Merry Christmas family!!

Merry Christmas to you all!

Being away from home at times is not easy especially during the holidays. Don’t get me wrong the ship is a great place but there is something special about being around people that really truly know you. Today is my third Christmas away from home and I am happy to say that God has really blessed me with an understanding of not only family but Christmas as well.

My first Christmas away from home was by far the hardest but also one of the best. God was so good during this time and showed me just how much he loved me and also the true meaning of this day that we celebrate the birth of his holy son coming from heaven to earth for me. This realization of Gods love was so intimate and deep that for that first Christmas away it was better than any family member or present ever could have satisfied. Sorry Mom!

Then last year Christmas was also very special. I had been away from my family for about a year and also had been away from my ship family for about 4 months. I was more or less on my own and dealing with some hard things but also learning a ton along the way. Then by Gods special grace and by a sister and brothers’ love and care for me, Annie and Greg flew all the way over to Ghana to spend Christmas with me. The joy and peace that I felt seeing them walk into the Accra airport was a feeling I will never forget. These two people are ones that I am humbled by as they love and give with no desire for anything in return. Thanks guys for an amazing Christmas!!

So now I am at my third Christmas away from home. But this time I have my husband to spend it with (woo woo). How cool to know that this is our first Christmas of many as the Kulah family. We are now trying to mix our family and cultural traditions and are thanking God for all his amazing blessings and faithfulness to us both that brought us to this Christmas day together as husband and wife.

So yes there are things that I will miss: my crazy/awesome family and friends back home, snow, Christmas movies and songs, Christmas eve service at my church, stockings, etc but the blessings that I have received in return are of no match.

Recently my family and two friends came to Sierra Leone to celebrate Greg and my wedding. While here they were all so touched by the ship and the special place that it was. One person remarked, “I feel like the ship is a glimpse of a small piece of what heaven might be like.” After the wedding finished I kept hearing story after story about all the crew who pitched in to help us on our special day. Greg and I were overwhelmed by everyone’s love and support of us. And this is when I realized that these coworkers, roommates, and friends had become family. Sadly it wasn’t until this moment that the scales fell off my eyes to see this forever family.

1 Corinthians 13:12~ We don’t see things clearly. We’re squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won’t be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We’ll see it all then, see it as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly as he knows us.

The love and support that I have received from friends and family at home, friends and family on the ship, and friends and family around the world is mind-blowing. God has shown me over these few years away that my family is all around. My eternal family is all around.

May God bless you all this season and may you thank him for his sacrifice and love for you by sending his son down to this earth. Thank you all for your love and the family that you are to me.

Merry Christmas

Family to me means grace, mercy, and love

This family I talk about was formed from above

My family expands each and every day

I love them all more than words can say

The sisters and brothers that I have met

Show a love for me that I will never forget

Each country we go to more family are there

Waiting with hope for all the fellowship we’ll share

This family consists of black, white, young and old

From all different nations, pennies and gold

My heart at times is sad from all the goodbyes

But when reading HIS word I know I’ll be fine

This family is something I cannot explain

Same passion and love to spread Jesus name

Working together to end suffering on earth

With mercy and love and all that it’s worth

This family I have is irreplaceable

The Father of whom is indescribable

This family is a glimpse of what is to come

Now seen in part but one day we’ll see the full one


Introducing Mr and Mrs Kulah

Surrounded by generosity, enveloped with prayers, covered with encouragement, showered with joy, and uplifted with kindness; Greg and I have not stopped talking about the amazing love and support that we have received leading up to our wedding and on our wedding day. There are so many thank yous that I want to write but for now I want to introduce you to the new Mr and Mrs Gregory Kulah.

For all those without facebook (the time has come to open an account) you can check out this link: http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10150445502714240.390549.500744239&type=1&l=531398e51b

The following is only a glimpse of our wedding day. Right now my mind is overflowing with thoughts and feelings so much that my fingers have yet to catch up. But i hear that a picture can say a thousand words so if that is true here is 12,000 words.

By His Love,
Mrs. Becca Kulah!!

PS All of these photos were taken by our amazing coworker and friend Ali Chandra. Thanks Ali for all your hard work and joy!

PPS Special shout out to all of our family and friends back in the states and Liberia. And also to Immanuel Church and Park Street Church in Massachusetts. Thank you for all your love and support and until we see each other again may God continue to bless you and guide you each day!!


A Church Leaders testimony..

