It sat beside the doorway looking forlorn and old and sad. I scrutinized the suitcase carefully, knowing it could tell a million stories if it could talk. Half of the handle was broken and the corners were banged up and well-rounded, all squareness taken away from years of hard travel. Pictures of people from different countries were attached to the side of the bag as if they belonged there. Postcards of Germany, Australia, Africa, and others unrecognizable were plastered on the suitcase in a collage.
Wow, I marveled, shaking my head back and forth in awe, the person who used this piece of luggage sure did travel widely. I wonder what kind of person he was. A quiet smirk escaped from my lips. Must have been an architect; why else would he have all those pictures on his suitcase? I bit my lip, deep in thought. Wait. I don’t think a man would put pictures on his traveling bag; it had to have been a lady, with a great imagination. A writer, I’d say.
I continued to stare at the dilapidated thing. Curiosity soon got the best of me and I walked over to it. Kneeling on the wood floor, I gingerly reached my hand out. The suitcase’s worn, leather skin seemed to shock me because I drew my hand back the instant I touched it. I don’t want to break it.
I forced myself to unclasp the fragile buckles and peeked inside. My heart jumped with excitement at what lay inside. Yellowed papers. Brittle photographs. A leather-bound book. I settled the piece of luggage on the floor so both sides were lying flat. As I began to sift through the papers, tears came to my eyes.
This belonged to a lady, and— I didn’t allow myself to finish what I was thinking. I picked up one of the tarnished documents. It appeared to be a letter, written with flourished scrawls. The date was April 3, 1927. I held it up to the faint light and strained to read the faded handwriting.
My dearest Mother,
Oh, the burdens of life are hard to bear at times. At this very moment I want to give everything up and come home; but I cannot, for I have made a commitment to the Lord to serve Him with my whole being. But, Mother, I am hanging on by a mere thread of hope. The boarding house I was staying at burned to the ground last night. I lost everything. I shall never be able to go now. I know the Lord has His hand in what I see as a disaster, but I also know He works everything out for His glory in His own time. How can this be good? Oh, I do wish you would pray for me to have a submissive spirit to accept what the Lord brings my way, whether it be good or bad. There is a couple at the small church here with whom I’m staying, until I can get back on my feet. I wish to be a traveling missionary, but as it looks right now, I shall never get there. Oh, here I go being negative again. Please pray with me in this situation. I must close for now.
I picked up another letter. This one was dated June 16, 1927.
I appreciated your letter of May 10. It was encouraging to hear from you! The Lord has blessed greatly since I last wrote. God touched the heart of several business men in the community to give me an offering—the money needed to go to Europe and South America! The Lord be praised! Someone gave me a suitcase. Oh, it is so lovely! The leather is so soft, and there are enough pockets inside to hold so many witnessing materials. Mother, God’s timing is right on time! One of my girlfriends here has been led by God to go with me! Celia and I will be leaving within the next month; God has already opened a few doors in Germany, where we’ll travel to first. . .
The remainder of the letter was watered out and badly faded. Inner strings tugged at my heart. Tucking the letters inside one of the friable pockets, I carefully closed the suitcase in reverence. The leather buckles seemed to crumble under my grasp. So, this was a missionary’s suitcase. I smiled, tears cascading down my suntanned cheeks. What an honor to have it in my possession.
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