Sunday, December 15, 2013

Laura.

I've needed to write this post for awhile, but time just slips away.


Let me tell you about Laura. 



She's the most amazing roommate one could ever ask for.



She took care of me when I was sick with malaria... then again when I was sick with the mystery sickness... then again just yesterday when I woke up with chills and a headache and general ickyness.  She came at my first pathetic attempt at Laura, I feel sick.  She's a brilliant nurse and one of the most compassionate people I've ever met.  

 
When I hurt my back she found me a rice bag. Then I mentioned how I wish we had a microwave in our room... and three minutes later she comes back with a microwave.  I'm telling you this girl is amazing.  We all love patients, that's why we're here, but Laura's love for her patients goes way above and beyond.  She's the first to say let's pray about this and always, I mean always, has an encouraging word when I need one.



I've had the pleasure of working with her and living with her and now I have the pleasure of sending her off with my blessing to the next thing God has for her - grad school in Chicago.  I love you my dear friend, and while we've already decided we don't say goodbye because I know I'll see you again, let me tell you a big giant huge THANK YOU from the depths of my heart for the amazing woman you are, the amazing friend you have been, and the blessing you will be to all whose path you cross.

Much love - Krissy 

Monday, December 9, 2013

Home.


 

This is an interesting word, this word home. It’s one I’ve heard a lot lately; crewmembers getting ready to leave here after a few months of service to return home, others packing up for a quick holiday trip home, still others finishing up their long-term service on the Africa Mercy and planning for their new lives back home.   
 

If I say I’m going home I might be referring to the Seattle area, where I’ve kept my permanent address for nearly twelve years… but I might actually also mean Duluth, Minnesota, where I was raised.  It’s also quite possible I’m referring to my berth (bed), or maybe my cabin, or maybe the Africa Mercy, currently docked in Congo.  Depending on who I’m speaking to, home might even be referring to the entirety of the United States of America, or Africa, for that matter. 
 
 

Dictionary.com has 31 definitions for the word home.
 

 All I know is I'm not home yet, this is not where I belong. Take this world and give me Jesus, this is not where I belong.  ~Building 429, Where I Belong


Ultimately… this is not where we belong.  This is not home.  This is a place of hurt and sadness and broken faces and disease and death.  This is not what we were created for… we were created for perfection, and we had it once… and traded it for a bite of fruit and in that moment the universe fractured and opened us up to all that plagues us.  But… hope. And grace.  

 

Thank you for your prayers for baby girl.  She’s gone home to be with Jesus, where she can be all who she was intended to be, not trapped in the broken, tiny body that just couldn’t hold on. 
 
 
It's a relief, really, that there is more than this.  There is so much joy to be found in this world- and that joy is worth pursuing.  But it's days like today where I just see and feel beyond my skin that things just aren't as they should be.  My heart longs for restoration, for beauty, for the perfection and majesty I will only experience the other side of this life. 
 

 
Much love, Krissy

Emmanoel

Emmanoel was our miracle boy from earlier this field service. Here is his story: 

