I find a free lounge chair and settle in. The brilliantly painted sky is fading away as other crew begin to finish up their sunset conversations and trickle back into the belly of the ship, where the activity of a Friday night was just beginning to ramp up. I settle more deeply into my chair.I look up into the dusky blue sky and watch as hundreds of bats fly diagonally across my plane of vision, seemingly out into the open ocean. Where are they going, I wonder? There must be a smorgasbord of mosquitos or other night insects around the islands that dot the coast of Guinea.
As the first star bravely begins to twinkle in the fading light, my mind begins to wander.~~~
You are not rubbish. Dr. Gary’s words echo throughout my consciousness. No one on earth is rubbish. Not if you have a gruesome tumor. Not if you have been leaking urine for twenty years. Not if you have lost every child you have conceived. Not if you are not married. Not even if you believe with all of your being that you are. You are not rubbish. The still small voice in my heart said, “It’s not just for them. It’s for you too. Krissy, you are not rubbish.”
I gaze out across the water and watch a tugboat churn slowly by, and think again of how strange my life seems. At any given moment throughout my day if I look out one window I see giant cargo ships seemingly sigh in relief as they make their way to their berth from ports across the globe after days alone in the open ocean. I see rickety little wooden and rusty metal fishing boats that seem to defy the laws of physics to remain afloat. If I turn around and look out the other side, I see patients who may have travelled hundreds of miles through dirt and sweat and hunger simply because we offer hope to their desperate situation. I see our littlest orthopedic patients giggling and laughing while doing their rehab exercises with our awesome therapists. I see our dental team pull up and unload after a full day of pulling rotten tooth after rotten tooth out in the field clinic. And as I think about what I see every day, I am overcome with gratefulness that I can see... Because so many of our patients can’t.
I breathe deeply the warm, salty air. I listen to the hum of the air vents near me, the footsteps fading away of crew members walking down the stairs, whisps of quiet conversations, detached words flying on the breeze of the evening. The sky is now a deep black and the stars twinkle brightly. Another tugboat churns by, ready to guide in the next tanker. I feel the barely distinguishable sway of the ship in it’s wake, and gratitude overwhelms me. I love this place. I love that I get to call this my home. I love that I have found my species. I look up and see the bright stars of Orion’s belt and think about how small the world really is.
I think about my un-resolutions. I’ve never really written them down like that before, or even really thought about them before, so it’s interesting to come back to them on occasion. I think I need to make some changes…
Number one was to pursue excellence instead of perfection… yes, I still want to do this… however, the last few weeks have caused me to re-define the meaning of excellence. If excellence really is just another word for perfection, then it’s hopeless. Sometimes, somedays, excellence is accomplishing great things. But other days, excellence is just managing to be nice to most everyone, or at least not to mess anything up too much that can’t be fixed. And as a dear friend reminded me a few mornings ago, even if my day is less than excellent, it doesn’t make me less than excellent.
As I think on my other un-resolutions, the other one that needs altering is the second one – to be a better friend. I think about yesterday, when I did something relatively simple for someone else because I had the time and she didn’t, and how much of a blessing that was for her. To me, it was nothing. To her, it was a huge big deal. This has happened several times recently and I’m realizing, with God’s help, that I already am a good friend, I don’t need to try so hard. There doesn’t need to be a huge sacrifice involved, or life-altering work being done. Me, just being me, and loving my friends to the best of my abilities, is blessing enough.~~~
The air is cooling and I zip up my sweatshirt, realizing I’m now alone on the deck. Yes, Minnesota family, it’s probably still around eighty degrees and I’m shivering. I think about my family and friends shoveling driveways full of snow and wondering if their cars will start, and I am so grateful I call this place so close to the equator my home. Peace. Rest. Joy. Contentment. I am home. I know who I am and I am enough. I know why I am here and who I am serving. God is so close to me in this moment I can almost hear his heart beating with my own. No more words are needed. Love speaks in a language all His own.