day of rest...

So I woke up this morning and went up to breakfast to start my day before work.  I then took my 2 minute commute to work, one floor below the dining hall.  Once I arrived on the ward they asked if I would be willing to come back for the evening shift because they have been having a lot of sick calls and weren't sure if they would be short staffed.  I said that was fine and off I went.  Now a normal person at this point would most likely go back to bed BUT Im not normal so there I was at 7:05 with 7 hours of waiting ahead.  Yipee!  
As most of you know I am not a very patient person but this is one of the many things I had been praying for so I guess I should be saying "Thanks God!"  After a couple hours of hanging out on deck 8 listening to some music and doing some writing I decided to go walk along the dock.  As I walked listening to my ipod, trying to focus my mind I looked up ahead and instantly a smile broke out across my face and I yelled out, "Abla!" She turned around and ran toward me, right into my arms. I did my 'charades' talk/dance for her and her mother and found out that they were going back to their village today.  After walking and 'talking' with them I then gave one last hug and let them know I'd be praying for them (charades for prayer: put hands together as if praying and mouth 'I'll be praying for you').  
I know it is hard for me to just wait on the Lord and be patient with his timing for my life.  Today as I waited around God placed people and situations in my life that helped me see how he truly is in control of everything.  Now this doesn't mean we just need to sit back and enjoy the ride.  We need to show our faith through our actions.  We need to obey God and wait for his timing and deal with the situations that are placed before us as he would.  Both good and bad.
As most of you know I have been working on my prayer life and this week God has definitely showed me himself in different ways.  One of the biggest things he has taught me is that while I pray I need to fully BELIEVE that what I am praying for God is hearing and will act upon according to his will.  
God is revealing himself to me in new ways everyday 
True friendships both on and off the ship
My friend Danae who hurt her knee while playing soccer wont need surgery!
Nobody asked if i was pregnant this week (wearing baggy shirts helped..hehe..jk)
For Mercy Ships to continue to shine Jesus' light to all; in port and at home
The people of Benin and their continued belief that practicing voodoo is 'okay'
The health of the crew


Shine Abla Shine

God has definitely been working in my heart in amazing ways over this past month.  As you all know I had asked you to pray for a special little patient of mine named Abla.  God used this little girl to touch my heart and show me another dimension of his love and how he uses all things to make his light shine to all people and all nations.

Little Abla:  My evening shift started like any other shift; after getting report, I went around and assessed my patients, started doing vital signs, passing out meds, etc.  As I stood at the bedside of one of my patients out of the corner of my eye I noticed this little girl come in and quickly huddle behind her mothers leg.  As the translators explained to her and her mother different things about what they needed to do I watched her carefully.  This little girl had a sheet draped over her head and looked downcast at the floor and stayed close to her mom.  The translator then brought her and her mother over to the bathroom for her pre-operation shower.  After getting handed all of the shower supplies the mother took the sheet off the little girls head.  Under this sheet stood a skinny 8-year-old little girl with sad eyes and a downcast face.  Around her lower jaw sat a rag that was wet, dirty, and malodorous.  Once the sheet had been taken off of her head she quickly huddled closer to her mother and then off into the shower they went.  A few minutes later the charge nurse approached me to tell me I would be getting a new admission, a little 8 year old girl who would be getting a mandiblectomy and tumor debulking in 2 days.  Guess who?

Once the little girl had showered I showed her and her mother to their bed.  I introduced myself and mom shyly introduced her and her daughter Abla to me.  I soon found out that they had traveled many hours to get to the ship and spoke a dialect that most of our translators could not speak.  So after talking with them for a bit I went off to see what the plan would be for the night.  As I went about my business I glanced over at Abla to see how she was doing my heart instantly stung as I saw this little girl cuddled in a ball under blankets with her face turned away in embarrassment towards the wall.  I took a deep breath and held my tears back…

How do I speak to this little girl? How do I let her know that she is loved? How do I reach out to her? I said prayer, then grabbed some goods, and started to work my magic.  It is amazing to me how much you can say without words.  Over the next 8 hours Abla and I colored together (she had NEVER colored before and didn’t even know how to hold a crayon/pencil), she listened to her heart with my stethoscope, she showed me the correct way to hold a baby doll (in this culture if you have a deformity you are demon possessed and an outcast, due to this Abla is rarely around other people especially babies).   By the end of my shift her mother had fallen asleep and Abla waved me over because she needed to go to the bathroom so I picked her up and as we started walking towards the bathroom her little hand slipped into mine (another tear jerking moment).  She trusted me and knew that she was loved. 

