One of my favourite parts about this season on the ship, one of the reasons I'm so torn about leaving, is the fact that I've had the chance to be a youth leader again. I love the youth on board here; they're a crazy bunch of kids from around the world, and I've been challenged by their perspectives over and over again. Carys Parker, Dr. Gary's daughter, recently wrote something that was exhibited at the Academy Arts Fair. I stood in the narrow hallway and felt my breath catch in my throat as I read because she's just got it so right.
Africa is my home. She is the sun-scorched deserts and the dripping rain forests, the mighty lion pouncing upon the zebra, the tribes that walk upon her rich, red soil, the palm trees growing strong and tall. The crowded, busy market places, where everything from oranges and mangos to jeans and microwaves are sold. This is Africa. Africa is the people sitting around the fire as the darkness of night closes in, She is the breaking of bones as the women carry their heavy loads high upon their heads, but not of spirit even though death steals so many. Africa is the bright colors and fabrics that blanket the land, she is the laughter of the scantily clothed children as they splash in the waves, She is family, and tradition, and a place of beauty, She is home. This is my Africa.Can't you just see it? This is why it's so hard to leave, even when I know I'm coming back. Because my life isn't what it used to be back before I ever set foot on the ship. There's some sort of fundamental change that's been worked deep inside me, some switch that's been flipped and now I don't know where home is anymore. I read Carys' words and I'm convinced it's here, and then I think of the family waiting for me in North America and I can't wait to get to the airport and I feel like I've lost all sense of equilibrium.
After years of living here, I have come to look past the poverty and corruption to see the beauty of this cultural land. Africa has forever left her mark on my heart.
Compounding all this is the stark reality that in just a few days I will no longer be working full-time as a nurse. I know they say once a nurse, always a nurse, but I'm not starry-eyed enough to believe that nothing is going to be different. I'm stepping into a completely new reality, and while I love adventure, I'm not so great with change.
And then Lara, another one of the youth, got up at Community Gathering tonight, looked straight into my soul, and spoke to my secret questions. Your story has already begun. God is already doing something in your life. Don't wait for this time to be over. Your story has already begun.
I've been lying awake at night, wondering who on earth I'll be once the title on my badge is different, and all the time God's been writing His story around me and through me. I'm dreading the end of this season when God's already seen past it to the chapters ahead. Why do I doubt Him? This isn't the end of anything.