Wednesday, December 29, 2010

One Love

If I had to choose one photo to sum up my time so far in West Africa- this would be it. One love. The red words caught my eye every time I walked by the warehouse on the dock in Togo. Not only is love the greatest commandment, whatever we do should be out of love or its counted nothing. I tried to show the love of Christ to each patient I came in contact with on the M/V Africa Mercy. Love by cuddling a baby with a cleft lip, by holding a hand of an outcast, or praying with them before surgery. This is why I am here and will continue on… that means to Sierra Leone in 2011. It is because of your continuing love and support I am able to do this. I thank you“And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have the power together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ.” Ephesians 3:18

Happy New Year Everyone! This was my annual newsletter and if you did not receive one in the mail and wish to be on my mailing list please contact me. With One Love, Allison

Friday, December 24, 2010

How Many Kings

Through the craziness of the holidays, its important to take time out to ponder this question- How many Kings? Christian band, Downhere, wrote this amazing song and we sang it tonight at Mid-Cities Bible Church Christmas Eve Service. As I sat with my parents & sister and surrounding us was my church family that I have known over my years as I come and go. It is a small group, but I can hear how they sing with their whole hearts. We praise the Savior that was born on that holy night to save the us from our sins. How many kings would do something like that for us? Just one.

"Follow the star to a place unexpected

Would you believe after all we’ve projected
A child in a manger

Lowly and small, the weakest of all
Unlikeliness hero, wrapped in his mothers shawl
Just a child
Is this who we’ve waited for?

Cause how many kings, stepped down from their thrones?
How many lords have abandoned their homes?
How many greats have become the least for me?
How many Gods have poured out their hearts
To romance a world that has torn all apart?
How many fathers gave up their sons for me?

Bringing our gifts for the newborn savior
All that we have whether costly or meek
Because we believe
Gold for his honor and frankincense for his pleasure
And myrrh for the cross he’ll suffer
Do you believe, is this who we’ve waited for?
It’s who we’ve waited for

How many kings, stepped down from their thrones?
How many lords have abandoned their homes?
How many greats have become the least for me?
How many Gods have poured out their hearts
To romance a world that has torn all apart?
How many fathers gave up their sons for me?
Only one did that for me

All for me
All for you
All for me
All for you"

-How Many Kings, Downhere

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Wordless Wednesday: Guatemala again!

Thanks to Rodney Claborn for the pictures. I sure hope my camera shows up in Continental's lost and found. :(

Saturday, December 11, 2010


Sarstun, Guatemala. It is so remote, you can't find it on a map. I have heard- "its where the devil threw his shoe." I'm not good at cliches, but I think its easy to say this place is in the middle of nowhere. Which makes me even more excited about going! Three hours on a plane, six hours on a bus, two hours on a boat, and one hour climbing a mountain- the medical team and I will arrive in Sarstun on Monday morning. I will be helping with surgeries Tuesday thru Thursday. I am look forward to venturing into the jungles of Guatemala and experiencing village life. Sleeping on air mattresses covered in mosquito nets. Savoring pineapple and filling up on homemade tortillas. More than anything, loving the Mayan people that are suffering from lack of healthcare and clean water. I thank you advance for your prayers for the team and myself for the next week while we are in Sarstun. As my friend observed- my heart beats faster in Guatemala more than anywhere else. Muchas Gracias! Dios Bendiga!

The team will stay one night in Puerto Barrios (East coast) and take the boat to Sarstun.

Thursday, December 2, 2010


I was going to post this picture as a Wordless Wednesday, but could not bring myself to do it. To leave a picture of this magnitude without words would be crime. It was taken after a fire drill on the dock in Togo in July. I miss these people more than anything. I would like to introduce you to the Africa Mercy Crew.
Missionaries from all over the world.
Engineers, Nurses, Cooks, Housekeepers, Doctors, Electricians
College Students, Families, Couples
Youth kids, Little ones
Teachers, Photographers, Writers
Sisters & Brothers in Christ
Members of Dental & Eye teams
Chaplains, Officers, Deckhands, Security Guards
Sales staff, Computer Experts
Prayer warriors, Encouragers of the faith
Movie night buddies, Speed scrabble competitors
Tea drinkers, but mostly coffee addicts.
My family when I am away from my own.
Friends for life.
The body of Christ.