The next evening I came back and was able to have another blessed shift with Abla and her mother.  I used some of the skills taught by my beloved child life specialists and grabbed a little baby doll and showed Abla what the dressings would look like when she got out of surgery, I helped answer some of her moms questions and anxieties and did my best to pour love over them both.  Later in the evening the pre op picture guys came in to get some photos.  Since 

Abla had come in she had not removed the rag from her bottom jaw except to eat and shower and even then she always made sure she was hidden.  Well poor Abla had to take off her rag and have multiple pictures taken of her tumor.  The tumor stuck out about 2 inches from her jaw was about 4 inches long and hit her upper jaw.   AS soon as they finished taking their photos she quickly covered herself under the blankets and turned back towards the wall.  My heart fell again thinking that everything that we had accomplished over the past 2 days had just been thrown into the water.  But to my great surprise about 15 minutes later I saw this little hand pop out from under the blankets and her summon me over.  Phew!

The next morning Abla went into surgery and was in and out in about 3 hours.  The surgery went way better than the doctor had originally thought.  He thought he was going to have to talk out her lower jaw and basically form her a new one but once he got in there he basically only had to cut out the tumor.  Thank you for all of you who prayed for Abla during this time, the prayers were definitely felt. 

I came onto shift just as she was getting back from surgery.  Unlike in America when a patient comes back from surgery they still are pretty full of anesthesia so I gave her a few hours to wake up.  After giving her some water, bread and pain meds and seeing that she was able to sit up and stay awake I said a prayer and then brought a mirror over to Abla so that she would see what she looked like.  I was excited, nervous, and scared all at once.  As Abla took the mirror in her hand and held it up to her face she stared at her face for about 3 seconds my thoughts ran imagining the joy she must be feeling seeing her new face for the first time BUT instead she quickly slammed the mirror down and looked away towards the wall.  My heart sank, my stomach turned and my mind fizzled.  ‘What is she thinking? Why is she upset? God comfort 

her be with her.’  I gave her a few minutes and through a translator talked with mom and asked her to give Abla the mirror again when she thinks she is ready.  About 5 minutes later Abla slowly picked up the mirror and stared at her mouth as if it wasn’t really hers.  She then handed me the mirror and raised her hand to touch her jaw where the tumor once was.  A single tear pooled in her eye and streamed down her face.  I then grabbed her mom and then the tears starting pouring.  Over the next few hours Abla would intermittently grab her mirror and then just touch her face and EVERY TIME my heart would melt. 

Today at church we listened to the song “Shine Jesus Shine” and as I sang God popped a little picture of Abla in my mind.  Everyday I ask myself how can I be a better disciple, friend, nurse, sister, daughter etc.? How can I be most effective for you God? How can I shine your light to those who are in darkness? How do I spread the good news to all those who have been unreached? And then I realized that that is exactly what Mercy Ships is doing.  Abla will be WAY more effective and influential then I will ever be.  Sending Abla back to her village and having all of those people that have treated her as if she was demon possessed and shunning her from their village, to see her come back with a bright and joyful smile speaks louder and clearer than any words ever would.  Abla truly will shine Jesus’ light.

Mark 2:  Jesus heals a paralytic " I tell you, get up, take your mat, and go home".. "this amazed everyone and they praised God."  Shine Jesus shine, fill this nation with grace and mercy!

on a lighter note...

