17 August 2016

After nine days at sea I feel myself getting rather… antsy, shall we say.  I’m tired of being penned up and I’m ready to hit the ground in Benin; to pour out hope and healing and love and life into the place that will always hold a special piece of my heart.  Instead of a distant point off the horizon, suddenly we are saying things like ‘tomorrow we’ll do this’ and ‘next week we have scheduled this and this’.  Finally, it is time.

This morning we started bobbing a bit more than we have been, and after a long-ish meeting in a windowless room that was rolling and swaying and stuffy, I took some seasick meds and got myself up to deck 8 for some fresh air and a long look at the horizon (the only unmoving thing in my current existence).  Sticky tropical air greeted me; we crossed the equator yesterday, that invisible line that meant exchanging winter for summer and the inevitable teasing of new crew to make sure to look for the line just under the surface as we sail over it.

I took a walk around deck 8, the wind whipping my hair and clearing out the dizzy that had built up earlier.  As I sauntered along, I came across two of our security guards; Gurkhas from Nepal, who are some of the most wonderfully kind and selfless people you will ever meet.  These are the guys you want on your team. If you’ve never heard of Gurkhas look it up; they’re fierce, they’re loyal, they would do anything to protect the people in their charge.  These guys leave their families for months at a time to serve this little crew of world-changers trying to make a difference.  I am forever grateful for these unsung heroes.

After chatting a few minutes I moved along and around the corner; there I ran into our maintenance coordinator, an amazing guy who always says hello and has a word of encouragement on his lips.  I said hi and looked more closely at what he was working on; he was making walkers from plastic piping.   He said he wanted to get a little bit ahead before getting to Benin, because once the big work starts he’d have to put them together at night and on the weekends.  Incredible.  Giving up his time and energy to help make life a little bit easier for our littlest patients; helping them learn to walk on their new legs or their new feet into the gift of a new life and a new future that surgery has offered to them.  Another hero, another world-changer, giving of himself to spread hope and healing.

A bit further along I find our transportation manager picking up a zillion little washers of various sizes that had been spilled across the deck and rolled under the vehicles secured up there. As I stooped down to help him gather the runaways, I couldn’t help but think here is yet another unsung world-changer.  I don’t know much about his job, and like many who work in service, he probably spends the majority of his time fixing problems and handling complaints; I confess, I don’t really think about or appreciate the transportation guys until the cars don’t work.

This organization does amazing things and I’m so grateful to be a part of transformation.  But even more, today, I am appreciative of the community that I get to be a part of.  It takes an incredible amount of unsung heroes to put out the stories of transformation.  Thank you, Africa Mercy Crew, for continually teaching me about selflessness, about humility, about service and loving your neighbor and the power of community, family, and faith; when all rolled together, the result is truly glorious.  

To the unseen and unknown heroes in our midst, my heart echoes His in saying well done, good and faithful ones.  Well done. 

Can you see the line?? 

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