Monday, February 6, 2012


SNOW Snow snow! I love the snow! Ok, I do understand why people don't like the snow - it is not fun to drive in (unless of course you're a dare devil, which I am not), but once inside and cozy, or outside having snow fights and making a snow dalik, like my cousin did,  it's pretty amazing stuff. Each snow flake is a beautiful crystal, and all together they cover the ground in a soft blanket. It's quite magical.

This past week, we had 18 inches of snow. I had no where to go while the snow fell, so it was amazing to watch. I have had two years of straight summer - the chill of the wind on my face, hot chocolate, and warm blankets all seem so nice. Yay.
Heather out.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Everything is Spiritual

I got it! I am now in my own apartment, in my room. I don't know if you can understand how amazing that is. I cannot remember the last time that I slept in a room where every iota of stuff was MINE! Imagine a person hugging a room - that's me.
Anyways, to further speak of the happenings of my slightly more doldrums life, I am now going to... class. Yes I am now officially a student at metro state college at the age of twenty-five, but I am only taking one class - Social Psychology. Its pretty interesting.  Today we talked about how positive thinking affects how we act and think and live. Soemething that got my nogin going was this:

Barbara Fredrickson made a list of 10 forms of positivity:

The Fruit of the Spirit:

Self Control

Do you see the correlation? They don't all match up but the point is - God's so cool that everything that has to do with God has a grounded human basis - Everything is spiritual :)

Tuesday, December 13, 2011


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So one stage of my life is over and another has begun. I am now sitting comfortably in a faux heated room in Colorado, USA. Yes, I am home again. Funny that, I keep referring to the ship as home and have to change my wording mid word. It's very different. Traffic is no longer crawling at an aged tortoises pace, and I've slept in a bed in the basement alone. Last night I had to turn on an outside light on so I could sleep without getting scared. I'm not used to sleeping alone. Of course, part of that is because I watched Criminal Minds at around twelve in the morning. Ooops. Still, I find myself listening in the darkness for the noises of incoming criminals. Silly me.

It's also expensive. I spent over a hundred dollars on clothes today (I really needed clothes). I about fainted at the cashier's counter. I see a lot of that happening in my future, what with college and an apartment. Yep, I'm moving into my own apartment on the seventh to be shared with my cousin and a friend of hers.

Ok, so enough with that. What did I do on my last few weeks in Africa. I worked. A lot. I no longer worked at reception my last two weeks, as my replacement was by that point trained. But I did do some freelance ship work. I helped the off Ships team pack up, the sales team do what they needed to do, and Becca get ready for her wedding. That really isn't all that much. In all reality I only helped the off ships team one very sweaty back breaking day, and the sales staff for two days. The rest of the two weeks was getting ready to leave and helping Becca. But believe me adding on the fact that I needed to say goodbye to so many friends, it adds up to a lot.

Mercy Ships has been amazing. Not so much because it's in Africa but because it is a community of believers who work together to serve God. I loved that. I loved going Salsa dancing, exploring, impromptu bands, and everything else that went with being with a large group of people on a large ship. It became home.

On my way home, I stopped off to visit my sister in England for two weeks. We had a lot of fun. At one point we saw Les Misrables (amazing) and on the way back I broke down in tears because I had to convince my mind that no we were not getting into a land rover and heading back to the ship.

England was nice though. I stayed in London for a few days, and we went to a modern art museum, a gypsy market, and of course the theatre. After that we left for Sheffield, my sister's home. Now, the English who read this may wonder what could I ever do in Sheffield, but I wasn't there to get the cultural, touristy experience. I went to get to know my sister and her world more. I haven't spent time alone in her world in a very long time. I learned a lot!

It was fun.

So yah, now I'm here and for any Mercy Shipper reading this: I miss you a lot!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Oh food, how I love thee. Without you, I could not survive. It be true, I couldn’t. Anyways, enough with silliness. Something I love doing is eating food in other countries. Sometimes it’s as tame as eating crepes in Paris, and other’s it’s as interesting as eating squid in Seoul.

