The Gray Area

12 August 2014

Many times over the story of my life I've returned to a lesson learned way back in the beginning of the journey - Life is not always black and white.  Learn to live in the gray area.

That gray area, where the decision is not as easy as what is right and wrong.  Where I don't know whether I'm supposed to go here or there or left or right. When things just aren't clear, when I have to be patient and gracious with the ambiguity of the very lack of black and white

And here I am again. (still on my knees)

Due to recent reports from the region of West Africa on the threat of Ebola, Mercy Ships has decided to delay the departure of the Africa Mercy hospital ship from the shipyard  in the Canary Islands to Cotonou, Benin. This will allow Mercy Ships to monitor the situation in the region and assess the feasibility of a safe field service in Benin.  Don Stephens, Mercy Ships President and Founder, has reiterated that “the safety of our crew is the most important element in this decision.  Mercy Ships remains committed to our continued service to the forgotten poor in Africa.”

Part of me wonders how much more my heart can take.  A year ago it looked like we would spend this field service in Congo (a second year)... then it was changed to Guinea, a country with need that even other presidents in the region encouraged us to return there. A few months ago, due to Ebola spreading in Guinea the plan was changed to Benin.  My heart grieved for Guinea but jumped at the chance to return to Benin.  Then some old forgotten Saharan sand stirred up in the recesses of my Peace Corps memories and I battled through doubt and fear and dread at the return to the place that tried to take me out... and as it turns out only made me stronger.  I returned to the ship just less than a week ago so excited about Benin, about the promise and the redemption that was to come and the joy that would be found and the healing that was not just for the patients but for anyone and everyone on board the Africa Mercy, including me.

So now I find myself back in the gray area.  The news of possible Ebola in Benin on Thursday hit me in the gut like a bag of cement. I cried and walked around in a daze and cleaned and organized my room - as I do when things seem out of control and I need to feel like I can control something.  News this morning tells me that the suspected cases in Benin are negative... but it's still a real threat, with the region having such porus borders and no experience in dealing with this disease before. I don't know if we will go to Benin. I don't know where we will go if we don't go there. I don't know when we will leave, or what my job will look like wherever we end up going.  And my heart is grieving for Benin. And for Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Guinea - and my friends there, and for my friends here who have friends and family there who can't go back for fear of their own lives. 

But in the gray area I can, and will, still hold on to that which I know to be true. He is still on the throne, this is not a surprise to him, his heart grieves with mine, and in the end, love wins.

So I will continue on, in the gray area; putting one foot in front of the other, my purpose to love others well and to bring glory to His name.  And as always, I remain grateful that I can feel... even when feeling hurts to the depths and I can't seem to stem the flow of the salty tears again and again... I am grateful that I can feel, because it means I am alive.

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