An attempt to merge my ancient and neglected knitting blog with our journey towards becoming Medical Missionaries!! After 20 years of wondering why God planted Mercy Ships ministries in my head Peter and I are getting ready to go to Africa!
Please note: The views expressed here are ours alone and are not to be construed as anything official as far as Mercy Ships is concerned
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.
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
I'm setting sail on a new direction in the blogosphere. Just this past week I got an e-mail from one of the Christian Missions / Charities that we support - the amazing Compassion International. They have a feature whereby they have others help promote Compassion by blogging. They invite people with blogs to write about Compassion International.
During the month of September they challenge their bloggers to write every week and to nudge them along they give a few writing prompts along the way. I have often been touched by the writing ministrations of several of these bloggers so when I got the e-mail this week I thought "I have a blog. It's been sort of neglected. Why not?"
My more observant dear readers may note that we are nearly at the half way point of September so I'm in the "bringing up the rear" group. The bonus here is that there will be no week one submission from me. You may see this as a bonus if things don't go well.
The week two prompt is: "Write three things about one word"
So, in the past few days I've had my thinking cap on regarding how best to transition my Knitting blog that has more recently become my Mercy Ships blog towards something more inclusive as I start blogging about Compassion International and not seem too terribly schizophrenic in the process.
So, I hit on the word KNIT . Yes, once again my passion for knitting is the key to knit all of this together. Let's see....
Early on in life I learned of the fabric called knit. Knits are typically soft, flowing garments that hug every curve. So being of the more zaftig persuasion when it comes to body type I assiduously avoided anything constructed of knits other than large, camouflaging sweaters and comfy socks to ward off the deep freeze of my Wisconsin home. Knit as a fabric type had long been something to avoid until I got into my more advanced years. As waistbands became more and more challenging the knit garment became more of a friend. In fact, I've lately found a designer of knitwear that makes a lovely A-line dress that I always pack when travelling that has been dubbed my "Safety Dress". Like a good friend this dress always fits, goes with everything and never wrinkles or looks bad. We all need such a friend and a safety dress. Knits as a fabric type has come full circle as my best friend now.
My current project
Knit is also one of my favorite verbs as one could surmise from my blog's title. From the time I first learned to knit in second grade I revelled in the ability to turn string into fabric. I love the process of creating something of beauty from an item that barely resembles the finished product. As I knit I can meditate on how other things are created and marvel at what goes into the making of something from nothing.
As the Psalmist said:
New International Version (NIV)
13 For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. 14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful,I know that full well.
Clearly, knit is also a verb.
Lately knitting has become cool - thanks to Julia Roberts and dubbed the "new yoga" for the rhythmic sense of peace one gains. For years I had a nightly routine of sitting down with my needles and yarn. Sadly, the demands of school, work and children had me setting my needles aside for decades. By the time I'd retired from the military and the children started to move away I rediscovered the hobby that kept my hands busy and my mouth from snacking in front of the TV set. No doubt my ability to handle the stress of those days would have been enhanced had I continued with my meditative, creative hobby during the crazy years.
Finally, the word knit is used to signify combining from diverse sources or elements as well as to join closely or firmly as with members or parts.reference Not only are we knit together as human beings in our mother's wombs from the nothingness of random DNA but we are knit together as humans into amazing communities that begin and end and have different purposes. The Lord not only knits our bodies together He knits our lives together in a beautiful tapestry that at times resembles a mess until years later you take a step away and gaze in awe.
Just as the community of knitters taking to the blogosphere enticed me to open up a sporadic blog when I was reintroduced to my long, lost love of knitting. The Christian Community introduced me to international missions via a long ago mint advertisement for a sea going medical mission that resonated as a use for my Navy medical training.
The Christian Community introduced me to the idea of sponsoring my first daughter in Africa over ten years ago. The desire to see Rosemery - still unmet - planted the seed that going to Africa would be feasible.Years later, after leaving the Navy we went to Africa with Mercy Ships. More parts of my life coming full circle.
Not only do I knit nearly every night, God is knitting me - physically, spiritually and globally every day.
How is God knitting you?
Is he nudging you out of your comfort zone a little? Perhaps He wants you to have a wider world view by getting to know a child in another country. Compassion International was that jump start for me. I urge you to visit their website @ Compassion International and see if one of these precious children touches you.
I guess we are long overdue an update on our involvement with Mercy Ships. Guest blogger Dana Perino from Fox News has forced me out of my inactivity as now she is blogging about my hubby! Time for some catch up.
This past winter all the I's were dotted and the T's were crossed finalizing the appointment of my dear as Mercy Ships International Medical Director. Huzzah! Soon thereafter he drove off to the hinterlands of East Texas to the International Operations Center for a month long training program called "Gateway". This program provides not only background information on the history and mission of Mercy Ships but also has some discipleship training as well as real bonding exercises for the participants who will soon be heading off to Africa together.