Elodie refuses to sleep. She wants to be up in case her son wakes. Tonight, her hair is pushed back, and she keeps one hand on her son’s leg at all times. She has to be exhausted; yet, she is acutely alert. What is it about mothers that “kicks in” on long nights like these?
If not for his surgery this morning, Elodie’s son, Emmanoel, would have died by suffocation before his third birthday. A tumor in his mouth cut off his airway to the point that he was passing out three times a day. Emmanoel’s shallow and labored breathing sounded like a perpetual asthma attack. Every breath he took made those around him feel restless and eager to do something – find an inhaler, an EpiPen, an ambulance . . . anything.
In the last year and a half, Elodie and her husband, Maurice, had tried everything. At first, doctors told them that their infant son had “just malaria.” But, as Emmanoel grew, his breathing worsened. In early 2013, they took him to Kinshasa, the capital of neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo. It was there that doctors identified the culprit – a tumor growing from Emmanoel’s palate was slowly suffocating him. He needed an operation, they said, but it was not a surgery that they would do.
With each day after their return home, Emmanoel’s intermittent breathing worsened, and he began losing consciousness. His blackouts became so regular that Elodie no longer rushed him to the hospital. Maurice also stopped sleeping at night because he was afraid Emmanoel would suffocate before the dawn.
Maurice and Elodie were out of options and resources, and their son was almost out of time. Now losing consciousness three times a day, they feared that, eventually, he would pass out and not wake up again.
Soon Maurice was no longer the only one up each night – Emmanoel could not sleep either. His body would wake him up, gasping for air. The result was a sleep-deprived, short-of-breath toddler sitting in his weary father’s lap.
Between sleepless nights at home, Maurice worked in Pointe Noire’s shipping port. On a hazy Friday in early August, he saw an unusual ship pull in – it was rumored to have a hospital onboard.
For the next three weeks, Maurice and Elodie counted down each day until Mercy Ships doctors would begin seeing patients. That day came on Wednesday, August 28th, when Emmanoel and his parents waited in a line of more than 7,300 people to be seen by Mercy Ships. Before Emmanoel reached the front of the line, he had already passed out at least once and required the attention of the Mercy Ships Emergency Medical Team.  
Emmanoel was scheduled for surgery onboard the Africa Mercy, and, within a few days, he became one of Mercy Ships’ first patients in Congo. “I don’t know how he survived this long; I really don’t,” Dr. Mark Shrime, Emmanoel’s surgeon, said during the operation.
In his adult-size hospital bed, two-year-old Emmanoel looks even smaller than usual tonight. He’s hooked up to lots of beeping machines. Elodie sits at his bedside like a determined watchdog. Maurice has gone home for the night to care for Emmanoel’s older brother and sister. During rounds this evening, Mercy Ships surgeons and nurses huddled over Emmanoel’s bed. “See all of these nurses?” a crewmember asked Elodie. “He is in very good hands. You should try to get some sleep.”
Elodie nodded in the direction of the comment but kept her focus on Emmanoel. The translator laughed, “No, I don’t think she will do that,” he said in English. But there was no need to translate Elodie’s disinterest in sleep. The tenacity of parents with sick children is the same in every language.
Emmanoel has never been able to speak. When he had the tumor in his mouth, he could only make certain noises. He called Elodie “ch-ch-ch.”
“I can’t wait to hear my son say my name,” Elodie says. Perhaps the hope she has for the future is the source of her “motherhood adrenaline” tonight . . .
That night was the last sleepless night for Elodie. Today, she is well-rested and energized by the sound of her child’s voice. In three weeks’ time, Emmanoel has become a different child, smiling on the dock in the arms of his doting parents. With each day, Emmanoel continues to heal and grow and breathe. He has learned to say three words in French, starting with mother and uncle. He isn’t able to say father yet, but Elodie insists that Maurice doesn’t mind. Instead, Maurice is happiest to hear Emmanoel say the word demain, which means tomorrow.
Tonight, as the sun sets over Congo, Maurice and Elodie will sleep soundly once again . . . because their child will live to see tomorrow.
Maurice holds two-year-old Emmanoel on Selection Day in Pointe Noire, Congo. A tumor in Emmanoel’s mouth was blocking his airway to the point that he was passing out up to three times a day.

Elodie, Emmanoel’s mother, watches vigilantly at his bedside.

Emmanoel will celebrate his third birthday in February 2014 thanks to a life-saving operation that removed a suffocating tumor from his mouth.

Mercy Ships volunteer crew member Dr. Michelle White (GBR) was the anesthesiologist during Emmanoel’s surgery.

Emmanoel heads home with his mom in Pointe Noire, Congo.

Story by Catherine Murphy
Edited by Nancy Predaina
Photos by Josh Callow, Ryan Cardoza, Catherine Murphy, and Michelle Murrey

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Pray.

I had planned to write a silly post; one with photos of Christmas trees and cute little girls in tutus and other assorted randomness...

But I can't post it. Because there's a baby that needs a miracle... and I believe in a God of miracles.

So I ask you to come together with me and hundreds of others, across the globe, across time and space and language and culture, to pray for this precious little one and the amazing team of doctors and nurses working together to fight for her life.



~Krissy

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Reading List.

If you know me at all you know I'm a voracious reader; I read extremely quickly and appreciate writing across genres and time periods.  I've been so busy with work lately that I haven't had much time for reading, but now that this last conference is finished I decided to return to my Kindle and read much of yesterday.  I am usually in the middle of two to four books at any one time (five right now!); part of why my kindle is one of my favorite Christmas gifts ever (from Mom two years ago - thanks Mom!) because I can jump around without hauling tons of paper around everywhere!  In fact, I actually  have only two books in paper: my ESV study bible and Praying God's Word by Beth Moore. (I sorta recommend those infinitely higher than anything else :)) 

So, because I thought some of you might find it interesting, here's what I'm in the middle of!

