Sunday, February 28, 2010


My alarm goes off at 5:15 am on Wednesday mornings. I roll over and come close to falling out of my top bunk bed. I climb down the ladder quietly in hopes of not waking up my cabin-mates in the ungodly hours of the morning. I am a night owl, but this is something important. Its breakfast. Pancakes for the crew. For the crew that come to serve onboard the Africa Mercy so others like me can work in the hospital to serve the people of Africa. This is my way to give back and show my appreciation for others that come to volunteer on the ship so I can as well.

Since we arrived in Togo, I have been in charge of the Sterilizing Department in the OR and have had trainees under me. You may ask what do pancakes have to do with sterilizing? I am not sure, but it is great team building! So I have the early risers meet me at 5:30 am and we head to the main galley to join the hospital manager in making pancakes for 400 crew members. Eggs have to be separated and the whites whipped. Flour, sugar, and milch (shelf milk) are mixed and the whites folded in. The grill is turned on for a minute and then turned off before we pour the batter because there is no temperature gage besides our caramelized pancakes. Syrup and blueberries are set out in the dining room. The production line starts at 6:30 and we pour, flip, and carry the hot trays of pancakes down stairs for a hour. Every once in awhile smiley face pancakes come up and I find that same smile on the crew member awaiting a hot breakfast. The last of the batter makes our breakfast and the dirty dishes are collected at the sink and I'm thankful I don't have to do them. Just a few hours after my alarm went off, I find myself back in the OR and smelling like pancakes. One of my trainees mentioned to me, that spraying the bleach on the countertops is just like spraying the olive oil on the grill... exactly what I was thinking. Now I know how sterilizing and pancakes are related.

Thanks Kyle, Chelsea, Anna, and Geoff for the pancakes!

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Wordless Weeks?

Are "Wordless Weeks" possible? The past two weeks have been so busy! I apologize for my absence from my blog and other internet communication, but now I am here to share with you what has been going on. I'll post pictures to make up from my Wordless Wednesdays, but add captions as well.
Screening continues here three to four days a week here in Togo. Our prayers have been answered with peaceful crowds and surgeries are being scheduled. I went on the first day and had the privilege of greeting each person and making sure they stay in line to be seen by a screener. Please continue to pray for the team that goes out daily in hopes of finding the right patients we can help.

Before the hospital opens up to patients we first have to unpack from the sail and clean EVERYTHING. We stripped and waxed the floors and bleached every surface the week we arrived. The only way to have fun doing this; is to dress as up operating room pirates!

In hopes of building partnerships within Togo, Mercy Ships invites the medical community to visit the ship and learn more about our services. This year I am VVF/General Surgery Team Leader and along with Lindsey, VVF Ward Coordinator, we were able to meet Togonese doctors in search of help for fistula patients in the country. We will start screening in May and surgery in June.
One of the final events before we start "real work" in the OR is the Hospital Open House. Starts with surgery in the dining room! This is a time for all the crew to visit the hospital and see what they are a part of being here. There are games in the ward to play nurse and learn skills like CPR. In the OR, kids and adults dress up as a surgeon to play with instruments or try stitching for the first time. My friend Ginger and I taught people what a fistula was by a simple game. We laughed all night when most of the crew jumped right onto the table with stirrups to throw a glove through a "fistula" (i.e. hole).

Monday, February 15, 2010

Screening day

First screening day is tomorrow. One of my favorite days of the outreach. This is the day I look forward to being a nurse and missionary. I have been out of the nurse role since December and can't wait to be back. I could be the one to tell someone we can help them. Give them hope for a future. Share that they are loved no matter what they look like. I can also hold their hand and pray with them when we cannot do anything. Screening day is also the hardest day of the outreach. Please pray for the crew as we go out in the scorching heat of the day and also pray for the right patients to come that we may help.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

I'm going to Togo...

A group of friends and I played this game on the bow during the sail. I can still remember all of them! I checked the things I have so I think I am prepared for the outreach in Togo. We have been here just for a few days and the hosptial is busy cleaning and setting up to start surgery!

I'm going to Togo and bringing:

A: Apple Mac a
B: Book a
C: Camel? Maybe for water collection?
D: Digital Camera a
E: Electric Razor
F: Fishing Pole
G: Gun
H: Hat a
I: Igloo- our cabins are like these.
J: Jesse, the cook a
K: Kite
L: Life jackets a
M: linda's Mom... maybe all of our Moms
N: Napkin a
O: Opal Ring
P: Pringles... Honey mustard, my favorite, but none here
Q: Queen of England
R: Rain Coat a
S: Stereo system... at least an ipod a
T: Tea a
U: Umbrella a
V: VVF patient (maybe a VVF doctor & nurse too) a
W: Wine
X: Xavier, a bodyguard
Y: Yellow Fever Card a
Z: Zipper jacket a

Tuesday, February 9, 2010


Togo is within reach. Actually, just 12 hours from now we hope to be there. I have mixed emotions. I'm torn between wanting the sail to go on, but at the same time to be docked in port in Lome. Life is easy on the sail. I think fear is holding me back. The fear of the unknown of Togo's politics, day volunteers, coworkers, screening for patients, relationships, my new leadership role, outreach programs, and so many unknowns out there. The true test of faith comes when the hospital opens and surgery starts. I am excited to be back in my role as an OR nurse and have a purpose on the mission field. I am one of the seasoned nurses, but I cannot go into it saying, "It will be just like last year." I need prayer from all of you out there in blog world. A wise friend told me I needed three things to serve in Africa and I turned them into prayers for my time in Benin and will do the same this year in Togo.

Pray for patience. Life we know does not going always according to plan.
Pray for flexibility. Life we know does not always go "our way".
Pray for strength. Life we know is not always easy.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

The skies

The skies on the sail take my breath away every time I step outside. I watch the sunsets from the bow and gaze at the millions of stars from deck 8. Where else would you get views of the skies like these, unless sailing in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean? No camera can capture the majestic work of the Creator. No words can describe the heavens I see from this earth; therefore I meditate on David's words. There is a reason He creates these glorious displays.

Psalm 19:1-4
"The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world."

Friday, February 5, 2010


The place to be on sail is the bow. Being my third sail onboard the Africa Mercy, its my favorite place to be. Webster's fifth definition of a bow is "the forward part of the ship." It is so much more than this. The bow is the place to escape, suntan, relax, worship, and place of fellowship. You can find crew out there at all times of the day. I take my lunch and dinner in tupperware just so I can enjoy the open seas. Others take their coffee, ipod, Bible/book, or just a chair to relax. The bow fills with crew, young and old, after dinner, to watch the magnificent sunsets.We all watch the waters in hopes to catch a glimpse of marine wildlife. It is a great time to catch up with friends and make new ones, you might not meet otherwise because of different schedules while we are in country. We are halfway through the sail. We are close to our destination... just a few more days left out on the bow.

I look to my right and see the sun setting behind the clouds. I look left and see flying fish gliding on top of the waves. All around me is the Atlantic Ocean and in the distance is Africa. I cannot wait to be there, be on land, and meet the people of Togo we will serve this year.


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