Soccer!! Okay so you all know how much I love soccer.  I know I know its been a few years since I have really played but soccer will always hold a special place in my heart.  Anyway over the past 2 months of training and now in Africa I have had multiple soccer situations.  Now mind you i am not in soccer shape AT ALL but it was nice to play around.  Anyway so this past week I was able to play 2 days.  The team is made up of mainly Mercy Ships crew members and then day workers and translators who work on the ship.  There are definitely some differences in playing soccer here vs at home.  The main difference is that we play on a big sand field (pretty much looks like a beach) which makes it quite difficult to sprint, turn, or pretty much do anything, but it is very entertaining to watch us westerners.  Keeps us humble!

Zimmi- chicken races: Soo they have these moto bikes called Zimmi-johns that are very dangerous and are not covered under my insurance so no mom i wont ride on one even though i really wa
nt to.  ANYWAY so the other day a friend and I decided to run home after playing a game.  Well for all of you who know the game of chicken i basically played this scary little game about 20 times on my run back.  eekk! But no wounds were obtained! Hoorayy! Anyway here are some pictures of the many things that people travel with on these little bikes.  The most people i saw on one bike was 5.  Talk about car pooling!

Hevie Opening Ceremony:  The other day i had the pleasure of going to the opening ceremony for the Hevie Agriculture Dormitory.  Once we got to the ceremony we were greeted by all the villagers in the community plus all of the trainees and trainers involved with the Agriculture center.  The purpose of this dormitory and agriculture program is to teach and instruct the selected pupils in how to care for and work with the land.  All of the trainees in the program will be living in this dormitory which makes the program much more effective and a lot more efficient.  Intermittently throughout the 5 hour program we had African singing and dancing going on which totally made me want to get up and dance but i decided to restrain myself.. maybe next time. hehe

80s party: This to me was such a huge comfort to me.  I know you may be thinking how is an 80s party a comfort WELLL theme parties has always been a favorite past time for me and my best friends.  All my Ellison 18 girls, Julie, 7th floor angels.  I have definitely been missing my close friends a lot recently and this was just what the doctor ordered.  Miss you girls and don't worry I represented! woo woo!

Mom this last one is for you: This one is short but sweet. While out in town it is strongly recommended that we wear dresses/skirts and nice shirts, so I always do (after the "knees" incident i am following the rules to a T).  As i was about to get back into our Land Rover one of the women day workers came over to me and asked " Ohhh are you pregnant?!" with a big excited grin on her face.  I, as nicely as possible, quickly replied "No, that's just my belly."  So mom after 26 years of telling me to suck in my stomach when i am standing I now see why.  


Some random stories:

Back flip FLOP: So a few days after i arrived in Benin a friend suggested that a bunch of us go to a nearby swimming pool.  Once we arrived I instantly noticed a tall diving platform and the ideas started streaming.  My friend, Elliot, decided he would do a back flip off of this 5 meter platform.  Jump up, flip around all the way, SPLASH!  "Psshh I can totally do that" I thought to myself.  I climbed up and yelled down for some quick instructions and then off I went.  Jump up, flip around... half way and FLOP! Yea that's right, flat on my face, red and white streaks up my legs and the "ouuu" from the crowd of people around the pool.  
(update: I made myself go back up and try again and made it all the way, but my pride was still bruised)

2am Shower: I'm back on doing night shifts at work.  I actually don't mind doing night shifts it's the sleeping during the day that is hard for me.  But now that I am on the ship this is a requirement and so far so good.  During my 2nd night shift I was taking care of a little boy that was VERY sick.  Continuous albuteral nebs, chest PT, fluids, IV antibiotics, the works.  So basically I was one to one with this child even though i had 9 other children on various wards.  As you can imagine this boy did not like me patting his chest and putting a plastic cup around his face all night.  At one point he was batting my hand away, again, and I held my ground and continued on with the treatment.  Well next thing I know as i stood there the little boy started peeing all over his mom and by the time I noticed what was going on he redirected his stream, intentionally, and peed all over me.  For the first time that night the little boy smiled.  Little boy 1 Becca 0.  

