Reality check..

This past week has definitely been a huge reality check for me.  There have been a lot of hard things that have happened over this past week and my heart was definitely feeling pretty heavy.  I felt like it was just one thing after another and whenever I felt like ‘Okay God this is all I can handle. You can stop now’, something else would get piled on. Since I have been on the ship, I have seen so many different miracles and healings take place that I pushed the possibility of bad things happening aside.  But this past week it was just one thing after another and I realized that yes God is definitely in this place but a reality check that we are also living in a fallen world.

I think, no wait, I KNOW God had a reason for halting my thoughts as I went to write out this entry.  Over the past 2 weeks as I went to write this entry most of the heart wrenching situations turned into something beautiful.  Bear with me now. 

As most of you know my friend Chitra, one of the guards, got hit by a motobike and was quickly brought to our ICU.  At first I was sad and confused thinking why would God let this happen? But now I realize how lucky he was to treated at a a top of the line hospital in Benin.  Then the prayer and love that was poured upon him from people all over the world was astounding.  Because of this, he is alive and well.  Praise God! 

The other heart breakers came from working on the wards.  I had two infants who were mentally disabled, with cerebral palsy, a seizure disorder and most likely will never walk or talk.  Now don’t get me wrong, through Gods grace and mercy we were able to successfully do surgery on both of these patients (one was a cleft lip/palate repair and the other we removed a 1.5kg encephalocele and placed a VP shunt) but my heart ached feeling like we were just putting a band-aid on a much bigger problem. Welllll… I found out today while at work that there is an organization, in Benin, that helps families just like these.  Hoorrayyy!! So far, so good.  I also had a patient whose father had passed away unexpectedly 2 weeks prior.  He told me that he wasn’t allowed to go to his own fathers’ funeral.  The community wouldn’t let him due to the fact they thought he was demon possessed because of the tumor in his jaw.  SHUT UP! (in my head, not outloud) It got me so mad/sad.  Over the next couple days I was able to talk with this patient more and we ended up having some conversations about Gods love for each of his children no matter what the outward appearance.  Later in the week that patient left with a big smile on his new face and hopefully some seeds were planted in his heart.

These types of cases happen everyday all over the world.  People are hit by motobikes and have no medical care.  Children are born everyday and aren’t provided with the services they need to live.  People are pushed out of communities just by what they look like.  But God placed these patients here for a reason, each specific one.  Life is so much more than physical healing as most of us know.  We could be the most beautiful and wealthy people and be miserable.  The love I have seen to patients and from patients is straight from God himself. 

 My good friend Leah gave me this song called “Praise you in the storm” months ago but it was something that helped me this past week.  The gist of the song is that we need to praise God amidst the storms in our lives.  We may stumble and cry out to God and he will lift us up again.  When we feel like our strength is gone and we can’t go on, God strengthens us.  Even though thunder booms around us we just have to listen for His whisper that says, “I am with you.”  Sometimes he gives us things and sometimes he takes away but we need to praise him through it all.  The song is called Praise you in this storm.   God is the same yesterday, today and forever.  He sees every tear that falls and he holds them tightly in His hands.  He will NEVER leave your side.  So when you feel like your heart is torn, praise Him.


*-For the glory of God-*

1 Corinthians 10:31 So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.

I have now been in Africa for almost 2 months serving on the Africa Mercy. I am still settling in and feeling 'comfortable' but defintiely know that it'll be awhile before I can truly call this ship my home.

Working on the wards has been unbelieveable. The nurses that I work with come from all around the world and they have all come for one purpose and that is to serve God. It is amazing to see how God works through a bunch of strangers who are obeying His will for their life. One of the most special things to me about serving as a nurse on the ship is the freedom to be able to pray. At first it was pretty awkward since for my ENTIRE nursing career this was a big NO NO but it is so amazing to see how God truly does hear our prayers and also how much He comforts the family and patient. Not only do we pray with the patients on the wards but also at the beginning of every shift all the nurses gather and pray together. God is so evident in this place and you can see his hands at work not just in the hospital but all around the ship and even off the ship as well.
Another great thing about working in the wards has been the opportunity to get to know some of the translators from Benin. Living on the ship is like living in a mini version of America so it has been great talking with adn getting to know some of Benin coworkers. It has also been great to see their passion and heart to serve the Lord and also to help their fellow countrymen.

One of the things I have struggled with is feeling like I should do more. Whenever I have a day off I think "Okay what can I do to serve the people of Benin." I feel like I need to go go go but God has shown me time and time again that it is NOT about doing as much as it is about seeking after Him and obeying Him. You think I would have learned after my whole arm thang that God does want me to just love him but i still get sidetracked at times. One of the things I had asked for prayer about was in regards to my prayer life. It's funny because I get all frustrated that i want to have a better prayer life and hear God in new ways but as I thought about it more i realized that my prayer life has increased 10 fold since signing up with Mercy Ships; It had to. I mean come on now, how crazy is it to leave my family, all my friends, my dream job, my new home, and all the other comforts of life to go and volunteer on a ship in Africa. Yea my prayer life has definitely increased. hehe. Anyway I have definitely felt your prayers for my prayers. (*if you would like to know specifics write back and i'll fill you in... it has been so cool!!) God has continued to draw close to me and I to Him in ways I never imagined.

Last week for the first time since arriving in Africa I can truly say that I missed my family. It is easy for me to be all strong and tough when saying "Yea I'll see my family in 2 years" but when seeing one of my friends get upset about missing her sister I started realizing how much I missed mine as well. Its kind of like watching a sad movie if no one cries then you are all set but the second someone drops a tear the waterfall begins. ugh! Anyway I started feeling all bad for myself and then started thinking about all the other things I was missing. Hugs from my parents, Duncan, the Buckley baby, Emily's birthday, huggin friends who are going through hard times, holidays, normal length shorts, the fall season... but as I sat there I had to think about 'Why am I here?' I knew in coming here that this would not be easy but God never said life would be easy actually he said it would be hard but thats why we have hope and peace knowing that this isnt all there is to life. As I thought more about these things my tears dried up and a smiled fell across my face because I KNOW that for now God wants me here and I have never had such peace and joy as I do now that I am here.

As I stare out over the ocean with the sunsetting in front of me I realize how truly wonderful and magnificent God is. I just want to encourage each and everyone of you that read this blog to keep your focus on God and God alone. Glorify God with your lives and by doing so also remember to love one another. We are all Gods missionaries whether it be in a foreign land or at home. No matter what your life circumstances are right now know that God is with you and is preparing you for something. I am sending an internet HUG to you all and some love as well.

Hebrews 3:13 But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin's deceitfulness.