Sunday, January 29, 2012

A Christmas Trip

It's been a little over two weeks since I've updated, I even got a reminder from a friend this week to update, so here goes...

This past week I was on vacation with my family. My parents decided to have some family time since I'm planning on going back to the ship in July. Right away they said that they would take us all on a trip for our Christmas present. Mom wanted to know if I was interested in going on a cruise or if there was someplace I'd like to go. I told her right away that going on a cruise wasn't much of an option considering I was living on a ship already and could go to the beach just about whenever I wanted to. From that I told them that I prefer going to the mountains. After a few weeks they came to the decision that we would go to Las Vegas. I had mentioned before that I had no desire to go to Vegas with it's reputation and not being known for the things I like to do. But it seems to have been a good fit. 

We left home last Saturday the 21st and came home on the 28th. The first night we went down the strip to see a few casinos and hotels. They are very large and quite impressive but after that I had seen enough of them. There was just one more that I wanted to see on Sunday, it was home to three restaurants owned by my favorite Chef Mario Batali. I have been to his place in NYC, so it was neat to see his places in Vegas. If only I had been there a week earlier I could have met him. Sunday evening we went out the the Valley of Fire. It's a state park where the rocks really brighten up when the sunsets. in the evening. 

Monday consisted of going to some more casinos that my brother and sister-n-law wanted, and getting off the strip to In-N-Out Burger and local record store. I had been to one once before in California, but after hearing more about them from a friend on the ship I was sure it was worth another trip. That evening I was looking at different options of going to visit the Grand Canyon. Before the trip we had looked on line to see how far it was and after finding out it was about 4 hours we thought it would be too far to drive since it would only be a day trip. That day I had found out I could ride on a tour bus for less than $80 bucks so I started doing research to see which had the best options. After narrowing it down to three different bus companies I decided to go to bed. Tuesday morning dad woke me up around 6:30 said that if I wanted to go to the Canyon we could drive out that day. After a few seconds of thinking (waking up) I told him yeah. So we headed out right before 8 just in time to get to the Grand Canyon about noon time. We were pleasantly surprised by fresh snowfall from the previous day. Before making the trip I though it would be stupid to go to Vegas and not make the effort to see God's creation of the Grand Canyon, but after making the trip I KNOW you mist be stupid to not make the effort to go to the Grand Canyon from Vegas. I suppose reading a chapter in my current book about the sovereignty of God and how He designed things to reflect His beauty did make the view even more spectacular... I guess all I should say is that I do plan on going back someday. Around three in the afternoon we started back to Vegas. It was a little tiring to spend the day in the car, but I was glad to get to spend it with dad.
The following are a few pictures from this first part of the ship, I'll post the rest of our trip on the next blog.
Hard Rock Cafe on the strip

The Bellagio Fountains

Valley of Fire

The scrumptious meal at In-N-Out Burger.

The South Rim looking North

A great view of the snowfall.

If I don't update again before February 1st, keep the ship in your prayers. Wednesday they'll have their first major screening in Togo, where thousands of potential patients will arrive to see if they can get treatment from Mercy Ships.

Monday, January 9, 2012

28,000+ touched

Here are our final numbers concerning patients/ local outreaches & ministries.
These numbers are all from Sierra Leone where we served between February and November.

Ophthalmic Surgeries & Training
1,242 Cataract Surgeries
179 Pterygium Surgeries
8,502 Eye Evaluations
Trained 22 Sierra Leoneans

Maxillofacial Surgeries & Training
111 Cleft Lip & Palate Surgeries
516 Head & Neck Tumors Surgeries
Training for Chief Dental Officer

Plastic Reconstructive Surgeries
159 Released Burn Contractures, Combined Fingers
1,211 Occupational Therapy Services

General Surgeries
728 Surgeries including
Hernia & Hydrocele Repairs
Tumor/Lesion/ Lipoma Excision

Orthopaedic Surgeries & Training
185 Surgeries including:
Club Foot Corrections
Tendon Lengthening
1,742 Physical Therapy Services
Trained 3 in the Operating Room
Trained 40 Sierra Leoneans in Ponseti
Ponseti Casting –103 Corrections for 66 Patients
84 Braces Fabricated

Patient Life
One-on-One Counseling for Patients & Family Members
Organized Group Activities

H.O.P.E. Center
Hospital Out Patient Extension
10,495 Patient Bed Nights over 35 weeks
67 Community Health Education Sessions

Dental Clinic & Training
34,251 Prcedures
10,489 Patients
933 Dental Hygiene Patients
531 Dentures
Oral Health Education
8,984 Patients
1, 025 Students
Dental Practicum – 4 weeks

