Welcome to my Mercy Ship Adventure.
Please feel free to read about my journey and post a comment!

If you have your own web page you can post my Wave of Mercy Sprout on your page too! Just click the share button in the bottom right corner of my sprout. Thanks so much.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Off the Ship

Today was my first day off of work and I made it off of the ship (sorry Bob and Dad!) My first trip out of the UN guarded and gated area was to the tailor. Apparently it is a favorite thing to do around here - to buy $2 material in fun African prints and then take the fabric to the tailor to have dresses, skirts, and bags made for you. Two other girls were going to pick up some stuff so I went along for the adventure of it - my first taste of town.

First impression, the main town is loud and full of dirt/mud. The side streets are reddish brown dirt and it rains here often, so things are slightly muddy. I hadn't been out to the main streets yet, so I wasn't prepared for how loud it was also. Lots of taxis speeding by beeping their horns at other cars, motorbikes, pedestrians, wandering dogs. We made it across the street and down another street to a little shack known as the tailor. Once you turn the corner and look inside you see about 15 VERY old fashioned sewing machines with young African men and women operating them. I am talking antique sewing machines, the kind where you use both your feet to get the machine to work. No electricity in Monrovia. Also, the workers were using real iron irons with coals in the bottom to heat them up. The tailor made some beautiful and very ornate dresses and skirts for my friends. I was amazed at what they were producing- fancy dresses, suitcoats, shirts. For about $20 my friend got 2 outfits made. I wish I could've taken a picture of the whole scene. However, it is not encouraged to take cameras anywhere out in public - for my safety and for the camera's safety :)

Once back at the ship we enjoyed a BBQ dinner out on the dock. Today is the one year anniversary of the Africa Mercy setting sail. I am happy to say that I made it onto the Africa Mercy in it's first year at sea (or maiden voyage as they say here on the high seas). Ok, so I made it onto the ship by just 5 days but who is counting?!? We had BBQ ribs, real french fries (a real special occasion food), salads and pineapple. Also they had some relay races - kind of like field day to just have fun and be together. I have some pictures coming I promise.

It is officially the weekend here and people are making their big plans for shopping in the market or the beach. I have to work so I will be sleeping and getting ready for the midnight shift. I do have plans tomorrow morning for a quick trip to the market for material and then to the tailor - since I have now seen his work. I am going with my friend Wendy, and also new friend Stephanie. Stephanie is a nurse and also the wife of Tyrone the head chef/galley manager on the ship. Stephanie and Tyrone have been with Mercy Ships a long time, and have graciously befriended me and Wendy.

Stay tuned and I promise to have some pictures soon.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Shift Work

I have now officially started working on the Africa Mercy. Yesterday was my first shift, I worked 7-3pm. I am on orientation for one more day (that's right 2 days of orientation) and then I am on my own. I took care of 3 patients yesterday. One man was in his 40's and had jaw reconstruction and a bone graft taken from his hip the day prior. I also had a 3 month old baby that had a cleft palate repair 4 days ago. My third patient was a women we think was in her 50's that had a thyroid goiter removed from her neck - that day. There are so many things on the ward that are SO different than at home, and some things are very similar. The bottom line is that you work with what you have and improvise the rest. Good thing I have babysat recently for my precious "nephews" Josh, Brandon, and Jack - since most of my shift yesterday I was busy making up bottles for the baby.

It is very different working on a ward where it is one room and all the patients are together. There are two sides to the room, women on one side and men on the other. However, they all share one bathroom. I find that astounding - but since most of the Africans don't have bathrooms as we know them at home - most have never even seen a toilet until they come on the ship - I guess they don't mind sharing. At the end of every day shift we take the patients that can walk outside to get some fresh air. I finished my shift watching some children patients play the Memory game on deck #7 . It was nice to get outside and feel the sunshine and the slight breeze. It is hot - but so far I haven't been outside long enough to get really sweaty. I am thanking God for the air conditioning on the ship. To think that back in the 70's when the Mercy Ships first began they had no air!!

One other thing that is different that definitely tells me I am not at home working- we start and end the shift praying for our patients. Also, when I took my one woman patient to the operating room for her surgery, the surgical nurse came out to meet us and he prayed for the patient and the surgery to go well, etc.