Sunday, November 28, 2010


I apologize for my absence from the blog world, but I had to give my eyes some time to heal and then life got suddenly busy with the holidays approaching. I came home from the mission conference in Kentucky and a few days later traveled to Tulsa, Oklahoma for LASIK eye surgery. What a blessing Dr. Brister and his staff are to provide services to missionaries so we can see even more clearly as we serve overseas. I remember picking out my first pair of pink-rim glasses in Kindergarten. It will take time to get used to not having glasses anymore after 22 years! I look forward to traveling to Guatemala in just a few weeks and seeing for the first time the village of Sarstun. I will not having to tape my glasses on my head so they don't slide down or fog up as I assist in surgeries for the week. Thank you Dr. Brister and your staff- for not only blessing me, but people all over the world as we serve God together. I have a lot to be thankful for this Thanksgiving- my new sight, old & new friends reunions, unlimited mexican food, my crazy loving family, and most of all the unfailing love of Jesus Christ.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Da Jesus Book

This passage was shared at the missions conference from da Jesus Book. Translation: The Bible in Hawaiian Pidgin. This is the great commission, Matthew 28:18- 20, in where Christ commands us to go out and make disciples as he promises us he will stick with us until the very end of the earth... or it until it goes pow.

"Den Jesus go near dem an say, “God wen give me all da power, so now I in charge a everyting all ova da world an inside da sky. So you guys, go all ova da world an teach all da diffren peopos, so dey can learn bout me an come my guys. Baptize dem, an dey goin come tight wit my Fadda, an me his Boy, an God's Good an Spesho Spirit. Teach um how fo do everyting dat I wen tell you guys fo do. An you know wat? I goin stick wit you guys all da way, till da world goin pau.” Matthew 28:18-20

Monday, November 15, 2010


Along with doctors, physical therapists, dentists and other nurses, I had the privilege of attending a medical missions conference in Louisville, Kentucky. It was so encouraging to meet healthcare professionals that serve or hope to be one day in the mission field. Speakers came from all backgrounds and mission fields to share their wisdom to us inspiring to use our medical skills for the kingdom of God. One hero of the faith, Steve Saint, founder of i-tec Ministries, shared with us the stories from the mission field. I soaked up like a sponge- wisdom from doctors that set up ante-natal clinics in the Sudan to a community health clinic in the ghettos of Memphis. It was so encouraging to be around people with like-mind, but more than anything like-heart for Christ and those in need of healthcare access. I reunited with friends from the ship as they explored other possibilities to serve overseas in the future with ministries like Hopeforce, TEAM, and Samaritan's Purse. There were thousands of conference participates willing and ready to go. All it took, was for them to place a push-pin on a map and commit to "go to the ends of the earth". The two places on my heart, Guatemala and Sierra Leone, were barely visible with so many push-pins already placed. Then there are countries that are bare on this map and my prayer are for the workers to rise up for the harvest is plenty. I learn (and say) it time and time again that the mission field may be in our backyard, the office, the grocery store, or it may take a plane for us to get there. Be willing and be intentional to show love.

Where are you willing to place your push-pin for Christ?

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

One Request

I received a call late Sunday night with a request from Refuge International founder, Deb Bell, who oversees the Guatemala trips. A boy named Edgar was being checked-in to Scottish Rite Children’s Hospital in Dallas. His father, Hector, had been by his side ever since they had flown on their first airplane from Guatemala to Texas the week before. Edgar is a sweet boy, just about to turn nine in a couple weeks, but his big brown eyes and contagious smile cannot hide the fact that he is about the size of a five year-old. Hector is by Edgar's side because he needs support as he walks on his ankles and the side of his feet. Edgar was born with bilateral club feet, his feet are turned on their side and he has hip displacement as well. He and his family have live in a small village outside of San Raymundo, where I just came from a medical mission.

