Tuesday, June 13, 2017


So I confess I am procrastinating right now. I should be in my room packing and sorting. It just is a bit overwhelming at times. It amazing me how much I have accumulated in the last 11 years. When I moved to Virginia 11 years ago it was with little more than a suitcase and my car. Now I have most of a 2 bedroom apartment filled with different things the Lord has blessed me with over the years. The challenge has been what to keep/store, what to sell and my upcoming yard sale and what to give away.

Part of me wants to just give it all away. However another part of me says selling it will provide support for me in the days ahead. I think the answer lies somewhere in the middle and so it must be sorted. It is stunning how much stuff I can cram in my small room. A great opportunity to simplify and decide what it truly important to me .

The real important things, are not things at all but people. People I am parting with for now and that indeed is the difficult part. I am so excited to be going and stepping out to what God has prepared for me, but......
leaving my best friend is hard. It makes me ache. I know in my head she will be find. She follows the same God I do, often with more faith and trust. She amazes me. But it is hard to say goodbye to morning coffee as we read the word. Hard to know I cant just walk in from my day and know she will be there to listen about my day. I know we have email and phones but it really is not the same. The last 10 weeks have proven that. It is just different when your living on the other side of the world and in different time zones.

I'm thankful for the days we have had. Thankful that she always asks me the hard questions and challenges me to pursue the Lord with everything I have. I  cant wait to see what the Lord has next for her. My leaving opens a door in her life as well.

Then there is Mom. Well anyone who knows me knows how tough that one is. It is wonderful though to see how God is providing and making sure all her bases are covered. I must remember that he loves her even more than I do. That is true for so many, my sister. Graciously I get to go see her very soon. My niece is getting married and I get the gift of getting to go and see the whole family before I leave on the next leg of my journey. My friends, my church family. The amazing kids God has placed in my life. Most of whom I will get to see and spend time with on this  short visit home. It will be challenging to part with them. But I know if He asks it of me it is for good. He promised that. Romans 8:28 "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." So I am putting all my eggs in that basket and trusting him with the outcome, regardless of the cost.
Come Lord Jesus and amaze us. Your ways are not our ways and your thoughts are not our thoughts.

So that is where my focus must lie. On the path ahead. To what is next, and the steps needed to get there. So, back to my room. back to packing, sorting, reminiscing, and deciding.
Only a few weeks to go....

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

A Fresh Start

 “I remember one of the worst days,” says Veronique. “I was in so much pain, I could not even get out of bed.” 
Six years ago, a tumor started to grow on Veronique’s chin. What began as a small bump slowly gained momentum until it took over her jaw, weighing down her face and causing her great agony. But what was worse than the tumor was the fact that her family could not help.  “My sister could not, my children could not, even my own husband could not,” she recounts. “I cried over that many times.” 
Her family’s powerlessness was not for lack of trying. “A few years ago my husband went to the national hospital, but we didn’t have the money,” Veronique recalls. She spreads her hands on her lap, as if to show the family’s empty pockets. “He pleaded with them, said he would pay them in installments, anything – but the doctors just shook their heads.” Veronique bows her head, looking at the ground, perhaps reliving that time.  “After that, things got worse.”           
The tumor greatly affected her family life. Veronique continued to sell beans and rice at a roadside stand, but she hadn’t expanded her wares in years. She continued to serve at church, but she hadn’t been able to give to her full potential. And she continued to care for her five children, but she hadn’t been able to consistently provide for them for years.  Her husband would often cut his own work short so he could step in. “He did as much as he could,” recalls Veronique. “He would help them with their homework, take care of the house, anything.” But because of that, his own work suffered. 
But Veronique was not completely powerless. Her pastor was the family’s stalwart ally. He never stopped praying for Veronique and her family. Veronique smiles, remembering, “He had hope. I had hope. We all still had hope, that one day God would bring us a solution.” 
One Sunday at church, that very pastor approached the family and told them about Mercy Ships. She brightened at the suggestion. “I’ll go,” she thought to herself. “Then we can be rid of this and start again.” Soon after, Veronique left her family, tried to ignore her pain, and made the three-hour trek to the screening center.  
Screening led to testing, testing led to approval, and approval led to Veronique’s sitting in a hospital bed onboard the Africa Mercy, waiting for surgery the next morning. “When this is gone, when this is done, things can start fresh,” she declared, echoing her thoughts from that first day her pastor mentioned the ship. 
Three days after surgery, Veronique’s patient ID card hangs over her bed, a relic of the past. Today she points to the photo – the tumor prominent on her chin. She smiles, claps her hands together, and points back to her face, showing with a wide sweep of her arms that it’s done. “The pain is gone, completely gone,” she says as she shakes her head. “When my pastor finally sees me, he will be jumping for joy,” she declares. “He prayed for me, and now I am healed!”

