Saturday, 10 August 2019

4 sleeps to go

Here's a blog I shared with the team at Mercy Ships so I thought I'd share it here too.
4 sleeps to go… and the best is yet to come
We talk a lot about transformation at Mercy Ships, don’t we? I think it is one of the big reasons I find myself here. Transformation represents the heart of God, it gives hope for the future, hope that a different reality is possible and hope that good things can be birthed through dark and painful times. It’s about more than meets the eye. It’s rooted in grace and rests in goodness. It is wrapped in mercy and nestled in the richest of love and it calls our name.

Transformation is a story that we are used to when it comes to our patients. We’ve seen countless precious lives transform for the better. We’ve seen downcast spirits come alive again and we’ve rejoiced together when we’ve seen tumour free faces smile, when we’ve seen bent legs run and dance and we’ve wept together as we’ve watched those once rejected, be embraced by love. It’s a thrill to witness and it makes our hearts beat. If we think about it, I would suggest many of us are united in this work by a thirst for transformation, a hunger for justice, and a longing for Heaven to come here on Earth. I can’t wait to see all those things here in Senegal.

But this story of transformation lives within our Mercy Ship story in multiple other ways too.

This Advance adventure is one of them for sure and I feel like I am watching an emerging butterfly! Deep within this chrysalis, there is life. It has not always been evident and there are some hard outer layers to pierce through, but the hope of emerging beauty is sure. It is why we are here! We are calling Heaven to Earth and His Kingdom to come. Relationships are so key and in a country where we are less well known and perhaps ‘less welcomed’ by some within the medical community, we sometimes find it hard to see the beauty. I have often felt more as if I am in a boxing ring, if I am honest! I have felt myself on the defence, justifying and sometimes desperately grasping at opportunities to agree and countless hours spent preparing for difficult battle and yet more hours trying to rise up from them again. It has not been easy and I have found myself questioning why God has me here. I’m too soft for this! Some days have felt unnecessarily complicated and my desire to build trust has felt lost and bewildered under shaky foundations.  
It has made me reflect on the patients’ lives and what it means to be out of hope. I cannot say I have felt out of hope! But in some moments my hope has been challenged and it has caused me to grieve for a people who really must feel out of hope. People who really don’t know where their answers will ever come from, who never have or never will know a life without pain or what it means to be loved and accepted. That feeling of hopelessness, the feeling of no matter what I do, I can’t seem to change anything and the feeling of having to pick myself up after the most frustrating of days to keep on walking, again and again and again. And yet I always have hope! I have a ridiculously blessed life where I am literally never in want. How and why, I will never know.

And so we have to continue to believe that this is exactly why we are here. To build the foundation of trust, to keep on hoping and to keep on believing for those who literally cannot. To believe that this butterfly will fly and that one day these wings will soar. To trust that at the right time, the chrysalis will crack and its true beauty will shine. Oh how I long to see hope and light overwhelm this nation! For lives to be transformed and that those who can never even dare to dare, would know the life they were created for.

In this transformation process, I’ve been challenged to die to self. To let go of what I want and need, to let go of thinking it’s about me and what I can achieve, and to let go of the opinions of others – here – or within our organization. All I have and do will never be good enough, and for sure, I do not feel good enough. Transformation necessarily takes us out of our comfort zone. If it didn’t, we’d stay the same - safe in our little cocoon. I do none of this for anyone but Jesus. In the words of George Muller, ‘There was a day when I utterly died. I died to George Muller, his opinions, preferences, tastes and will. I died to the world, its approval or censure. I died to the approval or blame even of my brethren and friends and since then I have studied only to show myself approved of God’.

Here’s to months ahead full of transformation – in our patients lives, the people who we train, our partners, our day crew and our very own crew as well!

There are only 4 sleeps to go and the team is bursting with excitement to reunite with our ship family again! I talk about the challenges because it’s the reality, but I talk from a place of hope, a place that has not even one doubt that God has called us here. Transformation is at the heart of all we do. It is never ever the end of the story and it is a privilege to live and work knowing that, knowing that hope is present and knowing that the best is surely yet to come. We are grateful for the physical manifestations of this truth and we trust God for all we are yet to see in this beautiful country.
Here’s just a few transformations we are witnessing here:

This is the HOPE Centre, based at SIL – a Christian mission who were not using the building. It’s around 15 minutes from the Port and will house 250 patients and caregivers.

This is the Dental Clinic based in Sangalkam, about an hour’s drive from the Port. The team will live off ship to facilitate their travel and as a result, a more rural population will be served. <<photo>>


Some of our 250+ Day Crew at the end of the orientation and contract signing! <<photo>>

This is the Advance Team! An incredible team of dedicated people, gifted in unique ways to prepare the way for the ship. We have had our own transformations going on; learning to let go and trust God like never before, learning to walk in grace and love and understanding in a tight team house; learning to trust God with our futures beyond this season, learning to believe that, with God, we are enough… I could go on...

 Let's keep on longing for transformation. With so much love, KWW



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