In the Managua airport, about an hour before we were to board for home, I decided to take one last look through the airport shops for souvenirs.
I bought a blouse, a pretty embroidered teal and brown blouse just like I’d been looking for all week long.
It was just one blouse.
But I had already bought several shirts, and apparently this one extra shirt was all it took for the zipper to pop out of my suitcase, never to be popped back in again.
I’m about to board the flight home, with more flight to go after that, and I can’t get my bag to close.
The friends I’m traveling with — my mission team of the past week — see me struggling with my bag and ask me what’s going on. I’m embarrassed to tell them, and they laugh at me at first, for packing too much stuff and having to have that one last souvenir.
Then they start trouble shooting.
We’re think aloud possible solutions … duct tape? rope? yarn? … when the leader of our group, Lenny, offers his belt. His belt is too short to go around the whole thing so Tammy offers her belt too. Her belt is special; it belonged to her teenager daughter who died in a car wreck eight years ago.
I’ve been in situations where something like this would’ve been all it took for the leader or a team member to let loose their anger at me, and yet Lenny and Tammy responded in love by offering up their belts, and Gene fashioned the belts together so as to keep my bag together for just a little while longer.
It probably seemed like a small thing to them, or to anyone, but it spoke volumes to me, to see grace extended in the form of a belt.
Next time I’ll pack less.
And buy less souvenirs.
Or maybe take a bigger suitcase. :)