I received an invitation in the mail with the name “Mercy Ships” inscribed on the envelope. I have known about Mercy Ships for many years but why were they sending me a letter? Upon opening it I saw that they had invited me for a 4 day Church Leaders Conference here in Bo, Sierra Leone. I was so excited to be a part of this Mercy Ships conference. As I read it in more detail I saw that the conference was called “Partnership in Whole-Person Ministry”. I didn’t fully understand what that meant but I put the dates in my calendar and asked one other church leader in my church to attend with me.Finally the date had arrived. The first day of the conference the sun was shining brightly over Bo and the roads were dry. Myself with my friend got on two okadas (motorcycles) and preceded through the dirt roads of Bo to the church were the conference was being held. On arrival there were many other church leaders from numerous denominations waiting in line to register. The day started off with some prayer and worship and then a man from Ghana, brother Chris, from Samaritans Strategy began to talk about worldview. He went on to talk about that Jesus is our model for development. Over the next 6 hours I was captivated by the message that he was saying. At the end of the day I went back to my house and reflected on all that I had heard.

The next morning the rains fell hard. It took me 20 minutes just to get an okada and then due to the rain it took me twice as long to get to the church. Then on arrival the okada driver wanted double the normal rate due to the weather conditions. I walked into the conference over an hour late. I was frustrated, tired, and wet. But I prayed and asked God to help me settle, to help me focus, and then my heart received peace and I listened again to the words being spoken.
For a total of four days I continued this routine and by the last day I wished that they were just beginning. The last day we had another man, Joseph Gbando, come and speak on behalf of Community Health Evangelism. He talked about how to apply these lessons that we had heard to our ministries. I felt excitement as I thought over the many possibilities and opportunities of being able to apply these lessons to my family, my church, and my community. At the end of the last day both of the two groups, Samaritans Strategy and Community Health Evangelism put out sign up lists for further training and or meetings to continue with the wisdom we had just received. I sat praying about which one to sign up for. Both were so amazing. Both were so meaningful. Both were exactly what I needed. I signed up for both.
Over the next 4 months I started to implement the things that I had learned during this conference into my life. For my family we started waking up each morning to pray together and to read the bible. This was an amazing time of growth and unity for us all. I also started to help out more around the house with fetching water and sometimes even helping to prepare a meal, when my wife would let me. In my church we started a small garden on the bit of land that we had. We named it the ‘Garden of Eden’. As a church we would care for the land and contribute whenever a need arose. During the days and weeks that followed be produced a crop and started to sell this group in the market. Now we are getting income weekly that we are putting towards different projects in our community. And then in the community around our church and my home we started a youth football league. This is a time that we get together with all the youth in our area no matter the religion and play a football game. We always pray before and after and provide water and even snacks when the funds are sufficient. Through this ministry we have had three Muslim youths start to attend church. We pray that they will come to know Jesus as their Lord and Savior.At the beginning of October, about 5 months after the first conference, I received notification of a Mercy Ships follow up conference in Bo. I was very excited to share all that God had done in my life since the last time we were all together. That morning we talked about all the ways in which this conference had affected each that had attended. I was so encouraged about the different testimonies I heard. At the end of the day we had the opportunity to take the next step in furthering our training with the help of the two ministries that Mercy Ships partnered with.

Next month I will do a one-week training within my church with Community Health Evangelism. They will help us to continue seed projects in and around our community. Then four times a year we will get together with the Samaritans Strategy group to discuss and sharpen one another as we have different situations arise within our ministries.
I have been so blessed by these conferences and their affect in my life and on the lives of those around me. I pray that these conferences would continue around all of Africa. God bless Mercy Ships for all they have done and continue to do for His kingdom!
To God be all the glory!


Learning how to juggle…

Upon returning to the ship, after Greg and my time back in the US, I knew I was going to have to do a bit of a juggling act. As of September 5th I would be working 20 hours in the hospital and 20 hours out of the hospital (Off Ships). Just like any ‘change’ the beginning is always interesting as you try and figure out when to throw a ball UP and when to grab the next one. I wasn’t sure if I was going to be good at this ‘juggling’ thing but so far so good.
I was a bit worried about working back in the hospital because I had been out of ‘ship nursing’ for about a year because of my time in West Africa and my new role earlier this year. But I was also SUPER excited to be doing patient care again. The hospital leadership asked if I would be willing to do post-operation care (wound care) and I said “Sure!” I have been doing this now for about 3 weeks and I have loved every single minute of it! It is nice to do something that I know and that I love.

