Sunday, May 8, 2011


The phone rang on Wednesday night and it was my supervisor, Jenny, on the other end. “Can you work evening shift tomorrow?” she asks in anticipation that I could come in to help with late cases on Thursday. Of course I said “I would love to.” knowing that I had the chance to sleep in a little and run some errands before arriving in the OR at 12:30 to start relieving my coworkers for lunch. The day carried on as normal as I went from room to room helping in max-fax and general cases. Then news spread of a little girl coming from Freetown to the ship with a foreign body in her airway. The fire drill was canceled because we had no clue when the girl would arrive with a local ENT surgeon to perform the surgery with our anesthesia help. Josephine was finally brought into the OR when I was in another surgery. Since I was on evening shift I had to eat dinner and then go back to help with her surgery. Little did I know, I would be one of a dozen people in the operating room that night praying for a miracle. We were not the only ones praying for her- all the other crewmembers were in the weekly community meeting lifting up two-year old Josephine and the surgical team in prayer. By x-ray the doctors confirmed there was a little pebble that had traveled through her trachea down to the left bronchus making it difficult for Josephine to breathe. There were so many people coming and going, brainstorming, bending wire with tools from the engine room, caring, and most of all praying for a miracle for Josephine. It was close to midnight when we had exhausted all ways of trying to remove the stone from her lung. We transported Josephine to ICU where she was cared for and placed on a machine to help her breathe. Most of us knew there was nothing more we could do on a hospital ship in West Africa.

It was difficult for me to sleep that night as I lay in my bed pleading with God not for us to lose Josephine. There was a reason why she came to us when we usually don’t take on emergency cases like hers. I finally drifted off to sleep and was awoken on Friday morning by an emergency medical team alarm to ICU. The doctors and nurses were able to stabilize Josephine, but we did not know for how much longer. Saturday came with no news or improvements of the little one in ICU. That afternoon we took the youth group into town- on the way there we prayed for Josephine. My prayers were simple, I had lost hope in any healing for her, and instead I prayed for peace for her family. The kids prayed for the rock to be taken out. In my mind, there was no way we could remove it. These kids had faith for something that was impossible. Child-like faith I longed for. Any faith at all, no matter how little, I needed to be reminded nothing was impossible for God.

The answer to all our prayers came on Sunday. Our Chief medical officer, Dr. Gary Parker, spent his birthday, finding a way to for Josephine to receive the care she needed. A pediatric thoracic surgeon, Dr. James Numeme, flew to Freetown from Kenya on Sunday night. He would perform a thoracotomy on Josephine to remove the rock. God had orchestrated, Dr. James, Dr. Michelle, a pediatric anesthetist, and Michel and Sarah, two cardiac OR nurses to be on the ship on the day that Josephine needed this surgery to save her life. As we all went to work in the other operating theatres, our prayers were for the team caring for Josephine. By the afternoon, she was in ICU again breathing on her own again. The little rock removed. By Friday, she was a feisty two-year old, being discharged from the hospital, and ready to go home. Josephine was healed, not by us, but by prayers of the faithful ones here and around the world. With any amount of faith, God can use us to do the impossible- to move mountains, even as small as a pebble.

“Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” Matthew 17:20-21


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