Friday, November 6, 2015

Each tear



I saw you standing there with tears rolling down your cheek,


because the love of a friendship that started on ship.

A ship that gathers people from around the globe,


God brings us together to make the world a better place.

It seems like there's more change in us than the change we cause,


our energies and talents are amplified when we work together.

But then you drove out of sight;


it was so hard after seeing you everyday and now not knowing when the next would be.

Now I'm thankful for the pictures and the memories,


laughing, singing, relaxing and serving together.

Then I was gently reminded,



each tear is actually love.





Sunday, September 20, 2015

Cageless Birds

Spoken Word from song by Jonathan David & Melissa Helser



Standing on the shore of decision looking into the face of adventure

Desire to abandon all I know

What pushes me is rooted somewhere between misunderstanding and knowing

Knowing that what I want is not within my reach

So I ponder my escape not knowing what lies ahead

Adventure in theory is full of excitement and bleeds with passion for life.

But adventure in reality is full of breathless moments, silent nights and wounds that leave scars and memory on a heart

Can I go the distance

Can I give all my mind to get what the messenger is saying

Can I surrender my knowing

Will I survive the humility of ignorance to attain the treasure that earthly gold cannot buy

Will I ask the question of honesty even if the answer convicts my soul and sends me to the land of repentance



All of these thoughts flood my mind
All of these thoughts flood my mind


As I stand on the shore of choosing

And in the distance of my wandering I see with clear eyes a flock of wild beautiful birds

Swooping clearly in my direction as if they see me and are coming for me

How strange it is that their eyes are full of clarity and the melody of their flapping wings sings out



We are coming for you
We are coming for you






Monday, June 22, 2015

Who's the pilot of your life?

One day I was sitting in the taxi waiting on traffic as I rode to the government offices in Antananarivo. The book I was reading, Life on the Mississippi by Mark Twain, started talking about the steam boat pilots. The more I read it the more I was reminded of a sheet I had worked on.  Just the day before I read a chapter in The Utter Relief of Holiness and John Eldredge shared some verses about a good way to start the day in Christ. 


I saved sharing it with you till now, because just last week the ship sailed from Madagascar to South Africa. When the Pilot steps onto the bridge the Captain takes a step back and lets him work. The Pilot directs it to the safest rout and controls the vessel. The Africa is deep in maintenance period now till the end of July. As you read through the following passage from Mark Twain think about who your pilot is. And as the ship is in maintenance period and many of the crew including myself are away think about how much maintenance we need to do on our relationships with, family, friends, our savior and ourselves.


A pilot in those days, was the only unfettered and entirely independent human being that lived in the heart. Kings are but the hampered servants of parliament and people; parliaments sin in chains forged by their constituency; the editor of a newspaper cannot be independent, but must work with one hand tied behind him by party and patrons, and be content to utter only half to two thirds of his mind; no clergyman is a free man and may speak the whole truth, regardless of his parish’s opinions; writers of all kinds are manacled servants of the public. We write frankly and fearlessly, but then we “modify” before we print. In truth, every man and woman and child has a master, and worries and frets in servitude; but in the day I write off, the Mississippi pilot had none. The captain could stand upon the hurricane deck, in the pomp of a very brief authority, and five him five or six orders while the vessel backed into the stream, and then skipper’s reign was over. The moment that the boat was under way in the river, she was under the sole unquestioned control of the pilot. He could do with her exactly as he pleases, run her when and whiter he chose, and tie her up to the bank whenever his judgement said that the course was best. His movements were entirely free; he consulted no one, he received commands from nobody, he promptly resented even the merest suggestions. Indeed, the law of the United States forbad him to listen to commands or suggestions, rightly considering that the pilot necessarily knew better how to handle the boat that anybody could tell him. So here was the novelty of a king without a keeper, an absolute monarch who was absolute in sober truth and not by a fiction of words.

Now look over the verses that John shared. If it's too small right click and open it in a new page.


