Sunday, March 24, 2013

Africa Mercy - Aboard: One Nurse's Journey

Here is another update from my dear friend "M." She is finally on board the Africa Mercy, I am happy to say! Click here to learn more about the nurses and doctors, and the people they help on this ship. 

Sat 3/23/2013 4:38 PM

"Aboard the Africa Mercy"

I last wrote from Chicago.  We did catch the next plane to Conakry, and almost all our luggage made it, too.  The container with $10,000 worth of medications was located in Brussels, and the airline kept it cold until we could catch up with it after the three day delay in Chicago. It was a good ending to the "hiccup" in our travels.
We did two weeks of field service in Conakry, Guinea, before boarding the Africa Mercy (the ship that Mercy Ships operates) yesterday.  Field service was amazing.  It was hot, dirty, disorganized, and stressful, with constantly shifting plans, delays, difficulties in obtaining supplies, and health issues for several of our team...BUT...when all was said and done, I was surprised to discover that we had successfully accomplished three projects.  We painted the classrooms for the deaf school and put murals on several of their walls.  Then, when the unrest in the city settled down, we were able to hold a couple of days of Vacation Bible School for the Christian school as we'd originally planned, and we built a fence around the existing playground at the hospital where we had planned to build a new playground for the smaller kids.
I said that I was surprised, but I shouldn't have been.  In retrospect, it became obvious that the Lord had a hand in crafting our days, tailoring the work to suit both the talents and the weaknesses within our group.  We had some artists among us to produce the murals, some workmen capable of building fences and repairing the school desks, some who knew sign language to help us connect to the children and teachers at the deaf school, some teachers gifted in working with children and leading VBS, and even some mature ladies (me) to connect with the women who gathered to watch us work.  We didn't make our plans around our talents--it was pretty much catch as catch can, from our point of view.
So when I saw how it all came together, I really did feel that  I saw the hand of God at work, in a non-miraculous way, through us.  We were full participants in his creation—our efforts, prayers, struggles, work, and sweat were necessary ingredients—the raw materials out of which God crafted the final product.  Sweet!
So, we've been on the ship for a day now.  Our group has been disbursed, 16 people scattered among 400+ crew members, ready to begin our various jobs on Monday.  Yet another transition point--a big one.  Until now, we've faced many adjustments, minor hardships, and new things, but always, the situation was temporary.  Now, we begin the process of settling into a new home and a new job that will last a while, so "tough it out" doesn't work as well.  Hopefully, we'll find strength in the Lord to embrace fully the path that lies before our feet, looking past the inconveniences and remembering to be thankful to be involved in this great project of Mercy Ships.
I'm preaching to myself.  Yesterday was a hard day.  I was exhausted, for one thing.  I was disappointed in my cabin assignment, and didn't have the reserves to shake it off.  I'm in an upper bunk that is so close to the ceiling you can't even sit up in bed.  The room is very cold, with a wind blowing on me from the outlet two feet away. The cubicle space seems even smaller than what I had last time--I can touch the opposite wall from my bed, which, it turns out, is a good thing.  I lean on the opposite wall to climb out of bed down the steep ladder.  In general, my bunk, which was my place of refuge last time, is useless for anything except sleep this time.  And until I fix a few problems, it's not even very good for that.
Today is somewhat better.  I'm still exhausted, but not quite so much.
I've made some progress in fixing problems and sorting myself out, and I've worked on attitude adjustment with some success.  I can see some of the good things in my new situation--toilets that flush, good food, pleasant roommates, even decaf coffee.  Today, I once again believe that I will solve the problems that can be solved and adapt to the inconveniences that can't be avoided.  I'll adjust. 

 Monday begins the new job as an admissions nurse.  Another learning  curve, and who knows what difficulties lie ahead.  But also, it is,  finally, the beginning of what I came to do.  Soon, very soon, the  two-year time of preparation will give way to THE BEGINNING.  Stay  tuned...
Be blessed, y'all.


  1. Thank you, Sharon, for keeping us updated on this mission voyage. It is amazing to see first hand what the people of God are involved in. What a thrill to be able to keep abreast of so many different walks and the Lord's work in so many different hues. You are blessing through your posts. Keep us connected. God bless, Maria from Delight Directed Living

    1. Thank you, Maria. I'm not sure if "M" can read these comments, but I hope she can. She needs our encouragement as well as our prayers. I know she is in God's good hands, and she is a very resourceful lady, but life is so 'unexpected' over there!

  2. It's such a blessing for Marilyn, that she can help in this way. I hope her sleeping situation gets better--hope she can fix things, otherwise she'll end up suffering, when God needs her to be fit and strong.

    1. I thought about those terrible sleeping arrangements too, and how she needs her rest to do the work. I know she's trusting in God right now to fix things. I also know she will 'tough' it out whatever the outcome. Thanks Cathy. If she can read this, I know she appreciates the support!

  3. I am so impressed with the amazing work your friend, and the other nurses are accomplishing on this journey. They are a truly compassionate and remarkable group!


  4. I'm just thankful for a place to share this online. "M" and the rest are so busy, I doubt few ever get a chance to tell their story in full. Thanks, Julie!


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