Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Africa Mercy - It's Over Now: One Nurse's Journey

Hi....this is Marilyn's parting post, ending her service as a volunteer nurse on the Africa Mercy, which takes place a week from now. Thank you for stopping by when you could and for all your comments. I for one will miss her adventure but look forward to seeing her again. Hopefully she'll wander up my way from Boise after she gets settled. I include her email at the end in case any of you wish to send a personal message.

"It's Over Now"
14 March 2015

Yesterday, we did our last cataract surgeries for the year. Next field service, the ship will return to Madagascar, but they won't be doing cataract surgeries. For Madagascar, the program is finished. It has been a difficult year, trying to find the patients that God would bring to us, but somehow, more than 300 people received the gift of sight. I am pleased for them, and only wish we could have done more.

My patient for the week, the one that lingers in my mind, is a diminutive 72 year old lady who had light perception, but no vision, in both eyes. Usually, we only operate on one eye at a time, but for her, the surgeon did both eyes at the same time. Coming out of surgery with both eyes patched and eye shields in place, she looked like a very happy bumblebee, or one of those insects with big, multi-faceted, protruding eyes. Being completely blind for the day was not a big change for her, though, and the anticipation of vision to come lit her face with smiles.

When the patches came off the next day, she could see 6/12 in both eyes--almost perfect vision. Can you imagine what that would be like, after years of blindness?

I will be headed home a little over a week from now. We'll spend this last work week doing data entry, pack-up, and whatever we can to leave the eye program neat and tidy for the next team, in whatever country comes after Madagascar in the fall of 2016. It feels a little like writing your last will and testament, leaving your treasures to your successors, whoever they might be. I want to do a good job--but it is a little sad, this letting go of something so precious that I have been doing for two years.

What lies ahead for me personally? I don't know. I plan to move to Boise to live with my friends Deb and Dave. I'll need to buy a car, pay my taxes, sort through a year's worth of mail, and...well, I don't know what I'll find to do to stay out of mischief. I've faced these times of "the great abyss" before, and eventually, the Lord opens another door to a new adventure...or at least, he has, so far. What will it be this time?

It has been a wonderful two years, working with Mercy Ships--not
always easy, but wonderful. This past week was pretty stressful for
various reasons, and I had some days of discouragement and feeling totally inadequate to the challenges. One of my stress relievers is to watch the lights of the harbor dancing on the waters, sometimes scintillating sparkles, sometimes swirling little streaks darting in and out of the swath of light, sometimes a smooth patch that looks like a quilted, rumpled blanket. So, I was watching the lights, half apologizing to the Lord for mucking up his work here, half asking why he didn't just send someone more qualified instead of me. He brought several Scriptures to mind, including:

1 Cor 3:7 “Neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes it grow.”

2 Cor 4:1 “Therefore, since through God’s mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart. ..for we do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord... we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.”

2 Cor 12:8 “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”

In other words, it's not about me. He does his work through broken, weak, inadequate people--and he's doing it just fine, thank you. At Mercy Ships, the lame walk, the blind see, and many people encounter a God who loves them enough to get involved in the details of their healing. What an incredible privilege, that he has included me, and what a relief, that it doesn't depend on me.

Thank you all for journeying with me and for encouraging me these past two years. It has been an adventure, and a ringside seat to watch God at work, hasn't it? I have been blessed beyond all measure to be here--and my patients have also been blessed by the Lord, both directly, and indirectly through us. Thanks to those of you who have prayed for our patients--you also have a share in this great work.

Blessings to you all,

Love, Marilyn


Marilyn Neville


  1. Marilyn sounds like a remarkable person. I'm sure a new door will open for her to help others again.

  2. Aw, Sharon, we knew this day would come, buy my heartstrings are tugged on. I will certainly try to send her a message and let her know how uplifting this has been to me.

    Thank you for hosting her writings, and the email address. Lovely, and bittersweet finish, (smile)


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