Monday, February 18, 2013

Belated ending and a new beginning

 I have finally arrived back on the Africa Mercy after being away for 8 months!  I left the ship in Togo with mixed feelings: not quite ready to leave, but not quite ready to stay.  The ship is a difficult place to leave, because you know that even if you come back, it will never be the same.  Turn-over is high, and the dynamics on the ship are always changing.  But regardless, it was time for me to leave after a 10 month commitment. 

In Nigeria with Dogara and his parents
After I left in June, I had an adventurous trip to Nigeria where I met some wonderful family, and then I traveled to Wales and Norway to see some ex-shippers.  It was a great transition between leaving the ship and going home- to have some time in the western word with people who understand where I'm coming from and what the last year of my life has entailed.

In Wales at a castle with some amazing fellow nurse!

In Norway with 10 other shippers- on top of "pulpit rock"

It took me a long time to understand and digest everything: learning how to be home again and live in the Western world, trying to fit in with family and friends again who have had a whole year of life without me, and then try to figure out what the heck God wanted me to do with my life now!

Should I stay in Wisconsin, should I go back to Mercy Ships, should I join another ministry?  Whatever it was, I knew I wasn't content where I was, and travel nursing didn't seem to be panning out.  Besides, my heart was still in West Africa- in more ways than one.

On February 13th I joined the ship in Conakry, Guinea, and after stepping foot on African soil, I finally felt some contentment.  There was a happy, smiling face to greet me at the airport that I had been dying to see for so long, and as soon as I stepped onto the ship, I realized how much I had missed being there.  So many old friends to see, and so many great friends to reconnect with.  For the time being, I know I'm back where I need to be!

It will take some getting use to- learning new faces and a new country.  Even though I left not too long ago, I feel like the new kid on the block again... that awkward person who lurks in on conversations... "will you be my friend?" "can I play with you guys?"  But, they'll all learn to deal with me eventually, right?!

In the ward, VVF (Vesico-Vaginal-Fistula) surgeries are just finishing up, and the patients for plastic surgery (burn contractures, skin grafting, etc) will be coming in a few weeks.  I will be on the dressing change team, which is my dream job!  Stay tuned for patient stories in the next few weeks!

Prayer requests:

- for my continued integration into ship life and learning the country
- for the patients who will be coming in for plastic surgery- that those who come we can have a huge impact on their lives
- pray against infection before it even starts in all the skin graft wounds we will be creating and healing!

PS: If any of you didn't watch the CBS 60 Minutes episode on February 17th, check it out online, they featured Mercy Ships!! They were filming when I was in Togo last year!

Celebrating the Olympics in the UK!