 
 
Love Does: Discover a secretly incredible life in an ordinary world by Bob Goff - this guy is absolutely hilarious and whimsical and awesome.  He gives tangible examples from his own life about how we have the opportunity to make the ordinary, extraordinary, by simply changing our outlook or saying yes more often or embracing adventure.  So good!


Nasara: Dispatches from a District Hospital in Chad by James Appel - a newly-certified family practitioner decides to serve in a rural hospital out in the African bush and this is a book of his blog posts.  It's a raw, honest, a beautiful delivery of the reality of life in Africa.  He doesn't shy away from the darkness, the death, malaria, performing surgeries he's only read about and the joys that come with knowing you're exactly where you're supposed to be.  It's one of those books that make me wish I had gone to med school.  It also brings me back to my days as a Peace Corps Volunteer at a rural health center... how hard it was but also how amazing it was. 


Sycamore Row by John Grisham is the fiction book I'm working through.  I personally think you simply can't go wrong with John Grisham, though I didn't really care for the baseball-themed ones he did this book puts him back in a courtroom in the deep south where he belongs.   It's pretty new and cheap on amazon right now.  They call it a sequel to A Time to Kill but it isn't really, some of the characters are the same but you don't need to have read that one to enjoy this one.  If you've never read JG before, though, my top choice is and always will be The Firm.  In fact, that was the third and only additional paper book I had with me through my Peace Corps service!


So Long, Insecurity: You've been a bad friend to us by Beth Moore.  This lady is one of my favorite bible teachers and I stumbled across this book when looking at a different one, and it made my heart jump.  Over the last few weeks (months?) I've sorta realized I have issues with insecurity and her words have just brilliantly spoken directly to my heart.  This quote really got me: "Insecurity's best cover is perfectionism. That's where it becomes an art form."  ya think? A good one to spend some serious time in...


When People Come First: Critical studies in global health by Joao Biehl is an overview of recent developments in global health, bringing together a huge pool of international and interdisciplinary studies and researchers covering the most recent decade of findings and growth in international and global public health crises and successes.  It's more like a college textbook than anything; It's totally fascinating to me and piques my interest in someday getting my Masters in Public Health - but I can't quite justify the price tag that comes with those little initials after my name, so unless someone volunteers to pay for my graduate education, I'll just have to find books like this on my own!

A couple of other recently-read books that I highly recommend:

The Checklist Manifesto: How to get things right by Atul Gawande
Quiet: The power of introverts in a world that can't stop talking by Susan Cain
Unfinished by Richard Stearns
Though Waters Roar by Lynn Austin
World Without End by Ken Follett

Happy Reading!

--krissy

Oh, and happy Romanian independence day! :)

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Thanksgiving, in pictures.

A British Pilgrim.  Well done.

D ward staff, patients, and caregivers all had fun as pilgrims and Indians :)

This work of art was put up in the Café... love this community!!




Not a great pic but SO reminds me of the turkey coloring contests we participated in back home as kids! Love it.



"dinner with the fam" included about thirty American friends in a beautifully decorated meeting room.  The candles are battery powered, fyi, no open flames allowed on the ship (except usually the advent wreath!)
We don't get holidays off so it was just another day for us, but I love how this community all came together to celebrate, even the non-Americans.  And the turkey served in the Dining room that evening was the best I've ever had, I think. Seriously, well done Galley staff!

Welcome to the Christmas season!  Much love - Krissy

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Snapshots

Random snapshots off my iphone for your Sunday....

So there's this wall that a few weeks ago had a bunch of paper put up on it like a tetris game.  It was for someone's birthday and they were mostly blank... over the last several weeks, someone put out a marker and people have been writing things in the various boxes - several different languages, some inspiring, some silly, but it's just a beautiful work of art that I am very glad the officers haven't removed and I get to walk by on a regular basis..



 
I share my office with several other hospital peeps and we all feel each others stress as well as each others joys.  Ryan, an amazing IS guy, happened to be in the office in a particularly stressful moment... later he came back with a pile of chocolate to bring us some joy - and it did! this is my friend Esther, very excited about the Dutch chocolate he brought :) 

 
 
I was following this truck (riding, not driving) - those trees are HUGE... anyway, there's the rainforest for you, getting cut down... and shipped to usually either France or China. 

