Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Helping Emmanuel

Here is a featured story from Mercy Ships of how Emmanuel heard about the ship from one of our past patients.  Working in admissions the past couple weeks, God has given me little glimpses of hope. Hope that I am making a difference and I am in the right place for now. I was able to admit Emmanuel this past week and heard how thankful he is that God brought him to the ship for healing.

Only a few weeks after Odilon’s final surgery, Veronique was in the market selling goods at her little wooden stall. Through the noise of passing motorbikes and passing bodies, under the glare of a hot sun, Veronique noticed a tall, thin man. Pushing at the man’s cheek and absorbing his jaw and his teeth was a large tumor.

Veronique’s mind flew back to Odilon – how much he had suffered and how his parents’ attempts to find help for him were unsuccessful. But she hesitated. She watched as he moved through the crowds, further and further away, unsure of whether she should follow him.

Veronique told herself, “Remember how your nephew was suffering. And how they tried everything, but they could not get help?” By this time, the man was very far away, but Veronique knew she had to help. So she stood up and started running.

When Veronique reached him, she pulled on the sleeve of his shirt. The man stopped walking and turned toward her, and she began explaining about the Mercy Ship. She spoke in Fon, her native dialect. But the man was confused – he did not understand her language. 

The man’s name was Emmanuel.  He was from neighboring Nigeria and was only in Benin for one day to buy goods and take them back home to sell. He spoke English, so Veronique ran to find someone to translate. Another market woman spoke both Fon and English.  Through her, Veronique was able to tell Emmanuel about Odilon and the Mercy Ship.

“Is this true? Where is the ship?” Emmanuel asked. He was intrigued, but worried. “I don’t have money,” he said. But Veronique assured him everything was free. Emmanuel did not believe her and said he must see it for himself. So Veronique gathered all that she was selling, and they went directly to the ship. Sure enough, the Mercy Ship had room for Emmanuel and scheduled him for surgery in July, only two months away.

Emmanuel’s gratitude was loud and clear in his smile and his words. “May God bless this woman, may God bless her. I don’t know how to thank her.” And Veronique was happy to pass on the gift of hope and healing. Veronique said, “Because I got back my joy here, I wanted to share it.” 

Wednesday, July 15, 2009


My brain is tired and I'm not feeling that creative to think of title for my blog: so its blog. Every few seconds I'm yawning, so it will be a short one too.
This week has been a difficult week with a new role in the hospital. I transferred to Admissions since there was a shortage of nurses. I know I'm meant to be an OR nurse. I miss my role in the healing process as a nurse assisting the surgeon. On the ship, we have turnover almost everyday with nurses coming in every two weeks, but I do miss my OR family. How we work together as a team to take care of the patient and we support each other when one needs help. We have fun together telling bloody stories over meals and sing while we mop the floors in between cases. It just takes five days out of the operating room to be thankful for the long days on my feet in the OR that God has called me to serve on the Africa Mercy.
For the time being, I will be in Admissions and please don't get me wrong- I have had some great moments with the patients. It is amazing to be one of the first people they meet on the ship and having the opportunity to pray for their healing.  I have refreshed many nursing skills this week, but I forgot how patients move when a needle goes into the arm! Please pray that I will continue to persevere during this challenging time and trust God has me in the right place. 

Friday, July 10, 2009


Another container arrived today on the ship. Its a big day for the deck department to empty the 40 ft long box holding supplies. I'm sitting here in midship while watching all the rain-soaked deckies carry boxes into the galley with food from The Netherlands. We will also have several boxes from Texas of supplies for the hospital. I look forward to many packages my family send me via container- it takes a couple months to get to the ship, but its free for me to receive. Just typing about the container, makes me think of one of my favorite passages in the Message. 

2 Timothy 2:20-21 "In a well-furnished kitchen there are not only crystal goblets and silver platters, but waste cans and compost buckets—some containers used to serve fine meals, others to take out the garbage. Become the kind of container God can use to present any and every kind of gift to his guests for their blessing."

This passage encouraged me this past week when I asked to do another job in the hospital for five weeks. I love being an operating room nurse. That is why I am here, but I am also here to be any container for God. In the OR we are overstaffed in nurses due to the number of surgeons we have working now. In the ward, numbers are low, so they needed a nurse to help in Admissions for awhile. I loved doing triage in Guatemala and doing histories at screening day, so it will be a neat opportunity to admit patients to the Africa Mercy. I will miss my job and my family in the OR, but it will neat to refresh some nursing skills and interact more with the people of Benin. This is only temporary and then I will be ready to get back in the OR! 

Wednesday, July 8, 2009


I looked up to my calendar and noticed it was still on the month of June! I can't believe the first week of July flew by (and June also), but time flies when you're having fun. I thought in honor of not doing my blog for most of June, I would write a retrospective list of my exciting life in Benin. I encourage you to endure to the end reading the list of 30 things, because most are very unique to the life I have on the Africa Mercy... and some exciting news at the end! Don't peek. 