Who's your pilot. Do you let the Lord direct you without question? When I look back it seems that the times my life seemed shook up were resulted when I tried to make my own decisions. I would encourage you to read through the verses again. It's hard to imagine a bad day after starting it off reading what God did for us in Jesus



Thursday, May 28, 2015

Without a name

Madagascar 

November 2014 - May 2015

303 Cataract and other eye surgeries
261 Maxillofacial surgeries
104 Cleft lip/palate repair surgeries
110 Reconstructive plastic surgeries
193 Hernia repair surgeries
55 Goiter surgeries
51 Lipoma surgeries
19 Women's Health
82 Obstetric Fistula Surgeries
55 Orthopedic Surgeries

That's over 1,100 patients

Without a name a statistic is just a number. 

....why not talk more of the work God is doing in us rather than talk more of the good work we are doing for God ...

So without further ado, here you can read about the work that God has been doing in these patients lives. I can't claim any of these stories. It has all been gathered from my friend Heather Morehouse. She's a ward nurse and has been able to work with many of these patients. You can find the original blog here.

Banay had a bilateral cleft lip and palate..

She has lived the majority of her teen years avoiding people. Now with her new lip she says she finally feels beautiful enough to go out into the world. “I was ashamed,” she says. Her first plan now that she’s left the hospital is to take swimming lessons. She’s always been afraid of the water due to her deformity and now she plans to conquer that fear!


Jocelyn had a tumor near his eye that caused his eye to protrude from his face..

With the tumor removed, Jocelyn can now return to a normal life.


Sambany had a tumor growing on his face for 19 years. He is now a free man..

It took a 12 hour surgery to remove the 16.5lb tumor from his face. Sambany is one of the bravest men I know.. He heard about Mercy Ships and then walked for 2 days and traveled for a total of 4 with his grandson to get to the ship. His surgery was very risky and there was a point where the surgeons did not think that they could operate. They gave him the choice and Sambany chose to go through with the surgery saying, “I know without surgery I will die. I know I might die in surgery, but I already feel dead inside from the way I’m treated. I choose to have surgery.” This man, who endured years and years of reject headed home last week. Our media team is making the long journey home with him and we are all excited to see how his village will respond to Sambany’s changed life!
Here’s a link to the video that tells Sambany’s story.

Zakael had a large cyst on his neck that everyone could see..

Now he can show his infectious smile off without worrying about curious looks from other people.


Romino had bowed legs...

After orthopedic surgery earlier this year his legs are now straight!

Minette  had a 9 lb tumor hanging from her back..

She would do her best to hide her tumor by wearing oversized T-shirts.. Now she’s 9lbs lighter and has changed up her wardrobe!


Salastine and Zafiline wore scarves over their faces to hide their tumors…



Now you can see the hope they carry in the eyes of their beautiful faces.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Why Mercy Ships, why the Africa Mercy?

Ruben, Jona, Hannah, Elizabeth & Mirjam spelling out my name on the dock. 17 May 2014
Yesterday was my anniversary. The one year anniversary of disembarking the Africa Mercy. The interesting thing is that since that day I've been back onboard for a few days. Yup, I never thought that would happen. In this post I talked about it leaving a whole in my heart, but what really happened was I tried to get away from a calling on my life. The place I'm supposed to be. Through a period of doubting myself and wondering if I could make appropriate decisions I decided to go back to Mercy Ships. Looking back I can see that it was a time for me to realize who I was. Not just continuing on and in a routine because it is easy. Looking back I don't think I would pick another route. Going home, working in New Mexico, meeting great people. living with my parents for two months, being there when my niece was born and Christmas at home. I was able to do all of that while the ship was very uncertain of it's future. Ebola hit just over a year ago and the plans were changed, and changed, and changed again.

The question I'm brought to today is why Mercy Ships, why the Africa Mercy? I've tried to explain it before, words don't really do it justice. Even after almost three years it's a place that can't really be explained. The only way you can really understand is to come for a visit. But, today I'll try to give a you a glimpse.

The first time I heard about Mercy Ships in 2011 I watched a patient story, I'm pretty sure the guy was from Liberia. I can't find it to show you, but here's a video about Vernel from Congo.


Now imagine that everyday. I can work for a long time and it doesn't hit me emotionally what we do, but as soon as I see a video it sinks in. It's not that I don't know what's going on, because I do. I get updates 2-3 times a day. Every meal time chances are there's a nurse sitting at my table and when asking how things are going I hear about the patient in bed 9 on D ward or the lady that was just rushed into the O.R. because she started bleeding for an unknown reason. I see friends walking around with signs that they gave blood because we all know that there's a guy getting a large tumor removed tomorrow and he'll need a lot of B+ blood. 

