Thursday, October 30, 2014

My home came home.

 So I blinked or something, and suddenly it's Thursday, and a lot of life has happened in the last few weeks.

I went to Mahajanga on the other side of the country to assess some hospitals there.
Beautiful town, beautiful sunset. 

I flew back to Tamatave in a tiny plane and could almost reach out and touch the clouds.

Finally my home came into view and I cried a little tiny bit (in happiness).

Then I snapped the epic happy picture. Better than Christmas morning.

Watching my home come home. 


Then the President and his wife, and the Prime Minister and his wife came over with a couple hundred friends.
(photo cred Mercy Ships)

They toured our hospital and were visibly moved.
(photo cred Amy Jones)

So much love on my door.  I cried again.  I love this place. 

Since then I have been reconnecting with old friends, making new ones, working hard to move dreams into reality, and loving the people around me.  It is such a privilege.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Brave.

This is a season to be brave. ~God

~~~
Brave [breyv]
          adj. Possessing or exhibiting courage or courageous endurance.            
           vb.  To meet or face courageously.

I want to be brave.

I know what many of you are thinking. “Krissy, you are one of the bravest people I know.”  I’ve left everything I know behind and moved across continents and oceans, several times, and most people think that is pretty brave.  But if you look at the definition of brave, it says nothing about moving far away or jumping out of a plane or climbing a mountain or any of the activities many of us think only those really brave people can do.  It says someone who is brave is someone who has courage.  

Being brave means doing that thing; that thing that makes you cringe, that makes your heart beat out of your chest, that scares you to your center.  Doing it, because you need to do it… because God told you, or because it’s the right thing, or whatever the reason is.  That is brave. 
 
And that might be leaving all you have and moving across the world.  But really? That wasn’t brave, for me.  That’s just me being me, God put this wandering heart in me and I was just following that.  It didn’t scare me. 

God put the whisper in my heart this morning - This is a season to be brave. And I had to wonder, Huh? What does that mean for me? For this season? At this time and in this place? 

(I’m about to get really real… prepare yourself)

~~~

What is my brave?  

My brave is knocking on the door of a friend when I am feeling lonely and sad, instead of sitting alone in my bed because I am afraid to bother them or to be too needy or fear they might not want to put up with me any longer.

My brave is speaking up in a medical training planning meeting even though I have no medical background or academic credibility in this field, instead of keeping quiet out of fear that my idea really is stupid.

My brave is hitting the publish button on this blog when it’s finished, instead of just keeping it to myself.

Even just putting those three things down on this word document gets my blood pressure up.

I want to be brave.

~~~

My brave today was hitting send on an email to friends about planning a weekend getaway.  It seems so silly and kind of ridiculous to say it… but I hemmed and hawed and paced and admittedly even got teary with the fear of hitting send.  
What was I so afraid of?  What if they don’t want to come because they really don’t like me and don’t want to spend the weekend with me but won’t tell me that because they are just really nice people and so they are stuck with me for a weekend and they will be miserable and I won’t know it or maybe I will and then I will be miserable and maybe I should just not send it and no one would want to go on a weekend with me anyway so it was just a stupid idea in the first place. Idiot.  
Wow. 
But the whisper. Be brave. You can do it. Regardless of what might happen.  Be brave.  
So I hit send. 
 
~~~

What is your brave?

It might be getting behind the wheel of an unfamiliar car in an unfamiliar country, knowing you will make mistakes, but doing it anyway.

It might be telling your family or your significant other or a friend a deep dark secret, but on the other side will be joy and freedom.  Be brave.

It might be saying yes to a pay cut to move to a job you really love, even though it will require sacrifices of your family.

It might be asking the waiter to please bring you another beverage because the first one just isn’t right, even though you hate the thought of being needy or demanding in any way, shape, or form.

It might be hitting publish or hitting send or hitting post when it feels like you’ve put your heart out on the line, but know deep down it is right.  Be brave.

It might be leaving your job to stay home and raise the kids.  It might be putting your kids in daycare and going back to work. It might be committing to take that trip you have always dreamed of, or committing to live on a budget, or serving in a local soup kitchen, or deciding to invest in the lives of local college students. 