After his month in Texas he came home but had a few follow up meetings with big wigs in Texas and many, many conference calls at home between even more big wigs in Texas and other parts of the world, including the ship.
In June Peter headed off to the ship's dry dock home in the Canary Islands with a side trip to Lisbon, Portugal to make a few presentations for Mercy Ships at the International Rotary meeting there. The meeting was great, the escape from Lisbon - not so much. Being stuck in the airport for days on end due to a general strike made Lisbon seem a bit less enticing for our intrepid traveller. After missing three connecting flights and having his luggage arrive about a week later, Peter was safely moved into his new cabin on the ship right next door to the room we occupied for five months in Togo.
After a few weeks on the ship, covering for the crew physician I made a guest appearance so that we didn't end up spending the entire summer apart. All I can say is "Wow!" The Canary Islands are beautiful! No wonder most of Europe heads there whenever they need to escape the long, dark winters or the calendar says "Hey, it's August!" I stayed for an idyllic two weeks and even got to go on a mini cruise as the ship left their maintenance berthing in Grand Canary to hang out in Tenerife waiting for the rest of the crew to arrive prior to setting sail.
We rented a car and saw a fair amount of the island, ate some fabulous Spanish food and worked hard to stay awake as late as the night owl Spaniards. The wisdom of the siesta became immediately apparent.
I left the day before the ship set sail so I was able to reconnect with some very good friends I last said good bye to Togo over a year ago.
As the ship sailed Peter would secretly go out on deck and use the satellite to determine their location and plot it on a map. Since their location needed to stay secret due to the threat of pirates he couldn't share their location but now that they are safely in their berthing it's probably OK to show the map. Or I would show the map along with all the other pictures I'd picked out to post with this entry but I can't seem to make any of them work via my iPad. New technology - new challenges. Since I'm running out of time and have an inordinate amount of things to accomplish this morning I'll just post this without the pictures. If I become more technologically savvy - or I fire up a PC I'll give it another attempt. Until then. Keep Peter in your prayers as they head into their big screening in the next few weeks as well as during his continued travels. It is rumored that he plans to make a guest appearance in San Diego next month. It's possible. Until them enjoy out guest blogger from the Fox network.
Yeah! We are so excited to announce - and for some of you - announce again and again, that THIS SUNDAY the segment that 60 Minutes filmed at the ship in Togo last spring will finally air.
As a recap, during the time that Peter and I were in Togo with the Africa Mercy there was a passing parade of media types that descended upon the ship in the late April, early May time frame. Most notably there was the morning crew from my fav radio station - K-LOVE followed closely by a large crew of folks from 60 Minutes.
We had first heard that 60 Minutes was considering a story on the ship and the wonderful work done in Africa several months beforehand when the founder and President of the ministry, Don Stephens made a visit to the ship. What really impressed us was that as soon as soon as he mentioned that 60 Minutes was thinking of coming all the Americans on board were completely a twitter with excitement! No surprise you say? Well, what was surprising was the reaction of the non-Americans on board. Along with the American exuberance was an equally non- exuberant "meh" reaction from the rest of the ship's crew. So for the next several days we Americans attempted to explain the Sunday night ritual of many Americans that gather around the TV and watch Morley Safer et al ambush some ne'er do well CEO. then we'd have to explain why we were actually excited that this was going to happen to us. Yeah, um...no. They don't always expose the dirty under belly of organizations... So we're pretty certain that this will be a favorable piece on a ministry we love, doing God's work with the forgotten poor. Funny how cultural differences pop up when you least expect them.
Week after week we waited, wondering if they would come? We were sworn to secrecy until we knew for sure they were doing the story. During the weeks of blog writing where I had little to say it was tempting to spill the beans but we waited....
Then in late April the 60 Minutes folks sent producers and film crews for a couple of weeks to do background interviews, find interesting stories and preview patients that would be willing to be filmed during the actual shoot. After about a week or so of them crawling all over the ship and commandeering a part of the cafe with all their equipment the famous Scott Pelley showed up with his oh so handsome son. Both of them were very nice and we were extremely happy to get to meet them and share a little of our experiences on board. He was particularly happy to learn that we tape the evening news everyday and watch it without fail.
So - although the crew taped about 1200 minutes of stuff happening in and around the ship, the segment will only be about 12 minutes long so we don't expect to see ourselves except for possibly standing in line waiting to eat or something. But we are thrilled that you all will get a glimpse into the wonderful world of Mercy Ships and we pray that if the Spirit moves you to become involved with this awesome ministry that you will listen and respond.
We're certain that the Lord is still working on us in regards to Mercy Ships. In fact, Peter is at the International Operations Center right now getting training for future work with the organization. So - our prayer is that we'll see you on board some time in the future and if not. We know that you will be with us in Spirit as you always have been.
God's greatest blessings to all of you and enjoy the show!