Saturday, 13 June 2015


I’m sitting on the bow, wind in my hair, sun on my face, staring out at the horizon, watching for sea life.

So far this sail we have seen a few dolphins within a few hours of setting off but since then there has been very minimal sea life seen, but the hours of staring at the ocean with no sightings has hardly dampened our hunger to see more. Any time someone points out to sea, we all look, eager to see the creatures we know are beneath these deep waters. 

Today is the first really sunny day with calm seas. My heart jumped for joy this morning when I heard the familiar bing-bong "Good morning crew, this is the Captain... The bow is now open." Yeah!! Within minutes people starting scuffling down the halls and up the stairs to the bow, some for the first time, others knowing the view and layout of the bow as well as the back of their hand, all eager to see the unique view the bow offers.

On the bow there is the opportunity to chat with old friends and to make new ones, to sit and read, stare off into the distance waiting for dolphins or whales to show themselves or reflecting on the recent time that has passed. 

This morning I had a conversation with a friend about how this ship has changed lives and I'm not talking about our patients. I mean the lives of the crew members. How has my life been changed by living on this ship? In some ways I think that question is way too hard to answer because so many things are hard to articulate, but as I sit here, floating on the ocean, water as far as the eye can see, a few things come to mind.
I have seen true community at work in the wards between patients who have never met but treat each other as family. I have been challenged to do the same with the community around me.
I have learnt the value of learning the host country's language and being sensitive to their specific culture.
I have learnt the value of money; be it little or much.
I have never felt emotions as deeply as what I have seen and felt on this ship with patients and in community life.
I have learnt generosity.
I have learnt to make friends and to invest in them even when I know they will leave again, but it is better to have opened my heart than to keep it closed and protected.
I have learnt that when everything feels overwhelming and out of proportion to look at one life we have been a part of changing and remember why we are here, because every single life counts.
I have learnt that being in the centre of God's will is the most satisfying place to be, no matter how hard it is.
A few days ago I saw a photo of a friend of mine with her three friends from high school. 12 years later, all four of these women are married and each of them have two or three children. It was beautiful to see them all together, knowing that they are walking similar roads, able to support each other through the good and hard times. So much of me wishes that this was me too, but it's the furthest thing from my life. I live in a transient place, full of people coming and going, my home moves from country to country, culture to culture, language to language, ever changing people and places. I visit my home country feeling more and more out of place the longer I am away, unsure of where exactly I fit anymore. I know this life on a ship is only temporary but I don't know what the next step is.

As I get ready to visit home in the next 6 weeks, I prepare my mind for the questions that will come from family and friends. This is one of the things I love about the sail away from the country we've spent the last outreach in, there is time to ponder, to ask God questions, to think over these last months. Have I spent my time wisely? Am I living my life well? And by that I mean, am I listening to the prompts of the Holy Spirit and walking them out?

I watched the movie About Time recently. Have you seen it? The main character is told by his dad when he's 21 years old that he can time travel. He uses this to go back and fix mistakes but he can't change everything without undoing others. It was a good challenge to me, reminding me to appreciate life's challenges and live every day to the fullest, taking the opportunity to be a blessing to others, to invest in relationships and keep my mind focused on what is important.

Tonight I lay under the most beautiful blanket of stars. It stretched for as far as you could see, the milky way lighting up the sky. All 166cm of me, lying on a 150m long ship, bobbing around in an enormous ocean, makes me feel pretty small, but I know the maker of the universe walks life with me. I think that’s pretty cool.

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