Pierrette's Posse- dining room divas

Well right now we are somewhere between Togo and South Africa on the 9th day out of our hopeful 18 day sail. Now in past sails I have stayed in the hospital department helping with scanning patient charts, writing or rewriting protocols, helping with nursing orientation, or researching Burkitt’s. Well this sail I decided to branch out and join the dining room team. (*sidenote: Annie and Mom stop laughing. I can hear you now, “Becca in the dining room? The girl who eats cereal and tuna just so she doesn’t have to cook or clean!” I know I know. Just keep reading). The main reason I picked this job was that I really wanted to be around the crew and be able to interact with them throughout the sail. Well I definitely got what I asked for and at times maybe more than I asked for.. hehe
The first day of my new job I showed up fully energized and excited to start. My team was made up of Lydia (my roommie), Pierrette, and two other nurses Becca and Sarah.
(Pierrette's Posse/my dining room team)
Our day started at 615 and went til 1015. As we finished mopping the floors I was feeling tired but okay and was told to be back for 1115 to set up for lunch. So after a quick break we all scurried back in and worked until 3p. After finishing mopping we were told to be back by 415 to set up for dinner. Sweet an extra 15 minutes this time… hmmm that went by WAY to fast. We worked until 750p. After mopping the floors I slowly made my way back to my room to wash off the salsa in my hair, the lettuce in my ears, and the butter and mayonnaise that was glistening on my arms. “What did I sign up for?!”
That night I went to bed and slept VERY well. I woke up the next day to do it all over again. By the end of day 2 I had pulled out the master schedule and was counting how many more days of this torture I had to endure. "1,2, 3, 4,5,6,7,8 okay 8 days left…" On top of counting my remaining days I also had thought up some new dining room rules:
1. Everyone should be in the ‘Clean Plate Club’- only take what you can eat and lick your plate clean.
2. When finished eating you should wipe down your own table and clean up around your area.
3. One cup per person per day.
4. If using peanut butter, butter, or eggs you have to clean your own dish.
*For more rules and regulations for proper dining in the dining room please email me.. hehe
As I dragged myself back to my room I was wondering why this was so much more draining then all other work I had done. Was it the hours? manual labor? the people? Was it just the fact that it was new and unfamiliar? So I decided to do something that I should have done awhile ago, I decided to pray about it. It didn’t take long for God to show me my problem was not any of these but the problem was my own bad attitude.
In nursing I run across ALL types of people and some that are more… challenging than others. But in this scenario it wasn’t others as much as my own reaction that was so shocking to me. Being a nurse is what I truly love and what brings me inexpressible joy and love but working in the dining room is definitely more of a test for me.
God what are you trying to teach me?
Answer: Learn to serve.
Hmm… Learn to serve? God, remember I am serving, that’s why I moved away from everything I knew to serve you on a tin ship in Africa. So I asked again and His answer was: Learn to serve. Alright alright I get it. Well maybe I should look up the definition to see what serving really means or looks like.
Serve~ a. To work for. b. To be a servant to. c. To prepare and offer.
Shoot. I know that I have been serving not only over this past year but off and on throughout my life. Most of us have been. But having spaghetti sauce and coffee grinds up to my elbows was not something I envisioned as a way of serving the Lord. I mean come on I’m a nurse, God is this really how you want me to be using my skills.
What would Jesus do? What would he say?
Jesus came down from heaven, the most beautiful, amazing place that even words can’t describe, left his Father, to live and work on this sinful evil world. Now He could have come down to earth (ya know the one He created) and reigned as King of all kings, but instead he took on the job of a humble servant carpenter. Jesus did not come into this world to be served but to serve. (Matthew 20:28) and we are called to live as Christ lived. So why am I getting all bent out of shape and walking around with a bad attitude when I should be rejoicing to being able to serve my fellow brothers and sister as Christ served us.
I will end with this. After working only a week in the dining room I am so thankful for all that God has taught me and excited to see what else he has to teach me. The saying that goes, ‘Don’t judge a man til you walk an hour in his shoes/apron’
has never meant as much to me as it does now. After my attitude adjustment and a few conversations with God I see this time in the dining room no longer as a curse but as a HUGE blessing.
I pray blessings upon all those who have worked or are working in food services whether on the Africa Mercy or at home. Know that in everything we do whether eating, drinking or helping someone else eat and drink do it all for the glory of God.

Jeremiah 17:10~ “I the LORD search the heart and examine the mind, to reward a man according to his conduct, according to what his deeds deserve."


