Ship Yoga and Dead Fish

I downloaded a few yoga videos for some friends and me to do on the ship. Even with it moored, it still rocks, making some of the simplest yoga poses VERY challenging!

Don’t you find that yoga instructors say some of the funniest things in their videos? I look forward to them, laughing every time. Other times, they’re just plain strange. Take Pradeep, for example, who meets me at a yoga-pose finish line with, “Welcome home! As the wise people say, ‘home sweet home.’” Okey dokey, Pradeep.  

Since we’re on the subject, I might as well share where home will be for me in a few months.

I’ve decided (well, actually me and God decided) that one field service with Mercy Ships is the perfect amount of time for me. My original commitment was 2 months of onboarding and 10 months in Benin. And now, as that comes to a close in June, it feels right for me to return to the states.

A number of my friends are gonna join the ship for the next field service in Cameroon. And I can see why. Being here is such an incredible experience…really hard at times, but very worth it when you get to be a part of something that’s not about yourself. When you’re forced to stretch fast and far.

“Home sweet home” is going to be mom’s house in upstate New York. That’s right, I will be that 40-year-old divorcee living with her mother…and I couldn’t be more excited! (She is too :)) Of course, when I start to smell like a dead fish (as every long-term house guest eventually does), I have some other wonderful family members who have offered to open their doors. It’s a good feeling. Though I won’t couch-surf forever, I may linger just long enough to catch up on giving and receiving love from those most dear to me.

It’s weird to be in a place in life where you have no idea what’s next. But then I remember, this isn’t the first time. There have been many for me, and probably for you, too. To be fair, we never really know what’s next, do we? When I think back to first applying to Mercy Ships in February of 2016, then quitting my job, leaving my apartment and hopping on a plane with two large bags to spend a year in Africa, it felt just a tad “uncertain.” Yet God always manages to take care of me. And you. In fact, just this morning I was encouraged by this well-known passage in Proverbs 3:5-12 (The Message):

Trust God from the bottom of your heart;
    don’t try to figure out everything on your own.
Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go;
    he’s the one who will keep you on track.
Don’t assume that you know it all.
    Run to God! Run from evil!
Your body will glow with health,
    your very bones will vibrate with life!
Honor God with everything you own;
    give him the first and the best.
Your barns will burst,
    your wine vats will brim over.
But don’t, dear friend, resent God’s discipline;
    don’t sulk under his loving correction.
It’s the child he loves that God corrects;
    a father’s delight is behind all this.

I was inspired recently as I met with an amazing woman, Sarah, to write her crew bio (part of my job). I’m continually blown away by the inner beauty of people. I’m the luckiest girl to get to hear their stories – and what Sarah shared really stuck with me.

We talked about values, and the differences from where we’ve been and where we are today. She referred to values that develop due to experiencing other parts of the world as as “global values.” We agreed that the experience of working with an international crew, living in a third-world country, and having an open mind that wants to learn from others has helped to expand the values we came with. We spoke about petty things we’ve see ourselves and others complaining and arguing about in the past – like choosing a paint color for a wall. And how some people living here in Benin don’t even have walls. We went on to agree on finding a balance – that deciding paint colors is perfectly fine – but we have to keep things in perspective, not letting certain kinds of issues become real issues. We talked about how we want to take our global values with us wherever we go, rather than revert back to old ways. Keep seeing life with fresh eyes. Have right priorities. And we talked about not judging others who think differently, remembering how gentle and patient God is with all of us.

How timely to then hear an online sermon from Bert Crabbe, pastor at True North Community Church, about how wrong it is to judge others. I’m guilty at times. But I’m gonna work on it.

So as I think about returning, I can’t help but hope that I left things better than when I came, and that I bring home an even better version of myself, wherever “home” ends up. This will only be possible because of the gift of my experiences and the way God’s worked on my heart during my time with Mercy Ships.

(And by the way, I’ll also do my best to avoid becoming a smelly dead fish.)

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