Monday, August 31, 2009


I was more than happy to hand over my pager last year when I quit my job. That little annoying sound box prevented me from running errands in traffic packed Tyler and kept me up more nights than none.  When I arrived onboard the Africa Mercy, I was unaware of how much we rely on pagers to find people on the ship. First day in Benin, I had the duty nurse pager, that is God's sense of humor. So last Saturday, I was one of the three OR nurses on-call for the day. For the pager handover, I usually answer the door with one eye open and then return to watching my eyelids. However, this time I couldn't fall back asleep so I ventured to the dining room for breakfast. One of my friends, Missy, was shocked to see me up early. She wanted me to go to the hospitality center to visit patients with her. As I was explaining my sad excuse of being on-call, Luke, one of our coworkers overheard and graciously volunteered to take the pager for me. I love that there is a different and willing attitude when it comes to helping each other out with the pager when you work with missionaries. So a group of us gathered our supplies and walked to the hospitality center for the day. When we got there all the patients were enthralled in a Nigerian movie playing. Of course, there are always babies to hold and kids to entertain. I broke out the coloring books and stickers, Tracy had balloon animals to make, and Liv had press-on tattoos. What a great day until I had to retrieve the pager when I got back to the ship. :)

Saturday, August 29, 2009


So one of the privileges of living in a community with many skilled and talented people- is the benefit of having your teeth cleaned by a friendly face and even your neighbor. My friend, Sandra, from Germany wanted to try out some new equipment in the dental clinic onboard the ship. So I volunteered to be the guinea pig and in return have a polished smile to show off. Everyone knows how much I like to smile! 

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Tonsillectomy for Jesus

This week I have the pleasure of working with an ENT (Ear, Nose, Throat) surgeon. Today I was looking at the schedule and someone noted about the tonsillectomy we had today, simple and small case compared to the massive tumors and ailments we take care of here in Africa. I automatically responded "its a tonsillectomy for Jesus and that's big for us!" There is an opportunity for any person that comes to the ship- for their life to be changed not only on this earth, but eternally. I pray each patient may feel the presence of God here and know that we are here because Jesus loves us so much He was the sacrifice for our sins. We recently had a family leave to go back to their village without their child that passed away from multiple health problems. The whole crew worked, prayed, and fought so much for this little one, but we take comfort that his family left knowing more about God's love for them. So each patient, whatever surgery- ingrown toenail, cleft lip, massive tumor or tonsils, is for Jesus.

A medieval instrument we use for a tonsillectomy... only in Africa.

Speaking of tonsillectomy here is a "Blast from the past":  When I was nine, I had to have my tonsils taken out to make more room for my rather large tongue. That's what I remember the doctor saying as I sat there drinking a Sprite in his office and holding a toy from the treasure chest. I remember also my daddy gave me a special doll to take with me into the operating room. Her name was Jessica and I covered her red-string hair with an OR bonnet as we went into the OR. I was a little scared going to sleep and swung a couple punches before I was under anesthesia. A couple weeks of recovery with an ice cream and applesauce diet, I returned to school. The best part was taking my tonsils to Show & Tell. Even my senior year of high school, classmates still remembered me bringing my tonsils to school in 3rd and 4th grade. Sadly, between moving houses a few years a later- its uncertain if my tonsils were lost or might have been thrown out by someone not interested anymore in the little jar of tissue and formalin. Should of known I was going to be an OR nurse! :)

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Home Sweet Home

Crew are always coming and going here on the Africa Mercy… I’m one that is staying for awhile. I can’t believe seven months have passed and we only have 12 more weeks of surgery left for the Benin service. Then we have Togo to look forward to in 2010! I used to say I have been here a couple months when people ask, but now it seems like a lifetime. It seems also more and more like home. I’ll be settling soon in a 4-berth cabin with some other long-term crew and a little more leg room. I have more storage for clothes and life necessitates I have acquired from friends leaving the ship. I’ve even started my own collection of crafting supplies and look forward to picking up my old hobbies. I enjoy babysitting weekly and playing with kids when I see them around the ship. Soon, I also will fill up my schedule working with the youth too. I am a busy body and love having things to do to make it feel more like home. The OR keeps me on my feet everyday, learning new things on unique procedures you only see in Africa. I do have some downtime- to hang out with friends on the ship and catch up on correspondence with all of you at home… wherever that may be. I know when I'm home- I am the happiest when I'm serving God. So now I have “homes” in Bedford, Tyler, and now in Cotonou, Benin. Home sweet home.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