So my job on Monday was to be with Hector and Edgar on the day of surgery. In Guatemala, when you go to Roosevelt Hospital in Guatemala City, the likely chance of you surviving surgery is slim. As an operating room nurse I see people when they are nervous before surgery, but in Guatemala, it is always a tearful good-bye. At our village hospital, the family is always so anxious until the surgeon reports that surgery is finished and the patient is recovering well. So anytime, Edgar’s father, was asked if he had any questions- his only request, was “To take care of my son.” He was told nine years ago, when Edgar was born, to bring him back to the hospital, but he never did until now with the help of many people. Dr. Birch and his team performed a five-hour operation to straighten Edgar’s feet. It will take numerous castings and at least one more surgery until Edgar can walk on his feet again. What a joy it was to be there to blow bubbles with Edgar and then to feed him ice chips in the afternoon when he woke up from surgery. With my limited Spanish I helped Hector find his way around the hospital in elevators (new to him and scared Edgar his first ride!). I was there to support Hector so he can support his son as he has a long road of recovery ahead of him. Edgar came back to the room and I could see relief in his father’s face as he looked at his son’s blue casts. Relief that he may be able to play like a normal boy and not be teased anymore and grow up to be a young man and able to provide for his family one day. Relief that we fulfilled his one request- "to take care of his son."

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Glimpses of Guatemala

It's not Wordless Wednesday, but Glimpses of Guatemala! Here are a few of my favorite pictures of the week I spent in San Raymundo, Guatemala working in a small hospital. My feet were tired from the long days, but my heart so happy to return to my roots in medical missions. May the Lord be glorified in what we did and our patients know the true Healer.

Friday, October 22, 2010

My Heart

It was hard to believe when I looked out the window sitting in 35 C, I was leaving the continent of Africa. I had spent 18 months in Benin and Togo, West Africa and sailed to South Africa with the Africa Mercy. I think I left part of my heart there. My heart is for the people I came to love and serve. It is a familiar feeling and the only way to cure it, is to return. So I look forward to going back in 2011 when the ship is ready to start the outreach in Sierra Leone. For now, the other part of my heart has been in Guatemala. I would even say, before I was born- part of me was there. My Grandpa Green studied in Guatemala in the '70s and '80s to work on his Ph.D. in Mayan culture. The same people I fell in love with on my first mission trip to Guatemala in 2005. I had always dreamed of going with my grandpa, but the decades-long civil war prevented travel for us. Before he passed away, he was so happy to hear I was finally going to the places he had been too. These places I can find in my grandparents' albums full of pictures of the arch and fountains of Antigua. The markets and volcanoes decorate the country with color and wonder. I will return this next week to Guatemala for the fifth time to the people that have captured my heart.

One of my favorites, my grandpa and I camping in 1985.

Monday, October 18, 2010

European Excursion

Between my time in Africa and arriving home in the states, my friends and I had a European excursion. We took the train and traveled through Holland, Germany, Austria, and Italy seeing the sights and visiting friends from Mercy Ships. Along the way, I wrote a journal and kept notes in case I ever traveled through Europe again... or write my own travel guide.

Don't forget to take pictures!

1. Make friends and travel with a Type A person (Thanks Rachel!) so she plans the trip and you don't have to worry about anything. Avoid using the "Idiot's Guide to Europe" from 1985 (like I did) because the reminders about camera film, cassette tapes, and exchanging money at every border... doesn't help.
2. Travel with morning people: this is a toss up. I am a night owl and sleep-in person, but I did get to see a lot more each day because my friends were willing to take the "wrath of Allison" waking me up in the morning. Take naps on train rides when no one is looking. :)
3. Use the EuroStar train pass because it allows you to pick your dates and the countries for a set price. Reservations are the same price for any coach so we traveled comfortably in first class with our ipods, books, and BIG backpacks.

4. Speaking of backpacks... my jansport had the honor of being the most important because it was designated the "food backpack". Each country we (Linda had a radar) found the closest grocery store and stocked up on snacks, etc. We all took turns carrying the "baby" in the front.

5. Eat and enjoy! We all thought we would lose our "mercy hips" because of the walking, but we made it up by eating the local crusine. We ate it all- like cheese & stroopwafels in Holland, kebabs in Germany, schniztel & apple strudel in Austria, and pizza & gelato in Italy. Yum!

6. With only a few days in each country, do the typical tourist attractions, but also enjoy what the locals do in their home country. We always showed up on market day!

