Sunday, 21 December 2014

who put me here?

Clambering into the rusty rickshaw and nestling myself into the somewhat torn plastic seat next to one of my most precious friends on Earth, we gave our instructions to take us to a local hotel where we would sip a beer and eat something yummy... and off we went - the drivers skinny little legs, pedaling round and round to take us to breathe some fresh air and some fresh thoughts... sometimes it's just good to do that here. The journey from the ship through this small port town is hardly something to write home about but there's a gentleness and peace in this place that swoops over you as you leave the port. The cars are few and the rickshaws are plenty. You get pedaled along past giant mounds of coconuts, ladies cooking samosas over an open fire and guys on the side of the road selling branches and branches full of lychees. The trees are a mix of palm, mango, lychee and some beautiful blooming frangipanis too. This time of year they are laden with fruit and my taste buds are tantalized at every sighting. You see people on bikes everywhere - from an old man with his bike weighed down with fresh flowers tied onto the back, weaving in amongst the collection of other 2 or 3 wheeled get arounds that there are - to cute little ones piled on bikes on their way to school. It makes driving with an actual motorized vehicle a dance just to get down the road. The streets aren't littered with chewing gum, but instead with mango and lychee stones. The sun is warm, the humidity not too bad and the breeze... pretty nice. It's not West Africa, that's for sure and 8 weeks on, I am still finding myself wondering... who put me here? It's a phrase I could use to pretty much summarise the last 3 and a bit months...

Cos many things were just never part of my plan.

- Ebola infesting West Africa... heaping yet more hopelessness on nations who are already struggling to survive...

- Promotion to a new job that started way earlier than I expected...

- A change in direction for the ship as we headed to Madagascar...

- An 18 day sail to Cape Town...

- A whirlwind week at home to witness a brave and miraculous recovery of my precious nephew from brain surgery (even 15 year old nephews can be precious, right?)

- A rather rough 8 day sail to Madagascar... a most beautiful Island off the East coast of Africa - hailed for it's natural beauty and yet overwhelmed by inequality in terms of access to health care...

...And so here I am.

It was never my plan. I don't even believe it was God's plan. Not Ebola. Not my God of life and love.

But sometimes we find ourselves not in plan A or plan B or even C...

As I left Benin and found myself back on the ship and then soon after sailing down the coast of Africa, I found myself wondering how the heck I got there... My heart for heading to Benin last June to help prepare for the ship arrival was to connect with the people there... to get out of my office and to connect with hearts that I knew had so much to teach me in a country we were preparing to stay the next year in. And yet Ebola hit West Africa and forced us to leave and there I was in early September, sailing to a Country I have never been to, doing a job I have never done, dealing with a million changes and fielding a thousand crises' that came as a result of all our changing plans.

And yet... there is beauty. There is grace. And there is great pleasure in stepping out into deeper waters. There's a joy and a privilege as I realize I am being trusted with more and a deep humility as I realize even more that I cannot do it alone. If I tried, I'd sink. And I've done that a few times. It's forced me to discover more of the beauty that has been planted around me. It's in these deeper waters that I have found yet more of myself that needs to be refined. Where I thought I'd learnt to be free from control and pride and fear... I have seen them raise their ugly heads again - they sneak in from different angles and they have done their fair share of trying to make me feel weak... but in doing so, the redeeming, reconciling, refining love of God has found me and, in these deep waters, I have even more beautiful stories to tell.

We've been busy these last few weeks trying to find patients and our teams have worked hard to filter through the 1000s that come hoping to find the ones we can really help. Cos truth is, we're a specialized surgical ship so there's lots of people we need to say no to. It's not easy and whilst every fibre in each of us wants to say 'yes' to the help they seek.... we can't.... and watching hope rise and then fade away is no easy thing. For these people it's not plan A or B or C or D or even E.... they leave wondering why someone else has said no to their plea for help once again and I always wonder what they are thinking. If my heart and mind stay in that place too long, it begins to lose hope it self. I have to believe that there is hope.... eternal hope... and even to the ones who hear a 'no'... I have to pray that they catch a glimpse of it...

I've just spent the last few days in the capital, Antananarivo for a few meetings. It's a short 45 minute flight away and as I set off, I had no idea how much life that little trip would bring. It's a beautiful city - situated around a lake that has purple blossoming Jacaranda trees all around it. It was a breath of fresh air to me - perhaps it was the hilly landscape with cobbled streets or the cute little buildings nestled into them, or the rickety collection of 30 or 40 year old Renaults and Citroens that form their taxi fleet, or perhaps it was the enjoyment of the cooler highland air, or the friendly smiles of the patients we were selecting for surgery... or may be it was merely a few days independence away from my Ship-land. I'm not sure what it was exactly and even more, I have no idea how I got there. How I got to be speaking to government officials or to be a part of making decisions for the future of our surgical plan...

And so you see, I've had a collections of, 'how did I get here's?' ... and I'm still not sure how we got to be bobbing around here in the Indian Ocean, but I do know that just like God's grace has got me through and just how abundantly I have known that, the same is true for each person who crosses our path. He works all things together for good and for the people we can say yes to, they are truly grateful there is a plan G... there is delight, there is hope, this is a reality that some have dreamed of for years and for those we say no to, I have to believe that plan X or Y or even Z will come through... that my God of hope and life will shower himself on these precious ones too.

So as we embrace 15 more months of surgery (we'll be here until June 2016), shout out a little prayer for the ones who are still looking for hope and rejoice with me for the ones who have found it... and pray it blossoms to even more as their precious lives are transformed forever....

Praying for you whether you're in plan A or B or C... may you know His unfailing grace and abounding love this Christmas and in the coming year.

Love always, KWW

No comments:

Post a comment