God of this City

Tonight at community meeting, the crew came together for a time of worship and prayer. As we sang one of my favorite hymns, Be Thou My Vision, it reminded me that the Lord is my vision here. He is the only reason why I am serving the people of Benin, not for riches nor man's praise. We closed by singing "God of this City" by Chris Tomlin and praying for the city of Cotonou. Please pray along with me for this city as you read through the lyrics below. Pray for the healing of patients on the ship, for the outreach teams in the villages, and pray God will do great things for the last four months we are here in Benin. 

You're the 

God of this City

You're the King of these people

You're the Lord of this nation

You are 

You're the Light in this darkness

You're the Hope to the hopeless

You're the Peace to the restless

You are

There is no one like our God

There is no one like our God 

For greater things have yet to come

And greater things are still to be done in this City

Greater thing have yet to come

And greater things are still to be done in this City

Tuesday, August 18, 2009


Only in the operating room onboard the Africa Mercy would you have a team consisting of:
An anesthetist from Croatia,
a surgeon from South Korea,
two nurses from Germany,
a first assistant from the Channel Islands,
a circulating nurse from Alaska,
and one scrub nurse from the promise land, Texas (that's me)...
all singing worship songs in different languages. 
Except one word the same and no need for translation: Hallelujah. Praise God. 

One reason we praise God... A quick coffee break in the OR pharmacy.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

It's all in the name...

My time in admissions is coming to an end on Thursday and I'll be back in the OR next week (YAY!). I have had a good time learning again how to draw blood and doing health histories & physical assessments.  More than anything, I have enjoyed the time to sit down and talk with patients, of course through a translator. I love hearing their stories of struggles and their hopes for healing. 
The most entertaining part of working on the hospital ship in Africa- are pronouncing the patients' names.  I usually greet my older patients with "Papa" or "Mama". In return, I get a smile that needs no translation. My first week in admissions I had a little girl, Bernice, who was blind due to bilateral congenital cataracts. I gave her a teddy bear that she became so engrossed in feeling all the textures. I had her sit in my lap as I did vital signs and she found my stethoscope and followed it with her little fingers to my face. The day after her surgery, I had the privilege to witness Bernice open her eyes for the first time and reach for the toys we had laid out in front of her. 
Next, is Simon. He was also a young boy with cataracts. I had processed him through admissions the first week, but we were unable to do surgery until late July. So twice I was able to sit down with Simon and his father to hear their story and pray for Simon. Couple days later, I saw them again in the waiting area and Simon was holding the toy I gave him. He had held the dwarf (from Snow-white) so close to his face to see what I had put in his hands the first day in admissions. As I walked over to greet his them again, his father took my hands in his and said in his broken English "He can see now, Simon can see. Thank you." I thank God for allowing me to be a part of that healing process. 
There are so many I can write about... Jean-Baptis, older man with an inguinal hernia repair. Always a smile and a handshake for me when I see him waiting for his post-op visits. Lousisiano, little boy, with lip hemangioma, that shed just one tear when I drew blood, but gave me a crooked smile when I finished.  Filias, a brave little boy, came in for a hernia operation- he giggled as he watched me take his blood. Emmanuel from Nigeria (see past blog) greets me in the hall now as he is recovering from major surgery. I saw young Nasif leave this morning with his mama and his polar bear stuffed animal in tow. I pray he will be back to the ship later this year for surgery to correct his locked jaw.  Today, I finished with a young man, named Kokou, which means he was born on a Wednesday. Everyday of the week has a gender specific name in the Mina language. I would be Afi (for Friday).
We have helped hundreds of people this outreach in Benin. They become numbers in somebody's book, but to me each person has a story behind their name. 


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