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...


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