Thursday, 20 October 2011

Busy surviving

More than surviving

So much beauty, that I don’t even see. So much of God’s incredible generosity, that I totally miss. Sometimes I feel like I allow my self be too busy to see the good stuff. Too busy worrying about tomorrow to see what God has put on my plate today – and it bugs me. Meanwhile the majority of the 5.74 million inhabitants of Sierra Leone are busy surviving. Every time I go out on the streets of Freetown, I am left utterly convinced that these people never sleep! They’re too busy surviving. Even at 10pm, the streets are full of hustle and bustle and kerosene lamps flickering by stalls selling just about any random item you can think of. It’s like the worlds biggest street jumble sale 24 hours a day. Africa always speaks so deeply to me and I am caught in this same mind battle every time my feet leave this crazy ship. In amongst this nation busy trying to survive: how dare I, how dare I… spend a day going to the beach? I want to, because I know it fills me up and gives me the fuel I need to pour out and I enjoy marvelling at the beauty of it all. That’s ok. But when did it all become about me? Flashbacks of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs are flooding back to me. May be that’s what it’s about – I guess there’s not much time for self actualisation when you’re still trying to get a cup of clean water? But how come I can skip to the top of that hierarchy with barely a worry in the world? It’s not fair and I don’t like it. Injustice makes me puke.

Sierra Leone is one of the world’s poorest countries, nearly 75 percent of people earn less than £1.25 a day. There are few opportunities for employment or to start a small business as economic and social systems are not well-developed. Health also is of primary concern; according to the United Nations, Sierra Leone has the world’s highest mortality rate of children under age five (290/1000). There are nearly 48,000 people living with HIV and AIDS, and 31,000 children have been orphaned by the disease. Only 57% people have access to clean water. How they came up with that statistic, I have no idea. It can only be a guess. But no clean water? Can you imagine?? Can you?? Like really? No clean water. Constant tummy bugs…. Ugh. And not to mention the 10-year civil war that claimed an estimated 50,000 lives. All this and all I can do is think about planning a day to the beach????? Who am I????? It’s ok... I’m going to go… I’ll slip into denial for a while… but really? Why this continuing massive gap between the rich and the poor. It really makes me wanna puke.

So as I make my way to one of the world’s most beautiful beaches – white sand with a back drop of rich mountainous rainforest – (it’s more than beautiful) I climb into a taxi and ask to be taken to the beach, I can almost not get my words out because I’m wondering – does the driver even know where the beach is? It’s far… and fuel costs a lot… and well, if you’re busy surviving… if you’re one of the ones without clean drinking water, why on earth would you know your way to the beach? I ask anyway and have the time of my life - suppressing the thoughts of the impact this pot hole filled journey has had on my drivers car. I wonder what he is thinking.

… I have the privilege to do more than survive and it’s time to realise that. Crazy self inflicted schedules and worrying about what’s next – I don’t want any of it. I want to embrace all the good stuff God has put on my plate. It means spending time with the patients on the ward – skipping for joy at one of the 15 or so life changing surgeries that happen every day here on board – I don’t do enough of that. It means being thankful for the multitude of people living on the ship from all around the world. It’s one of the richest places in the world for me – a concentration of people who all love doing what I love too. It means thanking God for each smile, each sound of laughter, each twinkling star in the sky, each incredible sunset, each rain drop, each opportunity my spirit gets to connect with another, each glimpse of God I see in His creation and each glimpse of His incredible love for me I see in the way He provides and shows His love for me. I am loving the privilege of being here.

Prayers for the rest of our time here in Sierra Leone would be appreciated – we finish here early in December and I think we’re all too aware that we can’t do it on our own. We’re tired and we need some of the supernatural grace and love of God to keep us going. If there’s one thing to pray for, pray that the patients we get to meet come to know how much God loves them through it all. God works everything together for His good – and I was thinking this week of some of the patients who have had plastic surgery who have wounds that are taking a long time to heal, how God can even use that, and I really pray the time will be used so these people leave here knowing, without a doubt, that there’s a God who created them that has a love so deep for them, that their lives will never be the same.

And there’s a God out there who loves you too… praying you know it. Love and miss you SO much, look forward to hearing from you, KWW