Monday, 21 January 2013

Angel of Mercy - Lurlene McDaniel

The Story...

Heather Barlow has always been idealistic, and now that she has finished high school, she's ready to make a difference in the world. After graduation she joins a mission group on a hospital mercy ship sailing to Africa. However, Heather is unprepared to face the disease, famine, and misery she encounters.

Ian McCollum is also among the medical staff in Uganda. Ian has left his native Scotland to help those threatened by a world if seeming indifference. When Heather meets Ian her heart races and she is happy to be alive. But as the weeks pass, she finds her idealism vanishing; the refugee camps and orphanages are overcrowded, and misery is everywhere. Only Ian can see beyond the horror and help Heather understand that the world can be changed if people try to help those in need one by one.

A Reader's Experience...

What does it take to change the world? Are we brave enough to face up to our fears and worries to be a part of it? Heather's dedication and genuine willingness to help those in need is a reminder that as long as we are open to giving of ourselves as opportunities present themselves, we can all become signs of hope in an uncertain world.

What allows Heather to be successful in her mission is her willingness to confront her own weakness, ignorance, and fears. She doesn't deny these, nor does she pretend to be stronger or more powerful than she is. She learns from her experience and grows from them one step at a time, and as a result she develops the instincts and confidence to actually make a difference - not the whole world at once, but when and where she is at the time, step by step.

Through my own traveling experiences, I appreciate the message set out to readers about moving out of your comfort zone. Heather and Ian leave the comforts and certainties of home for a better purpose, and I got to thinking about how we could interact or participate in relationships and connections on a global level if there weren't people willing and able to make this type of sacrifice. I am struck by the fact that not only can we serve others and make someone's world a little bit better through missions, but that we ourselves stand to gain as much as we give - we become stronger, more compassionate people in the process. A little discomfort can lead to a lifetime of understanding and insight that is invaluable.

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