I'm back to the Africa Mercy... home away from home as some of us call it. Familiar faces greeted me on the gangway as I walked on to the ship and hugs from friends awaited me. I signed in at reception as curious people wondered who had arrived, some did not recognized me at first, but most heard my laugh and knew I had returned. As I unpacked my overweight luggage (PTL it made it through without extra cost), many visitors stopped by to welcome me home. The next few days were spent finding my way around again on the ship and almost every corner there was another hug waiting for me! I had been looking forward to getting back to work to prepare for Togo so a few meetings to attend. Enjoyed some walks into town for meals (including a Happy Meal) and gelato with friends. Now, its time to sail to Togo! Thank you for your continuing prayers for travel mercies as I'm back on the ship and heading back to Africa!
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
Tuesday, January 19, 2010
My Texas tour has wrapped up and my finals day are at my parents' house trying to recover from a month-long cold. You would think my "to-do" lists are getting shorter, but once I erase one thing, I have a new item to accomplish before I leave on Sunday. It has been super busy, but I have had such amazing time seeing people across the Lone Star state.
Many people to see and many places to go, but one of my favorite things is to spend time with kids. They make me laugh. I feel no pressure to be anyone, but myself around them. They are easy to impress as well. For example, my Houston-nite friend, teaches 5th grade and invited me to "Guest time" at her school. I was a little nervous, it being my first speaking engagement, but actually the kids did all the talking. "Have you touched an eyeball?" "A brain?" "Held a heart?" More hands flew up in the air every time I answered a "touched" question. "Have you gotten sick in the operating room?" Thankfully, God has given me the stomach to touch and see the human body transformed in the OR. The final question made my day, "Have you done surgery on an elephant?"
Last week, I helped my mom give finals at her school and then talked to some of her 6th graders about Africa. She has kept them updated on what I was doing this past year and showed pictures of baby Maomi before and after her surgery. Students clapped for me and said I was "too famous" to be visiting their school. I was there to help them with their finals, but they were more interested in hearing about Africa.
Finally, in Tyler I got to see some of my favorite boys: they are all under 1o years of age. I babysat the trio of brothers and they all grew up this past year I was gone. Besides height, they are much the same, making me laugh with their dinner time antics and finding dress up costumes so we can play ninjas. Our favorite place to go together was the zoo, so I had safari pictures to show them. After awhile, the six-year old asked to see my surgery pictures. Really? Then they wanted to play Operation, but we opted to play Madagascar to continue the Africa theme.
Thank you for teaching me to take time to smile. :)
Monday, January 11, 2010
Ten days on the road and I am finally home... for a couple days before I travel again. Its hard to say where home is when it is constantly changing. Is it Dallas/Ft.Worth or Tyler? My parent's house? Is it Benin or Togo? The Africa Mercy? Nonetheless, I unpacked for the first time after my 10-day Texas tour of Lubbock and Houston visiting friends and family. I had such a refreshing time catching up on life and sharing about my year in Africa. What an encouragement it was to hear strangers say they prayed for me. I loved laughing with friends until our bellies ached, it was like I never left. Enjoyed making memories with family celebrating the holidays and birthdays. I am inspired even more to share my life to the blog world after many of you told me about frequent visits here.
My ten days were full of satisfying my tex-mex tastebuds and reorienting myself to the retail and entertainment world. It is nice to take a break and do my favorite things at home. However, the majority of my time was listening to myself talk about my home in Africa. I am grateful to everyone who listened for endless hours about my year away. It is what I love to speak about... the miracles I saw in the operating room, the people I met from all over the world, what made me laugh or cry, and my desires and passions that are taking me back for another year to my home away from home.
Tuesday, January 5, 2010
Two weeks into my holiday at home in Texas- time is flying by! Especially when you go from one person to the other so you can see everyone... and even fly from city to city, like I did tonight. However, I left Lubbock tonight, feeling rested and encouraged... little sore from the bike riding and learning how to drive a standard. Last week, I drove out past the windmills to West Texas with my sister for a couple days. I am known as "Africa Allie" as my sister introduces me in person to her friends. I was welcomed into homes, fed delicious meals, given hugs, encouragement, and prayers by people I barely knew. They listened to me babble on about my precious VVF ladies, my heart for serving in Africa as a nurse, and how much I missed mexican food. On Sunday, at church (Shout out to Live Oak of Lubbock!), the pastor shared the passage of Philippians 1:3-6 and challenged us to be part of the puzzle, part of the body of believers, known as the Church. Each of you are as much as part of what God is doing in Africa through Mercy Ships, because of your partnership in prayer, financial support, and through your constant encouragement. My hope is to see everyone while I am home, to fit all the pieces of the puzzle together. However, if I don't get to or I might not even know you- I want to thank you all for being a part of the puzzle and your partnership in the gospel.
"I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus."
Friday, January 1, 2010
It seemed appropriate to title this one 2010 since the last post was 2009. Hard to believe 2010 is here. I only have 24 days left of the new year to spend visiting friends and family before returning to Africa Mercy to set sail for Togo. I have had a wonderful time catching up with loved ones I had not seen in year and swapping stories. I was prepared to find time here difficult because life went on without me, special occasions I missed or inside jokes I am not a part of because of my absence. I realize I am totally OK with it, because I was somewhere else that God wanted me. I am a different person for the year I spent in Africa. It would be hard to share all my experiences, patients stories, what I heard and saw the days I spent in Benin. I just know the good and even the bad days, God was growing me to grow closer to Him. I feel like when we are not in our usual circumstances we have to depend on God to see us through. My faith deepens and my focus shifts to the Lord. I have found this true the past ten years doing missions. Not only am I the most happiest serving, but these times my heart, my all, is focused on the Lord alone.
Just some of my midnight ramblings and now to close, I think Oswald Chambers says it the best... This is not a new year's resolution (because those never keep), but a prayer for 2010.
"My determined purpose is to be my utmost for His highest- my best for His glory."