Friday, March 21, 2014

The Work Continues

When we were on Togo with Mercy Ships two years ago we had the privilege to meet some wonderful people completely on fire for The Lord. Although I was working with the eye team while I was there I had NO IDEA  that the media relations coordinator (or a similar title - sorry Lewis Swann) was working with the locals on our team to continue the work still left to be done. 

Lewis has successfully founded a wonderful ministry, working with the technicians and surgeon we worked with in Togo to continue to provide free eye surgeries.  He then helps these previously helpless people to learn and practice the skill of farming so they can then support themselves and their families. Here is a quick video of the people and work that continues to be done in Togo via Believe And See ministry. Bless you Lewis and your lovely fiancĂ©, nurse Naomi. 

Monday, February 24, 2014

Meet guest blogger Deb in Congo.

My sweet Babooh has successfully left the ship after his short visit in Congo and is on his way to Texas for yet another meeting for Mercy Ships. Busy, busy guy!

I want to share a blog post from a wonderful nurse that has been on board for several years. A lovely woman that selflessly ministers to the patients on board. Here is a recent article about her time with. Mercy Shipes. Enjoy!  

Saturday, February 15, 2014

News from the front lines.

It is almost inconceivable to me that it was over two years ago that Peter and I first stepped foot on the awesome big white ship - the Africa Mercy. What a pivotal moment in our lives!  This hulking boat with a its collection of characters from around the globe continues in their unified mission to show the love of Christ to the hurting folks of Africa.

Since our first trip there Peter has been appointed the International Medical Director and has made several trips back to the ship. He's gone to Guinea, Grande Canary, sailed to Congo from Tenerife and just last week flew back to Congo for some meetings on the ship.

The piece that 60 Minutes filmed while we were in Togo aired a year ago in February and again last summer. The increased awareness about the healing mission of Mercy Ships and the impact being made in west Africa increased donations by an impressive margin. So much so that the next phase of getting a new hospital ship built is actually underway!

The wonderful charity Sevenly has partnered with Mercy Ships again just recently. Both organizations were featured in a gorgeous video on Facebook's tenth anniversary just a couple of weeks ago. If you didn't see the video here is the link.

And just last week a beautifully written article by one of the ship's writers was picked up by the one and only Huffington Post and you should certainly read about the heartwarming work that continues in the Congo.    Article: Huffington Post Article

So, although I certainly miss not having my sweet Babooh home on Valentines Day...and the dog is driving me a bit crazy since her main love interest and chief dog walker is away, I am gratified to know that we have a small role to play blessing God's people in the Congo.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Conversation With My Childhood Self

Here I am again a little "Cattywampus" *** by playing catch up on this weekly #Compassionblogger thing. Although I didn't sign up until the second week, the folks at Compassion International are quite liberal in their acceptance of submissions up until the deadline on the 30th. They are obviously known as Compassion for a number of reasons I am thinking.

So, since I'm somewhat of a ruminator I couldn't help but think about the assignment given for that first week that I missed. 

Write a blog post to your childhood self. What words of encouragement do you need to hear?

I grew up the eldest of six in mid-Wisconsin during those ugly Vietnam Nam era days. Things were getting less and less rigid in oh so many ways and I think the trickle down effect was in full force for me.  My mother had a motto of being a "Jack of all trades, Master of none" so she was fond of giving us a little taste of of everything. It made sense. Kids don't know what they want. And with six of them, a taste is all anyone could really afford back then.  So, I had two years of piano lessons, two years of ballet lessons, a year on the violin, two on the clarinet. I never quit anything. I was just told it was time to move on. Give someone else a chance on the family's clarinet. That sort of thing. 

Obviously, these are not the musings from a deprived childhood by any stretch of the imagination. We knew we were very fortunate to get the lessons we had - many of which were free through the school district. Certainly a different time and place. My recollection is that excellence never came into the equation in my formative years. I even remember the wonderful oboe teacher that took me on when I was in Jr. high who told me I could really be an amazing oboist if I just applied myself. I sort of scratched my head and wondered what it was that I wasn't doing to get where he thought I should go?  I ruminated about his comment for decades. 

What a contrast when I had my own children and we were navigating the multiple sports leagues, some extremely competitive!  The year round baseball practices. Talking about athletic scholarships soon after they grew out of T-ball!  Who are these people???  I'd met some driven people when I was in med school but holy cow!  I had never seen anyone as competitive and single minded as some of these parents on the side lines. 

But, part of me has always envied people with so much drive. I have long wished I had an abiding passion in my life. I often wonder if during my younger years when pursuing the things I found enjoyable had I  actually given it my all would I have found the thing that God put me here to do?  I remember really enjoying playing the instruments I had learned to play but was always terrified of performing in public mostly out of my own mediocrity. Would it have been different if I had put in the hours and applied myself the way Mr. Horning had said?  

