I had thought about keeping a written journal this year but seeing that I often cannot decipher my own hand writing, typing just makes more sense. So forgive me if my thoughts meander but you have been fairly warned.
Yesterday was my birthday. I am 24. I am dealing with the wretched thought that in six years I will be (gasp) 30. It may seem like premature dread but 6 years ago I was 18. And I can vividly remember 18.
I have only been in Africa for a 1.5 weeks, so all friendships at this point are seedlings. But you would not have known that yesterday. I am truly surrounded by lovely people. Someone made me a cake. I got cards and little presents. Four friends even endured almost 4 miles of walking on a dirt road during rainy season so I could purchase African fabric at the market. How nice.
The market was an interesting. I love experiencing the culture. During our walk it started to pour rain so we took cover under the awning of a local shop. In Philadelphia we probably would have been told to leave. But here, the owner gave up his seat and scrounged up some plastic chairs so us five white ladies could have a proper seat (as the English would say). It's good to know that chivalry is not completely dead.
As week walked, the streets were lined with people just sitting on the road. Not working. Because there is no where to work. There is very little economic opportunity of any kind. Our pale skin easily distinguishes the crew as Mercy Ship workers. And as you walk through the streets people will often yell with a reflective intonation, "Mercy Ships."The men often make a high pitched pucker sound when you pass, which I have decided is the Liberian equivalent of "Hey Baby".
Tonight I became a bit of a pirate, I boarded the Anastasis and pillaged hangers from the closets of empty rooms. The Anastasis has been Mercy Ships flagship for almost thirty years. It has brought medical care to thousands of people. Soon, it will be making it's final sail to India where it will be scrapped.The ship was originally an Italian cruise line. It's design and character are lovely.
As I walked through the now empty corridors I thought about it's history. I am unsure how long it takes to build a ship, but I imagine it is a long and tedious process. It must be designed, assembled, equipped, and tested. The hands that built the Anastasis thought they were building a cruise ship. They intended to provide rich Italians a delightful place to take a holiday (another English term). In their wildest dreams they could never have imagined the vessel would be taking her final sail from a third world country in Africa. Or that it would provide hope and healing for thousands of the world's poorest inhabitants. Or that her crew would be made of people from over 40 nations and almost every walk of life.
But so often that's what happens.
The things we build in our lives our used for completely different purposes than we intended. We have no idea how God will use today's experiences tomorrow. Our lives could take on an entirely different purpose in a moment and suddenly we see how the orchestrated past enabled a new beginning. God's intentions are beyond our understanding and it is beautiful to watch Him breath meaning and life into our vessels.
I love that we never really know what is going to happened next. It makes life so much more exciting. It makes difficulties worth enduring. It makes the sheep dependant upon the shepherd.
The real beauty of the Anastasis is not found in her frame or design, but in how she was used. The spirit of mercy is the remembered beauty. Likewise, when we reach the end of our journey, it will be remembered how our lives were used .
At a funeral the most touching remembrances are,
"She was a loving mother."
"He had a gentle spirit."
"He had a generous heart."
People don't often remember the dead with
"She was able to fit into size four jeans her entire life."
"He graduated 2nd in his high school class."
"Her yard was always the most meticulous in the neighborhood."
We will leave something behind.
Let us store up treasure where moth and rust do not corrupt.