Story by Anna Psiaki
Edited by Nancy Predaina
Photos by Miguel Ottaviano and Timmy Baskerville

Veronique waits inside the Africa Mercy screening center. She’s travelled three hours alone to make it here today. She hopes she’ll be able to have a free surgery to remove the tumor that’s been taking over her life for the past six years. 

Veronique waits the night before surgery to remove her tumor. “Pray for me,” she asks a nurse.

“When this is over, things can start fresh,” Veronique says. She is sitting in a quiet corner of a hospital ward onboard the Africa Mercy, waiting for surgery the next day.  

“When my pastor sees me, he’ll be jumping for joy!” says Veronique the day she’s set to return home. “He prayed for me, and now I’m healed!” 

Story and photos used with permission from Mercy Ships. 

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Djazim Sings For His Father

“When Djazim would wake up in the morning, he would go to greet his father,” said Salimatu, mother of the five-year-old. “He would say, ‘Papa, I’m awake.’ And then he might start singing a song. That would always make his father laugh.” 
Djazim is a little boy with high spirits and a winning smile – he’s a natural-born entertainer, and he knows it. At age four, though, his legs began to morph – one knee began to turn further and further inward, and the other turned outward. He could no longer run, join in neighborhood games, or go to school. Djazim was living with a genetic condition known as “windswept legs.”   
Salimatu and her husband, Jubulin, began to look for help. Little did they know that the Africa Mercy was at that moment sailing for the bustling economic center of Cotonou, only a few hours away. Through a connection made with Mercy Ships screeners traveling throughout Benin looking for patients, Djazim soon obtained a surgery appointment. 
The five-year-old was one of 76 children who would undergo an orthopedic surgery onboard the Africa Mercy during the hospital ship’s 10-month field service. Afterward, he would spend weeks in casts and months in rehab – his now-straight legs would need time and exercise to grow strong enough to walk. This would require the dedication of patients, parents, and the Mercy Ships rehab team, but it would be a challenge well worth it. 
Djazim made it through his operation with flying colors, and Salimatu called home to share the news. “But when I called, my husband said he was not feeling well, that he was feeling weak,” she remembered. Alarm bells went off in her head. Soon, her fears were confirmed – when she called again, her husband could not even hold the phone to talk. All in the space of a day, Jubulin had grown gravely ill.   
While Djazim recovered, blissfully unaware and in his usual high spirits, Salimatu was wondering if her precious five-year-old would ever see his father again. “I did not feel like eating,” she remembered. “I was constantly praying for God to be merciful, to heal Djazim’s father.” 
The days and weeks passed like that – Djazim, happy and making steady progress, and Salimatu, constantly praying and calling home, wondering if the tide would ever turn. 
But one day things changed. “When I called, I heard my husband’s voice on the other end!” Salimatu said. He was finally strong enough to hold the receiver. 
It was only one week later that Jubulin walked through the doors of the HOPE center, the Mercy Ships outpatient facility. He was bombarded by Djazim hurtling himself into his father’s arms. Jubulin spun his middle child around, over and over and over again. “I thought perhaps I’d never see Djazim again,” he recounted. “But I did, and he was running to me!” 
Soon, Djazim was strong enough to return home. Mother and son rejoined the family, helping Jubulin as he made a full recovery. Djazim’s legs were now straight and strong enough to run, to take part in neighborhood games, and to go to school. 
And he didn’t let go of his old tradition either. Every morning he’d get up, greet his father, and sometimes break into a new song – one he learned on the Africa Mercy. “When Djazim starts to hum the ship song now,” says Salimatu, “his father just looks at him…he can’t help but start laughing.”