Lives are being changed one after another, day after day. The community of believers showing the love of Christ through medical services and healthcare education. The impact will never be able to be measured.

It's not just medical either. The friend that was going to go out tonight, he can't because the freezers on deck 2 are malfunctioning and he needs to be on standby in case they stop again. Without the freezers we won't have meat to eat for the next two months. The overhead announcement that just went off at 2 A.M. for line handlers, that was because it's cyclone season. The seas are rough tonight and one of the mooring lines just snapped. Mooring lines are what keep us secured to the dock. Without them we would be drifting out to ocean or banging against the dock. The Super Bowl party I got to go to, yeah it started at 11:30 P. M. and yes, the Food Services Manager got up in the middle of the night so that we could have some good food for it. Mozzarella sticks, chicken fingers, yes even jalapeno poppers. Because he understand how much it raises the spirit of the crew when they can gather together in the middle of the night to watch something that is so familiar to being at home. 

It's the people gathered from around the world, using their talents and gifts in unison for the goal of showing the love of Jesus through tangible ways.

Friday, May 1, 2015

To get you thinking.

Two weeks ago I went to the ship for some time off. It's interesting to think about because most people leave the ship when they get time off, but I went to where my heart is. During my time in Tana we work 6 or 7 days straight so being on the ship was some time to not have to worry about flights and government documents.

One joys of getting back to the ship is the library onboard. After a few days I walked in and picked out some things to go through. One I picked up is The Utter Relief of Holiness. It's by John Eldredge the author of Wild at Heart that is pretty popular. I have read several of his books but hadn't heard about this one, it just came out two years ago.




I started reading it, not because it's about holiness, but because John always has a way with words that I am able to take a lot from what he's sharing. The thing is, holiness is something that we all long for. Even if you don't know it. I'm not that far into the book yet, but it give a different perspective of holiness. Often we think about holiness with Saints, Monks living in a Monestary, or the old lady down the street that has been to church 5 times a week for the last 65 years.

Today I want to share with you an excerpt of the book that got me thinking.

Weather you are aware of it or not, you crave goodness. In the depths of your being, you ache for goodness, we all do. Our souls long for a sense of wholeness, and goodness is essential for wholeness. We are made for goodness like we are made to breath, like we are made to love. Goodness is the strength of our condition. Friends, you are going to need a deep and profound goodness for all that is coming for you like a freight train. And there is a way to be good again. It comes to us from such a surprising direction-as almost all of the answers to our deepest needs do-that we'd best begin with a question: What is Christianity supposed to do to a person?



I don't have much else to add to what John has shared, but I do have a bit of an article from Relevant Magazine.

The title is "We're called to make disciples not converts."


1.) Converts are believers who live like the world. Disciples are believers who live like Jesus.
2.) Converts are focused on their values, interests, worries, fears, and lifestyles. Disciples are focused on Jesus.
3.) Converts go to church. Disciples are the church.
4.) Converts are involved in the mission of Jesus. Disciples are commuted to it.
5.) Converts cheer from the sidelines. Disciples are in the game.
6.) Converts hear the word of God. Disciples live it.
7.)Converts follow the rules. Disciples follow Jesus.
8.) Converts are all about believing. Disciples are all about being.
9.) Converts are comfortable. Disciples make sacrifices.
10.) Converts talk. Disciples make more disciples.



What are you doing with your Christianity today?



Sunday, April 19, 2015

Music on my mind

I get a lot out of books and music. Today I want to share three songs that I seem to be returning to. I would suggest reading through the lyrics first or while listening to the songs. 

