Sunday, September 29, 2013

Can you hear me now?

Yesterday I took some time to get out of the city and enjoy the afternoon. I've always loved getting away from the normal scene at home. For me going on a drive or hike was some time to re-energize and enjoy the the beauty of God's creation. Then it was just part of what I did when I got a chance. Now, after being on the ship for a decent amount of time, I realize that it is one of the ways that God speaks to me. Not verbally, but just being out by myself I could see God and get a small glimpse of all that He is. 
Capturing some good photos allows me to look back and reflect on those moments. Through some training I've learned that your worldview can be compared to a pair of glasses. It's the filter that you use to look at the world. Taking pictures reminds me of this. We can be at a special event or looking at a beautiful person and be in the situation, but when you look at a picture of the event or person things look so different. Some time soon take a few minutes or even an afternoon if you get a chance and try to look at things from a different perspective. Get away, that could be stepping outside the office for a few minutes or finding a place to go on a hike, and see what God has to say to you in that moment.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

What is Joy?

What is joy?

When I want answers I often google things. Interesting how a website can turn into a verb, but that conversation is for another day. I googled joy and you know what came up? The stock price for Joy Global Inc. I had no idea what Joy Global Inc. was, but now I know that they are a worldwide leader in high-productivity mining solutions. Google goes on to give a definition of joy as a feeling of great pleasure. Next I went to Merriam Webster, a very common dictionary in the United States. Merriam says that joy is a feeling of great happiness. That doesn't tell me much more so I went to the original. Often on the ship people say that Americans speak American and people from England speak English. The Oxford English Dictionary is by far the largest dictionary of the English language so that's where I went. Well, the Oxford English Dictionary isn't free so that ends my journey for today.

I hope you weren't expecting much more than that. I just wanted to let you know that I'm starting on a journey to find out more about JOY. What it is, where it comes from, things that the Bible says about it. What reliable authors and other people that I look up to think about Joy. I hope that as I start this journey maybe you can ponder it a little bit yourself. I'm sure that there will be a few posts about my findings. If you would even want to be interactive you could send me an e-mail or Facebook message about what you think about Joy.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

#17 your waffle is ready

One of my highlights every week is Waffle Friday.
The Sales Team makes 70-90 waffles and we sell them to the crew during morning break.

It's great to see how everybody likes their waffle. Each is as unique as the person eating it.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Live to praise His GLORY!

You can see some of the books that I've been going through and will continue to go through for sometime here.

This week I've gotten a bit more into Who Do You Think You Are by Mark Driscoll. We're currently watching the sermon series in my small group and I decided to read the book to dive a little deeper. It's a study on Ephesians and talks about true identity in Christ. In the introduction he says,
"Ephesians is only 2,400 words, but those words from a life-changing, identity-transforming, eternity-altering punch because that are the very words of God. I encourage you to read it over and over as you do this study. Pray before you read asking the same Holy Spirit who inspired Ephesians to help you understand it. Read carefully, stopping to highlight words, phrases, and concepts that capture your attention.

Tonight's study talked about We Are Blessed Ephesians 1.3-14
Here are a few points and what I got from the message as he talked about each point.
The blessing of holiness-we are holy & blameless before Him.
The blessing of predestination-He chose us in love
The blessing of adoption-you have a father named God
The blessing of redemption-we can walk with Him away from our sins
The blessing of forgiveness- Father forgive them for they know now what they do
The blessing of being sealed-we are guaranteed eternal riches in heaven.

During the sermon I was reminded of something that I've been thinking about the past week. I'm afraid that when my commitment with Mercy Ships is over I will walk away and have taken everything for granted. And when Pastor Mark got to the final point I realized why God had brought that to my attention. Here's what he stated.

The Christian Life
It's not the life you live for God.
It's the life of God lived through you.

Ephesians 1.6, 1.12, and 1.14 all talk about Praising God's Glory, blessing the God who blesses us.
To the praise of HIS glory!
To live to praise His GLORY!!!!

All theology is cat theology or dog theology. Let's say two pets have an amazing, kind, generous owner. The cat thinks: "I must be an amazing and valuable cat." The dog thinks: "I have an amazing and valuable master."

Do you see the difference? One theology revolves around the being, the other revolves around the master.

I've been challenged to do more than just to see what God has done for me. The next step is to bless God because of those blessings. When there is joy and laughter flowing out of me because the wonderful things that He is doing to see that and praise Him for who He is rather than what He is doing. I pray that when I step away from this ship, whenever that day comes, that I can look back and see how amazing God is rather than see how much he has done for me.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Where the Rubber Meets the Road

This week the rubber met the road, we started surgeries. I could never explain the wonderful things that happen on Deck 3 of this ship. In the simplest form, lives are changed. My function on this ship to so serve the crew so that they can serve better. As I have said before I feel like a missionary to the missionaries. Today I want to share a little bit about some of those missionaries.

 Krissy, I met her two years ago when I was on the ship in Sierra Leone. She was working in the dinning room. Krissy's first exposure to Mercy Ships was when she was working with the Peace Corps in Benin and heard about all that we were doing in West Africa. Upon joining the Africa Mercy she worked in the dinning room, it must have been the easiest thing in the world for her to do after living in a rural village for two years, but I think it got her hooked. After serving for some time she went home, did some fundraising and attended Gateway, just as I did.She returned during Guinea and served in the HR Department scheduling the many crew that come during a field service. At the end of Guinea she accepted the challenge of being the Hospital Projects Manager. That's no easy task. Check out her blog to see more about what all the Hospital Projects Manager position is like. 

