The Ugly Duckling (I've found my species...)

29 January 2013

Do you know the story of The Ugly Duckling?

It has been decades since I heard the actual story, and can't even tell you most of it, but the main idea is this - there's this one duckling that doesn't look like or act like any of the other little ducklings in his family.  They tease him and taunt him, and he's very sad because he doesn't understand why except that he is just different.  At the end of the story it's realized that he's not a duck at all; he's a swan, and he finds his own species and they all live happily ever after.  Or something like that.

Why am I thinking about this?

I've made a realization in the last few days as to why I love this place and these people so much, and why I know this is where I'm meant to be for a long time.  I've found my species.

For much of my adult life, and more and more so as I get older, I've just always known there's something 'different' about me.  Nothing bad, mind you. This isn't a self-bashing exercise, nor am I trying  to drum up some encouragement.  So please don't read into what I am saying. 

I'm inching towards my mid-thirties... I'm single and okay with that.  I'm not pining away for a man, nor do I dream of an eventual wedding.  Now, I'm not opposed to that, don't get me wrong. If the right person swept me off my feet, of course I'd be thrilled. But I'm not longing for that, or planning my life around that. I don't have a deep desire to have children.  I'm adventurous and independent, I know who I am.  I know what I want out of life and I know why I'm here on this earth. I'm not interested in settling down, achieving the American dream.  And reality is, I don't know alot of other people who can say the same thing.  Do you? 

Most of my closest friends have spouses, families, have settled down, or are much younger than me and still longing for and planning for that day... and that is awesome. I'm not bashing that AT ALL so again, don't put words into my mouth or assume insinuations I'm not making.  But really, objectively, back home, I'm different.  (Are you getting the reference to the Ugly Duckling now?)  My family and friends back home were and are and will continue to be critical to my survival and growth and livelihood, and I wouldn't be here without them.  But...
Here, at this time, on the Africa Mercy - I've found my species. I've found people whose hearts beat at the same frequency as mine.  People who know who they are, why they were created, with a heart to serve and experience adventure and encourage others in the journey.  Strong, independent, faith-filled and servant hearted sisters and brothers who "get" me in a way I've seldom experienced.  I'm so grateful for this community.  I'm so grateful for mentors whom I can look up to and learn from.  I'm so excited about this season I get to be here, onboard... with my species.



27 January 2013

Today I'm thankful for....

... incredible, amazing, wonderful friends and family on board the Africa Mercy and around the world.  SO grateful for all of you.

...all natural pita chips with sea salt.

...Space.  Being able to sit up in bed. Being able to be alone.  Quiet. Sleeping through the night. Sleeping without earplugs (and possibly getting less ear infections!)  Peace.  The blessing of this space for the next two months. Answered prayers.

... the quilt on my bed that brings a smile to my face and joy to my heart when I think of (and pray for) the person who made it.  <3

... hot water!

... a beautiful weekend.

... friends I feel like I've known forever when reality is it's only been a few weeks.

... friends I know I will be friends with forever after only knowing them a few hours.

... friends who remind me of who I really am.

... "Deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfalls." ~Psalm 42:7

... conversations in the creek. milk in the dining room!
... lingering over coffee.
... spontaneous hugs, a hand on my shoulder, affectionate banter in the hallways, a kiddo crawling up into my lap, an encouraging smile from across the room....
... a job that I love, at an organization I love, working for people I love. So blessed.
... wonderful nurse friends who take care of me when I'm sick and give me drugs.
... a good morning run. And being okay with not running for a few days while I get over a cold.
... kindle instant book downloads.
... the opportunity to learn from some of the best physicians and surgeons in the world about what they are most passionate about during the weekly inservice trainings. Thankful they're open to all crew, not just medical.  Thankful for the wisdom and knowlege given to these incredible people, and the heart to serve in West Africa.
... being in the presence of real, true, honest, genuine women.  Being a real, true, honest, genuine woman.  Freedom. Joy. Peace. 
...Cherry coke and peanut butter m&m's. 
... restful sundays.

Quirks of Ship Life: Personal Space (and, an answered prayer!)

26 January 2013

One of the more difficult quirks of ship life is the lack of personal space.  

I feel somewhat two-faced when it comes to this subject. On one hand, I have very little tolerance for people who complain about their housing.  The reality is fitting 400 crew into a small confined area leads to tight quarters and very little personal space. However, compared to how people live on the ground, like, in a mud hut in the bush, our accommodations are palatial.  I'm very grateful for what we have - comfortable mattresses, air conditioning, hot running water... and have little patience for those people that complain.

However, on the flip side, I'm a person who NEEDS her personal space, quiet time, and peace.  And it's hard to come by here on the Africa Mercy!  