Zion | Jonathon Helser | Live at Home

We have come to Mt Zion
City of the Living God
Heavenly Jerusalem
By his blood we have come

We have come to Mt Zion
City of Living God
Heavenly Jerusalem
By his blood we have come
By his blood we have come

Thousand angel dance around his throne
Thousands more sing out new song
And Elders thrown their crowns down
As all of heaven sing out

Worthy is the one
Lamb who has overcome
Resurrected Love
 has raised us up again.
Worthy is the one
The Lamb who has overcome
he has concurred death
and I will follow him
He has concurred death
I will follow him
he has concurred death
I will follow him


Fill This Place | Red Rocks Worship | The Roodtop EP

There is a light that burns in the darkness
There is a hope that washes the fear away
There is a peace that settles around us
It is your love that sets our hearts ablaze

There is a light that burns in the darkness
There is a hope that washes the fear away
There is a peace that settles around us
It is your love that sets our hearts ablaze

Father we're on our knees
With every heartbeat we bring you this offering
Lord come and fill this place
Father we're crying out
Spirit we need you now
Glorious love surround us
Lord come and fill this place

There is a king who reigns in victory
There is a mercy strong enough to save
Feel it rising up from the ashes
There is a love that overcame the grave
There is a love that overcame the grave

Father we're on our knees
With every heartbeat we bring you this offering
Lord come and fill this place
Father we're crying out
Spirit we need you now
Glorious love surround us
Lord come and fill this place
Lord come and fill this place

I'll worship you
I'll worship you
I will worship you always
and I'll worship you
I'll worship you
I will worship you always God
and I'll worship you
I'll worship you
I will worship you always
and I'll worship you
I'll worship you
I will worship you always
and I'll worship you
I'll worship you
I will worship you always
and I'll worship you
I'll worship you
I will worship you always

Father we're on our knees
With every heartbeat we bring you this offering
Lord come and fill this place
Father we're crying out
Spirit we need you now
Glorious love surround us
Lord come and fill this place

I'll worship you
I'll worship you
I will worship you always
and I'll worship you
I'll worship you
I will worship you always God
and I'll worship you
I'll worship you
I will worship you always
and I'll worship you
I'll worship you
I will worship you always


It is well | Kristene DiMarco | You Make Me  Brave

Grander Earth has quaked before
Moved by the sound of his voice
Seas that are shaken and stirred
Can be calmed and broken for my regard

Through it all, through it all
My eyes are on you
Through it all, through it all
It is well
Through it all, through it all
My eyes are on you and it is well with me

Far be it for me to not believe
Even when my eyes can't see
And this mountain that's in front of me
Will be thrown into the midst of the sea.

Through it all, through it all
My eyes are on you
Through it all, through it all it is well
Through it all, through it all
My eyes are on you and it is well

So let go my soul and trust in him
The waves and wind still know his name
So let go my soul and trust in him
The waves and wind still know his name
So let go my soul and trust in him
The waves and wind still know his name
The waves and wind still know his name

It is well
with my soul
It is well
with my soul
It is well
with my soul
It is well, It is well with my soul
It is well
With my soul
It is well
With my soul
It is well with my soul
It is well, it is well with my soul
It is well, it is well with my soul
It is well, it is well with my soul

Through it all, through it all my eyes are on you Lord
Through it all, through it all it is well
Through it all, through it all my eyes are on you Lord
And it is well with me


Tuesday, March 31, 2015

The be attitudes

 ~ the way that we should be according to a sermon given by Jesus.


I started reading through the Gospels, the first four books of the New Testament, and today I got to Mark 5. Well, let me restate that. I've been reading through the Gospels chronologically. It mixes all four books according to the time in witch they actually happened. You can find a reading plan here if you'd like to try it yourself sometime. I've done the Old Testament and the New Testament at different times, when I came to Madagascar in February I decided to focus on Jesus's Ministry because I don't know any better person to study. I haven't done it as regularly as I should, but I'm getting through it.


Each day I write down a few notes of what Jesus did, what he'd been through, or what he said. Sometimes you can read through a chapter and it's rather uneventful or sometimes you will read two or three versions of the same story. It 's repetitive but it solidifies the story in your mind. Through the years I've heard the stories of Jesus but I don't always know where they are found, so when it said Matthew 5,6 & 7 I didn't think twice. After opening my Bible and seeing that Matthew 5 is the sermon on the mount and starting with the Beatitudes I realized that there would be a bit more work today. I read the whole section, but decided to break down the first ten verses, the Beatitudes.


I'm by far no Biblical scholar. I read the text, wrote it down (ESV) and broke it down according to Strong's Concordance. You can find a lot of resources at Blue Letter Bible. Some of the words I continued to break down by looking up their definitions on various websites. Please don't take this as my version of the Bible. It's just for me to better understand what has been said. I'm only sharing it because I know from experience that hearing verses that we've all heard before can easily go in one ear and out the other. Seeing and reading them in a different way can easily bring a different light onto their meaning.

