I began this blog post days ago with only two words- decisions, decisions. And then I stopped. What could I even write? How do I make the decisions for the next months/years of my life? How long do I wait for God to drop the answer in my lap? Do I just forge ahead with what it is that I am feeling I should do? And surely if God was opposed to that he’d just let me know?
And so somehow in the last days I made a small decision. Instead of leaving the ship in June, at the end of the Guinea outreach, I’ve extended a little longer (don’t worry I’m still coming home in June to visit).
Perhaps to you, this decision of mine truly sounds small, but not for me. You see, I embarked this ship with about 30 other friends. We met in Texas at the Mercy Ships International Operations Centre way back in January 2011. And for many of those new friends I have seen them almost every day since. We have eaten lunch and dinner together every day, explored 5 new countries together, eaten new foods, experienced new cultures, gone on amazing up-country trips, had bad days and good days, ridden motorbikes together, sat in terrible traffic, explored beautiful sandy beaches, stayed in dodgy hotels, sung karaoke, sailed the Atlantic ocean, worshiped and prayed together. The list goes on.
Although a good few have already left and some even returned during the last 2 years, at the end of this Guinea field service, more of them will go home, leaving behind only a small handful, and at my own choice, me.
This group has become my family. We know each other. We have walked through highs and lows, not always together, but sooner or later hurts are forgiven and grace is given (that’s what living in community does- it brings you to your knees).
So as I think upon the coming months (and weeks for one set of friends, off to get hitched) my heart sinks as I realize, some great things come to an end. And it truly is an end. This period of life and season will never come again. I don’t know if I will ever have all these friends together in one place again (Until eternity perhaps, but that seems too far away).
So what can I do? Life moves on. And so must I. So I know to treasure these moments and seasons. I know how it feels to stand at the back of a room and watch what is going on and file it away and remember. I can already feel the pain of saying goodbye. I have had a LOT of practice over the last 26 months. I can’t even count the number of amazing people that have come and gone and are still deeply missed, but somehow God always comes and fills the holes that they leave behind. Often I wish I wouldn’t feel so deeply, because then life wouldn’t hurt quite so much. But then I remember, that leaves no room for God.
But I am staying on this Mercy Ship just a little longer, because even though my friends leave, my heart is planted here, on the ward where I see love poured out every day. Where I see discarded people come in and given new life. I can pour out my passion and skills as a nurse and lavish love. No greater joy have I found, than in working here. And so here I will stay, until God calls me elsewhere.