Anyway, when I was here in Sierra Leone I was housed in an 8-berth cabin.  (Berth = 'space', or bed).  There were 4 sets of bunk beds and two bathrooms. Now since I'm a long-term crewmember, I'm in a 4-berth, which is two sets of bunk beds and one bathroom. 

This is my bunk area. I'm on the top.  Now you'll notice there's very little space up there - I can't sit upright, which is somewhat frustrating as then I can really only use my bed for sleeping, not reading, writing, or other activities.  It's also quite a jump to get down in the middle of the night! 

Even more inconvenient is the sprinkler head that is directly above my bed. It didn't quite make it into the above picture, but I smack my head on it nearly every morning as I am trying to crawl out without whacking my forehead on the ceiling.

And just because I know you're curious, here's our bathroom.

As I said before, I'm extremely grateful for our housing and I have little tolerance for complaining.  However, I'll admit to you that I have been praying for an upgrade soon - or at least an opportunity to move to a bottom bunk!  It's been really hard at the end of a long day of chaos at work to come back to a 'home' that is in chaos, with people around and a bunkmate who, while she's a wonderful person, admitted even on the first day she's not the most organized or clean person to live with.  And it's difficult to sleep through someone else coming and going, no matter how quiet they try to be.  I have prayed every single day for more grace to offer, grace for another day... which has been granted, and it's been fine...

But yesterday some dear friends gleefully tossed me a surprise blessing - I get to move!  To a 3-berth! for two whole months!!  A three-berth has three single beds, each with their own 'pod' like space, with a curtain.   My own space.  No more climbing into bed, no more trying to block out the sounds of my bunkmate, no more whacking my head on the sprinkler.  I almost cried. Seriously??  Thank you!!!!!  

Yes, it's only two months, and I may end up back where I was at the end of it. Which is fine. Two whole months of being able to sit up in bed and sleep through the night?? Yes please!!! 

So so so so so grateful.  Tomorrow's moving day!!!  :) Cheers - Krissy

A Break From Tradition

23 January 2013

Greetings!  I got to spend a bit of time down in the Hospital this morning... and I loved it.  I don't get down there often, but when I do, I love the reminder it gives me as to why I'm here and the life-changing work I get to be a part of every single day.  You are a part of that, too, my supporters, friends, family, and readers - enjoy.  K

A Break From Tradition

Habibatou and Mamadou had never experienced this much joy and sorrow at the same time. Their first baby was a precious gift from God that made their hearts almost burst with love. Their daughter was perfect in every way – with one troubling exception. She had a malformation that split her lip, causing one side to grow up toward her nose. The parents had never before seen anything like this, and they did not know what this meant for their daughter.

They did know that deformity meant hardship. Many people would think their daughter was a bad omen. Mamadou’s first wife had already laughed spitefully at the news of the baby’s condition. Other torments were sure to follow. Could Mamadou and Habibatou keep their child hidden like so many did when there was an obvious physical problem?

After praying with Habibatou, Mamadou bravely decided to break from tradition and speak out about his daughter’s condition. He asked the people in the village if they had seen an upper lip like his daughter’s. No one, not even the elders, had ever seen anything like this.

When Mamadou called his brother Musa with news about the baby’s problem, Musa’s response was surprising. “Mamadou, do not worry. There is a ship coming with doctors who help babies like yours. They have done many surgeries, for free, to correct this problem.”

The good news gave the family much hope. The naming ceremony for Habibatou and Mamadou’s little girl was a joyful occasion. Their daughter was named Batouli, after her grandmother. It was a fitting honor for Habibatou’s mother, who had supported her son-in-law’s speaking out about the baby’s problem.
Mamadou arranged for Habibatou and Batouli to stay at Musa’s home in Conakry and find out more about the hospital ship. Habibatou recalls the experience. “We did not know for certain when this ship would come or if the doctors could help. I was afraid, but I had faith for the sake of my daughter.”

Habibatou’s faith was well-founded. The hospital near Musa’s home confirmed that Mercy Ships would be screening patients for surgeries the next week. Habibatou spoke softly, “I was grateful to learn from the hospital nurse that Batouli’s condition was called a cleft lip and that Mercy Ships did these surgeries. She said that Mercy Ships would take very good care of Batouli and that Musa was right – Mercy Ships did not charge any money for doing the operation.”

By noon on screening day, Habibatou was clutching a Mercy Ships patient card for Batouli. For the next eight weeks, Batouli was seen by volunteer dietician Jessica King in the Infant Feeding Program. Jessica reported on Batouli’s progress: “At her weekly check-up I was so pleased with Batouli’s weight. She stayed on track for her surgery date!” Habibatou loved to hear Jessica’s weekly report. As each week passed, her daughter was moving closer to having her cleft lip repaired.

