Saturday, October 31, 2009


So a lot of people ask what I do on the weekend since I work Monday thru Friday in the Operating Room. The weekends I'm on-call are saved for sleeping in and relaxing around the ship. Having an emergency surgery on the weekend is unusual, but has happened when I was charge call.

A couple weeks ago friends and I ventured out to Cotonou. We stopped by my favorite place in the city, the hospitality center, to visit the patients before heading to the craft market. We played with the kids and then went to school with them for awhile. I love being able to interact with the patients outside of the hospital, even if we don't speak the same language, we figure out how to communicate.
The following weekend, the Africa Mercy hosted the Benin Olympic Games 2009. I was on Team Ters along with other OR nurses, in honor of our plastic surgeon, Dr. Tertis. We had a blast playing team-building games as we competed against other crew. We won the Most Team Enthusiastic Award! Woohoo!

Saturday nights are reserved for 24 viewing- a group of us (mainly from my Gateway) have been watching the tv series since the sail in January. We always have a table of snacks to get us through 4 suspenseful episodes watching Jack Bauer get all the bad guys.

Last weekend I spent a day three hours north of Cotonou in Bohicon. This is where a friend of mine and Benin nurse, Guy, lives with his family and runs a health clinic to help the local village. A couple of us from the OR spent the day touring Bohicon, the Dako Clinic with fun neighborhood kids, had a lovely African lunch, and enjoyed the Benin countryside.

So October was a busy month in the Operating Room as well as the weekends, but I must echo Anne of Green Gables sentiments-

"I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers. It would be terrible if we just skipped from September to November, wouldn’t it?”

For more pictures from October check out the link underneath the clock.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

No translation needed

Only in the Africa Mercy operating room, would you have patients singing and praying aloud. In VVF, our patients are awake during surgery and receive spinals to numb from the waist down. So our first patient, Veronique, who reminds of the lady in the Bible who is so desperate for healing, reaches out to touch Jesus' robe. Veronique, has been twice to the ship this year for help. Her tears soaked my scrubs this summer as the spinal was done and I have never prayed so much for her healing. She came back for screening and I could tell by her downcast face she was wet again. The Lord only knows why she is back for a third operation, but it was done today with extra measurements to help her stay dry. At the end of her operation we sang together Jehovah, You are the most High God. I could see her smile overtake her face and joy come forth as she sang with the OR staff. Please continue to pray along with me as Veronique recovers and the Lord will be glorified in her healing and life. We finished the day with a lady from North Benin. There is a family member of another patient that only speaks her language. So through two translators, we struggled with positioning, the spinal, and just being able to communicate with Mama. At the end of the surgery, we told her the doctors were done and suddenly she was screaming at the top of her lungs. We found out she was praying and thanking us- it was so loud people were rushing to the OR to find out what the commotion was about. Eventually, we heard some hallelujahs amongst her praying and singing and we all had to respond in "Amen." No translation needed here to agree the Lord is the most High God as He lays his healing hands on these precious women.

Monday, October 19, 2009


Today was VVF (Vesico-Vaginal Fistula) screening for the last time this year in Benin. I've picked up some local language and customs that seem to come natural after being here for nine months. One in particular, is to greet an older man as "Papa" and a woman as "Mama". So as the women came into A ward one by one with spectaular colorful dresses- I greeted each one, "Bonjour Mama, como ca va?". Most of women, have been outcasted by their own husbands and families due to them leaking urine after obstructive labor creates a hole in their bladder. So what a privledge it was to be the one to hold their hand, to talk to them like they are human, smile, hug, laugh, and pray with each one of these mamas. In the morning, most of their faces downcasted in shame, but by the end of the day I could see them coming out of their shell. We celebrated with the ones who received the 20 limited spaces of surgery and cried for the others we had to send away and could not help this time. All the ladies are on my heart tonight-Theresa, Sabine, Veronique, Lucie, Basso, and Agath... There are many more I can't remember their names, but our Heavenly Healer knows each one by name as I pray for each Mama I met today.

Saturday, October 17, 2009


"Let the name of the LORD be praised,
both now and forevermore.

From the rising of the sun to the place where it sets,
the name of the LORD is to be praised.

The LORD is exalted over all the nations,
his glory above the heavens."