So without further ado.


The Beatitudes

Happy is one with a helpless and needy soul for they will own a seat in eternal and complete perfection, where God and other heavenly beings dwell.

Happy is one who mourns for they will be consoled, encouraged and strengthened.

Happy is one who accepts his dealing with God as good and therefore doesn't rely on his own strength to defend against injustice for they will receive the earth.

Happy is one who wants and longs to be acceptable to God for they shall be satisfied.

Happy is the compassionate for they will obtain aid when distressed.

Happy is the one whose thoughts, passions, desires, appetite, affections, purpose, and endeavors are clean for they will behold the triune God.

Happy are those who love peace for the will be given the name of descendant of God.

Happy is the harassed due to seeking to be as he ought to be for they will own a seat in eternal and complete perfection, where God and other heavenly beings dwell.


Blessed, blessing

After doing my own little breakdown I looked up the word Beatitudes. I was surprised to see it described as "Eight Blessings" When I looked up blessed in Strong's Concordance it gave me the Greek word  μακάριος or makarios which means happy. It was comforting to see it translated as that way. The common use of "i'm blessed, is such a blessing, or to bless" has puzzled me the last few years. If you have any insight on this topic please let me know.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Don't tell God what you want.

Seven week's I've been working on the Remote Capital Team. It's everything that they told me. Busy when the crew arrive, busy when the crew leave. Waiting for paperwork in the government offices. A lot of down time in between the rest. The last sentence could be one of the biggest understatements of the year. 

I've found myself with a lot of time to fill. In some of that time I've read a few books. (over 2,200 pages) I thought over a few things that I wanted God to answer wrote them down on a piece of paper. It was kinda like a checklist to go through. After looking at it a few days later I realized it was a list of things that I wanted. A bunch of things that I wanted and He wasn't answering most of them.
I was reminded of this video a few weeks ago. Found it online. Opened up a new page to post in, and added the video link to it. The thing is it just sat there unfinished for almost two weeks now. Two weeks filled with wrestling with what God wants me to do. There have been many "rounds" in the fight. Because, you see, I'm really stubborn. 

The day that I left St. Louis could possibly be one of the biggest spiritual battles of my life. It started the most recent campaign of battling God's plan. I woke up 10 minutes before I was supposed to leave. That's completely against my nature. As I rushed around my room the voices were everything but audible. Why are you going? Why don't you stay here? Just miss your flight. You're leaving people that love you. We left about 20 minutes late at least. I don't even remember much about the ride up, but I know the dialogue continued. When checking into my flight and was charged an additional $100 for a bag. As I sat with my mom before going through security we watched a lady struggle with her bag, it was very symbolic of how I was struggling with myself. When I went through security I fought back tears. Even as I walked down the terminal to find my gate the dialogue continued. Traveling long distance getting to the initial flight is the hardest, after that it's all according to the airlines. When I finally sat in my seat; luggage stowed away and seat-belt buckled I asked God, "Please don't ever make me leave again."

Wow, those words came out of my mouth. I wouldn't have expected that. For thirteen years I had been leaving to go on summer missions, school, camp ministry, Africa, New Mexico. I was always excited to go and now I was done. I wanted nothing more than to have some consistency in my life. It was so foreign to me that right after I said it I thought, "O, I must have meant something else by that, I'll think of an excuse for it at some point. 

So yeah, with all my "down time" there has been a lot of battling. God wants to chisel me into His image, I want to tell him what I want.

Here's the video. I urge you to stop whatever seven things you're doing right now and watch this video. If you're too busy make sure to come back later when you have the time to focus. You'll see some of the lines I pulled out of the dialogue. If it was a book these would be the highlighted part. 
This font shows me. Really, I have asked these questions. Made these statements.
This font show's God's response. It's full of truth and love.



I want to be everything God created me to be.

He takes out everything in your life that doesn't belong there.

We want to talk, not to chisel.

Through the Holy Spirit things are brought up that need to be worked on.
Anger. Comparison. People pleasing. Laziness. Busyness. LUST. 