On the day of Batouli’s surgery, Habibatou prayed for all to go well, and it did. Within a few hours, she was holding her daughter in her arms. Habibatou spoke on behalf of her family, saying, “We are so grateful that our break from tradition brought us to Mercy Ships. This break has changed our dear Batouli’s life.”

Batouli was born a perfect baby girl in every way except for the malformation of her upper lip. Neither her parents nor any of the people in her village had ever seen a baby born with a cleft lip.

Batouli’s mother, Habibatou, had faith that the hospital ship her brother-in-law talked about could help her daughter. She said that, “I was afraid, but I had faith for the sake of my daughter.”

Batouli’s health status is checked at the Admissions Tent before surgery, and she passes with flying colors. Batouli stayed on track in regard to body weight throughout the eight weeks she was part of the Infant Feeding Program – thanks to her mother’s milk and endless care!

A few short hours after surgery, Batouli is once again in the loving arms of her mother, Habibatou. Instead of an angry gash, Batouli’s upper lip is transformed into the usual contour. Within a short time, the adhesive strips, stitches and puffiness will be gone, and Batouli’s healing will be complete.

The courage of Batouli’s parents, Mamadou and Habibatou, to break from tradition brought their daughter to Mercy Ships. According to Habibatou, “This break has changed our dear Batouli’s life.”

Volunteer Dietician Jessica King is pleased to see little Batouli for her final check-up before returning home. Batouli is a picture of good health!

Batouli’s only memory of her time with a cleft lip will be this photograph. As she grows, Batouli will enjoy a life of acceptance . . . thanks to her transformative surgery provided free of charge by Mercy Ships.

Written by Joanne Thibault
Edited by Nancy Predaina
Photos by Bright Effowe, Debra Bell

Quirks of Ship Life: The Overhead Page

22 January 2013

One of the quirks of ship life we've been experiencing quite a lot lately is the overhead page.  This is how we refer to an announcement made over the ship's public address system, from speakers that look like this:

The page always starts with a loud, screechy DING DONG, which is enough to make you shriek in terror if you are a small child or at least jump to attention as an adult.  Whoever is making the page can choose where it goes: Emergency Medical and Fire pages go to all cabins and all rooms; most other announcements go to hallways and group meeting areas but not to bedrooms, to help all of our night shift workers and napping babies stay asleep!

My most popular blog post to date started out with a page: read about it here - 2:45am

Other pages we often hear:

"This is a drill, this is a drill, this is a drill."  ~Captain Tim during every bi-weekly fire/medical/evacuation drill.

"Anyone knowing the whereabouts of the following day workers/crew members please contact muster control at 1000." ~Part of the bi-weekly drill is to account for every single crew member.  Anyone who doesn't show up where they are supposed to gets their name called by overhead page.

"The new crew orientation is held at 6pm in the Queens Lounge.  All new crew are required to attend. Please bring your orientation papers, and the forms that were emailed to you." ~Every Monday night at 5:45pm

"Attention crew - Bunkering has begun. All hot work must cease until further notice." ~Bunkering = taking on fuel, otherwise known as forced break time for the welders and other hot workers.

"Good Afternoon Crew, this is the Captain. We're doing some engine testing this afternoon so in about thirty minutes we will be closing the gangway. If you need to exit the ship please do so now." ~The gangway is how we get on and off the ship, and it's always closed for about a half hour or so when they are testing the engines.

Random pages we've heard recently:

"Attention Crew - we have a patient scheduled for surgery tomorrow who is in need of B positive blood. If we don't get enough donors we won't be able to perform her surgery. All B positive Crew members and Day workers willing to donate, please report to the lab immediately after lunch." ~Good news, we had enough B+ blood on board to perform her surgery and she's doing well!

"Attention Crew, this is the Chief Steward.  We've discovered some bad chicken in the Dining Room, so if you have taken chicken, please do not eat it.  Not all the chicken is bad, but just to be safe, please do not eat the chicken served this evening." ~ Page made during dinner last week.  I hadn't eaten the chicken yet.

"Good Morning Crew, this is the Captain.  Please note that we're experiencing problems with our vacuum system, and so the toilets and sinks will not be working until further notice." ~A rather unfortunate day last week.  (Our drains are like those on an airplane = vacuum removal system)

And my favorite, favorite page:

"Attention Crew - if you have personal items on the Texas container, please go to the cargo hold to pick them up now."  ~A collective cheer rises up from the crew patiently awaiting packages on the container!


A Time to Breathe

21 January 2013

This last weekend I had the privilege and honor to be a part of a beautiful time away.  I mentioned in a previous post that I had been invited to join a small group of absolutely incredible women; they are amazing in every way and I am so grateful for them.  But anyway, one reason I know this is exactly the group for me is they have echoed so beautifully one of the cries of my heart - how can I be a blessing, bless others, be a better friend?

