Thursday, June 28, 2012

Taking the leap!

Cleaning out my desk, writing up instructions for my replacement (Who has yet to be hired...), delegating tasks, collecting contact information... and saying thank you to all the well wishers before finally saying goodbye.  This is my day today.

I'm taking the leap.  And I'm oh, so excited to do it.

Today is my last day at Disney, my last day with a salary, benefits, and the comfortable structure of a standard work day.  I won't miss the work.  Or rather, the lack of work. (my job has been rather... unchallenging. read:boring) I really will miss the people.  And I've said many times recently, both seriously and jokingly, I'm really really really going to miss my iphone.  I was reluctant at first, but man, that baby is nice. 

So, what am I doing now? Well, tonight I'm flying back to my homeland of Minnesota to spend a week with family, relaxing, playing in the lake, and getting eaten by very large mosquitos (Which I tend to still panic about when I see them, until I remind myself that they do not in fact carry Malaria here).

I fly back to Seattle on Saturday and Sunday I go to Kids Camp to work as a cabin leader for a week.  I've been looking forward to that for... well... since the last time I was a cabin leader, which was Summer of 2008.  So. Much. Fun.

After that?  I'm still not sure. I'll head back to Minnesota one more time, and hopefully will visit friends elsewhere in the US, before leaving for Mercy Ships training (Gateway) in mid-September!  My full time focus, after camp, will be raising my support for the next two years. I'd love to come visit YOU - email me! krissyonmercy at gmail dot com. 

My final HURRAH will be the Disneyland Half Marathon which I'm running Labor Day weekend!  So throughout my summer, no matter what it holds in terms of traveling or weather or time, I'll be running.  I like the idea of having at least something constant in the radically unknown and ever-changing world that I am stepping into.  No matter where I'm going, I'm packing my running shoes.

Thanks so much to The Walt Disney Company and my coworkers here. It's been really great working here, and who knows! Maybe someday I'll decide to 'settle down' and we'll work together again.  In the meantime... please, stay in touch!


All the best to you! Krissy

Friday, June 22, 2012

Transitions and the gray area

As a society in general we tend to fear change.  I smile when I hear people say "I'm just one of those people who doesn't like change"... because aren't we all?? I don't know anyone who jumps at the chance to change things up. We like our routines, we like knowing what lies ahead; we like security, stability, and tend to prefer a black-and-white mentality.  Yes or no, right or left, this house or that house, this job or that job, etc. 

My journey of the last five years has brought me from a person who was very black-and-white to someone who now embraces and even enjoys 'living in the gray area' - what I call a life in transition.  I used to fear the unknown; now I find so much joy living it. 

Example: When I moved back to the States last December, I didn't know ANYTHING.  I didn't know where I was going to live, (not just what house, but what state or country...), if I was going to get a job, what kind of job, if I was going to move to Thailand or Korea or back to Africa or stay in the States, if I was going to 'settle down'.... I knew nothing. And I was totally fine with that.  You just simply can't have walked very far in my shoes without knowing with 100% certainty that with a little faith, everything will work out.  I wasn't freaking out at all, in fact, I was very much enjoying the unknown, embracing what the future held.  However, everyone around me was freaking out for me! Others asked me so many times, with panic in their voices, 'What are you going to do? Where are you going to live? What about money? What about your health'...etc. 

Within a week of returning to Minnesota (where I was raised and my family still lives) I knew I didn't want to stay there. (Sorry guys, it's not  you, it's me... and the brutally cold winter after wearing flip flops for two and a half years)  So I came back to Washington, and in less than two weeks I had a job, car, and a place to live.  See?  No use in freaking out.  God had it totally under control!

The last six months here in Washington have been great, and I've very much enjoyed my time at Disney.  But it's just confirmed to my restless heart that I don't belong here, at least right now. I need to be out in the world, in the gray area of living in faith and serving those less fortunate than myself.  This is my last week at Disney, and while I'm sad to say goodbye to the people, I'm so very excited about where I'm going and what I'm doing.

I'll spend the first week of July back in Minnesota with family; the second week I'm working at a kids camp.  After that I'm not entirely sure what's going to happen, but I do know that I need to raise approximately $30k to fund my next two and a half years.  Yes, in case you hadn't heard that, all crew on board the Africa Mercy, from cook to captain to surgeon to housekeeper to HR facilitator is paying for the privilege of serving.  Please click on the "donate" link above or to the right to head to my donation page.  All donations are 100% tax-deductible. 

If you have any fundraising ideas or would like me to come speak/share with a group or organization, I would love that.  Please contact me as soon as possible at krissyonmercy at gmail dot com.




A few photos (because a post with this many words definitely needs some photos) from my last African adventure... K

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

best video ever

Every year the crew of the Africa Mercy holds a film festival. This is the best tour of the AFM I've ever seen - check it out! Enjoy. Filmed in Sierra Leone.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a5eSKTNHSeI

Krissy

Friday, June 15, 2012

Dress Ceremony

(note from Krissy - this is incredible, I can't wait to be a part of this and dance with the women in Guinea!)

VVF Dress Ceremony

From down the hall, the distant drums start to beat as the voices begin to sing out in celebration. Onboard the Africa Mercy, today is a day for celebration. Several women enter the hospital ward with their hands raised in celebration. Each one is dressed in bright fabric with fancy head-wraps and new jewelry. They each wear makeup, some for the first time in their lives. Today’s celebration is for them . . . because they have been healed.