 
Oh my word, the cuteness of my niece, just love those cheeks!! Just had to share. :) (I've found a couple other crewmates who love showing off their nieces and nephews so I don't feel bad showing off mine!)



In a frustrating moment on Friday I stopped what I was doing and put Christmas light stickers on my computer. Thanks Karin for sending them - it brought some joy back!

In other news, next week is another big one for me - Basic Surgical Skills course sponsored by Johnson & Johnson, and I'm feeling the pressure that it has to go well.  I'm sure it will, it's just kind of a big deal.  I've spent the last two weeks finalizing details (when I wasn't sick in the hospital) - not the least of which was sourcing the animal parts that the participants will practice their basic surgical skills on!  Never a dull moment - and the randomness!!  Example -  when our eye surgeon asked me on Friday if I could get him some pigs eyeballs for a trainee to practice on and I could say, as a matter of fact, I'm headed to a butcher on Monday!  Love it.

A la prochaine - Krissy

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Not just a cookie...

This week I received a package on the container from my awesome sister - and in it were boxes of GOLD, at least, for any American who has lived overseas for a long time.  Girl Scout cookies. Never mind they were several years old and sort of melted... they were heavenly.  And the most fun thing ever??  Passing them out to friends.  :)
 
It was hilarious, though, because when Americans saw the box, for the most part, they freaked out (with joy and excitement).  Non-Americans were confused as to why the Americans were freaking out about a silly little cookie.  I had to explain, many, many times, that this was not just a COOKIE, but for an American, this is a CULTURAL EXPERIENCE.   It was so, so, so much fun.  Take a look at some of the reactions...
 
 





 When it came out that one of the Dutch crewmembers licked his cookie and then threw it away, the reactions were just as priceless, like this one from KJ...  appalling that someone could disregard such an incredibly joy-filled cultural love like a Girl Scout Cookie.

So anyway, thanks Karin for sharing the joy with the deprived in Africa.  Once it got out on Facebook that I had these, some of the other reactions were "just seeing the box made me start to salivate" and "JEALOUS"....  I'm thinking some girl scouts could do well to take orders from the Africa Mercy and stick 'em on a container? Just a thought... :)

Peace, love, and joy-filled, not-just-a-cookie-but-a-cultural-experience moments for your Saturday! Krissy

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Thankful

So many things to be thankful for!


...the surprise and joy on people's faces when they found the café open this morning! I love blessing people. :)

... garlic bread for dinner. No vampires tonight. :)

... that the Seahawks are doing well.  Fair weather fan?? why yes, yes I am. 

... when I see difficult things being handled with grace and beauty

...Cinnamon dolce flavor in my espresso.


... The most random thing ever to be left on my door - two small bananas, which remind me of Benin, one with my name on it.  So random. So thankful for whoever thought of me when they found those two small bananas. :)

... that I am chosen, it just looks different than I think I want it to sometimes.

... sun time on deck 8

..."let the ruins come to life, in the beauty of Your name" ~Hillsong United

... sweet reminders from friends that I am loved.



...This magnet. Because it's just SO random.

... silly snapchats from suki

... My roommate Laura. She's so amazing I need to write a whole post about her awesomeness.  So I'll just leave it at that for now. But she's pretty amazing and I'm so very thankful for her.

... coffee.

... a wonderful surprise

... that I don't have to go away to feel rested and refreshed.

... that I can go away and feel rested and refreshed.

... This 'indulgent trail mix' is straight up candy - re-named so you think it's healthier than it really is.  Totally delish. 

... beaches.

... a 'deck 7, in 5 minutes?' kind of friend

... that my tears are treasured

... Wednesday night ladies, conversing in depth about things that matter.

... sweet friends checking on me when I was sick.


... Notes from crewmembers on Nick's door (HR Manager) that say why they love their jobs. 

... clean laundry.

... "life begins outside your comfort zone." YT

... playing ultimate Frisbee every Friday.  oh, the joy, the sweat, the dirt. heaven.

... running in from the gate with the bsf


... this beauty from Michelle - heaven in boxed form, y'all. straight up heaven.

... surprise package from family.

... that we can connect to iTunes again and I can update my podcasts.

... soy milk is back in the dining room!!

... Teaching Mighty how to play Ultimate Frisbee.

... the green purse I bought in Spain.

... the awesome doctors and nurses who put up with my pathetic stubbornness with grace and patience.