They had felt strongly for the last several months that they wanted to do something special for the moms on the ship - and I jumped at the opportunity!  We hosted/organized/led a getaway weekend in Coyah, a lovely village about an hour and a half from the ship and far away from the noise, pollution, and business of the city.  We stayed at a hotel type place owned by a Dutch family situated right along a creek in a beautiful forested area with "mountains" in the background. (Their mountains are really big hills to those of us who have ever lived near the Rockies!) 

It was stunningly beautiful.  It was clean, calm, birds were singing, we were all relaxed.  There was dedicated time for worship, prayer, teaching, and silence, along with time for fun and play. The moms had a great time and I was so honored to be a part of it.  I was the only French speaker in the group so organized alot of the logistics with the location, and I got to drive to and from as well.  It was my first time away from the city here in Guinea and I had forgotten how much my heart longs for natural beauty - I sat for hours staring at, listening to, and dangling my feet into the creek! 

Kirstie and Rachel tying bags on the top of the Land Rovers - Good job, ladies!

The rooms we stayed in were like little huts, but really nice, with bathrooms and running water. 

I spent a LOT of time looking at, near, or in this creek.  

The beauties that participated!

It was absolutely lovely and I just want to shout out a huge thank you to everyone who was involved - I'm so grateful for you!  Love to all, Krissy

In Celebration... of Me.

20 January 2013

"Happy Birthday to you, Happy Birthday to you, Happy Birthday dear Krissy, Happy Birthday to you."

How many of you read that with the tune going through your head?  :)

Yes, Friday was my birthday!  And it was gloriously, beautifully, perfect.


Because this year I finally decided to quit trying to make it seem like I didn't care, like I didn't want anyone to do anything, like it was no big deal.  Because the truth is, I wanted people to sing, hug me, laugh together, and just be joyful... with me.  Because of me.  And you know what? That's not selfish, self-seeking, arrogant, or prideful.  I LOVE blessing other people, loving my friends well, and celebrating them.  When they tell me not to, it kind of hurts, a little bit.  Know what I mean?  So this year I didn't want to shut down my friends that way... I wanted to let them bless me, and in that, I was blessing them, too.

And it was perfect!  Not too much - because too much would have been just that.  Too much.  No, this was simple. And that's one thing that I absolutely love about ship life and life in Africa - how the simplest things bring me so much joy.

This is what greeted me first thing in the morning!!  Cards, banners, and posters outside of my room.  I felt so loved already!

When I went to my office there was another card... and throughout the day I went to my cabin three times for various reasons and each time there were more cards on it for me! How special!  This particular card had a pin that flashed. I put it on my name badge :)

My lovely friend Maryke came by with "A South African's attempt at peanut butter cookies." - she wasn't sure what would happen if she took the foil off the Hershey kisses, so she left them on. :) The cookies were delicious!!

Then Erin came by and asked if I wanted to walk to the bakery we run by every morning that smells so delicious.  Sure, why not? Work had calmed down and I could surely spare a half hour or so for a chocolate croissant.

When I got back to my office, there were more blessings to be had!  The Davies family gave me cherry coke and peanut butter m&ms.  SO special, yet so simple... and I was in heaven.  (You can't get cherry coke on the ship!)

People stopped by all throughout the day and wished me happy birthday!   A few more bags of peanut butter m&m's were delivered, some pretty post-it notes, and several cards with the sweetest notes of encouragement for me - lovely!

Then, crew mail was delivered - and my Christmas cards came! Two letters from Mom, one from Nana and one from Meg!! Thanks my loves!!

There was talk of 'us' (gateway group) going out for my birthday, which is what alot of people do... which would have been okay, but ultimately, not what I really wanted. What did I really want? I finally just made it known, and then it happened. I just wanted everyone to gather in the Cafe for cake and chips and guacamole.  That way we weren't limited by money or the number of people who could fit in a taxi or car, and parents of children could come too!  And so it was... and it was so perfect.  I looked around at all the people I love and call my family here and they were chatting, they sang for me again (The whole crew had sung for me in the Dining room at dinner) and I felt so very blessed. (I also didn't take any pictures except this one of Emma eating cake - what a cutie pie)

I mingled and hugged and chatted and loved on my friends for a good hour or so, and then I joined the Cash family to watch my number one all time favorite movie ever - The Sound of Music!!  Emma climbed into my lap and I was in heaven. :)

SO, there you have it.  It was a very simple, yet special day.  It just showed me again how incredible this community is, how much it has become my family in just the few short months I've been here, and how much I'm looking forward to this next year.

31 was awesome, too - bring it on, 32!! Huge thank you to everyone who made it so special.  Much love to all - Krissy


16 January 2013

DING - DONG... "Emergency medical team, report to A Ward immediately. Emergency medical team, report to A Ward immediately." 

