Monday, 14 December 2009

Are we nearly there yet?

Are we nearly there yet?

I’m not sure if I’m the biggest fan of long journeys! I’m saying that because I feel like I’ve been on a long journey this past year. It’s been one of realising what I’ve been holding onto and realising that it wasn’t always God. And I keep thinking, ‘are we nearly there yet?’… any more surrendering to do? Or more rough edges to file off? Can we be done with it now??!! Can’t we just get there. Can’t I just say, ‘I’m yours’ to God and I wait and see all that He has for me and all that He wants me to be. But it doesn’t appear to be as simple as that.

I’ve said it with different tones throughout the year. Earlier in the year came quite a desperate, ‘are we nearly there yet???? Pleeeeeeeeeease?’ Because I didn’t know how much more pain I could take. Saying goodbye to friends, seeing people in physical pain, feeling lonely, desperately wanting to belong and know God’s plan for my life… it was a dry and dark place for a while. It made me realise that my happiness so far had been based on safety. What I really meant when I said I was happy was, ‘I feel safe, I feel accepted and I belong’. But what when all that gets stripped away? Can you still be happy when you don’t feel safe?? Surely???

My time with Mercy Ships was such a privilege. Meeting so many incredible friends and discovering bits of God I didn’t know and showing love to people who were so hungry for it. What a privilege. And having purpose in my daily life, friends… I guess all that added up to me feeling happy and safe. But somehow when my friends were constantly leaving, my safety started to crumble. I found myself a bit ashamed as I realised my happiness was based on all those things. Is that right?? Shouldn’t I be ‘content in all circumstances’? But that’s a bit of a high calling, isn’t it God?? And it’s then that I kept asking so desperately, ‘are we nearly there yet?’ – and crying from the bottom of my heart, ‘when can it all be safe again?’. That’s what I really meant, ‘when can it all be safe again?’.

So there’s been ups and downs this last year. Places so dark I really never want to see them again. And I’m not saying I’ve got it sussed or anything but I feel like I’m arriving at a place where I’m more focused on my destiny than my journey. Any journey doesn’t seem so bad if you know you’re on your way to somewhere beautiful, right? Even if there’s crazy traffic or a detour or thunder and lightening that slows you down… I’ll always be happy if I’m on my way to see a precious friend. And that’s the way I want it to be with life. So happy and excited about the place I am going that the journey doesn’t seem such a bother. And I’m not saying there aren’t beautiful places on the journey too!!! – and I don’t want to miss out on the journey either – because of course it’s the whole journey that shapes who we are. I just mean the ups and downs won’t be my focus, because I’m fixed on where I’m going.

When I’m pondering what makes me truly happy, God give me the grace, strength and bold faith to keep my eyes fixed on my destiny and not the things that fall away. My safety is in you, my unchangeable God.

It’s a challenge right now as I set up a new home/life. I don’t want to get too caught up on the intricacies of the journey… like whether the plates match or if I’m wearing the latest piece of fashion. I’m not saying I don’t care about those things… I just don’t want to take my eyes off my destiny again. I guess there’ll be times when I succeed with that and times when I don’t. But I really hope I’ll come back quicker to focusing on my destiny and not everything else and poor old me.

Are we nearly there yet??? Not sure… but I’m excited to do my journey with you. What makes you feel happy? The kind of journey you’re on or because you know the destiny you’re heading for?

Praying you know God’s incredible love for you and extravagantly beautiful plans for your life.


2 corinthians 5 Sometimes we can hardly wait to move—and so we cry out in frustration. Compared to what's coming, living conditions around here seem like a stopover in an unfurnished shack, and we're tired of it! We've been given a glimpse of the real thing, our true home, our resurrection bodies! The Spirit of God whets our appetite by giving us a taste of what's ahead. He puts a little of heaven in our hearts so that we'll never settle for less.
 6-8That's why we live with such good cheer. You won't see us drooping our heads or dragging our feet! Cramped conditions here don't get us down. They only remind us of the spacious living conditions ahead. It's what we trust in but don't yet see that keeps us going. Do you suppose a few ruts in the road or rocks in the path are going to stop us? When the time comes, we'll be plenty ready to exchange exile for homecoming.
 9-10But neither exile nor homecoming is the main thing. Cheerfully pleasing God is the main thing, and that's what we aim to do, regardless of our conditions. Sooner or later we'll all have to face God, regardless of our conditions. We will appear before Christ and take what's coming to us as a result of our actions, either good or bad.
 11-14That keeps us vigilant, you can be sure. It's no light thing to know that we'll all one day stand in that place of Judgment.

