Thursday, December 31, 2009


What a year it has been on the Africa Mercy in Benin!

996 reconstructive and plastic surgeries;
185 cleft lip and palate repairs;
1161 general surgeries;
2 local surgeons trained;
3,521 cataracts removed;
570 other eye surgeries (pterygia and stabismus);
2 local eye surgeons trained;
33,851 eye evaluations and other treatments;
7,083 pairs of sunglasses distributed;
5,689 pairs of reading glasses distributed;
18 community eye field workers trained;
154 obstetric fistulas repaired;
4 local surgeons trained in fistula repair;
231 orthopedic operations;
10,175 dental patients seen;
794 dental hygiene patients;
13,174 oral health education;
25 oral health teachers trained;
2 dental assistants trained;
28 patients received palliative home care;
6 Burkitt's Lymphoma patients received palliative support;
19 families trained in wound care;
10 agricultural staff trained;
23 local agricultural trainees;
1 hostel constructed for agricultural college;
19 mental health workers trained;
119 church & community leaders trained in mental health;
50 prison officers and workers trained in mental health;
2 church leaders conferences attended by 602 attendants;
and 12,000 people watched the Jesus Film and many made a commitment to Christ...

Behind all these numbers are the people of Africa that are forever changed. Also, hundreds of crew that came to volunteer their skills and time to make it possible to serve this many in need. Thank you to each of you out there, without your financial and prayer support, this list would not be here. The year in Benin was amazing and life-changing for me and I look forward to seeing what God does in 2010!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Go Back

It has been a week since I left the Africa Mercy and returned state-side for the holidays. After traveling for 36 hours, I went out for mexican food the first night I was home. The following days have been a whirlwind of emotions and events- celebrating my dad's birthday, Christmas, and now reconnecting with people. The real adventure came when I got in my car for the first time in 11 months to drive to Wal-Mart. Too many choices on every aisle... I even found myself hugging a box of my favorite special K cereal. :) I am finding deciding on what movie to watch with my sister, what drink at Sonic, who I shall see today, what's for dinner, or what city will I drive to next weekend?... are difficult questions for me. Too many options.
The most common question people have asked me: What are you doing next year?
That is easy for me to answer: Go back. Go back to the Africa Mercy and the people that make up the amazing community onboard. Go back to the people of Africa that are in need of healing. Go back to share hope. Go back to serve. Go back to love. No other options, but this.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Wordless Wednesday: HOME

Words cannot express how happy I am to be home... after being delayed in Tenerife, rerouted midair, shuttled to Gatwick because of snow, van ride to my hotel, bussed to Heathrow, delayed more in London, missed flight in Houston, delayed again before arriving in DFW (without luggage) to my family welcoming me HOME.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Wordless Wednesday: Bridge & Bow

Wordless Wednesday Disclaimer: Kind of ironic title, wordless? Well my camera sadly broke this weekend, so I had to rely on my dear friend, Hannah, to provide pictures for today's blog. :)

Monday, December 14, 2009

'Tis the season... In Africa

As I walk through decorated mid-ships hearing carols and stop by Starbucks for a gingerbread latte, I feel Christmas is coming close. So many events going on each night here onboard the Africa Mercy and most of the crew come to join the fun- since we can't go anywhere else! It has been fun to watch the kids get excited about Christmas with storytelling night and craft night, where we made ornaments and wreaths. Being an international community, we also celebrated St. Lucia, a Scandinavian holiday, complete with singing and sweet rolls. It brought back childhood memories and stories from my swedish grandmother.

Another night, we had a "Winter Wonderland" in town square. Crew set up booths to sell homemade crafts and treats. I walked around with a cup of apple cider and browsed the sales and got a Christmas card picture with my ol' bunkmate, Estelle, and Ken Berry, Managing director.
I really have enjoyed experiencing a "Mercy Ships" Christmas during the sail. I still have OR duties to work on during the day and then time off in the evening. I head out to the green painted bow, sun beating down, hearing the waves crash, and stop for glance to see any marine life, Christmas is close, but I realize we're still sailing off the coast of Africa.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Beautiful Feet

The OR has moved to deck 6 for the sail. We have set up our personal computers to work on paperwork from this past year and also to plan for the next outreach in Togo. The OR office chairs have wheels that make it hard to focus on the computer screen. :) Also, we have windows to watch ocean waters for marine life. As you can see with the pictures below, God has shown his majestic creation to us just in the first days. This morning's coffee break on the bow, we saw a pod of killer whales pass by!

So back to work... Michel, a German nurse, and I have been here since January in Tenerife and one of the few still here from the OR. We are compiling all the central supply orders for the Benin outreach. Lots of supplies we used for surgery from 18 gage needles to sterile gowns to paper bags from Brookshires (Texas grocery store). These supplies have been used in roughly 6,800 surgeries done on the Africa Mercy this year. We are all amazed with the "numbers" and thank God for giving us the man-power to run six operating rooms. Before we closed up the OR, we washed all the shoes from the hospital locker room. It was a sight to see with all the colorful clogs in the washer! I pondered for a moment how many people came through this yea and worn these shoes? Can you guess how many? We had 253 volunteers from around the world come work for 2 weeks up to a year in the Operating Room. What a privilege it has been this year to serve together with so many people, now dear friends, with BEAUTIFUL feet!

