Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Flower Power

Often I show my true self in the OR by dawning a special green hat before I go to retrieve my patient waiting on the pre-op bench. So one morning, I placed the pink flower on top and called for our next max-fax patient, Basse. I popped my head into the pre-area and I saw this little girl with her eyes right at me and smile already on her face. Dr. Gary was correcting a hole in her pharynx- the back of the throat. With this defect as well as a palate fistula, she is non-verbal, but her eyes told it all on how silly she thought I was with the flower on my head.  I talked with her Mama a little and then we prayed for her before going back to the OR. The surgery went well and she recovered here on the ship for about a week before heading to our hospitality center.  So as an operating room nurse, I rarely have an opportunity to see a patient again after surgery, but this was truly a blessing when I showed up at the hospitality center and Basse remembered me. Her eyes got so big and she motioned to her Mama while pointing to me. The rest of the day she was by my side, hand and hand- playing games, water balloon toss, or just enjoying the morning with other patients. Basse and her mother traveled hours from North Benin for this surgery that will change her life forever. We were unable to communicate because of the unknown northern dialects, but love is understood without translation. I do pray when Basse comes back to the ship in the fall to complete her mouth defect we will be reunited again, not just for the flower power, but for a restored hope in healing.

Monday, May 18, 2009


I would say, I'm a people person. I love being around people; I reenergize around friends. When we took the personality test at Gateway training, I was high on the list of "S"people-  golden retriever, a servant, but unfortunately a sucker. Not many people take advantage of it, except asking me to make pancakes at 5:30am. The perfect example: Picture yourself digging a garden and a person comes by to chat... do you ignore him? Do you stop what you're doing for a minute to tell them you're busy? Do hand them a shovel to help you? Do you throw the shovel down and go with them? I answered the latter. :)
So, I have had a cold for the past couple weeks now and this weekend came down with a stomach bug. I should be in bed right now. I slept all day Sunday and today after work- even through enchilada dinner, just so I could go the first Esther study by Beth Moore tonight. So after Bible study, I thought I would just do email checks and head to bed. However, I am that kind of person, that will stop a task to be around people. So I shared some pictures with a coworker and caught up with friends from Norway that are leaving the ship in just four days. Now, I'm sitting here in the dining room and its past 11pm. I love community on the ship- you can always find someone to talk with in midships or take a walk on the dock. I also have the best bunkmate ever, who will stay up late just to talk about life. I'm excited about the Esther study and learning about what God has in store for us women. God has blessed me with so many friends on the ship and a wonderful Gateway family. We recently had a brunch to say goodbye to Jen & Gordon that were leaving the ship- I thank God for these friends! We celebrated a birthday at a chinese restaurant friday night and some of us even had courage to sing on Saturday at the ship's karaoke- "We are family"!  So the only negative about community living-coming from a people person- is germs. Bad germs. So, I pray that I can still enjoy the people around me and regain my strength and health so I may give my fullest to the work of the Lord.
So this is my Gateway family that keep me sane, pray for me when I'm having a hard day, and make me laugh until I have tears. I thank God for each of them. As well as for you, my friends and family, across the ocean reading my stories.  Check out new pictures also to the right side below the clocks from the past couple months aboard the Africa Mercy! 

Tuesday, May 5, 2009


I have never been so scared of the dark... until yesterday afternoon. I was scrubbed in assisting a surgeon with a mandibulectomy- removing part of the jaw bone with a tumor. We were searching for the facial artery when the power went out. Pitch black. Silence. Dr. Gary quietly insured us the emergency generator would come on as other nurses quickly came in with torches (aka flashlights).  Praise the Lord we had not cut any major vessels because the backup generator failed and we went back into blackness.  Are we going to have to evacuate with our patient? Is the bleeding stopped? What about the other patients in the OR? Does anesthesia have enough oxygen? Are we going to have to finish the surgery on the dock? We packed out patient's mouth cavity with hemostatic film and sponges as we waited for the backup generator to come back on. Thankfully, it came back on and we took a break to make sure we had full power before we continued.  Only two other patients were asleep, but surgery had not started. During that time, I learned that the officers, engineers, and electricians were running all around the ship to fix the blackout problem. Before returning to the darkened OR, I grabbed a quick bite for lunch and the dinning room staff was praying for the OR. We were able to finish the major surgery without any negative outcomes from the blackout. Praise God! Later, I found out the wards were praying and singing in the dark. The whole ship came together to support the Operating Room in this emergency. I know we depend a lot on electricity, but we also depend on prayer and support from the whole crew to do this mission as we are the body of Christ. 

1 Corinthians 12:12-27
The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. Now the body is not made up of one part but of many. If the foot should say, "Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body," it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. And if the ear should say, "Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body," it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body.

 The eye cannot say to the hand, "I don't need you!" And the head cannot say to the feet, "I don't need you!" On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has combined the members of the body and has given greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.

  vs. 27 Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Life is...

Life is grand... as my Irish roommate would say. 
Brilliant and Lovely... as my English friends would share.
Wunderbar (wonderful)... as my German coworker would tell. 

I am truly enjoying every minute I have here on the ship and in Benin! I was OR senior nurse on-call for the first time on Saturday and we had two emergency cases.  God has prepared me for challenges and everyday life for years as I learn to rely on Him. So even working on my day-off it was a privilege to serve these patients by caring for them. So I know I haven't blogged in forever, but know life here is absolutely amazing even when its so busy! I have been in maxio-facial speciality with Dr. Gary Parker for the past month. Surgeries include repairs cleft lip & palate, removing large tumors of the face and jaw. It is amazing to see the outside transformation in patients in just a couple hours. My prayer for each of them- that the Lord will transform their hearts and healing will come after years of neglect and abuse.
When I'm not in the operating room, time off is spent with friends (from all over the world!) in the midship lounge or walking the dock watching the sunset over the Atlantic. Last night my roomie and I enjoyed a spectacular lightening storm! I also have a weekly Daniel Bible study and started teaching water aerobics using our four-feet pool on deck 8. After a busy day, I quiet down in my bottom bunk thinking of each of you at home and thanking God for the opportunity of being here in Benin.


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