Friday, March 25, 2011

Two Weeks Notice

This blog is to inform everyone out there in blog world, especially my family and friends, that after careful consideration over the past two weeks, that I am staying put in Sierra Leone. I’m not sure for how long. I really can’t say if it will be 6 months or 6 years, but for now my heart has been recaptured by “Sweet Salone.” I have been wondering for some time now what my future would be... the planner wanna-be is trying to push through the African and flexible missionary that has taken over the past two years. However, a wise and dear friend told me it is “ok” not to know our next step when it comes to knowing that our God is above it all. So right now, my plan is to stay put. I love what I am doing, where I am, and who I am serving.

The past two weeks have been absolutely exhausting and exhilarating in the operating room. Time has flown by and I would be thankful that today is Friday, but we actually have our second attempt at screening tomorrow. Please be prayer for safety and for the people of Sierra Leone. I have had the privilege working with Dr. Gary Parker in the maxio-facial room. Every case, I can see a transformation on the outstide, but more than anything the prayer of our team- is that a transformation will happen on the inside. Sweet little ones come in with a gap in their lip and Dr. Gary puts the puzzle back together so they can grow up strong. We have “lumps and bumps” that have caused physical pain as well as emotional. Can you imagine being ostracized from society because of a swelling on your cheek? I can’t, but are patients have lived to tell us about it. Our first patient, was a young girl, about 12 years old, but had never been to school because of her cleft lip. Now she can attend with her younger siblings because she not different from anyone else. She has a new smile. Talking about “new”… thought about a new face? Namina, came to the ship not able to open her mouth due to a locked jaw, her left eyelid pulled down, and a hole through her nose and cheek. She has been suffering from a “poor disease” called Noma. Noma only happens in poverty-stricken areas where people are malnourish and immune systems are not strong enough to sustain normal bacteria in the body. Like an artist, Dr Gary created a new face for Namina with muscle from her forehead and skin from her leg. As a nurse, I dread the anxiety, fear, and the tears of each patient that walks through the door to the operating room. However, more than anything I look forward to hearing the “tenke, tenke” (thank you in krio) and seeing the joy in their faces as they look in the mirror for the first time after surgery.

So that is my two weeks notice. I wonder what will be in store for the coming weeks?

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Hospital Open House

What a fun night for the crew to come together down in the hospital! There was renewed joy and laughter echoing the halls on Wednesday night for the Hospital Open House. This is a time to allow the non-medical crew to tour the operating rooms and wards before patients arrive. We have fun games to play, skills to learn like IVs (with enchilada sauce veins), and suturing with surgeons. Kids dress up like a surgeon and others find out what its like to irrigate a mouth wound. Don't worry, its only strawberry jelly. Our first patients were admitted today and the hospital is now open in Sierra Leone! Surgery starts tomorrow!

Friday, March 11, 2011


Monday was one of those days you try to get forget, but relived as you process through the events that led the crew to leave early from screening. More than anything I felt God’s presence from the beginning to once we got back to the ship. As well as this past week, the crew has been blanketed with prayers from all over the world.

Crew arrived at all times of the morning to do security, set up, registration, and escorting patients. The hospital spent a couple hours seeing patients and scheduling them for surgery. At my break time, I was called along with other nurses to treat people that had been in line- some had been in line for not only hours, but for days. Can you imagine waiting in line for that long to see a doctor? The need is so great here. People were scattered everywhere, suffering from dehydration, heat exhaustion, and injuries from the line pushing on the gates. The nurses and doctors just kicked into high gear to help those in need of water, intravenous fluids, and medical attention. Regular crew turned into ambulance drivers, as we had to take people to the local hospital. Extra crew became security and joined hands to make a path to move the line elsewhere. Water servers and prayer warriors came out to stand guard near the triage tent. In screenings past I have seen the body of Christ in the crew, and even more so that day.

Afterwards, as I walked back to resume my job in general surgery, I had a friend come up and put her arm around my shoulders urging me to drink water so I would not fall victim to the heat. We went on to screen for a little while, until we heard everyone was being evacuated from the stadium. We gathered our supplies quickly and headed to the landrovers. It was like the Titanic- not enough lifeboats for everyone. Another friend was there to give us a lift up off the ground into the back of the trucks. We found ourselves riding through the streets of Freetown with waves and smiles from locals we passed. It was hard not to question God’s purpose in us leaving when we knew we could help those still waiting in line. We were taken to the team house so the drivers could go back to gather the rest of the crew. A couple hours passed and I made it back to the ship. We had to share our experiences on paper with the Captain and our Managing Director as soon as we came onboard. As I sat there trying to process the day’s events, the Captain prayed for us and thanked God for keeping his crew safe. It made me realize, how much more our Heavenly Father cares for us and is concerned about his “crew”… the body of Christ.

1 Corinthians 18-20, 26-27

"But in fact God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body. ~ If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it."

Monday, March 7, 2011


This is a difficult post to write because all it brings are tears to my eyes and ache to my heart. Today, was our major screening here in Freetown, Sierra Leone. It started early for most of us as we arrived at the stadium to set up for hundreds of people already waiting in the line. We saw people for the first part of the morning to schedule for surgery. However, the crowds got out of hand by mid-day and the crew had to pull out and return to the ship. Our hearts are heavy tonight for many reasons. We are trusting that Lord holds us in His sovereignty. Please pray that the crew and the people of Sierra Leone- that our faith will not fail, but be strengthen by each passing moment.

Please read the press release from Mercy Ships:

Sunday, March 6, 2011


It is not typical for me to wake up early in the morning to watch the sunrise, however last Sunday I did just that. I woke up even before my alarm went off at 6 am with anticipation for our early morning arrival into Freetown, Sierra Leone. I found a quiet spot on deck 7 with a view of the moon still glowing and the sky turning from darkness into a light purple as the sun came up over the mountains. Crew members turned up as they were awaken from the bridge making overhead announcements. The heavy fog was slowly fading from the land as we sailed toward our berth for the next year. The sun rose and our excitement as well, knowing that God brought us to Sierra Leone to bring healing in this war-torn country.

It has been a week since the Africa Mercy has docked. A week filled with unpacking, bleaching, and making up 6 ORs and 4 wards into a hospital. The next days will be a massive screening in Freetown, where we will see thousands of people in need of healing. We will only be able to help a few hundred with surgery, but I pray we will give hope to more. It will be a long and hot day so please pray for the crew, as well as those waiting in lines to see a doctor. Pray that the right people come to see us, the ones with a purpose for surgery or healing that comes by faith and prayer. I must finish this blog because I am again waking up early to watch the sunrise as I head out for screening. I will end with one of my favorite songs... a prayer for Sierra Leone.

"You said, Ask and you will receive
Whatever you need
You said, Pray and I'll hear from heaven
And I'll heal your land

You said Your glory will fill the earth
Oh, Like water the seas
You said, Lift up your eyes
The harvest is here, the kingdom is near

You said, Ask and I'll give the nations to you
O Lord, that's the cry of my heart
Distant shores and the islands will see
Your light, as it rises on us"

~ You Said, Shane & Shane


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