Mental Health
Trained 16 Staff from City of Rest
Trained 163 Primary Health Care Workers
Trained 68 Church Leaders
Conducted Children’s Camp for 30

Palliative Care (Hospice Care)
Homecare for 26 Terminally Ill
Trained 26 & Assisted Families in Wound Care
5 Income Generation Projects (to support family)

Burkitt’s Lymphoma
Only kind of cancer we can treat
13 Patients in Partnership with Ola During Children’s Hospital

Church Leaders’ Conferences
Facilitated training for 580 church leaders in Freetown, Bo & Makeni
In partnership with Community Health Evangelism

Anesthesiology Conference & Midwifery Conference
79 Anesthesiology Conference Participants
28 Midwifery Conference Participants

Agriculture Training
Holistic Agriculture Concepts
4 Organizations
Trained 16 to-be Trainers

Mercy Ministries
Crew Visited 10 Sites Working with National Partners

Modular Buildings
Medical Supplies/Equipment
Pharmaceutical Supplies
Well Drilling Equipment
School Supplies

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Monday morning ramblings

A lot of things have been buzzing around my head the last two weeks. Many things that I would never be able to convey and many that you probably just wouldn't understand.

I'm sorry for not relaying to you sooner about my job opportunity, but here it is. Today I start teaching a class at Jefferson College. I will be teaching Culinary Arts classes at Jefferson College. A few years ago my instructor from High School had talked to me about teaching there but it didn't seem to be a good fit. Two weeks before I left the ship I got an e-mail from a friend that teaches out there. She said that there was a teaching position for Culinary Arts that would have to be filled or else the class would have to be canceled. I sent in my information, but with the winter break starting just two days later I had to wait till January 3rd to hear back from the lady that would be doing the hiring. I talked to the lady on Tuesday and things have lined right up for me to start teaching the class. I had decided to  wait till getting home to decide on what I would do when I got home. God opened this door right when I needed it, not a day early and not a day late. This is amazing because the semester ends in mid May and would give me ample opportunity to get things wrapped up in time to got to Texas in June for training.

Here's were part of the not able to understand part comes in. I do realize that God has given me this great opportunity to teach at the college, but everyday I wake up wishing that I could be on the ship ministering to the workers and the patients on the ship. It has been hard to read about them moving to Togo where they will be the next 6 months. It was even harder to read this morning that the day-workers would be starting to train in the Galley today. The past two weeks have been consumed with this verse.

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
Ecclesiastes 3.1

I know that God has designed me to serve with Mercy Ships. It has been more and more apparent since the first day that I heard about them almost a year ago. So, even though I know God had placed me in the position to teach at the college I know that the bigger picture is for me to be in Africa. Everyday I must turn to Him to resolve what His purpose is for me in this mean time.

Besides all this rambling I'v also been trying posted below the final numbers of surgeries/training/ministering that was done through Mercy Ships by God as we were in Sierra Leone. The 70,000 plus lives are huge, but for some reason I can't get it formatted to work with my blog site. Hope to get them up for you soon.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Cliché New Years Post

I'm find myself looking at so many updates on Facebook and talking to people in person and hearing the same cliché things about New Years.  I want to spend more time with family, I want to loose weight, I want to get healthy, I want to get that new job this year.  Even in church today there was speak about starting things in a different fashion and getting things started off right.

I don't necessarily want to make fun of those things, many of them are true and noble concepts.  At this time as I'm looking back over the past year I just want God to continue what He is doing in my life.  I find myself in a place that I never could have imagined this time last year.  To limit myself to the idea of where I will be at this time next year limits what I allow God to do in my life in these next 12 months.  As I was looking over my end of the year letter from 2010 I saw an amazing statement.

 "I still live at home, but maybe I'll venture out this year.
Let's see what God has in store for 2011"

As it turns out I found out about an amazing missions opportunity of living on a ship a helping the forgotten poor of West Africa.  I applied in the spring and by July I was on a ship in Sierra Leone.  The concept of quitting my job, saying goodbye to many great people at home, packing my life into two suitcases and moving onto a ship of all places never crossed my mind this time last year.  To limit myself to better love,  health and friendships would have prevented God allowing what He wanted in my life.

Today I challenge you to see what God has in store for you. Seek Him on a daily basis to get that journey started.

As for me I'm planning on returning to the M/V Africa Mercy in July on a long-term basis.  The first year in Conakry, Guinea and then only God knows where after that. besides that "Let's see what God has in store for 2012!!!"

With that I leave you with my favorite picture from Sierra Leone.
Reminds me of so many patients wh thought they were alone with their afflictions.