Monday, April 30, 2012

VVF? What's that?

Three weeks ago I mentioned the VVF surgeries that they are doing on the ship and gave an account from one of the nurses that is working in that ward of the hospital. The past week I have been reading the book The Hospital by the River. It's about the couple Reg & Catherine Hamlin who moved from Australia to Ethiopia and worked at a government hospital. After a couple of years they were seeing so many fistula patients that they decided that they needed to build a hospital devoted directly to treating these women. I won't go into great detail of the the fistulas but most of them are caused by pregnancies that in the United States or other developed countries would result in a C-Section. In undeveloped countries the women live way to far from doctors, don't do any kind of prenatal care, and usually loose the baby after several days of labor. After that they are left incontinent and smell of urine. Many of the women are pushed out of the community and almost always their husbands leave them. After their surgeries there is very little recovery from what I have heard only a week or two. On the ship and at most VVF clinics they give the women a beautiful new dress as a sign of their beauty and then they will have a wonderful service to celebrate being "dry". Allison, a friend from the ship, stayed in Sierra Leone when we left last December. After living on the ship three years working in the operating room she felt God leading her to stay at a clinic that Mercy Ships set up during a previous trip to Freetown. She's now the VVF Nursing supervisor at Aberdeen Women's Center and it has been great to keep up with her blog and the journey that she has continued in Sierra Leone.

Here at home I have been busy. Last update I released my t-shirt design and now I have 36 orders in. The first shirts will be finished this week and if you haven't gotten one I will be making another order due May 16th! The Orchid cards and Sierra Leone cards have sold out, and I have more coming in the mail. I have done a couple of different meals at church. One for a birthday, one for Awana workers and a great dinner for the fundraiser April 22nd. It has been amazing to see how God is sending supporters to help me on this journey. If you are still interested in helping me weather it be by getting a t-shirt, set of cards or with my monthly budget you can contact me through e-mail or Facebook.

I have only 2 more days left teaching class. It has moved by much faster than I expected. In January and February I thought May would never come. Next week I will get to see some people that I served in Sierra Leone with. We are really excited to meet up! After that I will only have a little over 20 days before going to Texas. I'm so excited!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Destion: Mercy

Hey ALL!

I've mentioned to some of you that I would have some t-shirts made and, well, I ordered them today!

I will have them in all sizes for $15. 
The women's shirts are loose in the neck and have smaller sleeves, so make sure to let me know which one you want when you order.
To let me know,send me a personal message on Facebook, send me an e-mail at or let me know in person.
If you have any more questions about them just let me know.

I can't take the credit for this shirt. All the parts come from people I know and I just threw them together.
Thanks to Cassie Young for the chef hat, Peter Koontz for the front slogan, and Russ Holmes for the back slogan.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

T - 8 Weeks

Wanted to get on here today to give you a brief update and share a little bit of what's happening on the ship even though I'm not there physically. I've been somewhat busy lately, nothing major to put on here, just a little bit here and there. 

To get fundraising going a little bit more I have started selling some photo note cards with photos I took at the Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis and last night I ordered some with pictures from Sierra Leone. There page to see them is at the top right of this page where it says Photo Note Cards. On Sunday April 22nd there will be a dinner at my church to help as a fundraiser. I will be cooking a meal, and all donations will go towards my crew fees, airfare and expenses while with Mercy Ships. I hope to share some information with the people that haven't seen my presentation since coming back from Sierra Leone.

Things at work are starting to wind down already. It has been good to help teach the students the basics of the Culinary world, but everyday I am reminded how much I long to be back on the ship. The students will be doing a dinner for their families next week and it will be good for them to get some experience cooking for people other than those in class. 

This past Saturday I had a bonfire. I have had bonfire on Easter weekend before, this year I wanted to make sure and do it again. It was good to be able to hang out with some of my friends. I will be leaving them in less than two months! It will be sad to leave them, but it is great to know that I will be working and living with so many great people on the ship.

The next few weeks I will be doing a couple more catering jobs. It's great to know people want to help me get back to the ship. Helping me with support in any way that they can. I have to purchase my ticket to fly to the ship soon, each donation makes it easier for me to book that flight.

On the ship they have reached thier half way mark  in Togo. I have kept in contact with several friends on the ship and several people that have left the ship. It is great to be able to know what's going on in each of their lives. I have an excerpt of something Jenny, a friend of mine posted. She's from Sydney, Australia, married and has three children my age and older. Yesterday she worked at the VVF screening. VVF stands for fistuals that form in women that aren't able to have C-section births. Here's a link if you want to understand it better.

So hard to find words to describe what I experienced yesterday..... screening day for the VVF (obstetric fistula) ladies. It was my job to take histories from the ladies, so I got to hear in detail their tragic stories of obstructed labors ending in still birth, lives of ridicule and ostracism due to the fact that they constantly leak urine from the resulting fistulas, childlessness, and being left by husbands who could not live with a woman with such a problem. I looked into their eyes and saw right into their souls - saw the pain of loss, a plea for help to return to a normal life - a life that should never have been taken from them in the first place. All this heartache and despair for want of good, basic obstetric care - surely not too much to ask, surely the right of all women everywhere. And as I listened, I couldn't help but think - "that could have been me" - if I had not had access to a well equipped maternity ward and trained midwives and doctors, if I had been giving birth in a developing country back then in 1988 - what would have become of my strong, healthy 24 yr old son who refused to be born in the conventional way, and what would have become of me?? A life of grief and loneliness, spent outcast, childless and poor, deserted by family and friends and unemployable?? Yes, this may sound overdramatic, but it is the reality for these women and girls (some as young as 14, and some in their 60's) . It is why we can't ignore issues of poverty and injustice; it is why we cannot let our governments decrease foreign aid budgets....... it is why we need to love and to care!! Praise God that there is hope for these brave and beautiful women, that there are nurses, midwives and doctors willing to go into these places and serve, that there are now organizations like the Worldwide Fistula Fund, and for the pioneering work in this field of people like Katherine Hamlin. But also pray for more - for more hope and more healing, for better care and better education of young girls and women, for their rights to live freely with access to all that we take for granted.

If you would like more information about helping me get back to the ship you can e-mail me at or go to my Crewmates page. I am looking for one time donors and people that will be able to support me on a monthly basis, as I have to pay crew fees every month.

Thanks for keeping up to date with me. I'll post again in a week or two about how fundraising is going and what I'll be doing in Texas for my training in June.