Story by Anna Psiaki
Edited by Nancy Predaina
Photos by Miguel Ottaviano, Katie Callow, and Timmy Baskerville 
We meet Djazim – a little boy with windswept legs, high spirits, and two parents (Jubulin and Salimatu) who simply adore him.

Even during a cast change, Djazim’s grin doesn’t crack. 

Djazim exhibited his usual high spirits as he recovered from surgery for windswept legs. He had no idea that his father had become gravely ill. 

“I thought perhaps I’d never see Djazim again,” recounted his father, Jubulin, who had fallen gravely ill during his son’s treatment for windswept legs. “But I did, and he was running to me!”

“I love Djazim so much!” said Salimatu, who stayed with her son during his treatment with Mercy Ships. The two are finally at home. 

The family wasn’t sure they’d ever be reunited – while Djazim was receiving surgery to correct windswept legs, his father, Jubulin, was battling his own life-threatening illness. But now everyone’s home, and everyone’s okay. 

Story and Photos used with permission from Mercy Ships. 

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Bibiane’s Message Of Hope

Bibiane’s Message Of Hope 

She’d given birth to nine children, but four had died at a very early age. And her husband passed
 away not long ago. Still, Bibiane found the strength to keep going, the will to survive.
She’d created a small business for herself – selling a type of corn dough known as “gui.” She didn’t
 seem to mind the three-day process of soaking, grinding, pounding and cooking the corn mixture to
 create this widely-used staple for Beninese cooking. “I like serving it with fish and onions,” she says,
with a sense of warm familiarity.
But when Bibiane started having serious stomach pains, she was forced to go to the local hospital
where they performed surgery. “I’m not sure what they did, but something went wrong … and ever
since then, urine has been leaking out.” The surgery had caused a hole, called an obstetric fistula,
 that allowed urine to leak uncontrollably from Bibiane’s body.
From that moment, her life changed drastically. “I couldn’t cook or sell any more.
I couldn’t do anything.” Her daily habits and routines stopped, as did her income.
“I was stuck in the house.” Fortunately, she had support from her grown children
with whom she stayed.
The Africa Mercy was docked far from where Bibiane was living. However, teams had been sent to
 remote areas of the country to find people who were in need of surgical intervention … people like
 Bibiane. Upon hearing the news of their arrival, Bibiane’s brother urged her to try Mercy Ships. She
did, and visited with the nurses to explain her problem. They took her information and told her
 they’d contact her soon.

And they did. “My phone rang, and the voice on the other end told me the ship had accepted my case
 to work on me!” Bibiane remembers.
Just a few days later, Bibiane traveled to the ship for a few more exams and then, finally, surgery.
Despite her experiences with hospitals, she wasn’t nervous or fearful. “I know it will work – I don’t even
 think about it anymore!” she said confidently. 
The surgery was a success, and Bibiane’s leaking stopped. During a special Dress Ceremony in front
 of a group of fellow patients and Mercy Ships crew, she shared her success story with pride. “I had this
 sickness for five years … but, today, it is finished! Now, when I wake up, I find myself dry.
 I'm fine – I have no problem now!”
To women suffering from similar conditions, Bibiane has a message: “All I can tell them is
 to not get discouraged. God's time is right, and I believe they will also one day get healed just as I did.”

Story by Windsor Marchesi
Edited by Nancy Predaina
Photos by Justine Forrest

A surgical procedure at a local hospital caused something to go terribly wrong … Bibiane hopes
that surgery on the Africa Mercy will make it right.

