Saturday, 19 March 2016

love ripples

Did you know that love ripples? 

It seems it’s well understood here in Madagascar. You will have seen so many examples of it through other Mercy Ship blog posts –  Medical Capacity Building, patients who have had surgery, the 7000 something who have had dental care… there are plenty of examples of love poured out.

But did you know it rippled? Its effects don’t just stop where you pour it out.

A few weeks ago, I met with a senior lady from UNFPA – the organization who are helping us find and transport ladies who have obstetric fistulas that need repairing.  I met them to address a few issues and it was enlightening to hear their stories. We see the part that’s in front of our eyes and, sometimes, we can easily forget the rest. The part that involves finding the ladies – literally searching for them, talking to them, trying to convince them that this big white ship is a safe place to come. The part that involves gathering names and arranging bus loads of ladies to come for screening – helping them find a route to the nearest town, over nonexistent bridges and rivers that are swollen from the rains… and when the day to send the bus towards the ship comes, convincing the ones who are too scared to come, to climb aboard. It’s humbling to see the collaborative work that we are privileged to be a part of. And it was interesting to see how the ‘issues’ I had come to address, slowly became not so big when I began to understand their story. It’s a phrase our very own Group Managing Director Donovan Palmer has put in my head – ‘seek to understand’ –  and his wise words stood me well.

At the end of this conversation, the doctor who coordinates all these crazy logistics said to me… ‘when one of the ladies returned to the village after her surgery, the village elder asked me: how come she’s so strong?’  – he explained, ‘ not in her body, I know she’s healed. I mean – how come her spirit is so strong?’. I opened my mouth to answer but didn’t get the chance before the lady from UNFPA jumped in to explain that she had looked at our website and realised that we don't just care about physical healing but about healing of the soul as well. She said that she realised that the most important thing Mercy Ships could bring to Madagascar was love. She said that there are ladies far away in the south of Madagascar who could have the opportunity to have surgery closer to home but they have refused because they want to come to Tamatave. She flung her arms in a big embrace and said, ‘it is like they know they will be surrounded by love if they come to you....’.

Love ripples.

And even in the painful circumstances of the young girl who passed away last week, love rippled. It did.

I saw it in the dedicated care of those whose skilled hands cared for her. I saw it in the Community. I saw it in the way every department offered their help. I saw it in the feedback from a missionary who lives not so far from the young girl’s village (at least 4 days by road from us): ‘… Her mum told me, through tears, how well you cared for them throughout their time on board. Her uncle told us that you did so much for them, not least making all the transport arrangements (4x4, MAF, Helimission…) and that you didn’t ask them to pay anything.  They also told me that the family and the village elders expressed much appreciation for all that you did for them in getting them back home, and the word they used was fitiavana (love); in doing all these things you have shown your love for this dear family, and by doing that you have shown many more people the love of God in you’. 

Let’s keep loving and may it ripple far and wide – in our own hearts, in our Community, in Madagascar and far beyond.

“A new command I give you: Love one another.  As I have loved you, so you must love one another.  By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:34-35)