Your brave looks different from my brave.  But it is still brave.
 
~~~

Here is something really cool about being brave: It encourages others to be brave, too.

I had a friend who sat me down a few weeks ago and told me some things that were difficult to hear.  That was brave.  She didn’t have to do that, she didn’t know what my reaction would be.  She could have just ignored the issues or told someone else to tell me or even sent me an email.  But she didn’t, because she cares enough for me to be brave and step out and trust God in it all.  I needed her to be brave, I needed to hear those words.  I am a better person because she was brave. 

And then she told me some things my heart was desperate to hear.  Really? You want to be my friend? Really???  She was brave and in turn it gave me the courage to be brave too.  I was able to say things I had been so afraid to say before.  And our friendship is stronger because of it.  My prayer is that I would continue to be brave with her and with others, sharing my heart when it seems pretty scary and I am not sure what might happen, but trusting her and trusting God in her. 

Every time I have needed to be brave and hit send or publish, it has blessed someone else.  How do I know? They tell me.  Every time I have broken through the fear and actually knocked on someone’s door or asked someone to come sit with me when I have been upset about something has brought beauty to the heart and the relationship.  Somehow, it’s still scary though, and I don’t do it nearly as often as I should or could.  Maybe this publish will change that.

If I am brave, maybe that will encourage others to be brave. That’s a good enough reason for me.

 

Saturday, October 18, 2014

One week.

One week, and I will be standing on the dock waving like a maniac as my home and heart family pull up alongside.

I can't wait.

Advance has been incredible - we have had so much favor, and have accomplished what everyone thought would be impossible.  We've nearly got four months worth of work done in six weeks... well, more than four months, if you take into consideration we like the first assessment trip to be a year before ship arrival, and the second six months or so before, then advance arrives four or five months before the ship... well, it's pretty miraculous really. 

And I'm so grateful for the opportunity to be here, to represent Mercy Ships and the hospital and the incredible people who are sailing now who will pour out their love and hope and faith and healing on this country and these people I have grown to love.

It's not been an easy time, but it has been fruitful.  I miss my friends and I miss my coworkers and I miss having a desk to work at and a bed that is not shared.  I really miss serving coffee on Sunday mornings, I miss running and community and post-its on my door and anonymous blessing text pages.  So, needless to say, I am looking forward to my home coming home, in one week.

I can't believe how much I love these people and how much I love the hospital where I will spend a large percentage of my time over the coming months.  Here's an awesome snap by Ruben with me doing what I love most - chatting with and loving on people in the hospital.

 
 
Africa Mercy - blessings on your voyage and may the seas be kind to you.  See you soon!

 

Sunday, October 5, 2014

This heart of mine.

It’s late evening on Sunday night in Madagascar.  I took the advice of several friends and colleagues and didn’t ‘work’ much today… but it was hard.  Not because I feel burdened or stressed – quite the opposite in fact.  I’m so passionate and there is so much joy in me to do that which I have been called, I can’t wait to get back to it!

So I’m sitting here reflecting on where the last year and a half has brought me.  A year and a half ago, I turned down this job.  More than once.  I didn’t think it was for me, it wasn’t what I was called to do, and really, if I was honest, I didn’t really care about the health care systems in Africa.  Or really the people that much.  I felt I had been called to serve the crew of the Africa Mercy and I loved it… and that was it.  Period.  So when I was asked to consider this position I said no.  Then I said okay I’d consider it but really, in my head and my heart, I thought there is no way.   I said God would have to change my heart, in a huge way… and I didn’t think he would.

Well, he did.

And here I sit, giddy with anticipation, my heart beating with passion and excitement and love for the people I get to work with this week.  The incredible men and women who give of themselves every day, in a filthy environment with no supplies because they were created in the image of a God who heals and serves, so they heal and serve.

And I’m just wondering how the heck God does that. How he just changes your heart.   Eighteen months ago I couldn’t have cared less and now it feels my heart will burst.  Now I can’t wait to get out there, love on people, living and walking in glory and passion and purpose and life to the full.

It’s pretty incredible, really, this heart of mine… how excited I am to get out there this week.  How much can change over a year and a lifetime.  Things that once seemed life giving no longer matter, and things that never seemed to matter now have become my very reason for breathing… And truly?  I don’t think I’ve changed… not really.  I’m not a different person than the one I was eighteen months and a lifetime ago.  I am more of myself that I ever have been.

