“Goodbye; One of the hardest words to say…”…Mercy Ships in Benin – Week 8

It’s astounding how in the course of 8 weeks, complete strangers can become your favorite people to do life with.

How in so little time, they become like family & you can’t imagine not having them by your side for the rest of your current journey…& life in general.

And then, the hard part comes…

You have to say goodbye.

Here on board the Africa Mercy, crew are constantly coming & going. Every week we lose a few (or a dozen) & gain a few (or again, a dozen). And while I love having the opportunity to get to know those who are new, I have a soft heart for those who I met first.

There’s a group of 9 of us who all arrived the same weekend & pretty much bonded instantaneously. From our personalities to our beliefs, we’re pretty much on the same page. And to say it’s a blessing would be a total understatement, because we’re all together, 99% of the time. And not just because we’re on a ship docked in Africa…although that may be a slight factor.

We truly enjoy spending time together. Whether it’s at meals, in midships or out exploring Benin…we enjoy each others company. We can be talking & laughing, playing a game or simply just sitting around in silence, each of us working on something individually.

Then the time came this past weekend for 2 of our group to leave…

“NOOOOO!!! How is it already time for them to leave? We just got here!” – The reaction from every single one of us.

Everyone (except me because I was on call & therefore, could not leave the ship) went out to dinner Saturday night & while they were gone, I made a apple crisp & some chocolate chip cookie dough dip for us to enjoy when they got back. We all met up to enjoy some time together, eating dessert, chatting & laughing…you know, our usual. We then gathered around to play a game, like we have fairly often over the past 8 weeks. (Again…we’re on a ship docked in Africa…what else is there to really do after 8:00 on a Saturday night? Exactly.)

We snapped a picture together & then proceeded with our game. It wasn’t until I finally made it back to my cabin & began to look at & edit the picture, that the realization really hit me…

That was our last group picture together. 

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Front: (L to R) Sietska, Des, Liz, Heather-Ann, Catherine | Back: (L to R) Joy, Michelle, myself & Mo

I don’t say that with a single ounce of drama, simply realness.

When will we all be together again? Are we all planning to serve with Mercy Ships again? And if we do, will we all be serving at the same time?

Chances are no, we will not. So we must accept that difficult fact. That most likely, we will not all be together again at the same time, in the same place.

And that’s one truth that is extremely hard to come to terms with.

Because these friends are not just friends, they are your family when you have given up time with your biological family. They are that ones that are there for you night & day, for anything.

If you’re homesick, they’re there to step in to remind you that you’re loved here & to help you feel at home.

When you have a hard day & you need to talk, vent &/or cry, they’re there with open ears that listen, open arms to hug your neck & strong shoulders to lean on. 

When you’re not feeling your best, they’re there, almost constantly, asking if you need anything.

They’re there. Always. (And willingly.)

I’m not sure words can express how abundantly blessed I feel to simply have these wonderful, kind, compassionate, giving, loving, caring, Christ-like, hilarious girls in my life. They’ve taught me so much in the time we’ve been together.

God has reminded me recently that it’s not about the quantity of something, but the quality.

I know that sounds completely cliche, but it’s true.

The past 8 weeks have not been defined by the amount of time that the 9 of us spent together, but by the quality of that time. 

And while I’m sad that our time as 9 has come to an end, I’m so incredibly thankful for every moment I was able to spend with Heather-Ann & Mo. I treasure the time we had together this field service & I can’t wait to reunite with them again…hopefully on the “soon” side…

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Heather-Ann; Sweet. Kind. Compassionate. Gorgeous blue eyes. Knitter of socks & master of Peanut Butter cookies.

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Mo; Loving. Caring. Wise. Cute as a button. Storyteller Extraordinaire. Coolest cat of the group. Aka: Grand-Mo Wiggles.

Heather-Ann & Mo,

Thank you for every word of encouragement you gave to me these past 8 weeks. The kind & generous heart within each of you is palpable just by being around you. Your passion to serve those around you is evident in everything you do. Thank you for all the laughs & especially for all the love.

The ship isn’t the same without you. Miss y’all bunches & love you always!

Sietska, Des, Liz, Catherine, Joy, & Michelle,

I love you all & look forward to the remaining time we have to serve Benin together!

I’m so thankful & grateful to have you all by my side, traveling this path with me.

#MercyShipSisters #SquadGoals

– Although I am currently serving with Mercy Ships, everything communicated here strictly reflects my personal opinions and is neither reviewed nor endorsed by Mercy Ships. Opinions, conclusions and other information expressed here do not necessarily reflect the views of Mercy Ships. –

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