Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Leavin' On A Jet Plane

My last week on the ship was filled with precious moments and I didn't hesitate to soak up every last second. Conversations and laughing with friends over dinner. Visiting hidden sites of Tamatave. Snuggling with our pediatric patients, deck 7 time with all the patients, singing and walking with the ladies down the corridors of the ward. Dress ceremony celebration. In the end I couldn't have asked for a better time with Mercy Ships. I was a part of setting up and working in the OBF clinic, lived off ship, and then worked and lived on the ship. I didn't just work with the VVF ladies on the ship either I had opportunities to work on every ward which allowed me to care for maxofacial patients, orthopedic kids, plastics and reconstruction, and general surgical patients. They all had their own challenges but each one allowed me to learn something new and interact with patients from all walks of life. 

It is surreal that something I talked about and thought about for so long is now complete. Almost six months and my time with Mercy Ships and in Madagascar is over. When you think about all of this it really is an odd way of experiencing life. You leave your home, invest deeply in a foreign country, patients and a community of people and then a time comes to leave again. Sounds crazy but it goes to show that there is something contagious and completely rewarding about pouring yourself out in service to others and growing in community. The topic here though is leaving. Short and long term crew alike will leave. Crew members that have been there for 20 years will eventually leave. If working with Mercy Ships has taught me anything it is that things change constantly. 

"Goodbyes are not forever.
Goodbyes are not the end.
They simply mean I'll miss you
Until we meet again."

People every Saturday leave the ship and go back to their homes, families, sometimes a job and sometimes not a job. After awhile they will naturally return to "normal" life or a "normal" routine. I suppose you could be thinking what is bad about returning to a "normal" routine?!? Absolutely nothing. In the effort to balance the weight of the last six months with returning home, I wonder if I will forget all that I have seen, forget the patients, and forgot all that I have learned along the way.  I know you just spoke the words "that's impossible" out loud ;) The reality is that things will change, I will forget some things and life will continue to move on both at home and in Madagascar. I'm reminding myself that returning home in no way diminishes this experience, the things I have learned about myself and God, the friendships formed, or the interactions with patients. It has all challenged me, enlarged my heart, and has completely ruined me for living life in any way that is short of extraordinary and I wouldn't change one thing about it all. 

What does extraordinary living look like for me next? Not entirely sure but I know that I will continue to walk this journey one step at a time. I will choose to be thankful for all that God has done so far and choose to believe that this season of my life will continue to propel me forward into all the good plans God has in store for me. 

Would you join me in continuing to pray for the patients aboard the Africa Mercy and would you pray for strength and energy for every crew member as this field service comes to a close. 

I start my journey home in a couple of hours and I'm so looking forward to being home, and talking with you all face to face. Would you pray for safe travels and smooth flights. 

Just a sneak peak at some of the pictures from my recent travels around Madagascar.....