Sunday, May 28, 2017

Where We've Been, Where We're Going

I feel like it's time for a little recap of what I've been up to over the last two months. As Doc Brown says in Back To The Future " The intent here is to gain a clear perception of humanity. Where we've been, where we're going. The pitfalls and the possibilities. The perils and the promise. Perhaps even an answer to that universal question, why?" We might not get to the universal question of why today but that was really just for all of you that know me and share my love for Back To The Future.

Okay here we go.......

After the Women's Health program finished up at the beginning of April we started doing more general surgeries. Some people like to call this the lumps and bumps program. Patients have mostly benign soft tissue masses removed from their backs, arms, legs, and head. The recovery time is usually very short and most patients are discharged within a few days. In addition, the general surgeons have been doing a ton of hernia repairs. At first I didn't really think of this type of surgery as life-saving or life changing but as I have learned most of these hernias are very large, uncomfortable and sometimes even involve the intestines. If untreated this could cause other serious problems for the patient.These general surgeries don't get as much fan fair or publicity as some of the other surgery specialties but in the end each patient was able to go back to work or school safely and comfortably without any lumps, bumps or hernias so that makes it all worth it.

Final dress ceremony in Benin!

One of our general surgical patients.

We also had some overflow of maxillofacial patients. This included some babies that had their cleft lip/palate repaired. 

As I have mentioned before the Africa Mercy will be leaving Benin pretty soon. Every field service around this time we start doing fewer surgeries and prepare patients for their final discharges. We have parties of all sorts of kinds as well. Farewell parties for long-term crew members, friends, nurses and daycrew. It is filled with a lot of "last moments", excitement for rest is in sight for some crew members, preparation for sailing and lots of goodbyes or see you later's. In order to prepare the hospital for sailing all of the equipment and supplies need to be packed away and every inch of the hospital is cleaned by yours truly the nurses and other volunteers. For those family members who know what it's like opening and closing our summer home every year it is basically like that but on steroids haha! After the ship is prepared and ready it will sail to another location for a maintenance period in preparation for the next country of service which is Cameroon.

Which leads us into the where we're going part or more like where am I going next part. When I first arrived back on the ship rumor had it that Cameroon has a very high rate of obstetric fistulas and that Mercy Ships would be potentially doing fistula surgery the entire 10 months they were in Cameroon. That immediately peaked my interest and I thought I would possibly come back in January 2018 similar to the amount of time I had spent in Benin. I kept it in the back of mind and started praying about it. As the months passed and more preparation for Cameroon started I was asked to be the team leader for the women's health program on the ship. This basically entails overseeing the nurses and daycrew, daily rounds with the surgeons, and the general flow of the program. I am completely humbled to work again with these ladies and have this opportunity to learn more and gain new leadership skills. I know that this will be challenging in more ways than one but I'm really looking forward to seeing how God stretches and grows me through another season with Mercy Ships. Before leaving for Madagascar part of me thought that Mercy Ships would be something that I would just do once and then check it off the list. I see now that God has a much bigger plan for my life then just a check-list. I have given much but I have received, grown and learned more than I ever expected during my time so far with Mercy Ships. I will also get to sail to Cameroon in order to prepare for the field service. I sometimes forget that this ship can actually sail and move so I'll really get to test my sea legs :)

Next stop Douala,Cameroon! 

As of now I am committed to serve from August -December 30th. I realize that my time home will be short but I have complete peace that this is where I'm supposed to be. It doesn't mean I don't have fears, worries, questions or uncertainties. It just means I'm choosing to say yes. I'm choosing to keep my eyes fixed on Him, one step at a time, trusting that He will go before me, letting go of my ways and choosing to open my hands and receive all that He has planned for me. After leaving Benin and before coming home I will do some travels but when I do get home I really look forward to talking with you all in person and catching up. I'm not sure I can thank you enough for your financial, and emotional support but mostly your prayers. I could not do this without all of you and I am thankful for each one of you.

Nurses and daycrew that I have worked alongside with this year. What an honor it has been!

Although I am currently serving with Mercy Ships, everything communicated here strictly reflects my personal opinions and is neither reviewed nor endorsed by Mercy Ships. Opinions, conclusions and other information expressed here do not necessarily reflect the views of Mercy Ships