Davi, well I don't know her much yet. She just arrived on the ship in July before the ship left Tenerife. This is Davi's first time on the ship, but has already proved to be a great lady. Her job on the ship is the Hospital Informatics Manager. I've always wondered what all that job entails, and I hope to find out more about her and her job this year while we serve together. You can read her blog about what all it takes to have a successful surgery and a bit about what it means to improve the medical infrastructure of a country. 

Jasmin, or Jazz as I call her, she's an amazing woman from Australia. She first came to the ship In Guinea and planned on serving just six months. Jazz's plan was to return home and do some more schooling and then who knows what. Upon returning home I think God showed her that His plan was different. In one of her blogs she explains why she feels like the ship is the right place for her to be. Jazz is an great ward nurse and is currently taking on the challenge of being on the plastics team and changing the bandages of many of our patients. It's great to see her face light up when she's talking about work. It shows how much she loves the patients and how big her heart is for God. Read her blog to find out more about one of our first patients this week and how she is Serving Christ here in Congo.

This morning a group of us had a wonderful brunch. With a little coordination 15-20 people worked together to make quite the spread. It was a wonderful time and I'm already looking forward to the next brunch.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Saying No with Love

Many things can be said about Screening Day, the thing is I don’t know where to begin. It’s been four days and I’m still processing it.

Let me begin with my job. It started over a month ago when the Operations Director for the ship asked me about being the Logistics Leader for screening. I had already talked to the Communications department about working with them to take pictures all day. Taking pictures is something that I enjoy and since I worked with them last year during the Guinea Screening I thought it would be a great fit again. I was sent an e-mail with the screening manual attached, the e-mail said that the job description for logistics was posted ther, take a look over it and let them know back in a few days. After opening this manual I was reminded what all goes into this “one-day” event, 50+ pages of very detailed information breaking it down between 29 different Team Leaders. Things are very well mapped out from the patient flow all the way to the extent of having an evacuation plan just in case something would go wrong. On page twenty-nine I found the Logistics information.

The four main focus points for me would be:
1.) Stewards – organizing food & water for the 300+ crew and potential patients (number unknown)
                                and passing it out during the event
2.) Housekeeping – organizing cleaning supplies to clean the site before, during and after the event.
3.) Supplies – organizing the rental of chairs, tables, & canopies for the screening site
                                Ensuring electrical supply for teams that need it
                                Trash removal from site
                                Transport of equipment from ship to screening site and back to the ship.

At first glance my automatic response was “NO, absolutely not, there’s no way that I could do all of that.” Then the information was passed on to me that I wouldn't have to DO all of that I just had to coordinate with people on the ship and ensure that it would be ready and then done when needed. After talking to the Operations Director again he explained that he and some other people like the job that I have been doing in the Ship Shop and they thought that I had what it takes to get this job done. It would also be a growing experience because the responsibilities are very large. At that point I accepted the challenge and a few weeks of craziness occurred. Planning, organizing and getting things ready, not only for the screening but for the Ship Shop which I was still in charge of during the same time.

I’ll spare you all the details of planning but her are a few of them:
*  1,200 peanut butter & Jelly sandwiches
*  25 cases of apples (100 apples per case)
*  6,000 bottles of water
*  800 chairs
*  45 tables
*  3 canopies
*  2 generators
*  8 personal trips to the screening site on the day and day before screening, not including many other people taking things back and forth from the ship for me

People started leaving the ship at 5:30 Wednesday and it continued throughout the day. The Team Leaders met the day before and set up their areas so that when we arrived before the sun came up things would go much smoother. Within 45 minutes people started coming through the gate and they kept coming, they didn't stop for 13 hours. Many of my closes friends deserve awards; doing what I believe to be some of the hardest jobs. One didn't sit down once during the entire day, she was the Team Leader for the History station where we get background information on the patients before they see the doctors for their specialty. Several of them were the actual screeners. Some were outside the gate talking with people and finding out what their ailment was and informing them if it was a type of surgery that we do so that they wouldn't have to stand in line if it was something that we aren't able to assist with. Some were inside the gate where we talk with each individual person about what their problem is and decide if they should be processed and continue to see the doctors or if it’s something that we can’t help and then guide them to the prayer station before they leave. It was a blessing to see everybody working together as a HUGE team. Everybody has their assigned job and often the end up doing two or three to assist others when they need to take a break or adjust when the time need be. With my job seeing over so many various things I was able to be all over the screening site and witness people blessing others in so many ways.

6,354 came through the gate
994 diverted to the eye team with 236 scheduled for a secondary screening
1,326 made it through pre-screening into the compound to see doctors

General Surgeries:                   34 scheduled – 442 for follow-up screening
Maxillofacial Surgeries:        107 scheduled – 70 for follow-up screening
Plastic Surgeries:                      84 scheduled – 70 for follow-up screening
Women’s Health & VVF:           33 scheduled – 30 for follow-up screening
Orthopedic Surgeries:                                  184 for follow-up screening

So, we have what my responsibilities were, a little information about what whent on during the day, now for the personal part.

There's something about love that I never understood until I processed everything that happened during screening day. Something switched in my mind, I can't pinpoint it and I can't really explain it much yet. To say that I understand it is would be a lie. It's something that I will continue to work out for a long time.

Here's the beginning of what I've been thinking about. We saw thousands of people standing in line. They wanted with all of their heart for us to be able to help them. They had an ailment or problem that needed to be fixed.We want to help them. We would like for them to see Christ in us. Our actions being what Christ would do to meet their needs. But no matter how much we loved them or how much they wanted to get help God has his own plans. It wasn't meant to be for many of them. There were many that we have been able to schedule a surgery, but there were also many more that we had to say no to. NO MATTER HOW MUCH WE LOVED THEM. God has another plan for them. Two people can love each other and really want something to happen but unless the Lord has set them together it's not meant to be.

Unless the LORD builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain.
Psalm 127.1