Thursday, 24 October 2013

A taste of Fall

At the beginning of October I flew out of Congo to the US. I didn't make my trip public knowledge because I wasn't sure how to explain it.
I had two good friends leave the ship in April 2013 and plan to get married in October in Texas. I had lived with these friends for the past 2 1/2 years on the ship and so definitely wanted to support them and join them for their special day.
While I was at home in the winter, I had to make a decision about whether I would stay on the ship after I went to the wedding in October or head home from there. I had to make a decision because all the nurse positions on the ship were filling up so fast because of the 60 Minutes clip raising so much awareness. Before I had made my decision, my boss and friend, Kirstie, she wrote me an email saying that all the positions were full and I could only stay if a nurse cancelled. At reading this news I actually didn't feel panicked, but I still didn't know what I would be doing if I wasn't living and working on the ship. I kept the news to myself and handed it up to God knowing that if he closed the Mercy Ships door then he'd have something else just as great for me. The following day I got another email from Kirstie saying someone had dropped out and if I wanted the spot to let her know soon, but it meant a six week break between leaving for the wedding and returning to the ship. If she wiggled around the staffing she could also keep me in the same cabin and bed space, although people would sleep in my bed while I was away.
I spent the weekend thinking and praying about it and gave her a Yes! So in the end I didn't need to figure out how long to spend in the US, God gave me the amount of time.
I made a plan for traveling around the US visiting friends that I'd made a deep connection with on the ship. Of course there is never enough time or money to stretch to each person that I would dearly love to see again and spend a good amount of time with. If you know me, you'd know that quality time is my favourite thing, so in these weeks away, I get to catch up on some quality time with dear friends living so far away. So even though I feel a little guilty that everyone is working hard without me, I am soaking up God's goodness in giving me so much time with friendships he has blessed me with.

Do you want to see some photos of the fun we've had?

First up- Texas State Fair!!!

Deep fried oreos!!!

Sarah and Jeff's wedding. I got to assist Ruben Plomp with the photos! Here's a sneak peak.


Then it was goodbye Texas, hello Arizona! Let's roadtrip!

A surprise drive through Utah!

"You have reached your destination" Durango, Colorado.

I am enjoying every moment of Fall colours!

Crisp, icy mornings.

and SNOW!

Beautiful mountain towns.

Fallen, yellow leaves.

Beautiful families as friends.

American football games.


Warm clothes and hats.

Photoshoots of gorgeous families in the fading light.

I was behind the other camera- thanks to Tiff for these

Sunday drives to mountain villages.

Next state: Nebraska and a visit to the Omaha zoo.

 A good cup of tea with a dear friend.

This afternoon I might just walk to Iowa, it's only a 20 min walk away!

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Two Little Boys

Until lunch time today there were two 3 year old boys in my ward, both who’d had cleft lip and palate repairs only one day after each other. Both boys were 18kgs and both cried a lot post-op. One was a little smaller than the other, very stubborn and unwilling to be held by anyone but his mother. The other I had a cuddle with the morning before his surgery, but he wasn’t smiley or affectionate.
Post-op both boys cried a lot and the smaller one’s mama sat up all night long, for two nights, with him in her arms, because otherwise he didn’t sleep well. The other boy cried intermittently for his mama, who would crawl out from her mattress under the bed and give him a cuddle.
A few days after their surgeries, the boys discovered each other. Now that they were well enough and had plenty of energy, they liked to hop out of bed and play together. The smaller one always wanted what the bigger one had. Sometimes there were two of the same, but often not, so they played like brothers, fighting every now and then but copying each other constantly.
One day the smaller one had his dressings removed from inside his mouth, nose and lip and he looked like a new boy. The two boys played well together that day and the smaller one actually wanted to be carried by the nurses and cuddled. He became my little friend, who’d grab my hand or pat me to get my attention.
The following day the bigger boy had his dressings removed from inside his mouth, nose and lip. When I brought him out to his mama, he settled into her arms and I was curious what the smaller boy would think of how his friend now looked or if he would notice at all. I walked over to his bed where his mama was laying, with him sitting up beside her. I put my arms out and he picked up his arms to be lifted out of bed. When he saw his friend’s new face, he put out his arms towards the other mama, already holding her son. She took the small one too and stood strong with both boys in her arms. Then the smaller one began to point and use hand actions to the bigger boy. I could read through his actions what he was saying, “Look, he has had his bandage out of his mouth and nose too. They did that to me yesterday and now they have done the same to you.” Several times he told this story with his actions to those watching. The mamas and others in the ward laughed. I thought it was so adorable that I told several other nurses when they walked in and exclaimed how good the boys looked. The mamas knew that I was telling the story again and they laughed. The boys ran around for the rest of the day, playing with each other and the nurses. And today we saw them smile through their swollen lips at the antics of the nurses, willing to do almost anything to provoke a smile.

I hope these mamas swapped numbers and the boys can be friends as they grow up. The surgeries are finished but it will take a long time until their speech improves enough for them to be easily understood by strangers. In the hardest of times it’s nice to know you have a friend, like a brother who is going through a similar experience to you.

the bigger one

the smaller one

checking our palates like we checked theirs

 I'll miss these little ones!

PS- this space will be quiet for some weeks as I go on an American adventure in two days time!


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