Wednesday, January 10, 2018

God With Us

So its the 10th day of being back onboard the M/V Africa Mercy and it feels like I never left. The familiar faces in the dining room line, movie nights, the hugs (oh the many hugs!) that are around every corner, the nightly dutch blitz games, and the coworkers who become good friends- all this and more- make this place home.

The ship is also work and hard work and late nights it has been because we are short four operating room nurses. I have been working in what I like to call "Hernia land" because that is what we do from sun up to sun down with a few lumps and bumps in between. On a typical workday, we have a team brief in each theatre (or room) with the anesthesia team, surgeon, and nurses to communicate any concerns for the day. We pray for our patients and then we start to prepare the room- one nurse will assist the surgeon so we open the supplies and scrub in to get the instruments ready for surgery. The circulator nurse will head to the ward to pick up the patient. So last week I scrubbed a few hernias, but my favorite job is to go and meet the patient. Back in the day, we met at the bench, but now cataract patients are occupying it so we now go to the ward. I have brought Sebastian, Baise, Alex, and many more to OR #2 for their hernias. I picked up Marte for her lipoma surgery from A Ward- and we danced and sang down the corridor. A little melody in French singing "God is with me, God is with you." I'll never forget her smile and her song. I practice the little French as I introduce myself to them as their nurse, asking about allergies, and last time they drank. The task I cherish the most, is offering to pray for them. What a privilege to come before God and ask for healing- and seeing it answered before our eyes in the operating room. Today, I picked up Filas and after we prayed he got up from his bed- he carefully placed his French Bible on his pillow. He was ready for his surgery. I love taking care of the kids, some of them goofy from pre-medication, and others like Denis, who was the bravest 9 year-old to walk with me to the operating room. Finally, there was Emmanuel, a little guy for hernia surgery. He was not so happy when I arrived in A Ward to pick him up, probably because he missed out on breakfast. He calmed down enough for his mama, the ward nurse, the translator, and me to join hands and pray for God to be with us. And He was. 

"She will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel, which means 'God with us.'" 

Sunday, December 31, 2017

On my way!

Happy New Year's Eve! I'm on my way to Cameroon via Newark and Brussels today and tomorrow- so I'll miss the countdown. Since it is the time to look back at 2017 and reflect on the year- near and far- you are important to me and I thank God for each of you being in my life. 

Of course every year has its ups and downs and this year was no exception, but what I do know is God has called me to continue to be a nurse missionary. In the ups and downs of life, I always remember Elijah in 1 Kings 18 calling on God to bring fire upon an impossible situation. He did! Elijah was on that mountaintop, but suddenly brought low and was in fear of his life in 1 Kings 19. He had given up, but the angel of the Lord showed up and told him the journey was too much for him alone. He provided strength to continue on and God met him in the cleft of the mountain. 

Mercy Ships, a non-profit organization, who I served with from 2009-2013, sent me an email this summer asking for alumni nurses to return. However, with my new nurse practitioner job and rent contract on a house- I was not going to move anytime soon. I put it in the back of my mind, but it was always on my heart though to return to the ship and to Africa. September I received another email and Thanksgiving another- so I prayed and asked my boss for some time off. She not only gave me two weeks, but the month of January to serve with Mercy Ships! I will be going as an OR nurse to wrap up my OR career doing what I love in a place I love and call my African home. I still need a years of experience and training, before I serve as FNP somewhere on the mission field.

I share my favorite OT passage because I realize my journey ahead is too much for me to do it alone. From past experiences, I have seen that prayer is the most important tool for missions- and for life! I have seen God make me the most flexible, patient, and courageous person while serving Him. Those were the three requests I was told to ask for by my first African friend before leaving for Mercy Ships in 2009. I have seen what praying and fasting can do to change someone's heart for God. My friends and I walked 7 days around the college campus this year and saw God work in students' lives. So all this to say, I am asking you to pray for me, the work done on the Africa Mercy, and our patients from Cameroon for the month of January. I have set up this "doodle": where you can click (vote) a date to sign up or you can email me the day you would like to be yours to pray and/or fast. I will pray for you that day as well since my plan is to put the calendar on my wall- with magnets of course! 

Here is the link for the prayer calendar (no need for an account):

There is always the request for financial support and the opportunity to give is on the Mercy Ships website here:

I put this second priority for a reason because prayer is what I am in need of more and I am on my way no matter the funds. God has provided my job and supporters who already have given toward the trip. I have to pay crew fees to serve on the ship and cover the cost of travel and insurance. The sacrifice (of paying our own way) outweighs how God works in the people we serve in Cameroon by providing free surgery. 

I look forward to seeing how God meets me (like Elijah) and the people of Cameroon- and to share that with you in the coming month. 