The other great thing about doing this post-operative care is that I get to do wound care on all of my Hope Center patients. These are the patients I go and teach three times a week. It is such a blessing to be with them in so many different aspects of their journey with Mercy Ships. With my new schedule I will continue to teach my three days a week but I am now trying a new method of teaching by writing out role-plays on preventable illnesses. Sounds challenging doesn’t it? Well you are right but it is exciting to see how the patients and day volunteers/translators have fun with it.

So my third juggling piece is the continuation of the church leaders conferences. This year Mercy Ships has decided to do follow up conferences for each of the conferences that went on earlier this year. The first will be held on the September 28th in Freetown (where the ship is located). The next two will be held on October 4th in Bo (~5 hr drive) and the last on October 5th in Makeni (~3hr drive). These conferences always make me a bit nervey (yup made up a word) but God is teaching me that where I am the weakest that’s when I am the strongest because I rely on HIS strength. So be praying that I am very very weak. After these conferences are finished then comes the fun administration part which I looooovvvee (heavy sarcasm). Be praying for weakness in this too.. hehe…

Let’s recap for a second.
‘Becca’s Juggling Act’ includes
1. Post-operative care
2. Health education at Hope Center
3. Church Leaders Conference
This act may look complete but I don’t want my act to be boring so I thought I would throw in one more exciting piece: the planning and preparation for Greg and my marriage.
Today marks exactly two months until the ‘Big Day’. Greg and I met with our amazing wedding planners, Dulce and Liz, last week and saw how much we haven’t done yet. We are also still meeting weekly with our ship chaplain Marty and weekly with our Sierra Leone pastor, Pastor Moses, who will be marrying us. There is still a lot that has to be done but it has been so cool to see the willingness and desire of friends and family wanting to help out. God has been so obvious throughout each step of our preparations.
Who knows maybe you want to help out too. And if you do you are in luck I have things that I need you to do! These things are very important, don’t cost a lot, and are VITAL for this small little juggling act AND the many life acts that are to follow. I need your prayers.
Please be praying for the rest of this Sierra Leone outreach and all that Mercy Ships is doing. Be praying for all the patients for both physical and spiritual healing and that they would truly see Jesus in all that we do and say. And please continue to lift up Greg and I in prayer as we prepare for our marriage. We are super excited to see how God will use us to further his kingdom but still have many unknowns ahead of us. To God be all the glory and honor both now and forever more!


September already?!

What an amazing time Greg and I have had with all of our friends and family here in the US. This entire vacation was possible because of all of your prayers and God intervening to get Greg his visa. 'With God ALL things are possible' and that has been a reigning truth throughout not only Greg's and my relationship but through our lives as well.
This past month has been anything but boring. To give you a quick breakdown: Sierra Leone- Virginia-Maryland-Boston-Ohio-Boston- New Hampshire-Boston. We spoke at two churches, one retreat, went to a wedding (not our own.. congrats Caiti and Charlie), and an engagement party (this WAS for us.. thanks Mom!). We had over 30 meals out with friends and family. Watched 15 movies. We purchased a wedding dress and a suit for Greg. Spent 160$ at Christmas Tree Shop for wedding flair. Purchased over 170 candles. Bought one mustache. Drove over 1500 miles. Walked the dog over 10 miles, hiked two mountains, and drove my mother crazy only 3 times.
We have both had such an amazing time with all of you and it is with a heavy heart that is now overflowing with love that this part of our journey must come to an end. We thank you for every phone call, meeting, conversation, dinner, lunch, gift, prayer, hug, smile, and laugh. Know that each was meaningful and special to us both. I know we weren't able to see everybody. We wish we could have spent more time with each one of you but please know in your hearts the love we have for you.
I pray that God will continue to bless each and everyone one of you and that you will continue to trust and obey him with your WHOLE lives.

I am still working on my grammar, so for now instead of making my 'grammatically correct friends' cringe, here is an abbreviated pictorial of our time home.

How lucky i am to know so many people that are so hard to say goodbye too...
Until next time!

Back to Africa we go...


Moskita, me no like!

