Those of you who recognize this “jingle” I hope it made you smile. I bring it up because here on the Africa Mercy Thursday is an ice cream day. Every Thursday evening there is a community gathering in which all the crew are encouraged to attend. After some worship one of the crew members will share something about themselves or about Mercy Ships or whatever they feel the Lord has put on their heart to share. Following this time there is ice cream. Perhaps the ice cream is to reward us all for our hard work but I sometimes think it is to bribe us to come to yet another meeting at the end of the week and we all know there’s no better way to get a crowd than free food.
This Thursday I went to the community meeting and sat in the back so I could be one of the first out the door in order to get ice cream quickly. Priorities, right? However, by the end of the evening, the night turned into so much more than an ice cream day. Kirstie our ward supervisor began by reading the familiar scripture form 1 Corinthians 13 “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. A familiar scripture – so familiar I tend to shut down and stop listening. There was no shutting down on Thursday. Individually nurses were called up to share how the saw love lived out in front of them.
Stories were shared about a young girl who wouldn’t stop looking at herself in the mirror because her cleft lip has been repaired and now she is “beautiful, beautiful, beautiful” – love brings joy. Stories of a three year old boy who had already had surgery encouraging the three year old boy next to him who was yet to go for his surgery telling him “it will be okay” – love is thinking of others before self. Stories of a Father who was told years ago that one day a ship would come and help heal his little boy – love never gives up.
The night ended with a video of the kids down in the wards telling us what love is to them. I have tried for days to link the video to this blog and maybe I still will but for now I am giving up and will have to settle with some photos instead and hope you can imagine the sweetness in each one of these children’s’ voices.
“We love because He first loved us” 1 John 4:19