Monday, February 18, 2013


This post is long overdue. I might as well use the "African timing" excuse to keep me in good standards with all my blog readers. Most of you, I imagine, will extend the grace needed, as it has been hard to find the right words to type. The words to end the Sierra Leone chapter of my life. The tears are inevitable (on my side) as I think upon God's faithfulness over the two years I have been in Sweet Salone. I look as far back to the end of 2011 when I was stateside recovering from gallbladder surgery, a car accident leaving me with a broken arm, and my dad in the hospital- still with Sierra Leone and her people always on my heart. Would I even be able to go back to Africa? Would I ever work again on the ship? Could I still work at AWC with this delay? I usually stay on the positive side of life, but I really did struggle to see the good amidst the troubles. After two months and one to many plane ticket cancelations, I learned lessons that will stay with me all my life. God did bring me back. I had to learn my identity is not Africa or being a missionary, but being His- no matter where I am in life. So fast forward a year (full of blogs about my fistula ladies) and I am finished with my year contract with Aberdeen Women's Centre and I traveled home to Texas for Christmas.  Thankfully, with a round-trip ticket I returned for two weeks in January to say goodbye (again) to my patients, coworkers, and friends. As I look over pictures from these two weeks and remember the encounters I had with people, I see God doing His final work in me in Sierra Leone.

My last weeks of 2012 at AWC were quiet on the clinical side of things due to presidential elections. So I spent more time with Millicent on teaching her computer skills. By mid-December we had completed the Operating Room Policies and Guidelines! Milo and I had battled throughout the year with cultural and nursing differences, but this month we worked side by side as a team. We understood each other for the first time as I let her take ownership of this project. If I had done the book myself, it would have sat on the shelf and collected dust like the others before me. This time I was able to teach Milo so she could teach her nurses what I wanted to do all along. While we worked on the computer she always had trouble finding her reading glasses, so when I returned in January I brought back a glasses case. She was so thrilled for the small gift and she gave me something in return. Milo introduced me to a new nurse, Agnes, as she sat in the recovery room reading the guideline book learning the nursing standards I had come to teach at AWC.

Kumba in November waiting to greet me outside my office. 
The same day, I spent the afternoon with the fistula ladies and Teacher Hagar. I had brought pack beads for jewelry making and the most cherish craft supply- crayons. These ladies could spend hours each day (I could too) coloring anything put in front of them from hygiene lessons to Bible story pictures. So that day I sat with the ladies in the courtyard to do some crafting as they quizzed me on my Temne and Mende words. A lady came and sat down next to me and said "Thank you Allis"- and I realized it was Kumba. Kumba was a precious lady that came to us in September, using forearm crutches, which is not easy to get around in Africa while leaking urine after a traumatic childbirth. Despite seeing many of her friends on the ward come and go, she persevered through physical therapy. Everyday she would exercise by walking from her bed to the bench outside my office.  It was heartbreaking that we had to send Kumba home over election time since she was still not strong enough for surgery. I was worried she might not make the long journey back to Aberdeen for surgery in January, but she did and she celebrated her gladi gladi that next week. Kumba reminds me of other ladies we had to turn away or delay surgery for various reasons. However, for these women, I pray that they don't give up hope like Kumba and find the healing they need at AWC.

Gbassay, Murray, & I (aka Aunty Allis). 
I thank God for these moments of joy as I hug and dance with my ladies one last time. I spent the day with a precious one (for her protection, I will call her"K") at her house, being served cassava leaves, and being shown sewing projects. I have promised to help K in her schooling and her training as a seamstress. My little sister as I like to call her, is growing stronger and taller since the last time we saw each other in November. Another reunion was a total surprise, when Gbassy (pronounced "Bashe") showed up for her follow-up appointment seven months late. We both squealed in excitement seeing each other again and embraced in a hug with her baby Murray in between us. Gbassy had brought coconuts for me as a thank you gift for her surgery in March. I had joyous tears as she told me she was still dry. I tell Papa God tenki for these sweet moments with my ladies and forever cherish them in my heart.

I came to teach the nurses and care for patients and in return I was taught lessons not only as a nurse, but in serving and in love. I hope one day I will return to Sweet Salone. I spent time contemplating the future with friends on Salone's beautiful beaches and dreamed of what would come. For now, I trust that God knows the plans He has for me. "Plans to prosper, not to harm, but to give me a hope and a future" (Jeremiah 29:11) as I find myself over a week in Conakry, Guinea onboard the M/V Africa Mercy for yet another chapter in my life.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Wordless Weekend

All these have something in common... Can you guess? This blog post is brought to you by the letter "C". Brings back Sesame Street memories for me.  Coconuts from Gbassy & Murray, crayons & crochet time at AWC, car ride from the beach, close friends (Sandra & Suzanne), and cloth I bought at the Freetown market. Its been a busy two weeks in Sierra Leone and I promise a blog about it all soon! 


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