Community health education

If you were to ask me a year ago if I would ever be interested in teaching community health in Africa, I would have said “No I’m all set. I don’t really like teaching.” Well God has a funny way of taking my words and flipping them COMPLETELY around. For example I told my coworkers, Emily and Sue, “I would never live on a ship” and “I would never go to Africa.”…. Right. I have MANY examples of statements like these but for the sake of space I’ll hold back.
August 19th marks my one-year anniversary of being on the Africa Mercy. There have been many amazing things that God has taught me during this time and also many amazing relationships built.
One friend that helped ignite this passion for health education was my dear friend Ellen. God forced us to be friends by putting us in the same cabin and in the same bunk. When you live in a 6x6 space you end up getting to know each other very well, whether you want to or not. Thankfully we ended up wanting to. During those first few months living together, we both slowly opened up to each other and ended up becoming best friends. She use to come in and tell me all about the passions and desires that God had placed on her heart with educating the women of Africa. I was so excited for her to pursue these dreams but never would have imagined that God was planting seeds, in my heart, at the same time.
(Wilson and Ellen)
During our sail from Spain to Togo I was pouring myself into finding out about Burkitt’s Lymphoma. During this time God was softening my heart and opening my eyes about the needless suffering that his children were going through. After arriving in Togo God continued to pour water onto that seed. This education thing was no longer something I had to do but something I needed to do. But how?
One Sunday while at the Fishing Village Church, I was praying and pleading with God to show me how I could make this community health thing a reality. I told God I had NO experience, no teaching skills, no resources, and knew no other language besides English (and even that was questionable at times). But even with all these strikes against me and with all these weaknesses I was willing to do my best and be used by Him. ‘God use me. Show me what to do. Here I am Lord, use me.’
As I opened my eyes after praying, I looked up to see the whole church congregation sitting in front of me. ‘Ding!’ Sitting right in front of me was the classroom God has prepared. The church.
1 Peter 4:10~ Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God's grace in its various forms.
(Some of my Fishing Village students)
The week following this insight, Ellen and I were talking about how she was going to start to teach English up at a church in a village called Agoe. I then asked he if I could come and do some healthcare stuff. She quickly agreed.
And so it was started. Every Saturday that I had off, I would go up with Ellen and Wilson to this little church in Agoe. In time I saw that teaching such a large group about different healthcare was difficult. At this time I just so happened to be taking an online class about international medicine and they had a whole section about teaching Community Health Workers. They wrote out how to not only teach people but to find people with a passion for learning and teaching health care. The next Saturday I went to the church and prayed and asked the 25+ women to be praying to see if this is something that God had placed on their hearts. At the end of that day I had 8 people raise their hands to take on this healthcare challenge.
I started going to the church during the week and meeting with this smaller group. I was able to get more in depth and they were able to ask a lot more questions. After every lesson that we did during the week two of the students would then present that same lesson to the class on Saturday. God is so good!
Once the Deeper Life church (Agoe) was up and running I also started going to the Fishing Village Church and teaching there as well. There were times I felt so unqualified and other times burnt out. Sometimes I would start to teach and I would see an ocean of blank faces. So I would stop, pray, and then try a new method. Each week I would show up and see these blank faces as I talked about a specific health issue but one at a time you would see their eyes brighten with understanding. Yess!!! They get it, they understand!! God you are so good!
Week after week I would get together with these church members and quickly grew to love and trust them. Not once did I leave there without feeling more joy and love then when I came. My time with these brothers and sisters of mine will be forever etched in my heart.
(Students from Deeper Life Church)
In February as I embarked on this community health adventure all I could think about was how I was going to “Help the people of Togo” but as I contemplate these past 6 months I see how God actually used them to teach and bless me.
Last weekend we had our closing service for the Fishing Village Church and then today we had the closing service for the Deeper Life church in Agoe. I can truly say that I will miss all these friends that I have grown to love. They have truly showered me with love, joy, and grace. Please keep these two churches in your prayers!
I also want to take this time to lift up my wonderful friend and translator, Vicky. Wow! Her presence in my life has been nothing but a blessing. I met her while she was working on the ship as a hospital translator. I instantly liked her and when I asked her if she would like to volunteer her time to help me teach health care she quickly accepted. Her kindness, love, joy, and selfless attitude has been so admirable. She is truly my sister in Christ and I am so excited to see how God will use her for His kingdom. Please be praying for Vicky.

**We will soon be setting sail from Togo and going down to South Africa, to get some engine/generator work done. Goodbyes are never easy but God showed me last year at the end of Benin that even though you are separated by distance that the friendships still continue on. To all my Togolese friends I pray blessings upon your life may God use you mightily as you trust and obey him. Until we meet again!