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! :)