Here in West Africa, there are quite a few ‘strange’ things to choose. There is street meat, fofo, and banku. Now street meat is the most dangerous, because I never know what I am getting. If it is the shish kebabs it is so spiced up that, it no longer has a taste of its own. It is still good, just slightly more dangerous, because it does not tend to be cooked on the spot and I am not always sure what sort of surfaces and hands it has touched between the time cooked and the time eaten by me. There is another type of street meat, which is a bunch of chunks of either goat (not a bad tasting meat) or cow cooked right in front of the person about to eat it. This is considered the safer bet as the big peace of metal the meat is cooked on is sanitized through extreme heat. Of course, the actual quality in the health department of the meat is still a mystery.

I love street Meat! More because I feel like an adventurer than because it tastes good, which it does.

The other food mentioned is fofo and banku. Both are basically big balls of doughy substance, which is dipped into a sauce. Therefore, when picturing Africa people often view a woman pounding a tree-branch sized stick into a vase like bowl. What they are pounding is a root, which after much pounding turns into the doughy substance called fofo. There is a reason why Africans are so strong. Anyways, there is a little restaurant where I can buy a plate of fofo or banku for only ten thousand Leoneans. That equals about two dollars. There are so many restaurants here made specifically for wealthy Africans and foreigners, and the food is expensive! In America, I would never spend that much for food (at least ten dollars for a plate) on a regular basis. Instead, I can have African food where the buildings might be a little less posh and the food less delicate, but it is good and cheep.

So, that is African food.

On other news, I am at this moment sitting at reception for the last time. That’s not true. I will probably hold the fort several more times between now and when I leave, but it’s the end of my official reception responsibilities. That is so strange to me. I’ve worked at reception for two years now. It’s had its difficulties, but overall it has been good.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Taking a walk

One of the best ways to experience a country is by taking a walk. This past week I have gone on two walks to the Crown Bakery, and the week before we walked to the museum by the cotton tree. Both take about forty five minutes to get to on foot. In a car, it could take from fifteen minutes to two hours depending on traffic.

The streets of Freetown, Sierra Leone are both fascinating and over the top frustrating. To meander one’s way to the crown or to the museum, one must go through the street market. Think of a flee market on a busy street. Small shops under old west saloon type buildings with their dilapidated and artsy balconies line both sides of the street. Fruit, spices, shoes, and clothing stalls stand wooden and rickety right in front of those, almost completely blocking the small sidewalks. In front of both, on the street itself, is numerous venders selling soaps, spices, shoes, and diapers, in large bowls, old blankets, and right on the tarmac. There is a constant noise, a pushing, a shoving, and people pulling at the pedestrians to look at their product, hoping the foreigner will spend more than it is worth. All this, and I haven’t even added the traffic!

Most people in Africa just walk everywhere, so on the main thoroughfares there are huge crowds (especially on the street market) mobbing the whole place: a continuous stream of bodies weaving in and out of each other as mini busses, semi trucks and taxis stream through, pushing and squishing people to the side, and causing the vendors on the street to scramble up with their merchandise, breathing a sigh of relief as their toes are not squished. On these streets I have had people pulling on my sleeves, little kids taking my hands, my ears numbed, and a feeling of overwhelming come over me.

There is a reason Africans are so communal. They have no choice otherwise. As little children, many of them take naps on the sidewalk as their parents yell their wares out to the passing populace. When they grow old enough (about five), they get their own bowl to place on top of their head and wander up and down the street calling out for people to buy from them.

I almost paint a bad picture, but it is not. It is a communal picture. I hear laughter often as moms' joke about something that went on that day (not unusual for me to be the butt of the joke). Many of them lounge in their chairs and chat to one another and let a tape recorder do the calling out. There is even a street performer in one of the byways and people gather around to watch him much like in Paris or London.

People stay in basically the same place day in and out. I’m starting to recognize them. On one of the corners, close to the bakery is a coconut seller. He sells them, chops them open, and takes out their meat while you stand there, all from a wheelbarrow. One has to stand there while drinking the water and eating the meat because he takes the shell back. It’s the same idea with coke vendors. African coke, along with fanta and sprite, comes in a bottle. The vendors get money for bringing back the glass bottle to their supplier so one must drink the coke right there. In America this would never work. People are too busy moving, thus the reason for take away and fast food. Here people stand and chat to one another as they refresh themselves with the best tasting coke I have ever had.

Truly, I have grown to love Africa, and taking walks has done just that.

Note: The pictures taken were from a car, and are not in the places described, but they give a good depiction of what I mean. I rarely take pictures when walking.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Salsa and God

            What does one think of when one says salsa? Well maybe the sauce, but I mean the dance. The picture I get, or I should say got, was sexuality, male with female, gracefulness, maybe some dark lighting. I did not picture myself and prophecies from God. On Wednesday night I went dancing with a group of people who go almost every week. It’s pretty cool to see men and women who did not know an inch of salsa, flying on the dance floor. Well this was my third time, so I’m still not that great (thankfully with the right dancing partner it doesn’t matter because he’ll just fly me around). On one of the lessons, God nudged me (think almost visual picture with a mix of feeling) and said “remember that prophecy."
When I was fourteen at winter camp a lady told me in prophecy form that one day I would dance but she didn’t know how. Well picture a scrawny teenager who is socially awkward and not exactly graceful and see how she reacted. In the years since I have danced before the lord and several occasions.
One of the more notable times, was when I was at church one Sunday and I learned there was a shooting at YWAM where I had gone to school and possibly deaths. I had no idea who was killed. I danced before God then, cause I didn’t know how else to express myself in God’s presence. 
Apparently, my learning Salsa was one of the parts of this prophecy. From what I can gather, dancing is one of the more self assured things to do. When dancing alone I can’t think, or at least not care what other people are thinking. When dancing with another person, I have to be ok with touching other people. Both show a need for me to not care if I make a fool of myself. Anyways, the point is, God said, see I have molded you into such a confident young woman, and I love you enough to get you into Salsa. Hehe. God’s cool.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Still Small Voice

God’s presence is so good. Sometimes it comes in this rush and I am filled with the joy of the Lord. Other times it is just the tender comfort of quiet. I received the later today. Just a sense of calm. I am an extremely analytical person. It means I think through things (usually wrongly) over and over until it drives me a little nutty. Today, as my friends were not in the dining room that I could see, I went up to deck seven to eat. Deck seven is a semi open air deck (think of a porch) with two tables and the corresponding chairs. It overlooks Sierra Leone, which with all its poverty, ramshackle housing, and smoky surroundings, is actually quite beautiful to view. I was joined by one other person, but at first neither of us talked except for the greeting. When we finally did talk it was without the need to put a bunch of words together and fill up space. It wasn’t small talk. I don’t really like small talk. Inside these large spaces I had music in my head and I could talk to Abba, my daddy. I felt calm. Quiet. Peaceful.

Yesterday, I finally bought my plane ticket home. November 27th is not that far away, and the plane ticket brought that all the more close. August 19th was my two year anniversary. I can still remember the day I came here, came home. We landed in Benin, drove, met a bunch of strangers who drove us to the ship. What a comfort it was to see all my gateway family lined up next to the gangway with signs, ready to take me and my fellow travelers (other gateway family members) into their arms. It was surreal but I was home.

This really is home. Here I have grown friends who, once we are apart physically, I will never part spiritually for they have become my brothers and sisters. Here, I learned the meaning of the prophecy told over me; that I would one day unfold and come into myself. Here, I have cried, I have laughed more times than I can count, I have done some crazy things, I have become friends with people from all over the world, I have sung on worship team, I have sung a solo(!), and I have said goodbye to hundreds of friends.

My gateway group, which has started out in the twenties has dwindled to about six. I have been to twenty-four countries. I have met thousands of people, but normally I am the one who says goodbye and drives away. I have become tired and sometimes downright moody. I feel like an old woman sometimes who says “well in my day…” because I do. I say things like, “Well when I started two years ago…”

Am I complaining? Maybe a little, but this little bit of sadness, cannot compare to the abundant joy of the former. I am so so glad I came. This has been a marvelous experience.

Still, thanks God for giving me this one moment of quiet where I didn’t have to put up any mask, and I could just be.

God bless all of you,


Went to the Crown Bakery and had a Lebanese breakfast

 Movie Fest on board - dressed up

Said goodbye to Johan

Country Line Dancing!