Thursday, April 28, 2016

So How Was Madagascar?

How was Mercy Ships? How were the living/working conditions? What kind of patients did you take care of? What was Madagascar like? Did you see any lemurs? Pretty much the variety of questions I have heard over the last two months. I have also heard things like I could never do that, you are such a good person, or your my hero. While I appreciate all of that I can't tell you how much it is NOT about me. I love to tell you these patient's stories not because I want recognition or praise but because I want you to be aware of what is going on around us. I want you to see how God's love combined with some practical measures like good, accessible healthcare is changing peoples lives everyday aboard the Africa Mercy. To all those friends and family that have listened to my stories and experiences thank you. Thank you for your open hearts and listening ears. I get joy knowing that a couple more people are aware of what is going on all around the world, are willing to listen and just maybe are inspired to do something out of their comfort zone and serve other people with their time, prayers, money and abilities. It has also helped me personally to kind of process my experiences and work through this transition time so thank you from the bottom of my heart and from the heart of the beautiful people of Madagascar.

I know what you are thinking though..... while these stories are inspiring not everybody can or wants to pick up and go volunteer in a foreign country. I totally get that but I'm also becoming more aware of the importance of serving others right here in my own hometown. I'm aware of the fact that there are patients, friends, family members, co-workers and people all around me that could use a word of encouragement, a simple act of kindness, or see God's love through me. I'll admit I have had some difficult days these last couple of weeks. Days where I kind of felt like I was in a fog and wondering if the last 6 months had actually happened. It has been difficult to see the ways I can serve right here at home when all I can think about is how tangible and evident it was seeing peoples lives impacted and changed for the better in Madagascar. It has been difficult to watch people take our abundant healthcare system for granted when all I can picture in my head are the smiles and thankful hearts of the people of Madagascar. It has been difficult to adjust to a completely different working environment and mindset than the Africa Mercy. But then I'm reminded of how this whole journey started. It started with a step. Fill out the application for Mercy Ships. Actually submit the application. Wait. Make a commitment. Book a flight. With each step God kept saying trust me. Give me that desire of your heart. Give me your talents, and abilities. Give me a small amount of your time and finances and watch how I multiply it all and touch peoples lives. So no I don't expect you to get up and volunteer with Mercy Ships tomorrow but I encourage you and myself really to take new steps of faith everyday. Small steps that will lead you to people, organizations, groups, and activities that will challenge, stretch, strengthen and grow you. And then watch how God transforms the lives of the people you come in contact with and even your own life.

I have also recently thought to myself what do I really miss from last 6 months? Is it the friends I made? The patients? The ship? Dress ceremony celebrations? I suppose you could say all of the above. I miss seeing lives transformed, hope being restored, I miss watching the VVF ladies bond and stay up late at night talking and laughing, and I miss the community of people all working for the same purpose. On the other hand, I think we often idealize people, situations and circumstances. When I think about it there were tough days over the course of those 6 months, days that I wanted to be home, frustrating work days and days where living in community with people all over the world was difficult. So I'm trying to have a healthy balance as I reflect on my time with Mercy Ships. In the end, I don't regret anything and without any hesitation would do it all again. Was it always perfect no. Was it worth every minute most definitely yes.

So there you have it. Nothing fancy. Just some of my own thoughts and feelings over the last two months. I'm adjusting, and continuing to take steps of faith. I'm so very thankful for this time at home to spend with family and friends and remaining hopeful for whatever is next. Whether that be returning with Mercy Ships or not I know that God has incredible plans for me. I thank you for reading and welcome any discussion or questions you have about my time with Mercy Ships.

These videos contain the full story of a man name Sambany who came to Mercy Ships in the first field service in Madagascar. His story is incredible! Enjoy!