Sunday, March 30, 2014

Salt Water.



The president of Congo visited the ship last Sunday.  It’s a big deal, of course; every building between the ship and the port entrance was painted, the dirt swept away, the trucks and container walls hidden, and our dock was transformed from a parking lot for our fleet to a party tent for His Excellency’s 500 friends that came along with him. 

It was an honor that I got to be posted to Reception as a translator; I had the privilege of personally greeting nearly every visitor as we shuffled them upstairs.  The President of Mercy Ships, Don Stephens, was on hand to host His Excellency and once they were all onboard we headed up to the International Lounge for various speeches and thank-yous and honors.  There, the President was visibly moved, along with the rest of the attendees; a patient, who once was defined by her huge jaw tumor and is now beaming a huge radiant smile got to stand up in front of the crowd and personally thank her President for bringing Mercy Ships to save her life.  I don’t believe there was a dry eye in the place.

Salt water.

The anesthesia conference was this week, the first of this chunk of time in the red, and overall it went really well.  We trained 35 local healthcare providers, mostly anesthetists, on safe obstetric anesthesia and how to handle obstetric emergencies.  The maternal mortality rate in this country is higher than the sub-saharan African average; this training is critical to hopefully lowering that number.  The team that came from the UK to run the course was amazing, really fun people to be with, good teachers, and flexible, which is key to running any programs in Africa.  I got to make some new friends and learn some new facts and again be amazed at what I get to be a part of!

My job was to organize the logistics, the big two being venue and catering, then beyond that any logistical support I could offer to the team.  I thought I had both venue and catering completely under control a few weeks ago, and then on Tuesday the caterer was an hour and a half late and there was a problem with the venue… you had two things to take care of and you can’t even handle them! went through my head a few times, along with prickly tears of frustration over things that I can’t control still defining my worth.

Salt water.

It was a good week overall, with just minor issues, as there always are.  After apologizing to another friend for a snappy comment on Thursday, I knew I needed to run; I sent a short email to my favorite running buddy that said run b4 comm mtg? and I prayed like crazy she would say yes.  She did, and we headed out nearly as soon as the team returned for the evening… it was glorious.  Just two miles of shoes on pavement and lots of sweat and suddenly, all feels well again.  

Salt water.

Thursday night Don Stephens spoke at our community gathering, and showed a video highlighting some of our work here at Mercy Ships.  Wow.  I wish I could put it up here on my blog, but anyway… it was one of those videos that tells what we do, but I was haunted by the eyes in the photos of the children, the despair turned to hope and then to joy as we got to be a part of their stories, to teach them to walk on new legs and laugh with new faces.  What we do here is absolutely incredible. And I needed that reminder… as I find myself getting caught up in caterers being late and irritated by this that or the other thing, I need to remember how absolutely amazing it is that I get to do this, that I am so blessed beyond measure.  As the video ended, the tears came again, this time with gratitude, of what I get to be a part of.

Salt water.

Friday I got to experience the worst traffic I have ever experienced in Pointe Noire. I was driving the Anesthesia team to a local market and then to a hotel to just chill out for a few hours; a trip that would usually take fifteen minutes took me nearly two and a half hours on Friday.  I found myself thinking rather unkind things towards the drivers around me, towards the country without stop signs and the city without enforcement of any basic traffic regulations.  By the time I got to the end of the day I was desperate for my favorite Friday activity – ultimate Frisbee.  Regardless of what the previous week held, by Friday afternoon I am usually SO ready to get gloriously sweaty and dirty.   Friday night did not disappoint.

Salt water.

Later that evening, after dropping the Anesthesia team off at the airport, a friend and I cut away from the Mercy Ships vehicle convoy and went to La Pyramide, my absolute favorite restaurant in Pointe Noire. It’s right on the beach; it’s a chill, surfer’s paradise with palm trees and sand and a tiki bar atmosphere and a bartender that speaks English and has sweet hair. We found two comfy Adirondack chairs looking out towards the ocean; we sipped on glasses of tonic while decompressing from the week, chatting on all manner of things of life, work, community, dreams, the past and the future and the nature of God, occasionally lapsing into silence to breathe deep the salty air.  Detached words flew on the wisps of the wind, music in the background, with the crashing waves our constant companion… I love this place.

Salt water.

There’s no problem that can’t be made better with a little salt water – tears, sweat, or the sea… sometimes all three at the same time...  I love this place.  I love what I get to be a part of.  I love that emotions, even tears, can be holy.  I love that I live literally on the ocean. I love this amazing community, where I can always find a friend to run with or to cry with, where I can easily gaze at the sea, where love is spoken and tears are treasured and every single day I get to live and love this life to the full.

2 comments:

  1. Love this quote. And I fully agree. Sweat, tears, or the sea can cure anything. Much love from over this ocean. Praying for you, Krissy. God is working beautifully in and through you.

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  2. Beautifully written :)

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