In my down time I have been trying to relax and get some sleep. This week I am working every shift, so I am just letting my body do whatever it wants for sleep. Yesterday I worked the day shift, today and tomorrow I work afternoons (2-10pm) and on the weekend I work 12 hr shifts from 7p-7am. So, I am sleeping whenever I feel like it. No sense in trying to get myself on any kind of schedule - I don't think I will have one while here!

Monday, May 26, 2008

Getting settled

It is Monday May 26th and my first full day on the ship. I am trying to get a little sleep, trying to get settled, and trying to find my way around. My new friend Wendy and I were hoping to sleep in today - but that didn't work out. Turns out there is a pastor's conference going on aboard the ship today and tomorrow. That means the dining room is closed after breakfast until dinner. So, if you miss breakfast which is from 6:30am-7:30am then you don't get breakfast or lunch in the next 2 days. So, needless to say we made sure we were up - with a plan to go back to bed after breakfast. We did make it to breakfast and back to bed...but not for long. Turns out we had a meeting at 10am with our ward supervisor - which neither of us knew about. So, I got an hour and a half nap before my roommate woke me up to tell me I was late for a meeting. Oh well, just gotta roll with it. So, I have my schedule for the next month, I am working mostly the midnight shift - which is fine with me the night person. We got a short tour and orientation. Tomorrow I officially start on the job. They are critically short staffed of nurses right now (big surprise) and so I will probably be working a lot of overtime.

So, the rest of the afternoon I am getting settled in my room. I am waiting for my roommate from Norway to pack up before I truly set up "home" since she is giving me her bottom bunk. I do think there will be another roommate for me - I guess there is always someone going and coming. The girl that was in my bunk before me had just left that afternoon before I arrived.

And, if you are curious I am getting a very quick education on ship terms and duties. My friend that I met on the plane from Texas- his name is Joe and he is here as a Third Mate. Apparently that means he can drive the ship if we were to go out to sea. He is not sure what he will be doing here on the ship since we will be docked the whole time he is here. He said if he has to he will work as a deck hand - which means fixing up the ship, painting, taking care of various ropes, etc. I have learned some key definitions of things in the ship like aft, starboard side, port side. Every minute I seem to be either meeting someone new or learning something new. Also, it is easy to forget you are on a ship or even in Africa for that matter. Every once in awhile I will look outside a window and only then when I see the land is moving do I realize that it must be me moving :) Also, my cabin is on Deck #3 right down the hall from the hospital - and there are no windows on that level, so I don't see outside too much right now. I haven't even been outside today.

Well, I am going to end for now. I am still working on getting settled in and much more exploring to do!!

Sunday, May 25, 2008

I'm HERE!!!!

Oh Beloved Friends and Family,
I am here and I LOVE it so far!!!! I mean, I haven't done anything yet - but I love it already. I am sitting here on the ship, next to my new friend Laura. Thank you for praying for safe travel - God answered all my prayers. I had really great flights all the way through. In Brussels I met a guy that will be working on the ship as a Third Mate. So, we traveled from Brussels to Monrovia together, so I didn't have to go through the Liberian airport or customs by myself. Also, I met another new nurse named Wendy at baggage claim. So, we traveled the 1 1/2 hours to the ship and we are getting settled.

I met my new friend Laura as Wendy and I were struggling down the stairwell with all of our luggage. She took my bags, showed me to my cabin and introduced me to the 1st of 5 other roommates. Laura also showed me to the Diet Coke machine- it is true there is a Diet Coke machine and I am drinking a cold one right now! Laura has been a really great welcome wagon for Wendy and I both.

So far on the ship I have been checked in, I had to take a photo for an ID badge - just what I want to do after 2 days straight of travel. Also the kitchen saved food for those of us getting in later tonight so we ate our first ship food. It was an unidentifiable meat product but it was good.

Now I am heading to bed. I am on the top bunk but only for one night. My roommate Emma from Norway is heading home for 6 weeks and I get her bed while she is gone.

I will blog more when I get a chance. Tomorrow Wendy and I are going to sleep and then explore the ship. At 6pm tomorrow night we have our official orientation.

I love you all and am so grateful for your support. As I was landing in Monrovia I was listening to a song called "Brave" by Nichole Nordeman. It brought me to tears - because the lyrics talk about not letting fear tie us down anymore, and letting go of the status quo. I am here because of God's amazing power and strength in me - but also because of you all and your strength and support. Thank you for helping make my dream come true - it is an unspeakable gift!!!!

p.s. - thank you to everyone for your kind comments and well wishes. I carry you all here with me!!!!