...“And if anyone tells you to tone it down – they can take it up with Him.” ~Holley Gerth



... The sun sparkling on the water.

... This community.  This calling.  May I never take it for granted and always be grateful for the abundant blessings on me and my life.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Admission.

World English Dictionary:
Admission (ədˈmɪʃən) –n
1.       Permission to enter or the right, authority, etc., to enter
2.       The price charged for entrance
3.       Acceptance for a position, office, etc.
4.       A confession, as of a crime, mistake, etc.
5.       An acknowledgment of the truth or validity of something

If you know me at all you know I love words, and this is one that’s been rolling around in my brain over the last few days. Why? 
Crew Admission Record
One of those bad boys has my name on it.  *at least I think that’s what the sheet says on the top, I wasn’t coherent enough at the time to think to snap a photo*
(in case you are wondering what on earth I am talking about – simple English – I was admitted to the Africa Mercy Hospital as a patient this week. Nothing terribly serious, just needed IV fluids and meds) 
I think it’s an interesting use of the word admission.  I mean, I suppose the first definition above is what it’s actually referring to – by having my name on that sheet I have the right to enter the hospital, although as a member of the hospital management team I already have the right to enter.  To clarify I guess I would say that sheet allows me to lay down on a hospital bed and receive treatment.  Thankfully there is no price charged for entrance…  But then the next three definitions I feel are applicable too –  
Acceptance, confession, acknowledgment of truth – yes.  This is what actually happened this week.  It may seem silly or insignificant to some of you but the acknowledgement that I am sick, fallible, worn out, need help, and need to rest is not an easy one for me to offer.  
I have a superstar immune system (no joke).  The last time I was sick was with malaria at Easter which doesn’t really count as it’s not a communicable disease… the last cold I had was in January, I think, because I went and ordered a whole bunch of Dayquil/Nyquil, Kleenex with lotion, etc., that I have never had to use.
The truth is, I’ve been working really, really hard.  The awesome thing is I love my job and I’m super passionate about what I’m doing… the problem is, I love my job and I’m super passionate about what I’m doing.  That’s the tricky thing…. How much of my life (or yours) have I longed for a job that I love, that I’m passionate about, that I would do regardless of whether or not I got paid… then I found it, and it’s not quite as sunshine-and-roses as you might think.   Because when your job is embedded in your passions, your identity and boundaries become fuzzy.  Because what I do is not just about me – the well-being of others is attached to this mission as well. Sarah Cunningham summarizes this so well in her book
No wonder you do it for reasons beyond a paycheck! You do it because God has stirred a conviction inside you, put you on a path.  What you are doing supports God’s purposes in this world. Your work helps people experience the fullest life possible, and even more so, has eternal weight. Holy cow!  How could you not want to sideline everything else, to pour out everything you are, to devote every waking minute and second to that sort of significance, right?  And herein lies the problem.
                Your faith gets mixed up in your work.
                Your identity gets mixed up in your work.
                Your worth gets mixed up in your work.
And that seems fine on the days where things are going well.  Bliss! Bliss! Hardworking, passionate bliss!  But please hear me on this: Sometimes the more you love what you do, the more important you think it is, the easier it is for you to unknowingly wander into unhealthiness.
I am SO blessed and honored and grateful that I get to do what I love and am passionate for every single day.  However… Sarah continues…
… After enough days pile up, our bodies start to feel the strain of those long hours and heavy concentration.  We wake up tired, our families and friends feel a little bit neglected, some household chores get skipped…. Yet we keep going. Until we are so weary we don’t really want to do it any longer. We begin to wander if it’s worth it. We fear our pace is destructive and we can’t keep going. …We killed it in the beginning. We told ourselves this was a temporary “extra-busy” stretch. 
She goes on to describe how we’ve got everything flying along at a hundred miles an hour, but the responsibilities don’t lessen, they increase… we can’t stop because then things won’t get done, people won’t get served… we believe in sacrificing for what we believe in… but we can’t stop because we will let other people down, because our faith is mixed up in it.

Somewhere along the way, we stopped being a world changer and became a martyr.

I don’t think I’ve gone that far, but honestly, I know I’ve said some of these things.  That this is just a busy season, that we’re just in start-up mode and it will get easier, that it’s only a little while that I’ll have to work every weekend and most week nights just to keep up.  It’s so tricky because I really do love what I am doing and don’t mind working crazy hours – because what I do matters! 
But ultimately, why I’m fixating on the word admission and why I ended up spending the last three days in bed is a wake-up call.  If I don’t pull back, find more balance, allow myself to rest and switch off, the next time the fall will be much more extreme.  This time it was just a couple days in bed, for which I am grateful.  The last thing I want to do is to come screaming up to the end of the field service and hate my job, this organization, my devotion, etc. 
So, I admit, confess, and acknowledge that I need help, I need to rest, and I will continue to do the best job that I can do within healthy boundaries of time and energy.  I’m so grateful for the nurses and doctors who have cared for me while I’ve been sick; I’m a stubborn, pathetic mess of a sick person and really what I need is a dose of humility – I hate asking for help but ultimately that is what community is for… so thank you, AFM ship friends and family, for your help, grace, and encouragement.

Reverse this crazy idea you have in your head that if you run yourself dry, you have given the most.  You will give the world the most if you’ll still be alive and healthy enough to serve tomorrow. You are more good to the world well.
 
--Krissy
(Quotes from Sarah Cunningham's book in italics - more info here)

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Chosen.

Dear friend,

I saw it today, when I was talking to someone else… the shadow of sadness that briefly clouded your features, dimming the usual sparkle in your eyes.  I saw it later when you focused on your computer, your book, your nails, on cleaning and organizing and functional things instead of engaging in the conversation and the laughter and the life going on around you.   I saw what you were feeling.

I know that feeling, my friend.  That restlessness, that longing that you can’t quite define the object of…. The feeling like something is missing...  The desperation you feel when you can’t find a familiar face in the crowd and the fear that sends you down into hiding instead of out into the community.   That gray formless void that engulfs your spirit when you see photos of the fun weekends that everyone else seems to have and the tears that fall as you wonder what’s wrong with me? Why don’t I have any friends?

You just want to be in.  In the group that seems to have all the fun. In on the jokes, the shared experiences, the Facebook photos, the joy.

You want to be known.

We feel the most safe when we feel known. It’s why we search for familiar faces in the dining room or wait for someone to sit with at community gatherings.

And guess what? You are known.  Deeply, truly, purely, genuinely known, to the center of your being.

And now I know what you’re thinking – yes, I know God knows me.  But really… I need some people, too.  I just want to be chosen.

You are. 

You have been chosen. You have been invited.  You were selected before the world began… to be the one to break down barriers, to speak life and truth over the hundreds of others around you feeling exactly the same things.  You’ve been invited to respond out of love and not out of fear to the promptings and whispers of talk to her or trust this one or invite that one to eat with you. You are not invisible; rather, you are a critical, vital piece of this puzzle and your friendship is desperately needed.  People really do love to be around you.  So go, deepen a friendship or start a new one, trust His call on your life and trust that you are enough.

You are.

Go.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Life.

It’s already November and I’m not quite sure how that happened; some days I wonder if I was put in a time warp where a minute is actually a second… Life is good. I’m surrounded by some of the most incredible people I’ve ever had the privilege of knowing, and I’m so honored I get to be a part of this amazing place.  I’m grateful for this family around me who encourage me to ask as well as to search for the answer to the tough questions.  It’s a safe place to expand the boundaries of my faith and trust and to heal after the painful refining process.

My work has been blessed this week – next week is our first ever Medical Leadership conference and I absolutely believe the material we are teaching to the local directors and senior medical leadership can really make a huge impact here. This week the final details fell into place in such an easy, beautiful way – several conversations where I was having to ask for something and fully expected to receive a ‘no’ actually ended with a ‘of course, no problem’ and a huge smile. 

There is so much joy and I pray every day that I might have the eyes to see and experience even more as I go throughout my day.  Ultimate Frisbee, running with Erin, coffee, the cup game, children in costumes, a walk with Kat, cherry coke and chocolate, my small group ladies, running with Dianna, beach time, pizza with Stella, Emma sitting in my lap, sleeping in, talking to my mom, deck 7 with the bsf, the creativity that comes out in me in writing a speech, photos of my sister’s baby, making coffee drinks for people, awesome roommates, a washer that’s free exactly when I need it, tea with friends… The list continues and I’m so grateful.