16 simple words, yet so much impact.

Our entire crew was awakened last night by that overhead page, piped into all cabins, at 2:45am.  Immediately I heard my roommate rustling around, the door closing behind her just a few seconds later. Her footsteps faded as she hurried down the stairs outside our door, quickly followed by many other pairs of feet, leading to A Ward.

As I waited for the adrenaline surge at this announcement to fade, I laid in my bed and prayed a prayer echoed by hundreds of others the same time, from their beds.  God, please be with the Emergency Medical Team.  Please be with whatever patient is in distress.  Please guide the doctors, nurses, and caregivers to best handle the crisis.

When there's a page like that at 2:45 in the morning, you know it must be very serious.  As we are a floating hospital, there are always Ward nurses on duty and doctors on call, all hours.  Most problems are easily handled by those highly capable people.  In fact, this was the first EMT overhead page we've heard since I have been here; there was one while I was on board in Sierra Leone.

But while I was praying I was also reflecting on the fact that because of this incredible community that is a hospital, every single other Crew Member lying awake in their beds, or soothing their crying babies, or lovingly encouraging their children to go back to sleep; every one of them was praying the same prayers I was.  In that sleepy, confused, adrenaline-laden time, we were all united, under the same banner and purpose and calling.  For that, I am grateful.

The prayers were felt; the patient was rushed back into surgery, and is doing very well today.  All of the nurses, Emergency Team members, doctors, even the Receptionist who made the overhead page, worked in their calm confidence of their calling, knowledge, training, and trust in each other.

I am continually amazed by the incredible community of people I get to live and work with here on the Africa Mercy.  Thank you, EMT, the Surgical Staff who jumped in to their scrubs ready to work at 2:45 this morning, and thank you to everyone who prayed for this patient.  It makes a difference.


Thankful Sunday

13 January 2013

I'm so grateful for and amazed by the incredible people I get to live and work with here on this big white ship in West Africa.

I'm thankful for invites from friends, spontaneous hugs, spontaneous prayers, and joy.

I'm thankful for being able to speak French.

I'm thankful that even though this is a short thankful list, it's not because I don't have about a million and one things to be thankful for. I recognize those things and I love them.  It's just short because I'm so very blessed by friends and relationships here that I am choosing to spend more time in the presence of this beautiful grace and less time in front of a screen. 

And, perhaps... a nap.  Because Sunday is a day of rest, no?

And because every post needs a picture, this is the difference between imported oranges (left) and African oranges (right).  This is why they've made my thankful list twice already. k

Random Saturday Ramblings

12 January 2013

Good Morning.

Wow, what a week. 

The entire week was beautiful chaos.  And at the end of it, when I finally logged out and signed off and embraced the calm the weekend would bring, I realized that instead of what could have been dread, dissappointment, or stress, what I felt was excitement, hope, and joy. 

I am indeed in the right place.

We're changing over our HR management system from a program written about a hundred years ago to a program that will bring us into the 21st century. Finally.  Only a few years late. :)  But anyway, it's a huge big deal.  This week is the transition week, where we 'shut down' our old system to give it time to sync with the new system. (Sorry my techie friends, that's as good as it gets.)  It's exciting, it should eventually help us to limit the amount of trees we are killing by the massive amounts of paper we still push around, but transitions are never as easy as we hope they will be. 

Random note: This week we've decided our new tagline for HR is this: Mercy Ships... Saving lives... Killing trees. 


Anyway, I digress. So anyway, this week was transition week, and next week we'll get the new system. What acutally makes it crazier is that we really have very little idea of how it's actually going to work!  We've had some training and know what the new interface will look like, but none of that training has actually included any of the processes we have and use here on the ship. So it will be interesting...

On Monday afternoon I got whiplashed by two huge issues that happened within fifteen minutes of each other, and was faced with having to try to deal with two crisis situations vying for my attention. Both have calmed down and one even turned into a non-issue, but at the time, it was pretty intense. 

So for the rest of the week I was juggling about fifteen balls up in the air and trying not to drop any of them - and I loved it.  This is where my strengths come to the surface. When I'm under the most pressure is when I'm the most 'on' - calm, decisive, encouraging, excited to be a part of it all. 

Other randomness from the week:

Monday night I was driving back from the airport and followed another car into what turned out to be a not-well-marked one-way street.  Suddenly we found ourselves surrounded by police demanding I turn off the car and hand over my papers.  I respectfully informed them I had no intention of doing either one of those things which made them even angrier.  Thank God I can speak French and know that as agressive as they can seem, I know that they aren't going to shoot me or start any real dangerous action.  But I can see how non-French speaking, non-African experienced people could find themselves panicking.  Anyway, it ended up okay, but did raise the blood pressure a bit.  And now I know what roads to avoid....