Holland: Anne Frank House in Amsterdam and Mercy Ships Reunion in Gouda.
Biked, milked a cow, and, sailing to see the windmills.
Germany: Checkpoint Charlie, Berlin Wall, and Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp.
Austria: Sound of Music Tour (Thanks girls for suffering for my bday!) and climbing a mountain for a beautiful view (good suffering for me).
Italy: Boat rides & eating at a local pizzeria in Venice and Colosseum & Sistine Chapel in Rome.
7. Walk!! Print out free walking tours online, but designated a person as the guide even if they can't pronounce the street names. Walk to the tourist attraction, because you never know what you miss if you're underground and its not nice to be herded like cattle in the subway. Take a day off between climbing a mountain in Austria and walking the canals in Venice.
8. Travel with people that know the language or can get by with sign language. "Dank u vel" Linda for being our voice in Holland and "danke" Sarah for being our translator in Austria and Germany (to get directions to our hostel). Soak up the culture in each country by learning some common phrases too.
9. Stay in hostels for about 20 Euros a night, but check reviews first or you might have to stay in a fancy hotel in Rome for 100 Euros a night. Slept in a total of ten beds this trip. Thanks for all the families that hosted us! Nothing is cheap/free in Europe unless you plan it right. Museums pass in Germany on Thursday and last weekend in Rome- historical sites are free. Going to the bathroom will even cost you, but my claim to fame is that I never had to pay!
10. Finally, its about making memories with friends while traveling. I'm a people-person, so I would never do this alone. It was great to meet up with friends from the ship and even make new ones (like the brave, Toni!) The best part was trying to explain how we know each other because we came from all over the world. All of us had our annoying quirks, however we were patient, flexible, and we laughed a lot and we were still friends at the end of our three-week European excursion.
Rachel (Boston), Linda (Canada), Toni (Oregon), me (Texas), and Sarah (Austria).

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

September Summary

Sorry, for my blog absence... September was a busy month for me and now October is quickly passing by. I have daily reminders (my lovely parents) to update my blog followers what's new in the life of this missionary nurse. So without further delay, I'll try to sum up some of September for you.

1. Saying goodbye to Togo: The crew crowded the upper decks of the Africa Mercy to wave good-bye to Togo after calling it home for six months. My prayer for every country we leave, that our words and actions be a lasting impression on the people that they may come to know the Lord. I will miss the patients and translators that I met in Togo, but one day I pray we will be reunited.

2. Sailing: For seventeen days that is... port to starboard our chairs would slide until we put a towel underneath the wheels. As a nurse in a closed hospital, it was time for us to catch up on computer work which means statistics. I love the sail for many reasons! Sightings of marine life like dolphins & whales. Sunsets and stars are spectacular... I only saw one sunrise when I woke up early to make pancakes for the crew. And finally, sailors, aka the crew that hang out on the bow, play speed scrabble in midships, or sip coffee with you in the cafe- we become a close family sailing for this long.

3. South Africa: The ship docked in the port of Durban for repairs and to be refitted with new generators for the next couple months. It was time for me to take a break, but difficult for me to part ways with dear friends and the ship I call home. So the technical crew along with support staff will stay onboard to work on projects. The rest of the crew like families, the Academy, and more support staff were moved inland South Africa continuing life and outreach like dental and eye projects. I think of everyone in South Africa often, but look forward to reuniting with them in Sierre Leone in 2011!

4. Safari: To really experience South Africa, my friends and I, had a thrilling three days of sight-seeing at Hluhluwe-Imfolozi park. It was amazing to be in the middle of the wild seeing elephants, giraffes, water buffalo, zebras, and rhino. We were blessed to stay with friends in Durban and tour around the city before heading home.

So, this summary of September is not even finished, however I think I gave you enough "s" words in case you find yourself playing a game of scategories. To be continued very soon...

