I'm not sure where to start; it's been a while since I've put fingers to keys to write a blog! I've not done a very god job keeping ya'll updated with what's going on in my life here in New York or what's been happening with the ship abroad! Quick update on me: I've been living in New York for the past 6 months, and loving it! Watching my niece grow up has been the best part of the past 6 months. If you follow me on Facebook or Instagram you know that's pretty much all I post about! Well, enough about me, more importantly what has been happening with the ship?! The ship has had a much more eventful 6 months. If you're not living under a rock then you probably know at least a little about the Ebola situation. The ship was originally supposed to be going to Guinea for the next field service come August. BUT the Ebola outbreak happened earlier in the year, and was not slowing down at a rate that Mercy Ships felt comfortable with. So they made the hard decision to postpone going to Guinea and change course to Benin. The ship had been to Benin before so it would be easier to set everything up given the new, shorter time frame. BUT Ebola followed our course and came too close for comfort in the neighboring country of Nigeria. As you can imagine, any risk is too much risk given the tight living and working quarters on the ship; not to mention our patient selection process that involves gathering thousands of people together in one location to be seen by doctors and nurses. It would not be wise, nor beneficial to put patients and crew at risk for life-saving, but still elective surgeries. Sooo...now where can the ship go since West Africa is pretty much out of the question? Why Madagascar, of course! I'm not entirely sure the how this came to be, except that our new Managing Director's wife is from there. It's quite perfect, actually. It's far enough from the Ebola outbreak, and there is a huge need. God managed to orchestrate all the necessary necessities like visa waivers, car registration, nursing licenses, etc. in a record amount of time! I'll get to the need in a minute, but first let me give you a little history...
Back in May of this year when I was in Congo working as the VVF Team Leader I committed to coming back to Guinea as the VVF Team Leader in 2015. It seemed like the right decision at the time- I would get to go back to the place where I first became Team Leader; I would get to see all my previous patients and Day Crew (Translators); and I would get a do-over. There were a few things I would have done differently now that I have some experience under my belt and know what I'm doing. Plus, a surgeon I worked with in Congo agreed to come again and that sealed the deal-easy peasy, right? Welll...God threw a wrench in my perfect little plan! I don't know if you remember this time last year, but I do. I was at the same place I am now-- grappling with the decision to go back to the ship, and pretty much for the same reasons. Have you ever thought 'man, I'm such a different person than last year, I've grown so much' but then when faced with the same situation you respond in the exact same way?! Yeah, that's where I'm at. So much for growth! I obviously need to learn this lesson because I keep coming back to it. I'm that kind of person that can live pretty much anywhere and I would settle in, find my niche, and be comfortable. I've done it in California, I've done it in Africa, and now I've managed to do it here in New York. But, it isn't always good to be comfortable. In the discomfort of a challenge is growth; an unexpected gem or discovery lies just on the other side of your/my comfort zone and I don't want to miss out! I'm uprooting my life once again. I'm trusting that God will take care of all the details. Big details like who is going to rent my room for the 3 months while I'm away; or where will I live when I come back and only have one month to decide; or where I will get the $1800 that I need to raise to pay for the rest of my flight and room and board. He always know and holds the small details, too. So here I go, ready or not here I come Madagascar! My friends who are already exploring beautiful Madagascar are telling me about my lovely VVF ladies who are patiently awaiting my arrival. Come March we'll start chipping away at the enormous need there. It's been reported that there's some 50,000 VVF ladies needing surgery, and 5,000 new cases each year! The need is overwhelming, but God is a God of details.
Please start praying for the VVF program. Keep me in your prayers, too. Pray that I would lead well, and love even better; that I would be able to provide the emotional and spiritual support my nurses and patients will need; For my nurses, vetted with the difficult task of caring for these special ladies physically, spiritually, and emotionally. They have a big job ahead of them. There will be success's that bring tears of joy, and celebration, but there will be tears of sadness that comes with the surgeries that aren't successful. There will be wounds that are deep from loss of child, loss of identity as a woman, and years of isolation and injustice. Healing is more than closure of physical wounds-it comes with unconditional love, it comes with unconditional acceptance.
Thank you to all of you who have loved me and supported me and make it possible for me to go time and again.