It is so hard to believe that my time here on the Africa Mercy is coming to a close…
When I arrived on November 30 the end seemed so far away. And now here I sit, with three work shifts left with our patients and a couple days of cleaning and shutting down the hospital to go.
I have loved my time here for so many reasons:
The patients, their families, the day crew of Malagasy people I am blessed to work with.
The sisters and brothers I have met and lived community life with from all over the United States and the world.
The support I have had of so many people around me here in Madagascar and back on the home front, constantly reminding me of the love that they have for me and the prayers they are sending up for me.
Tangible love has become so more real to me here on this ship. Love of friends. But also love of strangers. The kind of love that Jesus talked about and demonstrated 2,000 years ago. Love above all else–no matter who, where, or when.
I think this love is only possible when we are able to know and feel the depth of God’s love for us. The God who made the universe, who gave us the wonder we feel when we gaze at the earth and the sky… this God loves each one of us. Perfectly. Wholly. Not because of anything we have done. With no ulterior motive. With nothing to gain.
“For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person–though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die–but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” – Romans 5:6-8
Just as this love was shown to me, I am compelled to show this love to others. That is the main reason I came here to Madagascar. This feeling of so much love and blessing in my life that it needs to go somewhere. I know my parents would be much happier if I just showed this love in Milwaukee, or even somewhere else in the States, but I felt that it needed to be further, away from my normal life, even for just a short season. I was drawn to Mercy Ships, and God worked out my coming here.
I have felt God’s love for me immensely in this season of my life. Love not through just the good emotions and beautiful things I have witnessed here, but rather through it all. Through the missing of my family and friends. Through the brokenness I have seen in people’s lives. Through my feelings of longing for justice here and around the rest of the world. Through my close proximity of the poverty that so many live in.
With the further realization of this love in my life, I have been able to show it to others more fully. I am by no means able to love perfectly (just ask those I am closest to…), but I hope that my love is becoming more and more complete in Him, that I am starting to love others more and myself less.
“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:34,35
I know that much change will happen for me in the coming months as I readjust to life in the States. Readjust to my old job and changes that have come down the line there. Readjust to my new house and new roommate. Readjust to my family and friends’ presence. Reacquaint myself to everyones’ lives after the seven months I have missed out on.
Overall I am just so grateful. Grateful to everyone for their support and prayers. Grateful to all the people here who have made this experience unforgettable. Grateful to my Lord for showing me more of himself throughout this season of my life. I know that His love will lead me through the rest of my life–through the joy, the heartbreak, and everything in between.
I think that Don Miller says well a lot of what I have been thinking and feeling:
“And so my prayer is that your story will have involved some leaving and some coming home, some summer and some winter, some roses blooming out like children in a play. My hope is your story will be about changing, about getting something beautiful born inside of you… about learning to love others more than we love ourselves, about learning oneness as a way of understanding God. We get one story, you and I, and one story alone. God has established the elements, the setting and the climax and the resolution. It would be a crime not to venture out, wouldn’t it? It might be time for you to go. It might be time to change, to shine out. I want to repeat one word for you: Leave. Roll the word around on your tongue for a bit. It is a beautiful word, isn’t it? So strong and forceful, the way you have always wanted to be. And you will not be alone. You have never been alone. Don’t worry. Everything will still be here when you get back. It is you who will have changed.” (Through Painted Deserts, Donald Miller, pages xii-xiii)
I don’t know what the future holds for me, but I do know who holds it, and I am thankful for that. Thankful that I don’t have to worry. Thankful that I don’t have to perform. Thankful for all the beauty and goodness I have been blessed to receive so far in the short twenty-six years of my life. Thankful for this time to leave, but also thankful for a time to come home.