When looking in the mirror who is seen? We need to see the Son.

Do we want God to be Lord over our whole life?

You've done some great work, how about a break, stay right here for a while? 

Control? Chisel? control, chisel, control, chisel ???

Chisel where I want?

CONTROL

Secret Sin. 

It's a process, not a sprint, a marathon. It's our whole life

We care too much what others think about you. Rubbish, Garbage.

You're asking me to sacrifice a lot God!

He gives us freedom

Let Him produce character where we keep focusing on our image.

I can't be good.

He made us to be good

You wouldn't understand.

God of the whole universe wouldn't understand something his children have to say??

I let you down God.

No, He holds us up.

I hate who I see, a little kid. I try to do what I'm supposed to do but I can't. I Can't be what everyone else expects me to be. I can't even be who I want to be, much less who you created me to be
Inside is a scared stupid little kid.

We have listened to voices, far to long not from God. We bought into the lie. We think we're junk.

God doesn't take time to make junk.

He loves us too much to leave us where we are.
Work it out in every detail of your life.
A father disciplines the ones he loves.

See ourselves the way God created us.


_____________ is God's original MASTERPIECE



Now listen to this on repeat about 30 times and it will all start to set in.





Tuesday, February 24, 2015

To the bus riders.


Hey bus rider!

Get excited! Today one of your dreams will come true. This very day you will be on the Africa Mercy. A moment that you have thought about over and over. After you walk up the gangway into reception and from then on your life will not be the same. Your life will contain another landmark; pre/post Mercy Ships.


Journeys take time. This one will take a minimum of 8 hours. With this time today remember how you got here. The first time you heard about Mercy Ships and the Africa Mercy. Whatever you have left behind it has prepared you for what you are getting ready to experience.


You have been brought here fore this specific time of your life. Every person serving has been brought together because of their specific talents, abilities, personalities, faith and experiences. This conglomeration forms a community that you will see is one in a million.


I must warn you about a few things. You will be asked four questions; what's your name, where are you from, where are you working and how long are you staying? Watch out, because before long you'll start asking the same questions.
Dutch Blitz, it's a game and it's played often.
A toastie is a hot sandwich that is toasted in a press.
The two minute showers, you can do it...
The laundry room, don't freak out, just ask somebody they will be happy to help.


Experience as much as you can handle. Not one bit more. We all have limits and only you know yours. Mercy Ministries happen weekly, HOPE center visiting times happen daily, friendship moments happen hourly. Being away from home can be hard enough so don't overextend yourself by trying to do more than possible.


All crewmembers have been where you are. At some point in time they were the newest person around. That could have been last week or 26 years ago. You're not alone. If there's a question just ask somebody around you. Next time the bus pulls up it will be filled with more new people. The newest additions to your ship family. When they're walking around looking like they're lost it's because they are.


When you see somebody having a hard time or simply a bad day, encourage them. We all need encouragement at some time. You can be the person to make their day brighter. It doesn't matter if its a patient, room mate or co-worker. When you're having a great day, share the excitement! Dance if you want to. Joy is something to be shared with everybody!


Last but not least. You're awesome!

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Reading & Remembering

Today the power went out.

I had taken my boss to meet the bus at the gas station, she was going to the ship for a week, and came back to the house. With no airport arrivals the rest of my day was empty. I wasn't quite sure what to do.

It's the first time I had been in the house with nobody around and nothing to do. Last week I was busy learning the ropes of working on what we call the "Tana Team". Tana is short for Antananarivo which is the capital of Madagascar. Madagascar is Madagascar, it's not the Africa that many of us with Mercy Ships has come to know. Dropping people off at the airport at midnight and getting up at 5 or 6:30 leaves for long days and short night. Last week 3 short days were spent on the ship and I was able to meet with my wonderful friends there. It was great to see them all and be back in the place I've called home. I paid my bills yesterday, the bank account is empty now. Waiting for the donations to come in for next month. The ship is going to South Africa in June for maintenance and my job in Tana will be finished. What will I do? There are some positions on the ship that I'm interested in. My Mercy Ship e-mail is acting up, I wish things would work themselves out so I can contact a few people.


