Saturday, October 14, 2017

Meet Ernest

This is Ernest. He was one of our first patients. He ended up having to come early because his tumor had begun to bleed and he was in danger.
He had lived with this tumor for years. His before pictures say it all. His body language and his eyes reveal the pain of living with a tumor for so long without access to safe or affordable surgical care.  It effected every aspect of his life. His surgery was preformed and he received several pints of blood from crew members.

Our Mercy ship photographer was there they day his bandages came off and he got his first look at his  new face. Clearly he was pleased and commented on  how handsome he now looked.

His life has forever changed. I share a cabin with one of the nurses who cared for this man. She said that after  his surgery  he came out of his shell. He has a great sense of humor and enjoyed joking with her. He would often pretend that he was not  going to do what she was asking of him, like drinking his protein drink or getting  up to exercise. But he always did.

Even though I am working in supply I did have opportunity to interact with Ernest several times.
My days take me in and out of the wards and the OR and allow me to interact with most of the patients. I too can attest to the joy evident in  Ernest, that seemed to grow  daily. I am hoping to make it out to see him at the hope center soon.

As of today he is staying at our hope center and continuing in his recovery. The hope center is a 200 bed facility off the ship that allows continued care for those who no longer need to be hospitalized but are not yet ready to return home. My cabin mate reports that the extra skin that remains after such a major surgery is slowly returning to its original state. Much the way a woman's stomach does following child birth. He may end up needing another surgery after a few months for any remaining extra skin but his recovery is going remarkably well. Please continue to pray for Ernest that he will be healed in his heart and spirit and well as his physical body.


 Thank you all for your prayers  and encouragement. Thank you also for your continued financial support that makes it possible for me to serve here. It is such a privilege to be here and be part of what the Lord is doing here. I do not take it for granted. I am aware of the sacrifice that many of you make to help me stay here. I can not thank you enough. I pray that the Lord will return it to you tenfold. You are in my prayers.

For King and Kingdom
Jennifer

Friday, October 13, 2017

French Korean?

Hi there,
I know it has been a while since I wrote. I have been posting blogs most of the time and not using email. I guess I should be doing both so no one gets left out. I have been doing well and am amazed at how quickly time is passing. We have just completed our Orthopedic section of surgery today. That means all the crooked legs are fixed for this year and they will now spend the remainder of their time here healing. Other surgeries continue and I will write more about those soon. Sadly that means a fairly large chunk of crew will be leaving. One surgeon and one of the nurses I have been friends with left this morning. It is the one really difficult part of life here. Really great people come but often only for a couple of months. The come for what ever surgery specialty they are trained in.  They may return again year after year to be part of what happens here. It is always hard to  say farewell.

I have had some fun times including a nice dinner out at a Korean restaurant a few nights ago. The food was amazing but it was strange to be in a Korean restaurant with a menu only in French. A fun memory.

I am also writing to ask for prayer on the following points:
1) Several good friends of mine are struggling through very challenging times right now. I am far away and it makes it hard for me to feel helpful. I am praying but ask that you would too. Especially for Lori who has still not been able to find a new roommate. She really needs a break though soon.
2) On the ship we have several crew members that have had to fly home for medical reasons.  We are hoping they will not be gone long but it has caused families to be separated which is never easy.

3) For the health of the ship. We have had several nasty viruses going through the ship. I had one already and am very hopeful to not get the other. It has been hard on the sick and on the healthy who must work harder while the others are down. After all the show must go on. :)
4) Continued prayer for my Mom who is doing well at this time. Praise God!

5) For the love and light of God to continue to be lifted up not only on the ship but all across the country of Cameroon.

6) For peace and cool heads for Cameroonians demonstrated in other parts of the country. It has not effected us here at the ship other than restricting travel, but has been bad in other areas and lives have been lost. Pray for it to stop and for the love of Christ to become known.

7) For personal finances. My crew finances are doing well but my personal are a bit lacking if I am hoping to come home this summer.

Know that I miss you and think of you often. Time Zones often mess up my plans to call. I try to write when I can but the list is long for sure.
I am keeping you in prayer as I ask you to pray for me.

