Thursday, May 28, 2015

Without a name


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?