Welcome to my Mercy Ship Adventure.
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Monday, June 16, 2008

Along the road...

Well, I am sorry I haven't blogged at all in the last few days. I was just starting to wonder if anyone was reading this anyway - and boy was I wrong! Three people have emailed me to tell me to get posting! Sorry!!! I have been working quite a bit. We are experiencing a lot of transition here. A few of the doctors that have been here since the beginning of the outreach (February)are heading home, or at least heading to a well deserved break. Many nurses that have been here since February are going home, and many that are here for 2 years are reaching the half way point and are getting to go home for a few weeks too. So, those of us that are here now are providing the much needed relief to so many nurses that have been so giving. We are also switching all of the shifts to 12 hours, so I will work longer days but hopefully with less days to work. It all depends on how many people show up for their scheduled surgeries and how many nurses we have.

Today I took a walk by myself just to try to get away and think. On a ship of 400+ people and living in a cabin of 6 people there isn't much one can do to get away and think. I headed down the dock to the road - the only place we are allowed to go by ourselves. The road is guarded by UN soldiers and gated off from the city. It isn't long, but it is all we have for a "yard" so to speak - a place to stretch our legs. I really wanted some time to think, and some time to be with God. I have been here for over 3 weeks now and I feel very settled in. God has brought me some great friends and I meet more and more people everyday. So much so that it is hard to get time alone. So I headed out for a walk, to be with God and think about all that is happening here.

I didn't get very far in my walk when I ran into one of my recent patients. I didn't even realize that he had been discharged home. Today he was walking up the road to the ship to go for a follow up appointment. I almost didn't recognize him he was so happy. The smile on his face was wider than the ocean. His name is Junior and he is a 27 year old that came to the ship for help with some sores on his back. When we lifted up Junior's shirt, he had several growths known as keloids. They are growths of scar tissue that formed big lumps on his skin. They resulted from him being marked with tribal markings all down his back and sides. The surgeon on the ship was able to remove the scar tissue from Junior's back, but now Junior has an open wound that we are still caring for daily. Junior hugged me and thanked me for caring for him these last several weeks and then continued on down the road.

A few minutes later coming the other direction was another family that had been my patient. A little baby that was here for a cleft lip repair and was now going home. The family stopped and hugged me and thanked me over and over again.

I was talking with a friend last night and she asked me what was the best thing about being here so far. I have to say the best thing is the patients. This trip has caused me to remember that I do love being a nurse. I love to take care of people, comfort them, encourage them on the bad days. The people here are SO grateful. I am amazed at their strength, their courage, their ability to have horendous things happen to them and they don't have a chip on their shoulder. They are resilient, they are filled with gratitude for the help they have received. They are hopeful people.

Liberia is recovering from a civil war that ended in 2003. All of my patients have lived through war and are still recovering, have the memories fresh in their mind. I cannot even begin to imagine all that they have endured. Not only that, but most of the patients being treated by Mercy Ships are here because they have some disfiguring growth or tumor that needs to be removed. Most of the time these people are social outcasts because of this. I have one patient named Friend that had a wound on his back. He told me he was kicked out of his village because of this and for years was taken care of by missionaries. He is here at Mercy Ships to finally get the skin graft to cover his wound on his back and have it heal into a normal looking back.

I took a walk down the road to get some time alone with God. Instead, God showed up in the faces of some amazing Liberian people. People with open hearts, filled with gratitude, hopeful for a fresh start. I could not be more grateful to God that He allowed me to be here. That He made a way for me to be a part of the work that He is doing in Liberia...to bring hope and healing in so many ways physically, emotionally, spiritually.

I hope to have more pictures of patients coming. It is a delicate thing to get pictures of the patients. We are restricted as to when and where we can photograph them. I would love to introduce you to some of the many beautiful people here so I will try.


Teri said...

Beautiful,Jen. Truly.

~~Virg said...

Wow...I am speechless...thanks for sharing a God day with all of us out here in fan land.

Tracy said...

Hi Jenny - Aren't God's plans funny - He truly is a mystery isn't he? It's funny you should mention the African smiles. I was driving in my car yesterday thinking about how much I miss the beauty of an african smile. Pearl white teeth stretched from ear to ear - genuine beyond belief - upon a backdrop of dark chocolate skin. There is nothing like an African smile.

Thanks for continuing to write - we really are reading - you have about 30 regular readers a day!

We miss you greatly.

My prayer for you today is that You and God get to have some great conversations - that He continues to teach you and use you - and that you are filled with His joy.


Sarah said...

Tears. I have tears in my eyes, on my cheeks.... (I know you'll appreciate that ;) ). I am so happy for you, Jen. To be the face of God to so many, and to see the face of God in so many. Thinking of you daily - praying for you always.

Anonymous said...

I just wanted to let you know I am reading and following along with you on your adventure. I can only image the joy you must be experiencing being able to do God's work. Please continue to write and give updates. I am so proud, and happy for you.
Lisa R

Anonymous said...


What a breath of fresh air. I have always wanted to do something like this. You insoire me!