Monday, December 11, 2017

Returning Home

As most of you have read or heard- I'm heading to Cameroon in January to serve with Mercy Ships! I was waiting for the final word from Mercy Ships and to purchase my plane ticket before making the official post. Leave it to me to buy my ticket three weeks before I fly out, but I got it even with window seats! I am going just for a month with my boss' blessings and taking advantage that the healthcare industry is usually slow the month of January. It has been on my heart to return home to the ship and to Africa. Yes, it is one of my many homes. Home is not just a place you live, but where you experience life and have memories you will never forget. I mentioned my exciting news of returning home to my Bible study the other night and one member asked,  "Did you grow up on the ship?" No, I did not, but I spent some years of my life- working as a nurse, sleeping in cabins, having tea on deck 8, eating meals in the dining room, playing scrabble in midships, doing Bible studies in the cafe, and running on the container-filled docks of Africa coastal cities. The constant hum of the generator became a familiar noise, as well as the vacuum-suction toilets flushing; no other noises like it happen elsewhere.

Africa also was home- Benin my first one, Togo followed, and Sierra Leone was most life-changing; living on the ship and then moving to my apartment above the maternity ward in Aberdeen. Life in Africa became the norm, while visiting Texas always seemed out of place. There was no bargaining at the market, buying plantains from street vendors while waiting in traffic, or going camping on the beach for the weekend. I always knew it was good adventure, when I returned with a faux chaco tan line made by African dirt. Guinea was my last country before returning stateside- it was so hard to leave Africa, not knowing when I would return. 

What made these places home most of all, were the people I came across every day. My coworkers in the hospital, nurses and surgeons, who made it a place you wanted to come back to everyday. We worked hard, literally blood, sweat and tears- you could sum up our days in the operating room. The patients we sat with on bench to pray with before surgery connected me to each of my African homes. I saw cleft lip babies, who were seen as cursed, be held and accepted by their awe-struck mothers after surgery. I witnessed cataract patients and fistula ladies praising Jesus once their surgeries were complete. The surgeries are only possible by the 400 people that make up the international crew. Engineers keeping our generator humming, cooks providing meals, electricians keeping lights on, teachers caring for the students, baristas keeping us energized, HR and chaplaincy taking care of the crew. These once strangers from all over the world eventually became my ship family. 

January 1st, I am returning home to the M/V Africa Mercy and new adventures in Cameroon.  

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