1. Had a bunk bed to myself for 2 weeks after Ashley left. 
2. Made pancakes for the 400 crew members.
3. Sang, played, and shared Jesus with orphans.
4. Pool birthday party on deck 8 for Zaden, who's now 3. 
5. My first movie, Turn, debut at the 2nd annual film festival.
6. Stayed up late to phone home in the morning.
7. Taught water aerobics on deck 8.
8. Had a massage (and tickled) for $10.
9. Went on my first African camping trip to Grand Popo.
10. Slept under a mosquito net and on top of a wet sleeping bag.
11. Laid on the beach- stars & smores. Perfect.
12. Danced, clapped, and cried during a VVF dress ceremony.
13. Made homemade tortillas for fajita night.
14. Attempted to learn French with Rosetta Stone.
15. Made and introduced rueben sandwiches to Sarah & Pamela.
16. Made homemade Hawaiian pizza with Lebanese flat bread. 
17. Help Rachel make french toast & other amazing food for brunch.
18. Did VVF screening, heartbroken we could only help a few.
19. Prayed for healing in each patient that crossed my path in surgery.
20. Witnessed God's healing in people of Benin. 
21. Played catch phrase with friends and laughed until I cried. 
22. Moved to the "spacious" area in the back of cabin 3437 w/Sarah.
23. Went for walks in town just for fan milk.
24. Met the president of AORN & interviewed for an OR magazine. 
25.  Learned how to say "Thank You" in 5 languages.
26. Watched 24 with friends weekly.
27.  Doing Esther Bible study by Beth Moore.
28. Had dinner at a German Biergarten on the beach.
29. Said goodbye to dear friends leaving the ship. Made new friends.
30. Signed on to serve with Mercy Ships in Togo in 2010! :)

Sunday, July 5, 2009

A Weekend to Remember

Sounds like a Nicholas Sparks novel... warning I might type a novel, but read on! So, following the last day off VVF surgery, we had a ship holiday on Friday. I was sad that most of my friends left on a trip to Ghana, but now I know why I was here. 
So one of my new adventurous friends from the OR, Missy, wanted to plan a trip up north to Possotome'. A group of nurses and one carpenter visited the fishing village for day.  We all piled in a small wooden boat and made our way into Lake Aheme' for a couple hours. Our ecologist guide showed us how Africans fish with nets- one of their main sources of income. He threw the net many times and caught fish and crabs that floated at the bottom of our boat- while I helped one guide bail out water! We all had a chance to throw a smaller net and then jump in a dig in the mud for the daily catch. None of us caught anything, but it was more about experiencing African culture with friends. Perfect trip, complete with a fresh coconut drink! 
Arriving back on the ship, my friend Jane invited me to hang out with her and the youth girls for a slumber party that night. So much fun and it reminded me how much I miss working with the youth at home! Played some silly games, watched movies, baked brownies, and stayed up until 4am! Got a couple hours of sleep before breakfast and clean-up duties in the youth room. Later in the day, all the Americans in Benin were invited to the U.S. Ambassador's house for a potluck complete with Michael Jackson music. It was a great time with food, friends, and fellowship! Independence day ended with a bowl of popcorn and M&Ms watching 24 with friends.
 Sunday, I woke up to the air con not working in my cabin. So what better, to go outside in Africa in the middle of the day? There is at least a ocean breeze! My friend Hannah and I went on a mission to find fan milk to cool us off, but found ourselves at the hospitality center. This is where our patients stay in needing physical therapy between surgeries or live too far away. There is one little boy, Daniel, who has a smile that could brighten anybody's day! In the beginning of the outreach, he came walking on his knees to the ship. Over the past couple months, I've seen him with casts on both of his legs enjoying life from a mattress on the floor. We play memory and color together when I visit the hospitality center. Today, he was outside sitting on a chair! He now has braces and a walker to help him to get around. I went into the sleeping quarters to greet my VVF ladies staying there and Daniel followed me in! He took my hands and we walked around the whole place- a huge smile on his face and tears in my eyes! Hannah and I arrived back on the ship, no fan milk, but a great afternoon off the ship. Dinner was served and then I enjoyed family church on the ship- complete with kids fighting over who wanted to be the apple tree (going over the fruit of the spirit)! Afterwards, I worked the snack bar and the line is always long because I talk with everyone! I caught up with friends that came back from Ghana and heard many stories, but after typing about my weekend- I am so glad I stayed here and thank God for these precious memories. 

Thursday, July 2, 2009


I apologize it has been so long since I posted anything on here... The past six weeks have been the most long and grueling days, but most amazing and rewarding on this outreach. The first week, I was taught everything (thank you Ashley!) I needed to know to teach countless OR nurses and surgeons that would come to work in OR 3 to assist in vesico-vaginal fistula surgery. We do about 2-3 cases a day and majority of the surgeries last at least a couple hours based on how traumatic the childbirth. While in these surgeries, I think about these young women in labor for days and my nine hour work day is in no comparison. The ladies eventually give birth to a stillborn baby, constantly leak urine, their husbands leave, villages shun them, and are left for dead.  I am so honored to be here on the ship that can provide them hope for a better tomorrow. After a couple weeks of recovery, we have a ceremony to celebrate their healing and a new dress is given to each lady. I not only see then the physical healing of the fistula, but the emotional & spiritual healing as they now have a smile on their face and are on their feet dancing.  I hear their songs of praise and testimonies of being healed. No matter their past, I know God loves each one and sees them as a beautiful daughter that is healed in more than one way.  

"O LORD my God, I called to you for help and you healed me." Psalm 30:2


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