I do know that it was not until my older son inspired me by his amazing work ethic in high school that I got a front row seat to what excellence means. Not only did he put in the hours of study, but he was just not satisfied until he mastered it all!  He had the drive and passion and exuded a palpable joy when he knew he had gotten ALL of it. It took nearly 40 years but I finally understood what my teacher meant all those years ago. 

So, a few years later when I went back for a masters degree I really applied myself. I not only knocked it out of the park grade-wise but I had the joy that comes from not only mastering something but knowing you've given it your all. Not settling for good enough. Not being a slacker. 

That's what I would go back and tell my childhood self. Try different things - yes. But when you find something you really like give it your all. Apply yourself. Go for the gold. Find your "A" game and above all else remember who you ultimately work for. There's the real reason for being excellent.

Colossians 3:23-24 (KJV) And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; 

***and for those of you that have never resided in the south
catawampus Chiefly Midland and Southern U.S.
— adjective
  1. askew; awry.
  2. positioned diagonally; cater-cornered.
— adverb
  1. diagonally; obliquely: We took shortcut and walkedcatawampus across the field.
Also, cattywampus

Sunday, September 22, 2013

What a Shoe Means

Thanks to those of you that read my last submission on this blog for the Compassion International Bloggers month.  It is always gratifying when you not only learn that someone has read what you wrote but even more so when someone says they are touched by that writing.  

This week - well, actually last week's assignment was a creative writing assignment to use any of a few pictures they sent out for prompts. We were to imagine something about the person in the picture, their life, etc.. and write a story about it.  I've never fancied myself a creative writer.  Not terribly creative about much of anything. Oh, sure...this is a knitting blog to start with.  And yes!  I love to knit.  But ask me if I've ever dreamt up my own pattern, or dyed my own lovely shades of yarn or what have you.  I'll answer that with a resounding "no!"  I've bought pattern drafting software, taken classes, etc...  Nope.  Its not in me.  

I easily decided opt out of this one,. (lovely to not be a student anymore and have the luxury of saying "nyet!", hmm?). But, I just couldn't get the picture prompt of these shoes out of my head.

Just one look at these shoes on this little child fills my head with so many images!  It doesn't take a rich fantasy life to imagine the type of life this child must live.  No doubt these shoes probably belonged to several other family members and possibly a few other feet she never knew before they landed in her lap as a precious gift. Amazed that something so beat up could be considered precious?  Although in our homes these little shoes would have hit the trash bin long ago and be considered unusable without laces there's not a doubt in my mind that she clutched them to her chest in happiness when they were given to her. Perhaps she waited for weeks or months or even years to get a pair that came close to fitting so that she wouldn't have to walk barefoot.  These might possibly be the first shoes she's ever had! 

Walking barefoot in the third world.  This is not the thing of beach blanket movies and perpetual summertime. While in medical school we learned of many awful diseases that affect a person's body when they don't have the ability to protect their feet. Not only are they exposed to the trauma of walking on unpaved surfaces but there are often shards of glass, exposed metal as well as all manner of discarded stuff rotting in the elements, including human excrement.  I know, euwww!  

In addition to infection from trauma, other diseases of the foot may sound exotic but are absolutely life threatening.  From the huge sores of "Madura Foot" to the insidious disease of Hookworm, there are dangers lurking around every corner for the poor unshod person of the third world. *Warning*  The pictures at the above links are pretty graphic so beware!!  Not surprising to find multiple attempts by people to make shoes out of cardboard boxes, old tires and the ever versatile duct tape.  
Yes, these were plastic bottles!

Given the importance of shoes and the difficulty obtaining them, it's probably a safe bet that our pictured child may have felt she hit the jackpot to have what appear to be leather shoes that come close to fitting her!  What a new lease on life these shoes must mean!  Not only will she be able to play without hurting herself but she can now be of help to her family when it comes to carrying things and helping with meals. Most importantly, it may mean she can now go to school!  

We were surprised to learn that in many African countries the children are often not allowed in school if they do not have the proper school uniform!  How heartbreaking knowing that the path out of poverty is education and the roadblock to get there is not intelligence or even the tuition but what the child wears! 

I am always gratified by the wonderful pictures Compassion sends me of my adopted girls holding the presents they have purchased with the birthday and Christmas money I send.  I have seen my girls posing with goats and roofing materials and lovely shoes. 

These shoes and other purchases have taken on a different level of meaning for me since I've been to Africa. Likewise, the overflowing shoe closet I currently shuffle through has become even more of an embarrassment after learning of how closely these precious ones cherish the one pair of shoes they have.  Amazing how little they have - even more amazing the contrast between that and what we have!  

I urge you to consider sponsoring a waiting child at Compassion International and start having the heartwarming experience of knowing you've helped them live a better life. Thank you