Moskita… me no like!
I HATE mosquitoes!
I thought I hated mosquitoes before I came to Africa but after being here for two years I despise, loathe, and abhor them (I love my thesaurus). Last year, while working with the Burkitt’s program, I discovered even more about why mosquitoes are EVIL (maybe that’s a little harsh).
Here are some reasons why to hate mosquitoes:
1. They cause malaria, which kills up to 3 million people each year, mainly in Africa.
2. Malaria is a major factor in causing Burkitt’s Lymphoma (BL). This cancer mainly affects children in equatorial Africa. The reasons kids get BL are from chronic malaria, malnutrition, plus a dose of the Epstein Barr virus. This cancer, if left untreated, has a100% death rate. ‘Mosquitoes are EVIL’ statement still stands.
Then last November, during my visit to Liberia, this hatred grew even DEEPER when one of these little-parasite-infected-bugs infected ME with malaria (yes I was taking anti-malaria pills). Now they made it PERSONAL! It took me about 2 weeks to fully recover. The positive side of having malaria was that I could truly empathize with my patients but I wish I could have found out another way.
So this year as I took on the new role of being Off Ships Health Educator I was asked to head up the malaria education and bed net distribution program to all the patients at the Hope Center. I quickly accepted.
I wrote up a funny/interactive role-play and started going once a week to teach all the patients staying at the Hope Center. It started off kind of rough, but as the weeks went on it got better and better. The program has been going for about four months and over the past month the patients have become the teachers/actors. I now let them act out the play independently while one of the day volunteers head up the Q & A time.

Another blessing during these teachings has been the cultural sensitivity that I have received from the patients. For example many Africans are taught that malaria comes from:
Eating to much mangos, oranges, and/or oil
Working in the sun/Overworking
Drinking a bad batch of cow milk
When children are naughty (if this one was true I would have had malaria everyday!)
Upon hearing these things my initial reaction was “YOU IDIOT!” But I figured that I should be a bit more gentle. instead I dug deeper to explain to them why these ‘fables’ were not true.
Becca: Yes these are some of the things that we are taught from our families that cause malaria. Now according to the story, how many days after we get a mosquito bite do we feel the symptoms of malaria?
Patients: 12 days
Becca: Okay so let’s say that 12 days after I get bit by a mosquito, I work in the sun all day long and then I come home and eat 10 mangos and 10 oranges plus do something naughty. What am I going to blame malaria on?
Patients: Aaaaaaa!
*definition of ‘Aaaaa’: a common Sierra Leone reaction which is used upon hearing or seeing something surprising; sound of comprehension)
Becca: Yes! “The ‘Aaaa’ of Understanding. I then went on to explain, “So you see we assume the most recent thing we have done gave us the malaria but don’t think back to the small mosquito bite that happened 12 days before.”
Teaching can be a struggle but is so POWERFUL when the students really understand. Sometimes when I am teaching I feel like I am a small burning candle desperately trying to light everyones candlesticks. I plan out all different methods on how best to try and light others candles and will research for hours and only light a few candles. BUT then there are other times I teach and all of the sudden its like ‘BOOM’ and I feel like I am standing center stage with bright lights shining all around. ‘Aaaaaa!’ These center stage moments fill me with excitement, hope, and passion to keep teaching preventative health.
After doing these teachings at the Hope Center, Mercy Ships decided to let me go and do this same lesson at a small village church about one hour outside of Freetown. Over the past 4 weeks I have been going out weekly to teach malaria and to hand out mosquito nets. We were graciously given 100 nets to be given out at one small tarp-constructed church. During my first two visits I led the role-play and Q & A and then the last two visits I became the student and students became the teacher. The first time the new teachers needed a little help during the Q and A time but this last week they did it 100% by themselves. I was so proud of them!

Today was my last day teaching in the village. It was sad leaving knowing that there were still so many that were in need BUT as I thought about the 200+ people from 16 different villages that had received the malaria education joy filled my heart. God is doing more than I could ever ask or imagine and his ways are SOO much higher than my own.
My hope is that each one of these that heard the malaria lesson would become a teacher. That they would be teachers in their home, school, workplace, and community. I pray that many candlesticks will be lit until each village shines bright.
Teaching at these two places has been an amazing experience. I have continued to be refined and challenged but also overcome with joy and love. This hatred towards mosquitoes has given me a deep passion and love for teaching others how to stop these little-parasite-infected-bugs.

In two weeks, Greg and I will be traveling to the US to do some fundraising and to visit churches, families, and friends. We are SOO excited for this time. We are also excited about not having to think about malaria during this time .. hehe..
May God continue to provide wisdom and discretion for stopping diseases like malaria that kill so many each year.