And for that, I am speechless with gratitude.  To everyone who has spoken life and love and breathed hope and encouragement and grace into this journey – Thank you, from the depths.

Now let’s get ourselves out there.  Love, speak life, follow your heart, celebrate the fullness of joy and pursue that which makes you come alive into more of who you were created to be.

xxk

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Glimpse.

It’s been one meeting after another, crazy wonderful weeks doing assessments and presentations and meetings here and there and working with an incredible team here in Madagascar.   I haven’t had much down time in the last few weeks, but this evening I find myself in a quiet, reflective place – all my meeting notes are written and sent, my team is several hundred kilometers away so there’s no catching up to do tonight, and my only meeting to prepare for tomorrow is getting to the bus station on time and praying the anti-nausea meds I have will be sufficient for the ten-hour bus ride through mountains and valleys down to the port city of Tamatave.    So, pull up a chair or wrap your fingers around a cup of coffee and let’s chat.  What’s on my heart today?


I am so happy and blessed to be here in Madagascar. Doors are opening, favor is abundant, details are falling into place and the people are incredibly warm and welcoming.  But at the same time, I’m watching Ebola continue to destroy my friends and heart for west Africa, and it seems like every single day the scenery around me simultaneously screams beauty and also the very reason we are here and not there.   I’m sick of hearing about it, I’m sick of reading about it, and the current panic about it showing up in the states only adds to my frustration level.  And yet, like I couldn’t peel my eyes away from watching the buildings collapse over and over and over on 9/11, I can’t stop reading the headlines, the articles, the comments from ignorant and educated alike, speculating and throwing words around as if these aren’t real people and real lives and real families being destroyed right before our eyes.

Wow, take a breath.  

I almost feel guilty for having such favor here in Madagascar.  Seriously, things are going amazing and this country needs our services and God’s love desperately. We are coming at just the right time, everyone is saying so.  And I’m wrestling with what seems like an unanswerable question of how can this, what is happening there, be okay?

Let’s change topics, shall we?

It seems I’m once again back to the question that has haunted me for years – How does one pursue excellence, which is a good thing and what we are called to do, without crossing that imaginary line into the pursuit of perfection which is impossible and only leads to disappointment?  Confession – I feel like a total failure, as a person, approximately most of the time.   I know I’m not alone in this feeling and if you’re honest, you’ll admit the same thing.  Please don’t respond to this telling me I’m not a failure, I know that.  Really.  I know.  I work hard and I get to do amazing things and I’m talented and gifted and good at what I do (mostly). But there is always more that could be done, things that could have been done better, handled better, in a more loving way, with more grace, or gentleness, or whatever else might have been lacking. Always.  So what I am wrestling with is what exactly does excellence look like for me, or for this situation or that interaction… can we actually purse too much excellence?  How is that possible?  Where is the line? 

Sometimes my thought life can just wear me out.   

Another change of topic.  

Did you know the usual bride price in Madagascar is at least two zebu? A particularly helpful taxi driver informed me of that little gem.   When I passed it on to a lovely friend, she said, “Krissy, you’re worth at least four!”  Treasure.   The jacaranda trees are blooming and the beautiful purple flowers are a breath of beauty.  Mangoes are just coming into season, promising plenty of hives and Benadryl in my future.  This country also has an abundance of strawberries, a rare treat for the Africa Mercy crew.  Who, by the way, found themselves arriving safely two days ago to Cape Town, South Africa, after eighteen days at sea and twenty degree swells… no thank you.  No matter how sick I get on the bus down the mountain tomorrow, it is still better than eighteen days at sea.  No question.    But I digress.  

In other Africa Mercy news, besides doing PR tours and looking for elephants in South Africa, the crew and story of hope offered by Mercy Ships won 60 minutes an Emmy award!  Pretty cool, huh? The other cool thing, among many, is that I get to be reunited with my ship home in less than a month!  Cheers. 

Well, I hope you’ve enjoyed this little glimpse into what’s on my heart today.   Glimpse is a funny word.  Because I love words, I looked it up:  a very brief, passing look, sight, or view.  Accurate, methinks.  A drive-by into the inner wrestlings and random facts from yours truly. 

Wherever you find yourself today, seek out the joy in it.  Until next time -- xxk

The port of Tamatave as seen from outside of the general hospital.