My brain never shuts down. All these things and many more have been going in and out of thought during the time I've had between arrivals, departures and going to the city center to get paperwork processed through customs and immigration. Each day as I sit in front of my computer scrolling through Facebook and checking e-mail my anxiety level rises. Trying to figure things out and plan for an unknown future. It happened again for 3 hours until the power went out.

After cooking some food I finally sat down to read. I knew there would be a lot of down time so there's a stack of 5 books to be gone through. My reading style is not your average. I make my way through the pile reading a chapter or two of each because I've found if I rush through a book it doesn't sink in. I thought I'd share with you a little bit of what I gleamed as went through today.

7 : an experimental mutiny against excess
Jen Hatmaker is going through a 7 month process of fighting against greed, materialism and overindulgence by attacking a different section of life for 30 days. Food, Clothes, Spending, Media, Possessions, Waste & Stress

  • She's talking about possessions and makes this comment
  • "I have no idea what this means, but my hands are opening. I know my next phase of life is not going to look the same. I'm scared. Hmm When I first typed that, I accidentally spelled sacred. Perhaps those have always been the flip sides of a coin. Like my friend says "Obedience isn't a lack of fear. It's just doing it scared." "
  • Exactly!!! I'm scared. I don't know what God's up to. I have to take each day one at a time.
Donald Miller is telling a story about knocking down the old walls to create a healthy mind, a strong family and a satisfying career. And it all feels like a conversation. 
  • Talking about 3 things that he's learned about relationships from swimming in a pond
  • "To be intimate I'd have to jump" "Then it occurred to me what it was. I wasn't afraid to jump in or swim or to feel the sudden coolness of the water. I was afraid of change. On the dock I was warm and dry and in control. I knew once I jumped I'd be fine. I'd enjoy swimming around. But it was still a change" After jumping: "I felt better in the water than I had on the dock. I thought about that, then, about how much I fear change, even change for the better. I thought about how many lies there are in fear. So much deception. What else keeps us from living a better story than fear?"
  • I'm seeing a trend here. I'm scared of the unknown.
John MacArthur provides a collection of scripture readings and prayers.
  • Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit. Ephesians 3:17-18
  • "Nevertheless, we come with a deep sense of spiritual poverty, marveling that we can be so loved and lavished with such grace when we are so often forgetful of your goodness and so prone to self-indulgence.  Lord, we thank you for that endless forgiveness that comes to us, and we praise You for having prepared for us a glorious eternity.
I need to share a patient story with you before I go any further.
After three days of walking and another four hour journey in the car Sambany showed up on the doorstep of the H.O.P.E. Center carrying one of the largest tumors we have ever seen. 


Knowing the risks, the medical team and Sabany reached a decision, they would go ahead with surgery. The night before he went into the OR Sabany said, "I know without surgery I will die. I know I might die in surgery, but I already feel dead inside from the way I'm treated. I choose to have surgery."
After 12 hours of surgery the 16.45 lb tumor he carried for nearly a third of his life was finally removed. When he awoke after his surgery he said, "... I am very happy, because I am saved. God helped me to become like this. God saved me."

WOW!

Sabany was living life everyday in fear of when he would die and I'm worried about my future? His surgery was while I was on the ship last week. All day people were praying for him. At dinner people were asking if there was any update. Many people were going to bed and the O.R. was still busy in surgery. When I was finally making it down to my room after midnight I stopped by D ward. One of my friends was working and I wanted to hear what the status was on Sabany. Lucky me I got to look in and see him there. Just over an hour after surgery I could see his chest breathing. Incredible. Over ten people donated blood to keep him alive during the long surgery.

I need to remember people like Sabany. I need remember where the Lord is there is freedom. I need to remember that there is no fear in love. I need to remember obedience isn't a lack of fear. 

Obedience is love, where the Spirit of the Lord  there is Freedom.  

Finally I sat down and made a list. A tangible list of things that I will pray for everyday. My days can't be wasted worrying about these things. I'm praying that the freedom in these decision will be given from the Lord. One day at a time I will present them to Him. One of my tangible things is finances. If you would like to help check out my Support Page.

(oh yeah. After dinner we realized that the neighbors had power. So we went over to the electric meter and at the push of a button the lights came on. The power outage was only at our house. That's okay, His ways are not our ways)

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Silence?