Africa Shorts: In the ship handbook they talk about proper dress attire.  In their it reads that you are allowed to wear athletic clothes as long as you are working out but besides that nothing above the knee.  Wellll... my friend Jamie and I went on our morning walk and then after dashed over to breakfast which gets put away at 730am.  We grabbed our breakfast and then went over to sit and eat.  As we sat their some friends came over and one said basically that we were breaking ship rules.  (side note: my shorts sit RIGHT above my knee when i stand just to clarify).  Utterly confused and thinking he was kidding i asked "for real?"  He then continued to explain to us that anything that shows the knee is considered R-rated (knees= chest and chest= knees).  As he talked i slowly took in my surroundings and realized we truly were the only 2 people with our knees showing.  Jamie and i quickly finished eating and ran off to our cabins to repent and change.  PS mom please send me longer shorts! love your inappropriate-shorts-wearing daughter

Be careful what you pray for: So now that i am feeling better i have been trying my best to continue to apply all that i learned during that time.  Keeping my focus on God, remembering why i am here, and getting to know him more.  But i am also wanting to do more things, meet new people, get out and see Africa, etc.  Now i can do both of these things simultaneously but sometimes my priorities get askew.  The other night as I went to bed i prayed that God would give me a better prayer life.  I have a list of people and things to pray for but at times I feel like my heart isn't truly in it.  The next morning i woke up to work my day shift.  I got up at 6a to do my bible time then went down to work at 7a.  As i went from ward to ward to see which one i was in I got to the last ward only to find out i wasn't working a day shift but an evening shift (starts at 2p).  Hmm, be careful what you pray for! Over the next few hours of 'free time'  I was able to clear my head and truly spend time in prayer.  Pray for me so i can be better at praying for you.  heheh 

Okay that is it for now.  I know there will be plenty of funny/weird/awkward stories to come. 



 My view every morning!!
Before I forget I want to update you all on my arm.  My arm is doing great.  I had a friend ask the other day and I said " It looks so good" she then said "Becca, good is not the word, it looks better but not good." So basically my aspirations of becoming an arm model are out but I could spokes person for why to wear Deet repellant.  hehe! 
Anyway so now on to what you all really want to hear about. 
First off my living quarters: I am in a 4 bunk room with a little bathroom which does include a shower.
Secondly the hospital.  THere are 3 wards in use right now which holds around 50 patients.  Currently all the wards are mixed with different ages and genders but it is actually kind of nice to see everyone communing together.  Infectious disease would probably freak out and HIPPA forget about it, but it works.  I usually have 4 patients for day shift, 5-6 for evenings, and 10 for night shifts.  I am still doing pediatrics but they are ALL post-op surgical patients and definitely keep us all running.  

Okay now for the ship.  The ship is great.  I continually got lost for about the first week i was here but now i pretty much can get my way around.  The food has been great and i am even getting use to the Milch (boxed milk) and have found my new favorite sweet is bagged ice cream -Fan-choco... yumm! Whenever new ships come in and out of port you can definitely feel the sway but besides that things are pretty steady.  And I am slowly getting down the ship lingo (thanks Leo and Jim S.)

Now that I am back to normal (stupid bug bite) i have been able to do a couple different day trips.  One day i was able to go to an orphanage to help care for 20 infants and toddlers so that the caregivers could get computer trained.  The yesterday i went to Oidah which is known as "the point of no return" which was the site where thousands of African slaves were shipped off to America, Brazil, and Haiti.  It was nice to be able to see and hear more about Benin and its history.
And last but not least, and actually maybe i should have put it first, is my God walk.  Now that I am feeling good i have to constantly remind myself of the lessons I learned during my infection.  It is so easy for me to go go go (ask my parents) but for me to stop and put time aside to rest and be in silence can be realllly hard.  BUT God definitely taught me a lot and now my prayer is that i will keep that in mind at all times.  

Psalm 118: 14 "The Lord is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation"

(This is a memorial site for all the slaves that were sent from Africa)