It's nearly four in the morning. My throat and cheeks and stomach hurt from laughing long. I'm tired with that kind of contentment that comes from hard work and deep study. I'll say it again- I don't know how I can leave all of this.
It crashed down on me tonight, the reality of leaving. I was sitting in my sister's room, praying for the girls gathered there. We had just finished an amazing study and I was lifting them up to God. In the midst of it, it was suddenly clear that this adventure I'm going on really does come at a price. (I'm not sure how that's managed to escape me up until now.) Starting in February, these girls will still be meeting, still be opening the Bible and digging deep. But I won't be there. I won't be there to learn from them, to pray with them, to walk with them. I won't be there to make pizza and play scattergories and have loud, crazy dance parties which I'm sure have the neighbours shaking their heads. And I'm going to miss it.
I can't help but think back to the question one of the kids from my sunday school class asked me after I did a presentation on Mercy Ships at church this past week. His little second-grade self half lifted out of the chair as he struggled to make sure I could hear him from his seat way in the back of the auditorium. "But why don't the kids just go to the doctor or the dentist? Why do they have to go to a ship?"
It is a blessing that I live in a country where the idea of not just going to the doctor when you're sick is completely foreign. Unfortunately, I am the exception rather than the rule in this world. So I'll go. And I'll miss my kids here. And it's okay.
More so, my spirit will walk with your spirit into the throne room of grace.
I am confident of this, that you will not return unchanged, that you will find no regrets in your choice to go, that you will reap many more blessings than you can humanly hold, and that you will be amazed at the encouragement the Spirit gives through memories such as these.
I'm Ali; thirty years old, and married to Phil, an electrician, also known as The Husband of Joy (HoJ for short). We're parents to Zoe (who is quite possibly the cutest baby ever), and we live on board the world's largest non-governmental hospital ship, the M/V Africa Mercy, where we work with Mercy Ships to bring hope and healing to the forgotten poor in West and Central Africa. The whole crew, from cook to captain, is made up of volunteers from more than thirty countries who are dedicated to bringing the love of Jesus to the world. So many people say they love their jobs enough to do them for free; we're a ship full of people who actually get to live that way. (I moderate all comments, so don't worry if yours doesn't show up right away. If it won't let you post, please e-mail me at alirae[at]quist[dot]ca. I love hearing from you!)