I’m home and it’s feeling like a dream. A week on and I’m finding myself overhearing all sorts of English accents and wanting to somehow connect with them, ‘where are you from? I’m from England too!’ and then I realise, I am IN England. I’m home.
It wasn’t 48 hours since I’d left Cameroon for London before I was on a plane to Africa again. I’d said my goodbyes on my most precious floating home and my pre-grieving was done. It didn’t mean leaving was easy, far from it. My heart has expanded these last years and I’ve never known people with such capacity to serve or been engulfed in such love myself or swept up in showers of such immeasurable and unexpectedly beautiful gifts day after day. Leaving felt like a courageous step and yet there wasn’t a hint of doubt in my soul. It brought a quiet peace, a passport of hope and promises of greater adventures to come.
Part of my handover to my successor included an ‘Assessment trip’ and hence the reason I was on my way to Senegal for a week. Our task was to build relationship and to gather information that would inform program design for the ships’ 10 month Field Service in August 2019. I’ve come to realise that one of my greatest pleasures in life is building trust. Funny isn’t it?, But it’s the essence of why I think I enjoyed being a nurse for all those years in ICU. Faced with numerous people often on the brink of death, walking through their biggest nightmare, trust became a precious commodity. If I could use any love or kindness or gentleness, or any whisper of compassion that would allow them to trust me or to trust the team in a way that would bring them peace, then I felt I had won. And I found it immensely satisfying.
And so here I was once again, embracing a week of meetings with those from the Ministry of Health, Hospital Directors and anyone with influence in the world of surgery in Senegal. I loved it. I love not only the privilege of discovering a country we haven’t been to (at least, not for 20+ years), of explaining who Mercy Ships is and our desire to walk alongside, to provide surgery, to strengthen the skills of those working within the surgical system; but I also love the privilege of feeling God’s heart for a nation, of building for eternity. I love seeing and feeling and I love dreaming with my God. And I love building trust.
It was our final meeting on the Friday afternoon and my plane was just a few hours away. We met with 2, obviously Muslim, men. They worked for an organisation who were partnering with Miraclefeet, an organisation who we have also partnered with in the past… and a relationship I have also enjoyed building trust within. It’s essential for us to build sustainable programs that will last long after we have left a Country and so part of our role is to figure out what is going on already. We don’t want to tread on anyone’s feet or naively do harm and so the unravelling can be quite a task. It’s like a jigsaw puzzle and sometimes if takes several weeks or months to find the pieces and to wonder where our programs will fit in, if at all. Sometimes we never even find all the pieces at all but our job is to look and these guys were key. We talked about our clubfoot program and about the opportunities to work together and augment what they are already doing. It was an honour, but what struck me most was the hearts of these beautiful men. I felt angry at the injustice of how much of the Muslim world is portrayed and my heart was moved by their immense compassion. They shared a fierce passion for justice and before I knew it, I felt our hearts collide. God’s vision, right there. Hope and redemption for bent feet in this nation.
We parted with tears in our eyes. The trust journey had begun and to say I’m excited to see what God will do is a mere glimmer of the deep joy I feel. It won’t just be tangible hope and new life for these kids, it won’t just be for their families either, but it will be in the hearts of the team, the mercy shippers, the locals, the onlookers, the neighbours, the Ministers… it will be redemption far beyond what we will ever know. The seeds were sewn and oh, what a sweet and utter privilege.
And so now I’ve been home for just over a week and it feels like I’m learning to walk again. It felt easier, somehow, to dart from one thing to the next. It felt easier to walk in the experience and competence I had found. But God’s call is higher than that and I’m in the midst of figuring out what trust looks like for me and my next steps. I’d like to run, that’s for sure; there are dreams and hopes I’d rather run into than slowly amble through. But that’s not how it goes and anyway, I can’t miss the beauty on the way. England teaches you a lot about trust – you can open your eyes to grey and drizzly days and long for something different, or you can enjoy the adventure of a new day and wonder at what it will bring. For now, I will nestle myself into home, into blowy cliff top walks and enjoy the, hard to articulate, ease and beauty of being ‘home’. I have a sense that everything has been leading to this moment and that this moment too, will become part of what is needed to equip me for the next steps. Trust.
I feel the refining, the sense of laying my identity down, the thrill of the free fall and yet the fear of what landing might look like or what others might think.
I’ll trust my Daddy and there is no better. I’ll trust Him with full hope, full love and without limit. I’ll rest in the warm shadows of the unchanging goodness of God.
Trust. To build it. To feel it. To receive it. To give it. It’s an immense privilege and I’m hungry to build some more.
Love always, KWW xx