Sunday, April 22, 2012

Jesus is here

"Jesus is here, Jesus is here" Chantal's final words as she looks out at the sun setting on the water. The nurses wheeled her bed to the eye room, down the hall from the ICU, where the doors open up to the water. One last look at her home, her country, her people. Chantal was sent home with the praises and worship of the crew, day volunteers, and patients as they all gathered on the dock for the monthly "Dinner on the Dock." There couldn't have been a more beautiful, peaceful way to go into God's presence than the sound of hundreds of African's and crew members from 30+ different countries worshipping the same God!

Chantal was born-again on the ship and died on the ship- a full circle only God could have orchestrated. She was was supposed to be discharged home to her uncle the next day, but God knew and Chantal knew her home was here on the ship. The people that loved her the most are here. She was not alone, she was with her family.

I want to share the devotion out of Jesus Calling from the day she passed away:

"Heaven is both present and future. As you walk along your life-path holding My hand, you are already in touch with the essence of heaven: nearness to Me. You can also find many hints of heaven along you pathway, because the earth is radiantly alive with My Presence. Shimmering sunshine awakens your heart, gently reminding you of My brilliant Light. Birds and flowers, trees and skies evoke praises to My holy Name. Keep your eyes and ears fully open as you journey with Me. At the end of your life-path is an entrance to heaven. Only I know when you will reach that destination, but I am preparing you for it each step of the way. The absolute certainty of your heavenly home gives you Peace and Joy, to help you along your journey. You know that you will reach your home in My perfect timing: not one moment too soon or too late. Let the hope of heaven encourage you, as you walk along the path of Life with Me."

It couldn't have been more perfect, it couldn't have been anything else other than God.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

His face shine upon you...

Numbers 6:24-25
The LORD bless you and keep you;
The LORD make his face shine upon you
and be gracious to you
The LORD turn his face toward you
and give you peace.

Sometimes God speaks to people audibly, sometimes through the words of friends, and other times He repeats himself through His word. When I most needed God's peace He brought me to Numbers 6:34-35. Everywhere I looked, there I saw this verse. I felt specifically that He was speaking "my face shines upon you." Multiple times in the Bible it talks about the Lord's face shining upon us. The commentaries bring clarity and depth to the meaning; 'When God's face shines on a person blessing and deliverance come.' 'Blessing is not first of all to health and wealth, but to the assurance and experience that they live under the guardianship and faithful care of the gracious Lord of life. It is the happy condition of those who revere the Lord and do his will and who put their trust in Him.'

Psalm 4:6
Many are asking,
"Who can show us any good?"
Let the light of your face shine upon us, O LORD


Psalm 13:1-6
How long, O LORD? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and every day have sorrow in my heart
How long will my enemy triumph over me?
Look on me and answer,
O LORD my God.
Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death;
my enemy will say "I have overcome him," and my foes will rejoice when I fall
BUT I will trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation.
I will sing to the LORD for he has been good to me.

In the past couple weeks of wrestling with the goodness of God and His will for Chantal I have felt alone. But God is reminding me that His face is shining upon me, he has not turned his face from me. I am not alone, He is here with me carrying me through. I am so thankful for his faithfulness.

Friday, April 13, 2012


I've been sitting here staring at a blank page, watching the cursor blink rhythmically for a while. I can't seem to find the right words to express what's going on in my head and in my heart. I've been wrestling with Him for a while, trying to understand what His plan and purpose is for Chantal. She's been here since the beginning of the outreach; a burn contracture patient from the last time we were in Togo. She's come back because her graft became infected and her whole shoulder is a big, open gaping wound. It's been a long 2 and half months for her; a journey of ups and downs. She's pulled through so many times, but this time it looks like she's not going to make it. We found out a couple days into her stay that she is HIV positive. We don't have supply of HIV meds on the ship, but in order to do another surgery to cover the wound we would have to treat her HIV. So we prayed, and God provided free HIV medication within days. One night after a dressing change under anesthesia she stopped breathing on me. God immediately told me to move her chin forward, and she took a huge gasp of air! I was so thankful that was not the end for her. The plastic surgeon arrived and was able to graft her arm with new beautiful skin. We moved her out of isolation, which is totally foreign in West Africa where community is everything, and into the ward with all the other patients. We saw her spirits lift to a level we had never seen before. She was getting depressed being in the isolation room all day, having minimal interaction with people, especially people of her own culture. Even despite me dancing to "Chop my money" like a fool, all we could get out of her was a smile! (If you haven't heard that song, you should look it up!) One day we started noticing a difference in Chantal; she was so joyful, and there was a life in her eyes that was not present previously. She would just break out into worship songs that would start the whole ward worshipping. She was smiling all the time, and interacting with all the patients. It was a beautiful sight to behold. Come to find out, the night before she prayed with one of the day workers to accept Jesus into her life! What a cause for celebration! As is often the case with Chantal her highs are followed by lows; her body is fighting a raging infection that waxes and wanes. Her heart rates shoots up, her respiratory rates sky rockets, and she begs to give up because of the pain. She gets tired of daily 2 hour long dressing changes, and physiotherapy. This is a cycle that we battle all the time with her. We start her on new antibiotics, and she starts feeling better, but because of the HIV and antibiotic resistance we lose the battle. This last time we moved her to ICU we had to make a decision about what we were doing for her and if she coded would we resuscitate. That was so hard for me; we have been fighting for so long to heal her, and then here we were giving up on her. When I met her the first time in February, I envisioned fixing her wound, bringing her back to full function with her arm and sending her back to Ghana fully healed and able to interact with society. But God reminded me that He is Good and has a plan for her that far surpasses what we could ever imagine. I was confronted with my faith and trust in God. I had to answer the question, what is more important: full physical healing, but spiritually dead OR eternal life with Jesus and not being physically healed? Life without Jesus is not life at all. I can boldly say that, knowing in my own life the difference Jesus has made, and seeing in Chantal's life the difference knowing Jesus has made. Although we have not healed her physically, I know without a doubt that we did more for her than any physical healing could ever do. I leave you with a thankful heart to God that He gave His son for me, and you, and Chantal, that we don't have live apart from Him, and that no matter the circumstances we can have joy in difficulty with the hope we have in Christ. Love you all.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

What a difference a child makes....

The sweet sounds of uproarious, joyful laughter coming from 5 giggling kids echoing through the hallway was how I ended my day. I can't imagine my day without them. Their joy is infectious, and brightens any down moment. It's amazing how God has changed my heart on this matter. He has given me a love and a patience for small kids that I know only comes from Him. I have so much to learn from them. They come to the ship, they've never seen a ship before. They come up the gangway, usually on moms back, to be greeted by security. They arrive on the ward to be taken care of by yovos (white people) whom they probably have never seen before. We poke and prod them, make them pee in a toilet, take a standing shower, and brush their teeth with toothpaste and toothbrush. They have to stay on the ward with no windows, and are allowed outside once a day for an hour to play, then they have to return to the dungeon. In spite of all that they are unimaginably joyful. They love bubbles, which usually starts the cackling; they love putting stickers on their foreheads and insisting you do the same. They dance and sing. They smile and laugh. They are beautiful! And I love them.