Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Maybe I am a local

This week my parents have come to visit me on the Africa Mercy.  I was working the evening they arrived but was able to run up to say a BIG hello and help them to their room.  I rushed back to work for a while longer before a fellow nurse and friend willingly took the rest of my shift for me.  While back at work finishing things off I heard an overhead page for B+ blood donors.  I knew Dad was B+ so I called up to their room and heard that Dad was keen to help.  He had been called by the Australian Red Cross just before leaving for Africa, asking for a blood donation, but he refused, saving his blood just in case we needed it.  After the lab took a full blood count and cross matched him to the patient, we were hurried to the lab for him to give blood, only two hours after arriving onto the ship!
Over the next few days I have introduced them to the hospital we run down on deck 3, ward church on Sundays, eating in the dining room with 400 other people, the constant socialising, coffee at Starbucks, swimming in the wave pool above deck 8 and walking the streets of Freetown.  As I walked with them out on the streets I was eager to hear their comments and see with new eyes what has become ‘normal’ to me.  Mum’s first thought was how chaotic it was.  We were avoiding other people walking, cars, trucks, poda-podas (local transport), okadas (motorbikes) broken down or stopped vehicles, hand pushed carts, wheelchairs and prams carrying frozen yoghurt in cooler boxes, people selling goods carried on their heads, market stalls laid out on the road, broken open drains blocked with garbage and full of putrid water, pot holes, piles of garbage and puddles.
Hawa & her Mama on admission to the Africa Mercy
While walking down the street I looked up from where my feet were going to see an African lady coming at me with a very excited face.  I realised as she reached forward to hug me that she was the mama of a patient I had cared for the week before.  She had her little 2 year old girl, Hawa, who had been my patient, tied on her back, still with bandaged feet.  Also with her was another mama and her little boy, John, who had been my patient, also with a bandaged hand and another young lady patient as well.  What huge smiles all round!  We laughed and hugged like old friends meeting on the street after not seeing each other for years.  The children reached for my hands to hold them as we walked along.  I asked what they were doing in town and they told me they were going to the market to buy mangoes.  We walked along the street a while, Hawa’s mama’s hand in mine.
I bought local food from the street markets or from ladies carrying goods in their heads for Mum and Dad to try.  On the way home from roaming the streets I also saw a day volunteer who works in the hospital with me.  My fleeting thought was, I feel like a local!  I feel right at home in this place!

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

The juggle of Life

Life is busy!  We all know that!  Sometimes I wonder how could I add 5 hours to my day without getting those 5 hours from my sleep time.  In those hours I would read more, I would listen more, I would learn more.
I have just started a new bible study by Beth Moore called Living Beyond Yourself- exploring the fruit of the spirit.  Have you ever done a bible study by Beth Moore?  If not, I HIGHLY recommend you do, for your life will be changed!  She is an amazing woman that is so inspiring to me!
Today I listened to her speaking about pouring out your confessions and concerns before God, letting God pour into your life and then letting Him pour out of your life.  This is not something I can learn or perfect in one day, in fact I will be on this journey for the rest of my life!  But after hearing her message the greatest desire in my heart is to seek God’s face and fall before Him and tell Him, I am his daughter and I want what He wants for my life! 
“Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days!” Psalm 90:14
With His love filling me up and overflowing, I can surely handle anything.  (I learnt that in my last Beth Moore bible study- Loving Well).
So in the business of life on a ship with 400 other people living around me, when it’s difficult to find time alone and balance how life should be, I want so much for God to fill me with His spirit, that I may walk with Him and carry His spirit in my life, that it would be evident to all.
But I fail. Every day I make bad decisions and speak out of turn, but I know I can come before God and ask forgiveness and walk before him as a forgiven woman because He has said so.
Although this doesn’t directly relate to Africa, it does relate to me living and learning while in Africa.  Every day is a new day to learn and grow.  Isn’t that what life is about, whether you live in a comfortable house in a beautiful city, or on a ship floating in a port in West Africa!

Thursday, 5 May 2011

Special Moments

Special moments sometimes catch my breath at work in the ward on the Africa Mercy.

Like hearing my patient who’d had a huge goitre removed from around her neck, praise God with a new strength in her voice.

Hearing my name being called by a patient and when I looked over they point to a beloved long term orthopaedic patient, only 12 years old, asleep in a wheelchair with his head laying back and his mouth open.  We look at each other and laugh.

Visiting my gorgeous toddler in the Hope Centre and seeing her blow me kisses and feeling those scrumptious chubby legs!

Sitting in the ward watching the Royal Wedding surrounded by Africans hearing their comments about how their weddings are not that different.

Or saying goodnight to my all ortho patients who have been in hospital now for 40 days or so.  We know each other by name, by personality, by laughter and smile.

There is so much love to be given and received.  You just have to open your heart and your eyes to see it.


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