Thursday, 9 April 2009

The final countdown

Arrrrrrrrrrrrrrrgggggggggghhhhhhhhhhhhh! I can’t believe it. I can’t believe that I’m now in the final countdown… I’m leaving Mercy Ships in a week. I can’t believe it!

So just to bring you up to date… I had a great few months at home over Christmas. I caught up with lots of different friends from different bits of my life and it was just so nice! Whilst I was at home though I had a constant nagging in me and I knew that it was time to decide whether or not to have a break from Mercy Ships. I have finally given in and am due to leave on 19th April. It feels so right to come home but it’s also so hard to say goodbye. Thank you to all who have so generously supported me since I left my job in July 2005 (crazy how time flies!). I simply could not have been part of the amazing things God does through Mercy Ships without you. I feel privileged to have been able to show love to so many people who have so little. Whilst I know I need a break, I also know that this isn’t the end of me doing stuff like this. My heart comes alive here, and as I was at our surgical screening a few weeks ago and saw the thousands of people lining up for a consultation in the hope of getting an appointment for surgery, my heart was wrenched once again and my eyes filled with tears in the face of such overwhelming need. I really hope as I come home I will never forget this.

It’s been a busy few months since coming back in January. The ward is fuller than ever and we’re doing more surgeries than we have done before. At the moment we’re doing orthopaedic, maxilla facial, ophthalmic, gynaecological, general and plastic surgeries. It’s exciting to see – though on tired days I am challenged as I wonder whether it is all about numbers of surgeries or whether we should be focusing more on the relationships we are building with people here. There needs to be a balance of course, but I can’t help wishing sometimes that everything would slow down… it makes me sad that the pressures of proving our efficiency to large donors translates as having less time for people. I know God can still work of course and I know this side of Heaven life is never going to be perfect, but please pray that God will always be at the centre of all that goes on here. ‘…one thing I ask, is that your light in me, would shine ever brighter…’ song by Mia Fieldes. I hope I never forget this.

I had a great weekend just gone with a couple of precious friends – we took a 9 hour bus ride (which actually took 12 hours with a few minor breakdowns) to the north of Benin to Pendjari National Park. We got to see Elephants, Baboons, Hippos, Monkeys, Antelopes… and lots more… it was really fun! We stayed in a little hut which was part of a hotel, but was in the middle of nowhere and it was just so beautiful! The sky was pickled with stars, the mango trees completely laden with fruit and the fresh gentle breeze – oh, such a nice escape from the ship! Today (Easter Sunday) I took a boat ride through the mangroves and found myself in a little taste of paradise! Through the mangroves, I found myself on a lagoon where a Belgian couple have set up business, complete with decking, canoes, a little sailing boat and yummy food. It was just so nice to enjoy the peace and hear birds sing and see flowers! Stuff like that speaks loudly to me of who God is. Africa…such beauty… I hope I never forget.

So what next? I’m going to be doing a 9 week course with a Christian organisation in Lancaster from May-July and after that I don’t really know! I’d like to work back at the RD&E but it’s early days yet so I don’t have any plans, only ideas. Sometimes I wonder how I get myself in these positions – I’m kind of nervous to go somewhere new again but I really do know God has plans for me during the course too. I am looking forward to being ‘fed’ spiritually and having time to re-fuel... and trying to remember that God is strong when I am weak… brave when I am not (I hope I never forget) – (another Mia Fieldes song!).

Well, I look forward to catching up with you again soon. I guess there’ll be a break (an even longer one!) in the stories of ‘nursiekirstie’ for a while but I know here will be more in the future. For now it’s goodbye to the warmth of West Africa, goodbye to the puzzled faces of little kids as they try to scratch the freckles off my arms, goodbye to the zillions of mango stones littering the streets (and back to gum instead), goodbye to a place that I thought I was coming to serve in and then found out that it was as much about my personal journey as about me serving others (God is always so upside down isn’t he), goodbye to the tear jerking sight of the VVF ladies singing down the hospital corridor as they begin their dress ceremony to celebrate their successful surgery, goodbye to the precious smile of a mum looking down at her baby with a newly fixed cleft lip… and goodbye to many, many beautiful friends from all around the world. Ow – it hurts so much… but it’s ok!

‘Life is meant to be an adventure. When we cease to reach out and stretch ourselves, something in us dies’. It’s a quote that inspired me to be brave and come here and it’s a quote that will continue to challenge me to seek more of God’s plans for my life... I know there’s nothing better.

Bye for now, love always, KWW