Psalm 113:2-4

Friday, October 16, 2009


"Still" by Hillsong

Hide me now under your wings
cover me within your mighty hand

When the oceans rise and thunders roar
I will soar with You above the storm
Father, You are king over the flood

I will be still and know you are God
Find rest my soul in Christ alone
know His power in quietness and trust

Life has been a little crazy here on the Africa Mercy. Its easy for you to fill up your days with things and forget the reason you're here serving in Africa. For me personally, I've had up and down emotions on life issues. Feeling disconnected and left out at times with friends and coworkers. Thinking I'm not making a difference here even after long days in the OR. Searching for God knows what in my life is hard to do when everyone else looks like they have it already figured out. So last night, we sang this song at community meeting. A new song for me, so as I was paying attention to the words I felt like they were written for me for this time of my life. I was praying to find refuge in God when life seems to much for me to handle. For me to find a still place and rest knowing He is Christ alone. So this morning, I had time off before work, and found a perfect place on deck 8 (minus the deck dept. drilling), I had a quiet time with the Lord to start my day off right. Let me tell you, my heart was uplifted and I found my spirit renewed today. I was a different person today because I started my day out in different way; being still before the Lord.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009


Strength. This is what I've been praying for. After being sick this weekend, working on-call on Monday night until 11pm, and then another 10 hour day today in the OR. I need strength to carry on physically. Even to climb the ladder to the top of my bunk bed. I also, need strength in all areas of my life. I have a lot going on in my head and in my heart. Strength to see poverty on the streets, suffering and even death in the people I care for, and strength to carry on here on the mission field.

Tonight, I shoveled some salad and plantains in my mouth for a quick dinner before youth. I prayed for God to show the junior-highers something new, but also for me and my friend, Jane, the other youth leader. We've been studying faith in Hebrews 11 and took a break to watch "How Great is our God". Speaker Louie Giglio talked about the universe as well as the human body. He shared this passage and this is what I needed to hear tonight. I sat there in tears with the youth (also sharing their "wows" out loud) in amazement that the Creator of the Universe knows the stars by name, but also knows that I need strength to carry on.

Isaiah 40:26-31

Lift your eyes and look to the heavens:
Who created all these?
He who brings out the starry host one by one,
and calls them each by name.
Because of his great power and mighty strength,
not one of them is missing.

Why do you say, O Jacob,
and complain, O Israel,
"My way is hidden from the LORD;
my cause is disregarded by my God"?

Do you not know?
Have you not heard?
The LORD is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
and his understanding no one can fathom.

He gives strength to the weary
and increases the power of the weak.

Even youths grow tired and weary,
and young men stumble and fall;

but those who hope in the LORD
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.

Saturday, October 3, 2009


Remember my blog about flower power in May? It was about a patient of mine, Basse, who remembered me weeks after her surgery just because of a flower hat I was wearing. Well, she came to the ship the week I was in Paris to have the second stage of her surgery done. She had a hole on the top of her mouth effecting how she breaths, eats, and speaks. I checked the records while working one day in OR 4 and realized she had her surgery on my birthday. I was so happy she returned and the doctor said the procedure was successful, but sad I missed my little friend.

Hospitality Center
So all week I was contemplating what to do on the weekend. There are pools and beaches at are disposal around Cotonou, but I love going to the hospitality center to visit patients. These kids bring joy to my heart and a smile to my face because they are happy even being wrapped in bandages and even sometimes in pain while recovering away from home. They are always excited to see what I brought in my backpack for them to play with- coloring books, crayons, bubbles, and play-dough. So my friends and I made our way through the streets of Cotonou with motorcyclists zooming around us, women with baskets of fruits on their heads going to the market, and children waving at us "Yovos" (meaning white person). As I walked into the hospitality center and my eyes adjusted from being in the bright African sun- I was suddenly surrounded by children giving hugs and the first smile I saw was very familiar. It was Basse in my arms! What a surprise and sweet reunion with Basse and her mother. They were so happy to see me and show me that Basse was healed on top of her mouth. After some play time with the children, we sat down with them in the new classroom at the center. I was able to participate in school with Basse and the other children as they learned the French alphabet, numbers, and even some English phrases. When I first met Basse in May, she was shy and non-verbal. Today she is a beautiful and outgoing girl, but more than anything I can tell Basse is happy.

Teacher, Ellen & student counting
Basse & me, both happy!


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