for King and Kingdom,
Jennifer

Sunday, October 1, 2017

October 1st

Time is a funny thing. Sometimes it seems to pass so quickly and other times it seems to drag on and on. Today is the first of October. I have been here aboard the Africa Mercy again for nearly 10 weeks. The same amount of time as my first visit here. Only this time I am not leaving. I am committed to the full field service. That means I am here at least until July. It is not hard to imagine my time here extending far beyond that. Only God knows at this point.
     So far most of my days have been filled with a feeling of being blessed beyond belief. There is something quite indescribable about being here that leaves me feeling ....I don't even know the right words. Fulfilled, whole, in the place I'm made to be. There is joy in being witness to what God is doing here. And blessing in somehow being a small part of it. A spoke in the wheel. United with others that feel the same draw. Witness to healing, not just in physical bodies, but in hearts, in souls, Smiles found sometimes for the first time ever. Lives restored. Relationships healed. And in the midst of it all, what truly drives it, eternal souls having the opportunity to be introduced and restored to the God who created them. The God who loves them. The God who has come looking for his lost sheep.
     And then there are the hard parts. That which had to be left behind. The cost. Anything worth doing always comes at a cost. My cost is my people. The lost connections. The distance so far, the time zones so inconvenient.  It is amazing to me that living on a ship with up to 700 people at times I can experience loneliness. But yet it is there from time to time raising its ugly head. The people here are wonderful but they are not the ones who know me well. Who know my scars, who know my secrets, who know what makes me laugh and what brings me joy. At least not yet. Those people are far across an ocean and caught up in their own lives . Do not misunderstand, we are still in touch from time to time, but not in the day to day. It leaves a void. So what can I do. The only thing I know. Run to throne. Run to one who knows it all. Who made me who I am. He who knit me together and knows my deepest needs. It is in His shelter I will rest.
    This week as I waded through all of these feelings and tried to sort through this thing called life, I cried out to God. He is so gracious, and so loving. So faithful. He responded by showing me a beautiful example of a daughter and her Father in loving relationship. He showed me how her focus was only on her father and not on the other things around them. How they were connected.How she reached out to touch his face.It was such a sacred moment. It was a picture of tenderness and love. Intimacy and trust. Joy. He used it to remind me of the relationship He desires to have with me. For my focus to be solely on Him. That I can jump up in His arms and look to Him for all I need. To feel secure, to feel loved, to feel safe and to know I am cared for.That I can rely on Him alone to guide and direct me. To protect me from things I do not understand. To teach me.  Though this world is filled with both joy and sorrow, pleasure and pain, it is in Him where I will ultimately find all that I need.
     I am also reminded this morning of how fortunate I am to be in the community that God has placed me in. I am surrounded by a majority of Christ following believers. We come from different countries with varied traditions and customs. However , we are all part of one body. At least twice a week we come together to worship the same King. He is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. He is our Saviour and we his flock. We are equal under the blood. As we come together and read in His word, sing praises to He who sits on the throne, our differences vanish and we are reminded that collectively we are the bride of Christ. He has called us out, and gathered us together to serve Him and point others to Him. All around the world their are others like us. Many are isolated and alone in a sea of those who have not heard, or choose not to believe. They are isolated and alone. Longing for community and communion with others who share their faith. How they long to have fellowship with others that believe as they do. Some are underground and some are persecuted for what they believe. Others are tortured and martyred. How fortunate we are here, on this floating hospital to be yoked together with others who desire to lift high our King. Just last night we spent nearly two hours sitting, standing and kneeling in His presence. Singing praises to His name. Worshiping Him for who he is and for what He has done.We are so blessed. May I never take it for granted.
 He has conquered sin and death. He has revealed Himself to us and invited us in. He has made a way. A way to be restored and redeemed.. A way to once again have relationship with Him that knows us best. He who made us. The maker and creator of all, who calls us by name.
Can I ever be thankful enough?

Isaiah 43.1
But now, this is what the LORD says-- he who created you, Jacob, he who formed you, Israel: "Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.


Is He calling you today? How will you respond?

Hebrews 4:7
God again set a certain day, calling it "Today." This he did when a long time later he spoke through David, as in the passage already quoted: "Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts."

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Jasmine update

Just a little update on Jasmine. She was the first patient here in Cameroon. As she was carried up the stairs she was full of smiles and excitement at the hope of having straight legs. Her surgery is complete. as you can see in her post op photos her legs are now straight. Her first few days after were a bit rough as you can imagine. I am happy to report her smile has returned and she can now be seen daily learning to walk in the halls of the hospital. Yesterday she entertainer us both with a rapid round of patty cake. It was nice to hear her laugh and giggle. I will try to post another photo before long with her smiling. But  for now these are what I have access to.
Join with me in thanking God for .........
A successful surgery and continued health in her recovery,
The gift of her and her caregiver and all the patients in the ward having the opportunity to hear the gospel presented clearly,
for the generosity of so many around the world both on a personal level and a corporate level that helped make this a reality. God is the Maestro but we each must play our own part on the instrument he has given us.
Blessings. 





Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Today was a good day

So my work day ended on a high note today. I was just leaving for the day and stopped by the B ward on my way out to drop something off. They were just bringing a patient back from the OR. I got to help move the patient from the stretcher to his bed. The good news is....that is was Ulrich. The young man who's picture was in my last blog. Both of his legs have now been operated on and I am very happy to report they are both straight as arrows. I do not have a photo right now but hope to in the days or weeks to come. What an incredibly brave young man. He is so stoic. He has a long road ahead filled with physical therapy and learning to walk. PLEASE continue to lift him in pray. Pray that he will know the love, mercy and sacrifice of the God who sent a ship half way around the world to meet his need.
Thanks for the prayers to date.
hugs

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Reminders

This week was a good week for reminders. I have had several this week. Reminders to pray for America as yet another Hurricane comes ashore ripping apart lives in its path. Just 2 weeks ago Texas suffered through Harvey and know Irma arrives in Florida. The loss and suffering is immense.
A painful reminder to not stop praying for my own nation. The states are a mess right now if you read the headlines which is about all I get, but hope remains so I pray.

I was reminded of my place in the Lord. As I studied Ephesians (see previous blog) I was reminded of who I was and who I have become. I am made new in Christ and I can walk in His promises and in my new identity.

This week I am also reminded of why I have come. Why I have left those I love and the comforts of home. This week surgeries began. All the planning and preparing has come to this moment. The first patient was carried up the gangway and into the hospital this week. She ( Justine) along with  several others are the first patients in Cameroon to have surgery.

During the weeks we have been preparing you tend to forget. You get busy with the daily tasks, scrubbing walls, moving boxes, and all it takes to sail from one country to another. The days pass and life happens and you get tired. And sometimes you just forget for a while. What it is all for. Why your muscles are sore and why the uncomfortable bed is worth it. 

The before pictures are dramatic. They have waited so long. So long without hope. So long without an answer to their dilemma. So long with being different or an outcast. So long being rejected and told they are not enough.

But God.......

God has not forgotten them.

 Isaiah 49:15 "Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you!


God has heard their cry. He has moved heaven and earth for them. He has called people and resources from every corner of the earth to come. To come to Cameroon. To bring them hope. To bring the hospital to them. And not just to that but he has sent us out to find them. To find his lost sheep. 

Luke 15:4
"Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn't he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it?

For months now He has sent His people out into the country looking for those who were lost and hidden. Those who were far away. Combing through the country looking for those who God himself wanted to bring here for a chance at a new beginning. Not just a new beginning in their bodies but in their hearts. Here they will have a chance to encounter the truth of who they are. The truth that they matter. That they are loved. That the God of the universe, the one who created all things has been pursuing them. Loves them, and wants to make them whole. Whole in ways we often don't even comprehend fully.

And not  just them but us too. Another reminder this week. It is not just about the patients. It is also about us. What God wants to do in our hearts. In our spirits. In our fellow crew members. Conversations took place this week with people here on the ship that have never known the Father. Have never read his word. And yet they were drawn here. Led here by assorted circumstances and reasons "of their own" so they, and we, and I could have our own encounter with the one who made us.

It has been good. It has been  humbling. It has been a great week of reminders. It has been convicting and it has been nothing short of amazing. 
Continue to pray that God will have his way. In us and around us. That the light of His truth will be lifted high. 

First surgery patient in Cameroon-Justine




A reminder to pray.




Saturday, September 2, 2017

This is a drill, this is a drill

Well we had our first fire drill yesterday since arriving in Cameroon. It all seemed to go quite smoothly.It always begins with the same. The alarm goes off and you hear the fire team called to a location on the ship where a "fire" has been discovered. A few minutes later the general alarm sounds everywhere in the ship and we hear the announcement....."This is a drill, this is a drill, all crew report to your muster stations." This time it included a mock evacuation of the hospital due to the fire. crew members were dressed in gowns (over their clothes) and were the patients. Every department had to respond as they would if we were open and taking care of patients. Several crew members were put in make up and placed at the source of the fire and were "injured crew members". The training team really made it believable and even provided smoke and orange light that gave the appearance of flames.

The reason  I know all this is because this time the "fire" started where I work. I began quite close to my office and I was witness to the set up ahead of time and manage to snap some pics before the general alarm  went off. Once that happens everyone must head to their muster station. (that is salty talk for where we all must assemble and have a head count)

My cabin mate Damaris was one of the "victims". She told me all about it after and said she feels quite safe on the ship now. As a "victim" she pretended to be unconscious quite close to the fire and appeared to have taken a fall. She said she was quickly found. Next she was picked up under her arms and drug down the halls of the ship to a safer location. When she failed to respond to her rescuers she was then carried off the ship on a stretcher by the fire team. There she was met by a medical team who accessed her "injuries" and determined she needed to be sent on the hospital for tests. She was then carried to a vehicle and loaded. It was all done quite quickly and efficiently.

Worry not, she recovered quite quickly with a little soap and water.  :)
In the end the ship was evacuated and the fire team did well, the "fire" was put out and we were allowed back on the ship in time for dinner.

The "smoke beginning to fill the room pictured below and my office just next door with the orange light of flames beginning. 


A few of our "victims" pictured below.


Part of the fire team and muster station on the dock



finally....my office after the drill filled with residual "smoke". Got to love those fog machines.