The women are all part of the Mercy Ships VVF program. VVF is an injury caused by obstructed labor. It causes a woman to continually leak urine, feces, or both. Sadly, these women are often shunned from society because of the smell resulting from their incontinence. In their culture, it is commonly believed that the physical problem is the result of a curse or a sin. Many of the women lose their husbands and families. They are completely cut off from society – alone and in despair.

In reality, the biggest cause for VVF is a lack of access to emergency obstetric care. When labor becomes complicated, a woman is left to suffer for days as the unborn child continues to push down on the mother’s pelvis.

Dr. Lauri Romanzi, a VVF surgeon, says, “It is a completely preventable condition that can be eradicated from the world. It takes prevention.” That prevention is access to health care, something that is not available in third world countries like Togo, West Africa. In the western world, if the labor becomes obstructed, the mother is rushed into surgery for a caesarian section. “In the United States, the percentage of births that perform a caesarian is over 30%,” Dr. Romanzi explains. “This eradicable epidemic is a problem merely because these women do not have access to emergency caesarian sections.”

This is why VVF awareness is important – because it is a condition that could affect any woman in the world, but, with proper health care, it is preventable. The women share the emotional pain caused by their physical condition. “If their voice is crying out for one thing, it would be to be normal again,” Dr. Romanzi says, fighting back her own tears in her passionate concern for these women.

As the women stand up to give their testimonies, emotions are clearly written on their faces. Chins quiver and words fail them as they try to thank Mercy Ships for saving them from a life of anguish. Today marks a new day! Their strength and perseverance have finally carried them to the end of their suffering, and now they can let go of the past. It means they have the prospect of starting over and re-entering society. It is the start of a new life with delightful possibilities.

Joy wipes away their tears, and they dance out of the ward as they sing – a song of happiness, healing, and triumph that rings throughout the halls of the hospital. Each woman leaves the ship with her head held high in new-found confidence. It is her new beginning!




10 May 2012
Written by Nicole Pribbernow
Edited by Nancy Predaina
Photos by Debra Bell

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Remembering Salone

Howdy!

So a funny story about that word (howdy)... In Sierra Leone, the greeting is pronounced "Howdibody" (Not sure how it's actually spelled in Krio, but that's how it sounds...) So I would say Howdy, because I'm American and that's how we do things, and the Sierra Leoneans would say "oh no, that's not how you say it, it's howdibody".  It was somewhat difficult to get them to understand that I wasn't trying to say that, I was actually trying to say HOWDY!

On that note, a few photos from my time on the ship last year. Enjoy!

I loved playing with the kids who were in rehab or healing from their surgeries. I can't wait to hold these precious ones again! 
Dolphins during the sail.  One of my favorite moments of my whole service was sailing in the open ocean and seeing dolphins, flying fish, and whales!

Friday, June 1, 2012

Tani Nakabe: I Am Beautiful

In the dockside Mercy Ships admissions tent, a young girl poked her head around different corners and people. Whenever someone looked up, they merely caught a quick glimpse before she was out of sight again. Her distant giggles filled the air as she sneaked her way around the crowd, always blending in with the other patients. Finally, she jumped out and laughed as her name was called, “Tani Nakabe.”

Tani is 11 years old and has come to the Africa Mercy to continue the repair on her severe facial burns. In 2010, she had a free surgery onboard the hospital ship to repair her upper lip and to begin the reconstruction process on her nose.

Tani’s burns date back to when she was only one year old. She was playing on the floor while her mother cooked dinner on an open fire inside the grass hut. When her mother left to fetch water, the unthinkable happened. The grass hut caught on fire, spreading ferociously as the dry grass fueled its fury. Little Tani was trapped in the house and surrounded by flames. Luckily, her father saw the fire and pulled her from the inferno. Tani’s head and body were still burning. A neighbor, trying to help, grabbed the nearest bottle of what appeared to be water and threw it over the child. Unfortunately, it was not water – it was palm wine alcohol. The burns seared her face, leaving Tani with no nose and a severely damaged right eye and upper lip.

Tani’s entire village remembered the tragedy of that day and never persecuted Tani for her appearance. She was able to attend school. In fact, she is at the top of her class. This acceptance, unusual in the superstitious West African culture, allowed Tani to grow up as a joyful child. Her infectious laughter melts the heart, and her smile brightens any room.

Despite her appearance, Tani is brave and bold. Many crew members remember her marching through the ship’s hallways in 2010 shouting, “I AM BEAUTIFUL!” in English. After receiving her first surgery, Tani’s demeanor never changed. Every day she went up to deck seven of the Africa Mercy and played with all the other children.

This year, Tani’s damaged right eye was removed and a skin graft was placed in its stead to help with her appearance. Dr. Gary Parker, Chief Medical Officer and surgeon, explains, “Her right eye was partially destroyed by the burn, but remnants of the eye remained. Her eye would weep continuously and had the appearance of an open wound that never healed.”

Tani’s appearance will improve, and the difficulty with her damaged eye will be gone. But her joyful, courageous personality will have the greatest impact as her voice rings out, declaring, “I AM
BEAUTIFUL!”

 Tani in 2010 before her first surgery.

 Tani's smile lights up the ward.
 Tani playing on deck 7 with another patient.
Tani says, "I am beautiful!"


Written by Nicole Pribbernow
Edited by Nancy Predaina
Photos by Debra Bell and JJ Tiziou