Bibiane had lost so much – loved ones, freedom, independence. Free, safe surgery was an answer
to prayer.

Bibiane warmly shares her testimony of healing at a celebration ceremony. 

Bibiane has a message for other women suffering from obstetric fistula: “All I can tell them is to not
 get discouraged. God's time is right, and I believe they will also one day get healed just as I did.”

Story and photos used with permission from Mercy Ships. 

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Critical Recruiting Needs

Critical Recruiting Needs

Mercy Ships is looking for volunteers like you! This hospital ship needs all kinds of positions to stay afloat. We have a wide range of medical AND non-medical jobs available…visit mercyships.org/volunteer today!

We have an urgent need for the following positions:

  • Operating Room Sterilizer
  • Audio Visual Technician
  • Ship Security Officer
  • Dental Hygienist
  • Crew Physician
  • Videographer
  • Photographer


Tozers' prayer of Committment

We read this today in our morning devotions in the clinic. It spoke deeply into my heart and spirit. I thought I would share it will all that I could. It was written by AW Tozer long before I was born. Like much of his writing it leads me to go deeper with God and draw closer to my Lord and Savior. I pray it does for you as well.

AW Tozer’s prayer of committment

I come to you today, O Lord,
To give up my rights,
To lay down my life,
To offer my future,
To give my devotion, my skills, my energies.
I shall not waste time deploring my weaknesses
Nor my unfittedness for the work.
I acknowledge your choice with my life
To make your Christ attractive and intelligible
To those around me.
I come to you for spiritual preparation.
Put your hand upon me,
Anoint me with the oil of the One with Good News.
Save me from compromise,
Heal my soul from small ambitions,
Deliver me from the itch to always be right,
Save me from wasting time.
I accept hard work, I ask for no easy place,
Help me not to judge other who walk a smoother path.
Show me those things that diminish spiritual power in a soul.
I now consecrate my days to you.
Make your will more precious than anybody or anything,
Fill me with your power
And when at the end of life’s journey I see you face to face
May I hear those undeserving words,
“Well done, you good and faithful servant”.
I ask this not for myself
But for the glory of the name of your Son.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

the adventure continues.....

Hello to all of you from Benin,

Today is Saturday May 13th. It is a warm but cloudy day here.  My day started with a short time in the clinic taking care of one of the crew. Then time upstairs in the lounge reading  my bible and chatting with friends. Now my laundry is going. We have a nice laundry room with about 12 washers and dryers that are free for the crew to use. with about 400 people using them they are  always busy and the laundry room is quite the social place. We have to sign up for time slots. You sign up for the washer  and then automatically get the dryer for the hour following. It seems to work quite well most of the time.

Weekends here are pretty relaxed most of the time. No surgeries take place on the weekends most of the time. someone is always on call in case someone needs to go in for emergency surgery. sometimes that happens. Even meal times are more laid back with many people sleeping in or taking off for weekend trips. It is an enjoyable time. Last night we had a going away party for someone who has been here for 9 years. She will be returning home and leave large shoes to fill here I am sure. It was a lovely time with good food, and fellowship.

I makes me wonder if that will be me someday. I have been asked to stay and I can tell you officially today that I have said YES! I have agreed to come back for at least a year, but it is not difficult for me to see it lasting beyond that. My time here has been amazing. And although there are things I miss from home, I feel like I am where I belong.  The hardest part for me will be the separation  from those I love and care for most. However I know those relationships have the power to endure. I am so thankful for that.

So what will that look like? I will  be  coming home as planned in  just a couple of weeks now. I will hopefully get to spend some time with most of you, and deal with packing up and sorting through my life in  Virginia.  I will  then return to the ship around the end of July. I know the time will go very quickly. I have lots to do and many people to see. I look forward to meeting my newest Great nephew, Eli, who arrived into the world since I have been here. There are also many sweet little people I am dying to hug and tell all about Africa. A few big people too! ;)
So for now the adventure continues....................