Know how a month or two ago I wrote about missing depth in relationship, how transition here had been harder than anticipated, etc?  Well, God has answered that prayer in a huge way. I've been invited to join a most incredible small group of women who share this desire and beautifully echo the cries of my heart for depth in relationship and sisters in this journey.  I'm so incredibly grateful for them - and I've already felt a huge difference in my capacity to reach out and befriend all the new crewmembers I can. It's amazing and I'm so very grateful for them.

I got mail! Friday I got two amazingly awesome surprise Christmas presents that were such a huge blessing and joy to receive.  Thanks Mom and Nana for sending me some love and joy :)

Also, one last thing. I need to update my email lists so if you think you were once on my email list, or you'd like to be on my email list, or anything in between, please click on the link to the right to receive my monthly newsletter.  I won't be sending out any more mass emails except to those who have signed up via that link.  So, please do that if you would like to get emails from me. :)

Thanks friends - happy Saturday! Krissy

Oh, one REALLY last thing. GO SEAHAWKS!!!

Order to Chaos

09 January 2013


This has been by far the most chaotic, crazy, busy week I've had since arriving at the ship. 

And seriously... incredible.

I've always said I love bringing order to chaos.  I realized this week that I also love bringing calm, and joy, to chaos. 

This week has included some very sudden changes on the ship, lots of meetings, some new training, planning for the future, jumping into another job where there was a critical need for a good percentage of my working hours, and even a brush with police and what was a potentially dicey situation getting resolved by me just simply not freaking out and staying calm. 

I've had some incredible conversations with crew about their future with Mercy and how we can grow them as a crewmember and we've both left excited.  I've had to break very bad news to someone and got to pray with her in the aftermath of emotion.  I've gotten to both hire and fire day workers. I've made some new friends and cemented some deep relationships that I know will last forever.  I've planned a getaway, written some new processes, hunted down alot of signatures, and experienced a deep and resounding joy throughout every minute.

And, my friends, it's only Wednesday.

This.... this is what I was created for. 

Thank you, my family, friends, donors, supporters, and anyone else whose helped me get here.  I feel like I've finally found my footing here, figured out exactly where I belong, what I've been called to do.  Thank you for allowing me to search for - and find - my life to the full.

Photo: A young patient onboard the Africa Mercy shows off his new sunglasses while recuperating in the fresh air on Deck 7. Click ‘Like’ if this photo made you smile today!



06 January 2013

Good Morning!

(2nd update of today. Make sure to scroll down for "Thankful Sunday")

After several years of trying to keep lists of contacts and emails updated and massively failing at it, I've decided to use MailChimp, an email newsletter campaign hosting company, to keep my life simpler.  SO, all that to say, if you want to receive monthly update newsletters, or know of others who would be interested, click on the link below, or go to the new link on the right sidebar!  

Thanks much! Krissy

(I will NOT be subscribing ANYONE, so even if you are my mother or my best friend, you need to go to the link. Thanks for helping me simplify my life...)

Thankful Sunday

06 January 2013

Today I'm thankful for...

... the 59 people who joined or returned to the ship yesterday. Thankful for them, following the calling to serve on Mercy. I'm so thankful for the Reception team, for the Hospitality team, for the Pursers office, and all the ships drivers who worked so well together and got every single one of them embarked and oriented, all the cabins were ready, no one got left behind and no luggage was lost. Incredible team. And I'm thankful I'm a ships driver and got to be a part of the beautiful chaos.

... the excitement all these new people bring to the ship. The excitement I feel about getting to meet them and be a part of their story.  The fact that I love doing that.. and that it's my job, too!   How many people get to live their dream job??  Incredible. So grateful.

... Yesterday I got to welcome a new crew member onboard (earlier in the day, before the huge influx...) who has been a day worker with us for five years, following the ship wherever it docked, working so hard... finally his dream of becoming crew was granted and I got to be the one to welcome him on board, see that his questions were answered and instructions were understood. It was awesome.  He was so so so so happy. And I got to be a part of it!  So grateful.

...lingering over coffee.

...finding Cherry Coke at the supermarket, and getting to bless some friends who love it.

...answered prayers.

...this orange.  A friend asked if there was anything I wanted at the fruit market, and I said something in passing about the imported oranges we had at Christmas and I wish I could have some more of those, but I wasn't really serious as they are expensive and we have African oranges on the ship, so I said nevermind, I'm good.  Well, she came back with this beauty for me.  So grateful for her, and for it.

...the Christmas container has arrived!! It'll be unloaded tomorrow!

...Spontaneous hugs from friends. immune system fighting the cold that wanted to get me down but didn't. new running shoes!  So grateful for Erin bringing them across the ocean for me.  Also grateful for the surprise donations that came in at the end of December that allowed me to order these.  I ran in them this morning, it was like a dream....

