

    Oh, how nice it is to have a light handbag.

  16. Enjoyed this too! What about your Peaceful Sleep??? Or other anti-mozzie spray? I slept under nets for the first time in Mkushi & hated it. How do you do all thius blogging from where you are? are you on dial-up? Sure my SIL in Mkushi would love to meet you but unfortunately you are so very far apart. My bag is pretty similar to yours in content but I also have disprin for those unexpected headaches & a calculator - used to use that a lot in Zimbabwe to convert all the currency - the numbers eventually got really massive there!


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