Sunday, February 28, 2010

Above it all

On the way home, our plane glided smoothly over the vast expanse of ocean hundreds of miles beneath us. Cold, dark waves rippled far below and, every so often, the tiny speck of a cargo ship or barge would slide by. The water peeked through the dense blanket of clouds separating atmosphere from sky, and I felt isolated from my terrestrial identity. The warmth of earth was so far away. I touched the cold, plastic windowpane and shivered.

From my perch in 22C, I could see the little plane flying below us. Silently following, it slid between the clouds, dodging the shadow we created. Together, we flew with the sun, delaying and prolonging the sunset, and the rays of lights doused the clouds in glowing hues of orange and purple. A three-and-a-half hour long sunset.

No road signs grace the heavens. A pilot cannot rely on mile-markers or the names of highways to lead him. High above the earth, he uses radar to guide his massive metal machine to destinations beyond the horizon and across expanses of time. In a skillful blend of art and science, he soars above the earth.

Existence is peaceful five hundred miles above the earth. It doesn't really matter what is happening far below; what wars are being fought, what conflicts are being resolved, what the headline news happens to be, the price of tea in China...nothing really matters. It's just you, the clouds and the sound of sleeping people and recycled air. Just as I love lying on my surfboard, out in the ocean, far beyond the crashing waves...quietly gliding through the air, far above any earthly care, is equally as calming.

And as the world spun madly on...

...I closed my eyes and sighed.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Big Brother

I've always thought it unfair I was born without an older brother. Always.

I have a small list of impossible desires:
1) laser eye surgery,
2) lung transplant,
and 3) older brother.

The past few weekends, my cousin Bryce has driven over from Reno, NV, to come stay with us for a night or two. It's funny, growing up we rarely saw him, maybe once or twice (if we were lucky) a year. And now, it's almost regular. He was here three weekends ago. He was here last weekend. And he's here now, quietly snoring on the couch in our frontroom. The son of my father's brother, he's a year younger than I am, with a definite Farrell nose and deep Merck eyes. He's tall, like my uncle Mike (his dad), with curly hair like my dad and uncle Tim. With a funny smile, quirky sense of humor, and ever-gentle and loving spirit, it's very difficult not to love him to pieces. We've gone through very similar experiences, Bryce and I, and it's been so wonderful to have him around to talk to and share things with. He's a wise young man, in his own quiet, simple way.

He came in to say goodnight as I readied for bed, his tall frame silhouehetted in the doorframe. I looked up at him, and he told me he loved me with his eyes. I didn't have to say anything, I just went over and sank in his arms as he hugged me.

I may not have a true older brother, but my cousin might as well be one. He's younger than I am, yes. And true, he lives in Reno. But he's here for me when I need him. He listens when I need to talk. He takes care of my younger siblings for me, allowing me a rare and welcome reprieve from a quiet, underlying worry. Like most, he has his own issues he's working through right now...and we take turns listening and counseling each other. We know each other, we know our family, we know Farrell politics, we know how "the game" works, we know....we know. And that reality is a comfort to the spirit, in a strangely beautiful way.

Dear, dear Bryce. I'm going to miss him when he returns to Reno tomorrow morning. And I'll miss him until he comes back again.

My de-facto older brother.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Sunday, February 21, 2010

It's taken me a while to post again on this blog of mine.

I've started many entries, but none of them seemed quite right. I can't seem to find the right words, the right way to portray my feelings, the right way to put my thoughts into writing.

It's difficult coming back to "civilization", and though it's really nice to have the little luxuries and creature-comforts back (safe water, my own bed, fruit, family and friends, hot showers (!), American music), I left part of me in Jamaica. I know that sounds cliche, a line found in movies and corny songs, but it's actually hard being back.

I'm trying to jump back into the busy swing of things, but my mind wanders back to little Nicanor, desperately waiting for the orphanage. His screams broke my heart when I had to leave, his tears soaking my scrubs, his little arms clinging to my legs as he locked his fingers so he could hold on to me forever.


As we walked to church from the parking lot today, raindrops falling on my cheeks, I thought about the last time I'd felt rain. It had been in Jamaica, while carrying bins of medical supplies back to camp after a long, hot day in a dusty clinic with countless dozens of people clamoring for a doctor's care. I held a infant that day who was burning with an unexplainable fever. The mother quietly sat, her eyes frightened, as the pediatritian examined her daughter. Afterwards, the mother ended up having nine teeth pulled, and hours later, as she turned to leave, her mouth bloody and full of gauze, thankful tears streamed down her face as she took her medicated baby (Grace) and headed out the door.


I get ready to begin my 8-week classes, and memories of the little school I peeked into rush to mind. Children's quiet voices floated from the doorframes as they recited the alphabet, the national anthem, the multiplication tables. Sitting at hard little desks, most of them sharing a chair with a classmate, they wrote diligently on their little chalkboards, brows furrowed...trying hard to learn. Their teacher is a young man, with John Lennon glasses, who is spending a year in Jamaica as part of YWAM. He wore a bright blue tie that day; striking against the red checkered pinnafores and khaki uniforms of his little students.


I had a really hard time coming back to the States after Spain. And again, I'm surprised at the difficulty of coming home after Jamaica. Why such culture-shock when I'm coming home?

I'd sit on the crowded bus, dental bins under my feet and medical packages in my lap, and I'd close my eyes as we swerved around tight corners, missing oncoming traffic by inches. I miss the Jamaican car horns. I'd rock in that bus, sitting in my scrubs amongst doctors and nurses and EMTs, and feel right at home.

I'd stand in a one-roomed clinic, sick and hurting people crammed in every corner and empty chair, holding a sick baby or dozens of patients' medical records and think, 'this is me.' My feet would be so sore and swollen from so many hours standing and working, my cheeks flushed from the tropical humidity, and for a moment I'd find an empty spot on the floor and sit down. Instantly, the little girls would creep over and sneak into my lap. They'd whisper to each other excitedly as they undid my french-braids and ran their little fingers through my hair. "It's so soft!...Where are your braids?...Why is it yellow?" I'd lean against the wall as they'd drape my arms around their shoulders, fight for my lap and try to kiss my forehead. "This is me" I inwardly thought, "this is where I belong."

I don't actually think I belong in Jamaica. But I belong somewhere. Somewhere else. I don't know where yet, I don't know what God has planned, I'm not sure where He'll send me, or where He wants me...but I belong somewhere. I belong somewhere doing what I did in Jamaica. But I want to be the doctor next time.

It's nice being home, it really is. But, strangely, I feel a bit out-of-place. It's home, and yet, my heart hasn't arrived quite yet.

I'm having a hard time quieting Nicanor's tears in my mind.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Home again

You can take a girl out of Jamaica...

...but you can't take Jamaica out of the girl.