...getting to help Andrew unload Crew Mail and organizing it, writing names on the sides of packages. I love bringing order to chaos.  And I love knowing how excited those people were going to be when they picked up the packages.  And getting to pray for each one of them as I wrote their names down. juice is back in the dining room!

...back rubs, shoulder massages... even just a loving hand to the arm in conversation... my need for human touch being sensed and fulfilled by loving friends.

...Eastside Foursquare Church saying YES to supporting me - so so so so so grateful!

...Christmas blend!!  Erin, you spoiled me!! She lovingly brought me TWO POUNDS of my absolute favorite coffee.  What a blessing!! 

...Triscuit crackers. 

...the awesome conversation with a crewmember about his future with Mercy Ships and his hopes and dreams... running friends.  I am so grateful for them.   I so look forward to my runs, and it's because of their beautiful company and words and conversations and encouragement and it's just such a huge blessing that I get to be a part of that. 

...My old running shoes.  They've carried me through many miles of pain and joy and rain and dirt and garbage and I'm grateful for every one of those miles.  However... it's time for them to retire.

...air conditioning in my cabin that works most of the time.

... the gift of a heart friend that just gets me, and without having to explain anything, just loves me well.

... "Be alert, be present. I'm about to do something brand-new. It's bursting out! Don't you see it? There it is! I'm making a road through the desert, rivers in the badlands." Isaiah 43:19 (msg)

...a job that I love and look forward to going to. readers. so grateful for you.


Value (and lingering...)

05 January 2013

I love lingering over coffee.

I love how this small act of relaxing (see my post a month or so ago called "relax and take a sip"...) has truly changed me. 

Confession: I have believed for as long as I can remember that my value as a participant in any relationship, whether it be with one person or with a group of people, is entirely determined by what I have to offer that person or that group of people.  So, I continually am trying to find ways to offer value to a relationship, because if I don't... well, then, why on earth would the relationship continue?

God wants you, and I, to know - you have value, and bring value to relationship, just by being you.  Just by breathing oxygen and sharing life together, you are bringing value. You don't have to be, do, or offer anything else.

The simple act of just lingering over coffee, with no agenda, nothing to offer, no reason or greater purpose other than sharing life together, has filled my heart with so much joy.  I've realized that people actually like me and want to spend time with me, even if I am not offering them something that I might view as valuable. In embracing who I was created to be and simply offering that heart to others, I'm also offering them the same - I don't expect anyone to offer me anything either, beyond their presence.

The beauty of being in the presence of real, true, honest, genuine women is absolutely breathtaking.

Thank you, my lingering friends. I'm eternally grateful.


My Un-Resolutions (The cry of my heart...)

02 January 2013

I don’t actually believe in resolutions in a traditional sense.  I think randomly deciding to change a habit or alter your life course simply because of the new calendar is silly.
Now, I definitely believe in setting goals.  Life goals, seasonal goals, short-term goals – without a goal to reach for we’ll never have any real focus on a destination nor any idea how far we’ve really come.  Most of my goals are somewhat malleable; they change as I enter into new seasons of life.  I’ve had several conversations over the last few weeks about ‘resolutions’ and goals that have got me thinking and ‘chewing on’ this topic…
I suppose I could call these my un-resolutions, as they’re not something I’ve randomly decided to change in my life. Perhaps a better way to say it would be these are the cries of my heart.  These are the things I want to focus my emotional energy and time on, not only in the coming year, but what I’ve been working on for months/years past and will continue on in the future.

1. Pursue excellence, not perfection.   
                This applies to everything in my life, honestly.  I love this quote by Michael J. Fox – “I am careful not to confuse excellence with perfection. Excellence, I can reach for; perfection is God’s business.”  I definitely have the nature and personality of a perfectionist in many (though definitely not all) areas of my life!   But reality is, perfection will never be attained here on earth, and to strive for it will only lead to disappointment.  Excellence is giving to the best of your ability, honoring God, your coworkers, your friends, your family, your body and health – and at the end of the day, resting in the fact that that is enough.

2. Be a better friend.
                I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately.  I’ve actually believed for a long time that I’m just not a very good friend; I’m selfish, needy, and fall pretty low on the ‘coolness’ scale.  However, over the last several weeks I’ve come to realize that’s not truth – the truth is, I’m human, and I’m learning what it means to be a good friend and love well.  To say “I’m a terrible friend” is condemning and ultimately speaking lies!  The honest desire in my heart is to be a better friend – because we always have room for growth, to pursue excellence in relationships.  I don’t know what that looks like, exactly, but my prayer is that God would show me how to love better, give me words to say, recognize needs without them being spoken, and point out opportunities to bless others. 

