©2016 Mercy Ships - Photo Credit Katie Keegan - In the Admissions Tent

©2016 Mercy Ships – Photo Credit Katie Keegan – In the Admissions Tent

I’ve been reminded a lot lately about love.  About what it does and does not look like.  About how powerful it can be.

We have just concluded our plastic surgery block.  Many of the patients we have cared for have disfiguring burns that also cause significant dysfunction.  Sometimes chins are scarred down to chests.  Sometimes arms and hands are frozen in one position.  Someimes eyelids are burned off completely.

Many of these burns are accidental, the result of cooking with open fires or using kerosene lamps.  Unlike back home, here in Madagascar electricity is a luxury.   It’s 2016.  Think about all the comforts, conveniences, and technology we have access to in the western world.  It’s hard for me to fathom that many in Madagascar, and even across Africa as a whole, don’t have access to electricity.


Satellite picture of Africa and Europe at night.

Unfortunately, not all of these burns are accidental.  I took care of a 6-year-old girl that was purposely pushed and held into a fire in an attempt to murder her.  How terrible is that?

Or how about the 30-year-old man who had to have his leg amputated because it was so badly infected?  He had been dealing with this extremely painful, non-healing wound since the age of 5 when his father purposely held him over a fire.  I imagine he was rejected from many places simply because of the horrible smell coming from his leg.  Can you imagine living most of your life this way?

Hate cetainly can be powerful and destructive.  But how about the power of love?

This man woke up from surgery with the biggest smile on his face once he saw his foot was gone.  For the first time in 25 years, he was pain free!  For you medical folks out there, yes, I did put a nerve block in him, and I loved being able to be a part of taking away this man’s pain.  While hate left its scars on this man, love changed the trajectory of his life, took away his pain, and brought him joy.

Patient. Kind.  Not envious.  Not boastful.  Not proud.  Not dishonoring.  Not self-seeking.  Not easily angered.  Keeps no record of wrongs.  Does no delight in evil.  Rejoices with truth.  Always protects.  Always trusts.  Always hopes.  Always perseveres.  NEVER FAILS.  

These are some descriptions of what love is and isn’t according to the Bible (1 Corinth13:4-8).  Take a close look at each one.  While you may not be physically burning anyone, could your world and the people in it use a little more love?  I know mine could.  I challenge you to choose one of the above descriptions to act on.  It might just take someone’s pain away and put a smile on their face (and yours too).

Some other pictures of the past month in Madagascar: