Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Hard Work!

Because of my kicking and screaming tendencies in writing a blog, I did create a blog which was about the Africa Mercy but with a sci-fi twist. I was thinking, maybe that would cut it and I'd get my need to use my imagination more at the same time. Then I realized, some people would rather the real thing with the real updates, so I suppose here I go. :)
We are currently docked in Durban, South Africa. Because of the need for generators - having to do with too much noise being created by the old ones to operate in the operating room - we are in dry dock. This means the ship is currently sitting on blocks of wood and men are moving under it, beside it, and over it, twenty-four hours a day. We now have a huge hole in the side of our ship.

As for me, well there are about ninety people on board of which eighty percent are men. This is new considering its usually the exact opposite with a crew of four-hundred people. The ship, these days is very quiet in the sense of there is no engine sounds to create white noise and less people talking. Then again, it is very loud with the noise of machines everywhere. The other day I had to wear ear plugs in the dining room because they were ripping the stairs apart leading to the galley. Huh.
It is funny how God can and will answer our prayers. I was complaining, as you know from the previous blog, that I was not useful enough. Yah never say that to God. First, God has a sense of humor. It's a wonderful great thing that makes me happy, except when He uses it against me! I am now working as a housekeeper/hospitality/dining room attendant. Every other week I work for seven days straight! This is actually not as terrible as it sounds, because while God gave me a job where I work a lot, he also gave me the strength to deal with it. Plus! I'm getting muscles. Seriously, I can lift heavier things now. He also gave me several friends to fellowship and relax with after hours. Lourens Lessing has been a great friend, and gets me off the ship more than I would otherwise. Annie I can talk to and watch movies with, and Gabriella is great for a laugh and chatting with. How good God is in providing exactly what we need. Its also nice being around so many conveniences like supermarkets again.
anyways, God bless

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

On board the ship

When coming to Mercy Ships, I had a lot of ideas. I believed that somehow I would be involved in the patient’s lives. That my adventures would be glorious…
…or something of that sort.
This was not what God had in mind.
So many times our perceptions of what God wants are mangled with our own truths. Truths, which are really lies. The lie that I would do wonderful things is more harmful than I imagined, thankfully not to anyone but to myself. In its own methodical way, it distorted the truth and caused me to think I am not useful.
…I am useless.
God did not create useless beings.
From what I can see, there are two reasons why God brought me to Africa, and neither really have anything to do with the Africans. In truth, it is the first time I have lived in the country and not fallen head over heals for the country. Instead, I have fallen for the African Mercy.
My first reason for being on board, as far as I can see, is for the sake of the people on board. God has shown me his love for the beauty in the hearts inside of the human beings inside this home of ours. Sometimes I see a woman walking down the hall, and the thought comes to my mind, “do they know just how beautiful they are?” Multiple reasons could show their beauty. Some people have an amazing gentle spirit that lights up everything they do, like my friend Lydia who dances in church. The first time I saw her dancing I wondered exactly that: Does she know how beautiful she is. Lydia you are beautiful beyond measure. Other people have a brilliance wherever they go and bring the sun with them. They almost literally light up people’s lives. Becca, my roommate and a pediatric ward nurse, seems almost constantly chirpy and is impossible to stay unhappy around for long periods of time. Becca…wow. Others, see God in everything. It’s almost as if they are dancing in their spirit. What a child like faith and love can do to the whole countenance. Leah, is one of those, she shares her voice, love for God, and joy in the midst of trouble. Leah, my breath is taken away by who you are. There are so many others. I have never met a woman I could not call beautiful, either inwardly or outwardly. Don’t hide it, face it, and show it. I hope these thoughts don’t seem weird or slightly gay to the casual audience. Know that my love for the people on board this ship is genuine.
There is a camaraderie here, found rarely even in families. We see each other every day, yet there is very few cat fights or all out rows. People call even the highest up by their first name. When trouble comes down on someone, there is always a hand waiting to be laid on them, in prayer. Yes, there are faults with this ship, and the people inside, but God has given me a love for it and them.
My second reason for being brought here is most likely the changes being done for me. The shy, quiet, inwardly thoughtful girl, with no self esteem is gone forever. I once had a prophecy given me in YWAM about unfurling my outer layers (the metaphor of a banana was used) to reveal my true self. What joy I have in proclaiming, it is true! God is good. What a powerful God we serve.
Finally, and I know I said only two, God is slowly showing me my purpose. I have always been drawn to a good story. I love movies, books, TV shows, anything with a good plot and characters. In addition, I have loved to tell the stories in my head through writing. I believe God wants to use that. With so much time and space on the ship, I have ample opportunity to write, plus many case studies with the variety of people who come to work on board.
God is amazing
I apologize for not writing sooner, but the thought of having nothing to report froze me, until God gently reminded me, I have a reason for being here.
With much love

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

A Busy Time

Finally, I have many things to write about.
The ship is booming with life at the moment. The screening process is still taking place but we also have patients coming in for surgeries. Something marvellous for me is the aft gangway, where the patients normally come on board, is not able to open so all the patients come past reception and me. It is absolutely amazing having people coming on ship with their various problems, such as cataracts, non malignant but still fatal tumours, bow legs, and so on coming through. Then the same people leave bearing eye patches, bandages on changed faces, and casts on legs.
God is certainly keeping us busy for there are a few off ship programs. Pray for my friend Becca who is working her silly, but happy, on so many things. God has placed Burquets, a type of cancer only found in impoverished countries, on the heart of her and Suzanne. She is also teaching, doing internet classes, and her regular job as a nurse. There are some days, though I sleep in the same cubby room as her, where I barely even see her.
I did have the chance, and took it, to go with Becca to visit the Burquet kids in the hospital. They are not on the ship but staying at a local hospital. A hospital in Togo is very different than a hospital back home (USA). Back home people tend to only share a room with one other patient, the patient is provided with food and bed clothes, and the whole place is sterile – to the point there is a hospital smell. The room we entered had four beds with about eight people (the patients’ mothers were staying with them as they were all children) inside. It was a concrete room and the door led directly to the outside, which is good as there was not air-conditioning. Apparently, it became so hot that one of the men in the room, an uncle, bought fans not realising he would need money for food.
It really wasn’t the condition of the room itself which made it a hard visit but the condition of the four patients. There was one who had stomach cancer (not a burquets kid) and was incredibly skinny as if he had gone through the last stages of anorexia. It was much to Becca’s credit that she got him to smile, because he was definitely suffering. Another child, a burquets kid, had a tumour growing behind his eye causing the eye to be on the verge of popping out. What makes this disease sad is it is completely treatable but people don’t have the knowledge or the money to do so, so kids die here in Africa for practically nothing.
As you can probably guess, Satan is not very happy with us at the moment. There have been quite a few attacks on moral, body, and spirit. Multiple times I have heard crew mentioning a weight or a lacklustre when they wake in the morning. Satan has also pounded people’s brain with problems or set up various blocks to what we are doing. God is good and triumphant so nothing has caused Satan to have the victory but we would sincerely love your prayers over here.
As for me, Megan is here, and she has the knack of keeping me busy. We have been to the pool, the busy market place, up a mountain (Coloradans would call it a hill), hung out with friends, slept in a house off ship, and so forth. More than the obvious that I have my sister here who I haven’t seen in almost a year, there has been much good coming from this. As said above, I’ve been out and about more. The other is how good the people are here. Many people, including my very busy friend Becca, have helped me with arrangements for this. They have shown me so much love.
For now, since I can’t think of anything else, that is it.
Thanks for reading my blog

Saturday, February 20, 2010

The beginnings of Togo

Ahhh so here we are at last! I have to admit one thing to you: I have as yet not left the dock. I know I'm terrible. Other than that, I do have things to mention on here.

The first day when we arrived was quite the notable event. A good group of people, instrumentalists, singers, and those with the ship who crossed to Togo via car all stood at the dock to greet us. I felt like we were somehow celebraties. I suppose there is something very special about a ship which comes to bring life and hope to so many people but to me its just my home and we are just doing our jobs. At any case the air was vibrant with excitement (don't you love that word - vibrant).

Since that day a whole host of changes has occured. The first thing that happened was the dock authorities partitianed off a whole section with containers on the dock stricktly for our use. The only problem is the rats and cockroches who live there. Other than that it looks beautiful in comparrison with docks we've had to share with others. I fear I'm beginning to become a spoiled brat of a missionary.

The ship has quite a few faces. Put it this way - the crew count mingled down to two hundred on Christmas. Now it is a full fledged 358 crew ship with more to come. We are going to be packed. Today I embarked fourteen people.

Not only that but we have finished accepting applications for day volunteers (Togolese people who wish to serve their country through working on the Africa Mercy) which means I'm about to see a lot of new African people during the day. Pray for them as they begin their day on Monday and need to get accustomed to the Western way (a very different culture than their own).

Lastly, but hardly least, and most likely the most, we have been going through the screening process. Basically we arrange for when different people will be getting surgeries on board and who we have to turn away (pray for these people who are turned away that they find the help they need) because we don't cater to their needs or there are too many. Normally this happens at one inning but because of security (nothing huge) we are screening a little each day. This is a massive task - heck another thing to pray for.

So, though I have personally not done a ton of things, there have been a lot going on with our little community and a lot of things to pray for.

God bless you all

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

On our way to Togo!!

It is with great discomfort for which I write this letter: I haven’t written in a long while. I suppose you want to know about Tenerife. Tenerife is a small little island located in the Canaries. It is delightful how much rest can be accomplished, both spiritually and mentally, when no longer in residence of the country you are helping. Tenerife, like all other places in the world, has its problems. What I loved about it was the atmosphere. For one, their culture is much like American culture in comparison to African. It is nice not having to train the mind to not offend someone. I am not saying anything bad about the African culture, in fact I find it fascinating, but my cultural sensitivity is lax in comparison to what it should be.

The second part about Tenerife’s atmosphere to be heralded is the relaxed style people live in. This can sometimes mean loads of partying, but mostly it means people sitting outside drinking wine, coffee, beer, or some other fragrant drink, talking to their friends in utter content. The waiters never wait impatiently for you to leave so more can come in, and midnight is a normal time to be up. I have stayed for hours in one outdoors restaurant or another, talking and getting better acquainted with my friends.

Thirdly, Tenerife, though probably fake and not as wonderful looking, follows the tradition of old European buildings. To just stroll and do nothing, that is pure luxury. There are grand parks, narrow alleyways with cobblestones, and fountains, not to mention the sea which sparkles and winks at you in the right light. Yes I am dearly fond of Tenerife.

That being said, I am incredibly glad we are on our way to Togo. I love exploring, and I fear Tenerife has lost much of its zest from to much time spent therein. Togo should be interesting with its vibrant people, and its markets. Please pray for our nurses and doctors to have wisdom in what they do.
God bless you all,