3. Run.
                This (sort of) goes with number 1 – I want to continue to pursue excellence in my running. A year ago I never would have called myself a runner, but that is what I am! I want to continue to push myself to excellence in running – run further, stronger, better, faster.  Maybe run some more races this year, but maybe not.  I never want to get legalistic about my running, or run so much it isn’t fun anymore.  I don’t have a number of miles I have to run or a time I MUST beat – those things, while not at all bad and even good for many people - are just a hindrance to me and cause me to fall into the legalism of perfectionism.  I just want to continue to pursue excellence in my running and in the care of this body!

4. Say YES to adventure.
                This is nothing new.  If you know me, you know I’m an adventurer at heart. I mean, look at what I do, where I live!  But a friend said something to me last summer that I’ll never forget, when I was trying to decide, at the last minute, to run a 200-mile relay race.  He said – “You’ll never regret shared adventures with friends”.   And I wholeheartedly believe it to be true.  I said yes to that adventure and it was incredible.  I want to continue to face new things, adventures, and life changes with this mentality. 

5. Be thankful.
                I absolutely love how blogging my ‘thankful lists’ has affected my everyday approach to life, difficult situations, interactions with people and quirks of life on the ship.  I want this to grow in me, my ability to recognize blessings and be grateful for the incredible gifts I am surrounded with, no matter what my circumstances have to say.

This is by no means an exhaustive nor an exclusive list, though I hope and expect these things to remain priorities as I continue to pursue my calling, identity, and mission in life.  I’d love to hear your thoughts!  Feel free to leave me a comment on this blog (all comments will be moderated before posting) or send me an email at krissyonmercy at gmail dot com.

One final thought below. Love to all! krissy


Good Morning, 2013

01 January 2013

I should take that back. When I started writing this blog it was still morning. Now it's afternoon. But still morning in the US where most of my readers are. So - Good Morning, Sunshine! Happy 2013!!

I did not make it to midnight last night. Confession: I didn't even try.  As I have gotten older, the luster of the midnight parties has waned a bit, and reality is, I'm a sleeper.  I'm a horrible, crabby, headachy person when I don't get enough sleep or my sleep patterns are disrupted. Trust me, it's better for everyone involved if I don't stay up. 

Apparently Conakry had some fireworks.  That just inspires fear in me, honestly. I mean, you know how much regulation there is in the fireworks industry in the States, and how many injuries/deaths occur each year because of fireworks?  Now imagine a land (Guinea) with no regulatory control over fireworks.  Thus the fear.

But anyway, my crewmates tell me they were nice.  Well, awesome. I'm not a huge fireworks fan in the first place.  Kind of a waste of money, if you ask me. (though you didn't... I'll tell you anyway. that's how I roll.. and it's my blog.)  I mean, cities in the US pay thousands and thousands of dollars, to see some shiny things for a few minutes.  Seems silly, no?  Well, it does to me. But hey, if you like it, go for it!  No judgement from me. I just don't like them myself.

There was food and dancing here last night, too.  I probably would have enjoyed the dancing, but I'm kind of foodie'd out.  They feed us very well here on the ship, especially through the holidays, with lots of sweets and richness... enjoyable, but I'm kind of over it. 

I chose to go to bed and get up this morning to welcome the new year with a run.  Last year at this time I was NOT a runner, nor did I ever think that I would ever become a runner!  Thanks, 2012, for stirring that up in me. Now I look forward to my morning runs.  My running friends are very dear to me and we have lovely conversations, funny and serious, as we're pounding the pavement (and the sand, and garbage, and dirt, and whatever else we run through.)  So anyway, I thought, what an excellent way to welcome the new year. It was lovely. 

Speaking of running, once I left the US I really thought my racing days were over. It was a great season, but I couldn't imagine training while living in Africa.  It's hot here, my friends, and two and three hour training runs aren't real practical. However, after thinking about it and chatting about it with some of my new running friends, I'll admit I'm considering it.  Half marathon training, for sure...I mean, I've already done a couple of those... and maybe.... MAYBE... marathon training. There are some pretty epic marathons in Africa, how awesome would it be to run one in a year or so?  Well, I'm thinking about it.  I'm also thinking that perhaps my enthusiasm is partially due to the cooling Harmattan season here (mid-70s at running time in the morning).  Once we move into hot season I may become significantly less enthused. 

We shall see.

In other news, our current crew is less than 200 onboard.  It's quiet, the meal lines are short, and the laundry room is empty.  This week we have a good 75 or so people coming in!  Saturday's Brussels Airlines flight alone has over 50.  Some are returning from vacation but the majority are new short-term crew.  It'll be a very different place here on board next week. 

Happy New Year!!  Welcome, 2013. I'm excited to see how this year unfolds. Thanks to all my followers, blog readers, donors, family, friends... you're my heros. Hugs to all - Krissy

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