Just one of many cycles to wash all the OR shoes!
"How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!" Romans 10:15

The best $5 I spent at Walmart- the the night before I left! They made it until the last working day in the OR.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Evo, Amen.

How time flies here. It feels just like yesterday, but it was February, when the Africa Mercy was anchored outside the port of Cotonou. An engine had failed and we had to stay the night being tossed by the waves of the Atlantic one more day. We came into port "on our knees" praying and fighting forces that did not want us here to give hope & love to the people of Benin. We have done the same, praying this week for all the details to work out in order for us to sail. The gangway was pulled up, lines drawn, and the pilot & tugboats took us out to sea. Now, we are sailing again in the Atlantic blue waters.

I will miss Benin since it has been my home for the past 1o months. I am familiar with directions without street names, but I know to turn at the “blue lady”. I know how to cross the street… and dodge motorcycles, “zemis”, flying by as I walk to the local market. I have learned what to do on the weekend off ship and been north to see the countryside. I know how to greet people in the local language, Fon. I will miss the beautiful children’s smiles and running up too us, singing, “Yovo, Yovo.” “White person, White person.”

So the 2009 outreach is finished in Benin… the “big white whale” has left, but I do pray God is not finished here. On my last night walking on the dock, my friend and I sang “God of This City” and prayed for the people of Benin.

“Greater things are yet to come, greater things are still to be done in this city.”

Evo, Amen.

Fon Translation: It is finished. Amen.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Green Machine

Just had to share a rap a brotha' wrote for me!
Thanks Davey!

(rap beat dropped )

Mama always said if you keep ya brain strong,

you will find on a math exam you can do no wrong.

You gotta eat ya fish, eat ya beans,

and make sure you have 3-4 servings of veggie greens.

And that can be a Green Machine!

What? What?

A Green Machine! Uh..uh...ih uh.

Don’t Believe me?

Look at sista Allison she is a machine who is green,

she works hard in a operating room where she witnesses the obscene.

She is tough cat, but don’t think she is mean,

even though she is well oiled green machine.

She is so much of machine.

I were feeling faint she would be there to catch my lean.

She is humble, even though she is a ninja nurse on a boat,

don’t think for a second that she would ever gloat.

So kids let this be an example,

you could be a massive attack,

mega missionary of a machine,

just remember to keep that diet full of green.

I tried to eat my greens (mashed peas), but opted for the pizza instead. :)

Saturday, December 5, 2009


"Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer."
Romans 12:12

Keep praying! The following day after our prayer vigil for the technical and advance teams- prayers are being answered and we are seeing God work in so many ways! As I stood in line for dinner tonight, I overheard a crew member say he just decided to go to Togo to help the advance team. The day before God put it on my heart to pray for help for Brenda & Joan, all I prayed is that God would send an extra person to help them. Praise the Lord! We also received all the packages containing supplies we need to sail! As a crew we are patient with waiting the unknown, hopeful for the sail to go as planned, and continue to be faithful in prayer.

Friday, December 4, 2009


I remember hearing once that prayer is just a conversation with God.

This morning started with OR devotions- smallest group ever with just six of us left. I looked around the room and just gave thanks to God for giving me such a great friends over the year to work with in the OR. We all came from different backgrounds, hospitals, and countries, but we all have the desire to serve in common. Afterwards, we proceeded to Starbucks for some coffee (thank God for caffeine!) before returning to pack up the OR. As I stood in line, I surveyed the cafe, but noticed it was a different scene this morning. More medical crew since the hospital is closed and more students after their finals were finished today, but the engineers and deck crew were no where to be seen. These men and women are the "unsung heros" of this ministry. Right now, they are the busiest as we prepare to sail. We were informed that there would be another blackout today. So as the computers went down and the air con was turned off, people gathered in the dining room for lunch. I packed mine for later and joined other crew to pray. There is a great prayer need for the Technical team as they clean the cooling system for the engines. Just like a car, the ship's engine has a water tank to prevent overheating (thanks Dad for teaching me years ago!). Prayer for the radar to work now and properly during the sail to the Canary Islands. I sat with my head bowed as the lights went out and heard loud booms coming from deck 2 and prayed for wisdom and strength for the people working hard to get us ready for the sail. I also lifted up my fellow crew, Brenda & Joan, as they are doing advance work in Togo for next year's outreach. Please pray for open doors with the right government people, translators, protection, and wisdom in Togo. I took the time also to pray for my family and friends- a ocean separates us, but you never forgotten in all my prayers because of our partnership in the gospel. A couple hours later my cabin was getting warm and smelly, so I popped up on deck 8 for the sunset- one of the few that are left here in Benin. I sat there with friends, but inside having another conversation with God. Praising and thanking Him for the past year and all He has done in thousands of lives here, including mine. I pray for an everlasting presence of God's love in Benin and our patients' lives. Pray for healing in those still in need and for those who are searching for peace that comes only through Christ. My day ended with saying good-bye to friends leaving the ship, praying for their safe travel and also that our paths may cross again.

It was a full day of conversations with God.
Thank you for your conversations, for your prayers.


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