Grace at work

             As of April 21st Mercy Ships has done about 600 surgeries here in Togo plus many other procedures and programs.  These are the specifics: 161 maxillofacial surgeries, 19 cleft lip and palate surgeries, 66 plastic/reconstructive surgeries, 151 general surgeries (hernia, goiters, lipomas, etc), 19 VVF surgeries, 13 palliative care patients, 474 cataract surgeries. And there is still another 6 weeks left of surgeries.  In outpatients we have had over 1200 wound care visits in eleven weeks.  Some days are manic while other days are just ‘busy’ but all days are an adventure. 
The other day while working on a plastics patient and trying to deal with their complicated wound, one of my day workers said to me “It is all about God’s grace.” I then asked, “What do you mean? The surgeries, the healing, the wound care?”   He said, “All.”
This really got me thinking about grace in the context of Mercy Ships.  As I looked over the numbers stated above I know that God’s grace was upon each and every person touched.  Even the thousands that we had to turn away God's grace was still at work.  But as the day worker said this to me I started thinking about the many graces God gives us all as we work for Him here.  Whether it be the surgeons performing complicated operations, the deckies working with heavy machinery in the hot sun, the 50 children on board who have teachers and a curriculum to prepare them for the next step in life, and in outpatients where each day we view the intricacies of the human body and how it heals.  There are times when i leave work and get down or upset as certain patients wounds arent healing the way they should or in the time they should.  But the other side of grace is it is all about God's timing and his purposes and not our own.  There are some wounds that we look at and cringe knowing that it will take weeks before it heals and then by Gods grace they come back and by the next week their wounds are beautiful.  For some of you this may not mean to much but for any nurse out there (happy nurses week by the way... MGH girls, love ya) you can appreciate these things more.  To watch somebody who has had their body so badly burned that they are unrecognizable and hindered from doing basic activities, to see their skin come anew after a basic plastic surgery is truly Gods grace.  As we work with each patient trying to decide which product to put on their slow healing or infected wound, it is only by Gods grace that these troublesome wounds heal. 
So yes we have troublesome wounds but truth be told we also have troublesome patients and caregivers.  Mercy Ships looks for and works on physical deformities but as we care for these patients we come to see wounds that are seated deep inside.  Some of our patients aren’t healing the way they should because their parents choose not to obey the directions we give them.  Where as others are dealing with alcoholism, depression, drug abuse, trauma, and/or domestic abuse.  A lot of times these are the patients that stay with us day after day, week after week, and (to be honest) these are the ones that you are hoping will just heal so you can get a break.  But again, it's God's grace that knows when the person will heal but it is also God's grace working in my life as well to rely on his grace and strength and not my own.
In conclusion, after working in Africa for about three years, I have found that the western world and Africa can be SO different but also SO alike.  One of the ways that we are SO alike is in regards to our brokenness.  I have found that our brokenness is the same no matter where we come from.  Our struggles may not be exact but the feelings can be the same.  So no matter where you go in the world you will see broken people with not only physical problems but social, spiritual, and emotional ones as well.  Each one in need of a personal Savior that can make them whole again and heal whatever brokenness is in their life.  His name is Jesus Christ.

“Grace, grace, Gods grace
Grace that will pardon and cleanse within
Grace, grace, Gods grace
Grace that will save us from all our sins
Grace that is greater than all our sin”
            Written by Daniel Towner

Prayer: As Mercy Ships finishes up its last few weeks of surgeries, I pray that Gods grace would be upon the crew, day workers, and patients.  I also pray that as outpatients continues to work diligently on these patients, that Gods grace would flow around and through each one of us here. 

2 Corinthians 13:14~ May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.