It’s 6:30 PM Missouri time January 30th. I've been traveling for about 30 hours. The plane has just passed Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia. Three countries that have been devastated by the Ebola Epidemic. As my flight continues to head south and cross the Equator we get closer to S. Africa and my final destination of Madagascar. The ship has retreated there after focusing in West Africa for several years. 

I have been silent on my blog over the last month, refusing to talk about the main thing that I continue to think about. The subject, why I am on a flight returning to work with Mercy Ships? Very few people have come out and asked me. It makes me wonder if people knew all along that I would be returning so fast or if they were being respectful of my silence. To be honest the why has been hard to pinpoint. Many many things have been rolling through my mind the last several months as I considered returning.


I made a decision. Almost one year ago I made a decision to leave the ship. It would be three months before I physically left the ship, but the decision was made in late February. There were two choices to pick from. To simplify it; stay on the ship or go home. There’s much more that went into the decision though and I will try to show you part of the battle that was going on in my head.

1.) Stay; stay on the ship, my home of two and a half years. The place that I met numerous people that had become my friends and more specifically my ship family. People from the Netherlands, Liberia, Tennessee, Australia, Oregon, Georgia, the U.K., Sierra Leone, California. To say that and just read it as words is simple, but it’s much more complex than that. They might not be my blood family. A mother that birthed me, a father that raised me, a brother that I argued with, or grandparents that I loved visiting. Instead they were the ones I went to when I was having a bad day, those that I looked up to and wished to become more like. A counselor that encouraged me to become the man that God designed me to become. People that taught me so much about loving other people that it will never be able to be put into words. A group of people that I celebrated a new year with by renting out a house and swimming in the ocean even though it was 11:30 PM and pitch black. 

But with this community also came uncertainty. I hate uncertainty. I’m a planner, an organizer a man that likes to control his future. In December 2013 I made a decision that if I did stay on the ship I would move into a different position. I loved working in the Ship Shop.  I didn’t know what the new position would be, but I knew that God was leading me to be stretched into something else after serving as Retail Manager for a year and half.

2.) Go home; a home that I’ve left and returned to over 5 times. The family that raised me, the church that taught me about God and who He is, the friends that I had so much fun with growing up, the town that I know like the back of my hand. More than just home though. America, a place that I could go and get a job, make money, and support myself. I had already spent two and a half years relying on God for finances by supporters, it was time that I went out and made it out on my own. That lesson had been learned now I was ready for the next lesson, independence.

I can see the decision I made now. I chose to leave community and purpose for independence and money. It was time for me to go out and make a name for myself. Start a career that had been stalled, get the 401k to where it was supposed to be and get those roots established to start a family somewhere, who knows where. 

I left Mercy Ships and the day I got in a Land Rover and went to the airport to leave a hole the shape of the Africa Mercy was left in my heart. It hurt, I cried as I said goodbye to all of my friends. That place that I learned about relying on God, loving others and being obedient to what He asks of me.
Things went on with my life. 


The job I found in New Mexico worked out. All my belongings were packed into my car and I went to set those roots, be independent and make a name for myself. The summer was good, there were 1,500+ people on campus everyday and we were busy all day and all night. Everything was good. Then the summer was over. The 1,500 turned into 150 on the weekends and life calmed down. There was a lot of time. I was out in the mountains and I had time to think. Too much time to think. The quieter it got on campus the more God began to ask me if I was being obedient to His plan. I hadn’t. I started reading the book Surprised by Grace: God's Relentless Pursuit of Rebels about Jonah, his decisions and God’s grace in our lives. It was over I couldn’t do it anymore. I had to return to His call on my life. Return to Mercy Ships and see what He had in store for me. I would have been on a plane the next day, but it wasn’t that easy. I was over, my plans had to become His plans. His plans had to become me waiting on him to open the door. My control had to be placed in to his hands and become trust. I started to see that there’s a difference between faith and trust.


Never in my life have I had to trust God more than I am now. I feel this statement everyday as my mind battles for a plan. I don't know. I don't know how long I'm supposed to be serving with Mercy Ships again. I don't know when any income is going to come in next. I have no clue where I'll be in a year or 5 or 10. I don't know.

I just know I can't do this on my own. I ask that you continue to pray for me. That daily I would seek the Lord and what He has planned for me.