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Ends of the Earth

Have you ever had a verse come alive to you? Acts 1:8, the one you can find in my title, feels like my life story. I have never been to the Jerusalem, Judea, or Samaria, but God has given me an ever-increasing mission field. I first went to Juarez, Mexico in 1999 with my youth group... I was ruined in a good way. Three more Mexico trips followed over the years to border cities to do construction projects and Vacation Bible School. I found myself in the mission field at home- working at my church, sharing with friends at university, and reaching out to my coworkers. Then I traveled to Guatemala for my first time to use my nursing skills and I continued with three more trips to the little clinic in Guatemala’s hills.
Finally, I had to ask how could I satisfy my heart’s desire of doing missions just one week a year? So I signed up full-time with Mercy Ships and my life has never been the same. I have witnessed God do miracles in the lives of people here in West Africa. I see physical healing as well as spiritual healing for our patients that have suffered so long. I thought this Acts 1:8 calling would be complete here being a nurse missionary. However, my heart longed even more to be at the “ends of earth” when I went to visit Georgette with the Jesus Film Team. We were invited into villages by chiefs to share the good news of Jesus Christ. We went so deep into the bush that our land rover was driving over footpaths into areas that no vehicle had been.
We would arrive at a village and the children would gather around us as elders collected benches for us to sit on. The first village was Toweta, where I was suppose to share a testimony after the message. I kept going over in my head what I was going to share, but as I looked into the crowd, all I had was compassion for these children. This reminded me of the passage in Mark 10 when Jesus said "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.” I read this passage to them and said that no matter if you are a child, a mama, or papa you may enter the kingdom if you receive the truth that God so loved the world he gave his son as a sacrifice for our sins. As I spoke John 3:16 from memory, I could see in their eyes this was new- that they had never heard this truth before of God’s love. It was that day I found myself at the “ends of earth” as we continued on visiting Glachihoue’ and Kakapohoue’ sharing the gospel, our lives, and praying for the village people. That night, the Jesus Film was shown in the local language, Fon, and even a brass band showed up for the worship and dancing afterwards. Sunday, the team split up in pairs to visit and encourage local churches. I was the only Yovo (white person) at this little village church and I danced like one too. What a joy it was to give Bibles out to new believers that had received the truth the day before at the Jesus Film. We said our final farewell after a time of thanksgiving and prayer for the time we had in Benin and headed home to the ship in Togo. I find myself longing to be out there in the villages, but I trust that God will place me in different mission fields, sometimes at the beginning, in the middle, or at the “ends of the earth."

Friday, August 27, 2010


As I looked through my computer’s photo album to find pictures for Wordless Wednesday, I saw so many stories to share with my blog readers. I know so many look forward to my pictures on Wednesday, but it would not do the picture justice unless I share with you what it means. So this is a picture of Mama Georgette and me just the weekend before I left West Africa.

I had the honor of going with the Jesus Film team to visit Georgette and her family in Dogbo, Benin. I have never seen God’s timing more perfect than when I first met Georgette and her pastor, Simon, in July. Georgette traveled from Benin to Togo for a CT scan on the ship with special permission from Dr. Gary. Last year, the Jesus Film team worked with Georgette and her husband in Cotonou and all along the crew thought she was pregnant. As time passed, they discovered her swollen abdomen was not a baby, but a tumor that had been growing for 12 years. We had no surgeon that could help her in Benin however with a CT scan she possibly could find a local doctor to help. So she arrived to the ship only coming for a scan, the same day Dr. Frank was screening general patients for surgery. See, Dr. Frank was suppose to be leaving on a plane that day to head home to Uganda. He had come three weeks earlier to do VVF surgery and fill in a gap because a max-fax surgeon had canceled. Then we received noticed our general surgeon was not able to come in July so Dr. Frank decided to stay to help the countless patients we had waiting for surgery, including Georgette. If any other surgeon would have been there, Georgette would have had only come for the scan.

The day of Georgette’s surgery finally came. I sat with her on the pre-op bench praying with my translator not knowing prayers were being lifted up on our wards, at the hospitality center, and in Benin. Georgette’s prayers were answered. She was transferred to the recovery room three hours later, with two units of blood from crew members, and 17 kilograms (37 pounds) lighter.

When I visited Georgette on the ward, I shared with her about her surgery and all she could do was give praise to the One who timed it so. I also had the honor of sharing this story with her family as thanksgiving flowed from each person. My friend reminded me afterwards, that I had met Georgette and her husband, the year before at a viewing of Jesus film and I had prayed for Georgette, but never knowing we would be reunited this way in God's perfect timing.


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