I’m a little sad, at the same time.  My heart has learned to adapt in this place filled with transient adventurers and restless world changers and daily airport runs, and the goodbyes usually aren’t as devastating as they were in the beginning.  The earth really is small and when people leave I either know in my heart I will see them again, or I know that I won’t, and am okay with either one.   When I say goodbye, I’m simply closing out that chapter of my life that contained them in it, and when God is writing the story, you never know what adventures or characters you’ll find on the next page.  But recently there have been a couple of unexpected departures that my heart just doesn’t know what to do with.  I didn’t have time to close out that season, that chapter in my life that they are a part of, and I am not quite sure if or when they’ll wander back through.  I’ve found myself left behind with an ache I'm not used to living with.

This is a place of hope and healing… it’s our tagline, at the bottom of our stationery and the top of our webpage.  What we do for our patients is incredible – we get to give them a new smile or gait or view of the world around them and I love that.  But hope and healing isn’t just for the patients – it’s for this incredible mess of a community that is brought together from 40 different nations for one purpose- to love.  It's for me, too.  This is life, to the full – the joy, the blessings, the grief, the hope.
 
 

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Stride.

My job is crazy.  One day I’ll find myself in high-stakes meetings with the office of the President of Congo and the next I’m playing a mailman, delivering letters to local hospitals. I’ve been sourcing and pricing pigs’ aortas and trotters (feet) for a basic surgical skills course and played translator in an operating room watching a delivery by caesarean. (It was a bit dicey for a bit but she perked up and found her lungs.) I’m managing a team of Congolese workers going in four different directions all at once and tracking statistics and writing reports for all our education programs.  Every day is different, which is something I absolutely love, and is stretching me beyond what I thought possible. And somehow it feels like, in the last week or week and a half or so, that I’ve crossed an invisible line; I suddenly feel like I know what I’m doing more than 50% of the time.  Even if it’s still actually only about 51% of the time that I know the answer when someone asks me something or feel confident in my ability to speak on behalf of the hospital, it’s a big jump from even 49%.  I’m so grateful for that.

The little one who scared us a bit with a difficult birth but perked up and found her lungs -
less than an hour old in this photo.

Community life is crazy.  I love this place.  Last weekend was our fall carnival (even though it's technically spring here in the southern hemisphere...) where I ran the cup stacking game, had my face painted, ate some amazing goodies, and laughed at the guys during the pie eating contest. 
Yum.

The cup stacking game. Simple and fun. Perfect for me. :)

Lovely job, Catherine!

Pie eating contest.

I love and look forward to working in the café every Sunday morning with my fabulously wonderful friend Dianna. It’s such a joy to bless the crew in this way, and I get to meet and interact with people I wouldn’t otherwise have the opportunity to interact with.  And I just really like making coffee drinks. 

Dianna and I this morning, announcing "come and get it!"
 I’ve started leading a new small group with the purpose of “talking in depth about things that matter.” We’re discussing the book The Utter Relief of Holiness by John Eldredge which is a really lovely conversation starter about what holiness is and looks like and I’ve been so deeply blessed by the conversations and friendships and love shared by the women I’m honored to meet with every week. 

I’ve joined the ship Toastmasters club, which is a place to learn how to become a better speaker and leader.  It’s an amazingly talented group of people that I love hearing speak and share and watching them be stretched.  I gave my first speech last week, the Ice Breaker, which was just about me; “Called” was the title and opened with I’m honored to be called a Toastmaster, and tonight I’m going to talk a bit about other things I’ve been called.”  It went really well and I’m looking forward to my next speech in a few weeks! 

I’ve started running again after taking a few weeks (months?) off.  I used to love getting up early a few days a week and running with friends but since the summer break I’ve really had a hard time getting out there; it’s a multitude of reasons including the stress of my job keeping me awake at night and if I do happen to get up early enough I tend to need that time for some solitude with God to prepare me for the day.  So a few weeks ago I decided to just try running a few evenings a week; gold star, it works for me!  I am sleeping better, feeling better, and look forward to crawling into bed after an evening run and shower.  I also look forward every week to playing Ultimate Frisbee on Friday evenings and then running back in to the port with Dianna. The field is pretty dusty and we get nice and sweaty so by the time we get back to the ship it kinda looks like we were rolling in the mud. 

So that’s my life in this season and I feel like I’m finally finding my stride, settling into the marathon pace after sprinting and stumbling and wondering how to survive for the last few months.   I’m so very grateful for the encouragement, prayers, financial support, surprises, love, and grace all my family and friends and coworkers and shipmates have offered during this last tough season. I couldn’t do this without all of you. 

 

Much love, Krissy