Monday, December 11, 2017

Returning Home

As most of you have read or heard- I'm heading to Cameroon in January to serve with Mercy Ships! I was waiting for the final word from Mercy Ships and to purchase my plane ticket before making the official post. Leave it to me to buy my ticket three weeks before I fly out, but I got it even with window seats! I am going just for a month with my boss' blessings and taking advantage that the healthcare industry is usually slow the month of January. It has been on my heart to return home to the ship and to Africa. Yes, it is one of my many homes. Home is not just a place you live, but where you experience life and have memories you will never forget. I mentioned my exciting news of returning home to my Bible study the other night and one member asked,  "Did you grow up on the ship?" No, I did not, but I spent some years of my life- working as a nurse, sleeping in cabins, having tea on deck 8, eating meals in the dining room, playing scrabble in midships, doing Bible studies in the cafe, and running on the container-filled docks of Africa coastal cities. The constant hum of the generator became a familiar noise, as well as the vacuum-suction toilets flushing; no other noises like it happen elsewhere.

Africa also was home- Benin my first one, Togo followed, and Sierra Leone was most life-changing; living on the ship and then moving to my apartment above the maternity ward in Aberdeen. Life in Africa became the norm, while visiting Texas always seemed out of place. There was no bargaining at the market, buying plantains from street vendors while waiting in traffic, or going camping on the beach for the weekend. I always knew it was good adventure, when I returned with a faux chaco tan line made by African dirt. Guinea was my last country before returning stateside- it was so hard to leave Africa, not knowing when I would return. 

What made these places home most of all, were the people I came across every day. My coworkers in the hospital, nurses and surgeons, who made it a place you wanted to come back to everyday. We worked hard, literally blood, sweat and tears- you could sum up our days in the operating room. The patients we sat with on bench to pray with before surgery connected me to each of my African homes. I saw cleft lip babies, who were seen as cursed, be held and accepted by their awe-struck mothers after surgery. I witnessed cataract patients and fistula ladies praising Jesus once their surgeries were complete. The surgeries are only possible by the 400 people that make up the international crew. Engineers keeping our generator humming, cooks providing meals, electricians keeping lights on, teachers caring for the students, baristas keeping us energized, HR and chaplaincy taking care of the crew. These once strangers from all over the world eventually became my ship family. 

January 1st, I am returning home to the M/V Africa Mercy and new adventures in Cameroon.  

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Blank Pages

I sit here drinking my hot tea (yes, with milk-thanks to the Mercy Ship influence) staring at this blank page on my blog. To be honest, I did not feel like a missionary nurse and my life happenings were worthy to write about in the past three years. The last post was at the end of my first semester in theory and research classes. From that point on, graduate school, clinicals, and working full-time as an agency operating room consumed my time. Short vacation time in between classes, I would jump on airplanes to visit friends in far off places like Oregon and Hong Kong. The most memorable adventure was visiting my sister in Papua New Guinea where she serves with Ethnos 360 (formerly New Tribes Missions). I loved seeing her in her element and how the body of believers at Lapilo support missionaries translating the Bible. I visited missionary friends in New Zealand and Australia on the way home. I talk about my travels, because I love doing it- experiencing a new culture, another stamp in the passport, trying new foods, meeting amazing people, and seeing another part of this diverse world. What I love even more, is traveling with a purpose of serving. My heart has longed for another mission ever since returning stateside. Through many tears and prayer, I learned God had called me stateside not only for school, but to give me a mission field here (more on that later). My life verse has always been Acts 1:8- to be a witness wherever I am in life. For this season, it has been Arlington, Texas. I have learned to be obedient to the mission field in front of me, but always praying for next one- and He has answered. I have a few blank pages left in my passport before it expires in 2018 so my next adventure awaits... 

"But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnessesin Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Acts 1:8

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Wordless Wednesday: Year in Review

A few things checked off the "bucket list" during a whirlwind trip to South Africa, Zambia, Botswana, and Zimbabwe. 
A souvenir not only to remind me of my other home, but quiz me on geography! 
Throughout the year I was able to volunteer with my friends Scott and the Strausses at Cornerstone Clinic doing cataract surgery for the homeless. 
A great baseball season (just a mile away from my place) with new friends from Pantego Church. 
My roommate, Rachel, and I hosted a Operation Christmas Child Christmas Party with friends and family- 68 boxes! 
Most Saturday mornings were spent at the park for prayer walk with friends. 
So thankful for my family and time together at Christmas. 
As you pack away the Christmas tree and nativity- keep Jesus center of your heart and life in the coming new year.  


The views expressed here are solely mine and are not the opinion of AWC/Mercy Ships.