What a difference a week makes...

24 January 2014

When I started this post just a week had gone by since I had dragged my giant orange overweight bag up the gangway; that, by the way, felt like it had doubled in length and incline whilst I was away.   In seven short days much had happened and if had you asked me at one point in the midst of chaos on Wednesday how long I had been back I would have honestly had to do the math as it seemed I had actually never left.  I received an email from a family member that said ‘what a difference a week makes!’ and I absolutely couldn’t agree more.

We’ll start with the weather, that’s an easy, safe place to start. It’s approximately one hundred degrees warmer here than it was back in Minnesota.  The humidity is high and when it rains it pours; buckets and buckets of water everywhere that stops just as suddenly as it starts and the sun comes blazing out in all its ultraviolet skin-scorching glory.   Or it doesn’t and the dampness hangs in the air like a heavy blanket threatening to cause you to drown simply by breathing deeply.  Within the confines of the ship is another experience in extremes; the other day in the starboard aft hospital section the air temp clocked in at a toasty 105 degrees thanks to the proximity of the engines and the CT scanner, among other things I would never imply I understand, while in my cabin I need a thick sweatshirt, my down comforter, and a cup of hot tea to ward off the chill of the air conditioning.

Which brings me to my next topic to share – tea.  I never, ever drank hot tea in the States growing up, nor did I consider such a beverage whilst I was there last month. Never once did I think I’d like a cup of tea - I drank coffee by the gallon. But, sometime over the last two years with Mercy Ships one of my most favorite activities has become to have tea with friends.  And that’s not a euphemism for hanging out or chatting, we really do both go get cups of tea and sit and solve the world’s problems… or at least some of our own. In fact I have a tea date for tomorrow at 11am with a lovely English friend, and that’s exactly what we will do.  (And if we’re drinking coffee, then it’s a coffee date, not a tea date.  No question…. And tomorrow it’s tea).  We’ll sip tea and share hearts and it will be lovely.  

Which is an excellent segue to my next topic - language.  Returning to my homeland caused me to realize much about how my language has morphed over the years.  It took about two years after moving from Duluth, Minnesota to Seattle, Washington for me to notice my language and pronunciation had changed; suddenly I could hear the ‘Minnesotan’ accent in my family that all the Seattlites had teased me for.  Well, imagine those minor changes (for example, pop became soda) times about a zillion and you have my current language barrier of American English.  Lovely was never a term I would have used growing up, but now I might (and did) use it to describe anything from food to Christmas lights.  I couldn’t for the life of me come up with the word snowmobiles which everywhere else in the world they call snowmachines.  When I want to throw something away I put it in the rubbish bin and when I want to go for a run I put on my trainers.  Tylenol = Paracetamol and I actually asked a friend with whom I was eating to please pass me a serviette instead of a napkin.  Good Lord, what happened?? 
What a difference a week makes.  And so does a year, or two, or thirty-three when one lives a life such as mine.  Things change and I change and relationships change and language changes and we learn and grow and somehow, whether it is in my inherent nature or it’s an acquired skill, I embrace change.  If we’re not changing and growing then we’re stagnating and I don’t know what images that word brings to your mind but to mine, it’s nothing pretty and there’s no way I want to ever be stagnant.
So I press forward towards that which I have been called – life to the full.  And this week has been full.  I loved my time away, it was truly a gift of rest; rest for my body, for my heart, for my soul.  It was the gift of being loved and taken care of and cinnamon rolls and Law & Order marathons. It was glorious and it was needed and in that brief season, that was life to the full.  Now I’m back here on this crazy ship in this job that I absolutely love, that fulfills me in a way I never dreamed any job actually could, and life to the full looks very different, and it’s still a gift.  Now it’s the gift of being surrounded by heroes from across the globe, bringing hope and healing to those who are desperate for both, of speaking French and planning events and writing emails and having tea.   

I’m not sure how to wrap up this rambling, tangential blog with a nice neat bow of a conclusion so I’ll just leave you with an invitation: I want to invite you to grasp on to the gift of life to the full, whatever that season looks like; whether it’s cinnamon rolls or sippy cups or the corporate ladder or cultural chaos.  There is always joy to be found in the calling; in the difficulties, in the changes, in the work and in the rest.



(I had a photo of a cinnamon roll to put here... but blogger is not playing nice this evening. So insert mental image of a warm cinnamon roll with cream cheese frosting.... mmmmm. yum.)

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