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Bon Voyage Jenny

Hello Friends & Family -

Jenny sets sail tomorrow on her great adventure. I know that we are all in awe of her courage and obedience to God in taking this giant step.

Please leave Jenny a note of encouragement, a prayer, or a farewell message in the comment section below! I know she will cherish reading these when she arrives safely upon the ship.


ps. to those of you who want to keep up on Jen's adventure - now would be a good time to subscribe to her RSS feed. Scroll all the way down to the bottom of the page and click "Subscribe to:Posts(Atom)"

Here We Go!!!!!

Well Everyone,
Here we go! No one is more surprised or amazed that the ticker-thing on this blog says ZERO,-0- than me! I cannot believe how time flies. This past week I have been SO busy. Thank you to everyone that has had a hand in getting me on my way. Truly I would not be going without your help - which is why I say "here WE go" because I take all of you with me. I am heading to bed but wanted to just say goodbye for a short time. I will be traveling tomorrow afternoon thru Chicago, Brussels, and then on to LIBERIA!!! I will get to board the Africa Mercy sometime on Sunday evening. I will post on the blog as soon as I get settled and find my way.

As I prepare to head out I ask just one more thing - that you continue to pray for me! Pray that travel is as smoothe as travel can be, pray that I find my way, pray that I stay healthy.

I think I have probably said the word gratitude in almost every post. But, I cannot say it enough - I am filled with gratitude for EVERYONE that has supported me. Thank you for helping make my dream come true. Thank you for choosing to join me on this journey. I look forward to the adventure that awaits me. I am honored that God would allow me to be a part of His work. Thank you for joining me in this as well! Talk to you soon!

Friday, May 16, 2008

Cabin #3414

Well today I got my MUCH awaited visa info from the Mercy Ships and my cabin assignment! I guess this is really happening. I cannot believe after all this time it is finally here. I was talking with my friend Tracy tonight and it seems I am already sad that I am only going for such a short time. I am considered "short term crew" and I am a little sad about that. I know once I get there I will want to stay longer. However, Tracy is so great in reminding me - this is a fact finding mission. This is my experiment in all things Mercy Ship. My hope is that I will LOVE it and want to go back as soon as possible! SO, these are my baby steps on the journey and I have never been so excited to take these steps!!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Thank you Beaumont Home Care

Well, God is so good and faithful...I am filled to overflowing with gratitude!! A huge thank you to my place of employment - Beaumont Home Care for your incredible support and encouragement. Yesterday my co-workers sent me off with a wonderful brunch and prayer time. Thank you chaplain Dennis Cole for your beautiful prayer. Thank you to all of my precious co-workers for rallying around me and supporting me. For praying for me, for encouraging me. Thank you for the VERY generous contribution to my Mercy Ship fund. All of your well wishes are appreciated. I will miss you all in the next few months - but I will be back soon. Each of you have played a part in getting me to Africa - thank you for sending me and I pray I represent you well.

So, my time of preparation is rapidly coming to an end and very soon I will get on a plane. I am spending these last days wrapping up final preparations and taking care of as many details as I can. I am heading to Grand Rapids this weekend - to say goodbye to my beloved West side friends. Also looking forward to a little rest and relaxation before I head out. Next week I am planning on final packing and spending time with my family - especially out on the lake fishing with my dad.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

What will I be doing?


The time is getting short and very soon I will be heading off to Liberia. I cannot believe that after all this time of dreaming and praying that it is finally here. I am so busy these days trying to wrap up all sorts of details. God is good though, because I have peace that everything that needs to get done will - and the rest can wait. I cannot wait to get there!! I cannot wait to finally see what I have been planning and dreaming for all this time.

So, I thought I might explain a litte bit of exactly what I will be doing in Liberia. From what I know, I will be working mostly as a ward nurse. The ship has 4 different wards or wings with different types of patients. Most all of the patients are on board the hospital ship because they have had some sort of surgery. For the patients that are children they are mostly recovering from surgeries like cleft palate repair, or tumor removals. Women patients have had surgeries to repair damage done during the child birth process or from rape. Other patients have also usually had tumor removal surgery, eye or dental surgeries. There is virtually no health care in Liberia so if you are a citizen in Liberia and you have some sort of ailment it usually goes left untreated. Many tumors that develop on patients faces are a result of no dental care. The tumor forms from an abscessed tooth that goes untreated. These tumors can grow very large and disfigure faces. Not only do these ailments cause physical problems, but they also cause social issues for those that suffer as well.

