The Story of Big Blue

Suitcases take a beating when traveling, especially by plane. So  I decided the best way to  handle luggage challenges was to buy a  large, outlandish colored, soft side d bag. Voila! There was one, tough as  alligator skin, available at the luggage store. But just before I bought it, my dearest daughter offered to give me her large Samsonite suitcase.  Big and  bulky when loaded, with  rips and tears, she was too embarrassed to use it.

So I willingly inherited this suitcase which I named BIG BLUE. For  nearly 20 years, it accompanied me across the planet with all  my stuff. Gradually picking up additional  battle scars, rips, tears, broken handles and broken wheels, it suddenly dawned on me how valuable it was becoming. On the baggage carousels, its bright outlandish blue color stood out in a sea of black!  It bulk which stretched with soft flex hide, enabled me to carry enough provisions for a small battle group! And best of all, BIG BLUE, with duct tape repairs, clothes line rope handles, and heavy strap to keep it from splitting apart,  could ward off any would be thief anywhere in the world!

But somehow word  got around that  their pastor who took groups regularly to Europe and the Middle East  had the worst looking suitcase in the church. So at my retirement party before leaving on a short term mission trips to Brazil, the staff presented me with  brand new “Cadillac” quality luggage. They wanted me to travel  in style. In fact, some said that they should have given me new luggage years ago to save church from embarrassment!!!

But what to do with BIG BLUE? It had been a faithful friend for nearly 20 years. I felt pangs of guilt when several family members suggested I  trash it.  One dark night, reluctantly,  I filled  it with some junk, put it on the curb for garbage pick-up the next morning,  and told  some friends  my difficult decision.

Unbeknownst to me, early next morning, one of the friends drove over to our curb, emptied the trash from BIG BLUE into a garbage bag, and took the suitcase home. Two week later at a small group farewell party, a large gift wrapped box appeared among other symbolic  retirement gifts. I opened it, and with joy and wonder, there was BIG BLUE, clean and polished, but still with the signature duct tape on the sides and rope handles and broken wheels!

I called  my wife. “BIG BLUE is coming home! Rescued from the garbage truck. I cannot put it in the trash again. It was a gift and you do not trash gifts”. She could not talk me out of it. So there beside the Cadillac, my Big Blue  friend would stay in the storage closet. But not for long. Several months later, a young pastor and his wife came from Brazil for a visit.  Before returning, he purchased skate boards, video games, clothes and other  items for his two young sons. Things were  much more reasonable in the US than Brazil.  How could he get them on the plane?  BIG BLUE to the rescue. Everything fit in the suitcase. In fact the suitcase was so large that three of our grandchildren could sit in it comfortably as you can see in the photo!!

Because of the heavy  70 pound load, I tied clothes line rope around the middle to hold Big Blue together.  Arriving in Brazil, they were met by his parents, who greeted them with, “Where did you find that thing?” He explained that it was just on loan,  but had served its purpose  bringing presents for his sons. He  promised to give it back  on our next trip to Brazil.

A year later, we arrived in Brazil and were invited to the pastor’s home for dinner. Following the meal, the boys put on a three part skit, at the end of which BIG BLUE appeared with a big red ribbon and thank you note in Portuguese. Having my “Cadillac” with me, I could not use BIG BLUE on our return to the US. So our hostess promised to keep it in her storage room until we returned to Brazil on the next trip.

And then the mystery deepened. Returning the next year, I inquired how BIB BLUE was doing. Our hostess assured us that the luggage was stored in their storage room. But checking with one of the maids, she  learned that when the hospital next doors had a lawn sale, she gave the maids some items to take for the sale. They wheeled them over in BIG BLUE, planning to bring the bag back after the sale. But apparently   one of the sales clerks thought the bag  was also a “for sale” item. So a man from a rural area bought it for 5c, filled it with clothes and rummage, and took it home to an unknown village. I think this was per-planned, as my wife seemed pleased with the maids!

I grieved for a few days over the loss of a dear friend. And then realized I had so much and this man had so little. Maybe BIG BLUE was being used for storage.  Or perhaps as a bed  for a young child. Or even a  feed trough for his goats. BIG BLUE was quite adaptable you know.

Just imagine the stories that suitcase could tell if only it could speak…both in English and Portuguese of course!

Dr. Larry Selig 8/8/2017


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