I will be working 8 hour and 12 hour shifts on the ward providing nursing care to children and adults. I will get 2 days off in a 2 week period and I will work days/afternoons/nights - whatever is needed. From what I have read I will receive 2 shifts of orientation to the wards and then on day #3 I will be on my own.

Visit mercyships.org and click on "stories" to read about peoples lives that have literally been changed by the healthcare received on board the ship.

Thank you again for joining me on this journey. I look forward to sharing many stories of amazing people that I meet in Liberia.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Krazy Karaoke at the Kubo...

What a wonderful and fun night at the Royal Kubo in Clawson. Last night was the Karaoke Fundraiser- and what a huge success!!! There are so many people to thank, I am filled with gratitude beyond words. I know you are probably tired of me saying that - but it is true. God's goodness has truly filled me to overflowing - because of you! Many many thanks to the amazing people at the Kubo, especially John (aka Paul) for taking such good care of us. We had a great night of food, drinks, plenty of karaoke and dancing. Thank you to the Kubo for your incredible generosity. For letting us make ourselves at home, for all the extras, and for cutting us a break. As I think of ALL the amazing things that happened yesterday - I could blog for days. But, I will spare you, and just share a few of the wonderful things that happened.

First of all, as of today I have exactly the amount needed to send me to Africa. It is an overwhelming feeling to know that God provides for us so well - through your generosity. It is truth that God loves and cares for us. When you step out in faith - God will more than meet your needs every time.

First, I must thank my precious girls who have supported me from the beginning of the whole Mercy Ship adventure. Thank you Jordon, Liv, Kate & Kendra for pulling this whole karaoke night together. For the planning, logistics, decor, ideas, etc. We all know I could not have done this without you!!! Thank you for believing in me and for supporting me in so many ways.

A BIG thank you to those of you who "worked" the event. No one worked the crowd better than MC Doug. With his cute hat and red tie - he was a true master of ceremonies and master of all rap songs that can be karaoked. Thank you to Kathy, Alli, Sarah, Tracy, Carrie & Virg for working the sign-in table, etc. Thank you Mark & Bart for all of your behind the scenes support. Also Alli & Dave for capturing all the great moments on camera. On second thought, once I see the pictures I might not be thanking you- but nevertheless I am grateful for capturing the memories.

And a huge thank you to the people out at the Waterford Hills race track. What an amazing story - my brother surprising me by fundraising on my behalf at the race track where he races his mustang. Thank you to the amazing people out at Waterford Hills Racing who raised over $1,100.00 on my behalf. Most of these people I do not even know - but I cannot wait to meet you when I return in August. Go to this link http://waterfordhills.com/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?p=4866#4866 to read the post my brother put on the Waterford Hills bulletin board that stirred the generosity of so many. I am blessed beyonds words that God gave me you for a brother, Bob!!

Also, there were two amazing stories of people coming all the way from Florida to join us at the Kubo last night. My parents friends Rose & Norm- I am proud to say they are now my friends as well. They live part time in Florida - and flew home early- changed their flight from Tuesday in order to be in town last night to be at the Kubo to surprise me. How amazing is that?? Who leaves Florida early to come to Michigan? Some wonderful people - that's who. And our beloved Kathy - who recently moved to Florida, but made it home to go camping with our small group and rock it out at the Kubo as well. Kathy thank you for coming home to us...even if it was just for a long weekend. Thank you for making this night very special by your presence.

And I cannot forget my amazing co-workers...all my nurse friends from Beaumont. I LOVE that you guys came and partied down...and some husbands too! Ok, so someone paid to get us to stop singing- but what fun it was while it lasted. Thank you Linda for making MORE jewelry and selling it too - and for bringing friends with you! I know we were all tired at work this morning - but it was worth it.

And a thank you also to the two guys sitting at the bar that were not a part of our "party". They contributed at least $20 to get some people to stop singing! The people of Africa thank you!!!

I do want to thank EVERYONE that came out to the Kubo. What a great night of fun and celebration. I love that we could come together to have so much fun and that in doing so we are loving people on another continent. By sending me to Africa, you are a huge part of God's love displayed to the people I will meet and care for while in Liberia. It takes a community of people to make things happen and I am so grateful to God for you!

Well, please stay tuned as I will post some pictures of the karaoke night - some pictures to surely make you laugh.

Love you all,