Thursday, January 9, 2014


The impact Africa has made on me can only be described as gratefulness. I am grateful for the people I was able to nurse. I am grateful for the worldwide friendships I have made. I am grateful for the new perspective that I have.


It has been over a month since my return back 'home.' This is a word that has a new definition for me. Landing in Detroit (not my destination), because of tornadoes in Chicago, after my 20ish hour flight from Pointe Noire made me feel more at home than I could have imagined. Being back in the United States was very exciting, sad, frightening and awe inspiring all at once. I was glad to finally no longer be on a plane for one! I was so sad to leave my new life, friends and part of my heart in Africa. But was filled with anticipation of what this new chapter will bring all at once as I stepped off the plane and into my families arms.

It has been a busy month filled with family, friends, holidays, travel, and transition.

When I returned, I spent a week in Beaver, Pennsylvania with my sister, brother in law and niece. Then traveled south to my old stomping ground to see my Tennessee family for a night. Then my westward travel started with an overnight stop with friends in Kansas City and finally my destination in Colorado. My original plan to take a long road trip was changed when my family learned of some health concerns for my father. Because of this, I got back to Longmont as soon as I could. I have spent the last month helping him out, he is doing well. Now I have many places I long to spend more time and look forward to visiting as life allows.

I miss my 6 berth world filled with friends at every turn, food served with no work, and babies to snuggle on demand. I miss the ocean breeze (not the port!). I miss the immersion in a Christ centered community. I miss all the people that squeezed into every corner of my heart that are now scattered across the globe.

I am reminded of the challenges of transition as I move back home and find my new place. I am searching for a job that will bring me joy. I am spending meaningful time with family and friends. I am trying to be present in the midst of the uncertainty and openness of my future. This is probably the first time in my life that I have no idea where I will be in the next 6 months. Of course I have a general idea, somewhere in Colorado nursing. But this is the first time in my life that all is on the line. It is very exciting. Also, scary. I am embracing it though. Soon, I will be able to fill in my blank canvas of a future. As my life has been so far, I trust that all will be as it should.

Thank you for reading throughout my journey. Thanks for your prayers. And, thank you for your patience of the tardiness of this post. 

..side dish..
Weird/fun things about coming home: hearing English all around me, how beautiful the Chicago airport bathroom floor is (sparkly stones, vivid colors and so clean!), being able to get Greek yogurt in the airport, having to plan and execute my own meals, easy access to nature and the outdoors, and so many men (6 girls for every guy on the AFM :)

and, my University picked me to feature on their blog, a huge honor! See it here.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Beach Life

Living on a ship has many benefits, one of my favorite being, I am close to the beach.  I love the ever constant movement of the ocean, no matter where you are in the entire world, it is the same. The breeze is the same and the smell is the same. It brings to mind all the times I have been at the beach, which have all been fond memories. I am a mountain girl at heart, though. To grow up at the base of the Rockies was an amazing way to be raised, my parents choose well. Many of our family outings would be to the mountains, visiting the Rocky Mountain National Park, Estes Park, and Lyons. Living the last three years in the Appalachian mountains an hour away from the Smoky Mountain National Park, just reinforced my mountain love. The nostalgia for the mountains runs deep in my soul. I think that this is what makes the beach so special to me, it is a rare treat, so different from my home.

Laura from Australia (left), Antje from South Africa (middle), Heather from Canada (right)  

One of our day crew invited Karyn out for a day of exploring, she enthusiastically invited us to join in on her fun. The day crew are local Pointe  Noire people and know the town well. We were able to experience the town in a way we would not have been able to otherwise. The date, er, I mean outing, was supposed to be to the Grand Marche, but the boys had a different plan and took us to what I like to call "Ship Wreck Beach." Photos from the day courtesy of Becky.

We have already had to say many good byes. Mine is coming up far too quickly. As a farewell party to Laura Collins, from Melbourne Australia, a few friends made a beach bonfire on the night of the full moon.  It was one of my favorite nights so far.

"Two Laura's one time!"
One of my favorite quotes of the ship from one of our Gurkha's

When you have cool friends from South Africa, sometimes they pull out of flaming balls of fire from their bag of cool tricks. Then they swing them around their heads and mesmerize everyone. They are super "kiff," (their word) aka totally cool and amazing.

Last four photos are thanks to Becky.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

King of D ward

Alphonse was on board for 50 days.  He had his surgery the very first week the hospital was up and running in Congo.  He had a large growth removed from his face, one that covered his eye, most of his cheek and forehead. His healing took a lot of time with some bumps in the road. As many patients came and went out of the ward, he remained. It didn't take long for a family to be formed. Every morning he would walk around and greet all the nurses with a strong paternal hug. To ward off cabin fever, which infects our patients who spend almost all their lives outside in fresh air, more than any other infection, we try to come up with fun crafts and activities.  We play many games of Uno, and Jenga, create paper chains with colorful construction paper, and fly paper airplanes to pass the time. One night, a crown was made from blue construction paper and colorful IV med caps for jewels, Alphonse became the king of D-Ward. It was incredible to see Alphonse begin to heal, a wound that looked so angry and agitated became new skin over time. On the 50th day of his stay, he was discharged to the HOPE center, the Hospital Outpatient Extension Center, where patients graduate when they no longer need as the same acuity of care. We send patients who still need daily dressing changes, or who live out of Pointe Noire, here. Soon, he will have a second surgery to build a new eye lid and then he will get to go home to his beautiful family. A wife, a son and a daughter. It was a gift to see his joy as they would come in the evenings to visit him. We got to know him in such a special way throughout his 50 days.  

Monday, October 28, 2013

City Life

In between shifts on the wards, it has been fun to get off ship and experience Pointe Noire. Trying new food, seeing city life, surviving taxi rides, riding bikes through town, swimming at the Atlantic Hotel, and going out for drinks, have all been high lights. 

It can take some determination to get off ship. To get into town there is a mile long walk through the busy port. It is a stimulating walk full of uneven ground, wide open man holes deep with trash, diesel exhaust, shouts in unknown languages and dodging of tucks, cars, motor bikes, trains, forklifts and men. Once out of the port, we take a sigh of relief and walk, hail a taxi/mini-bus to our destination. 

Exploring the Grand Marche, a large open air market full of anything you could imagine, especially shoes, produce and shoppers

Becky from KNOXVILLE!

A random Truck with Mercy Ship Surgery Posters

Cool billboards for Mercy Ships throughout town

Naomi from Australia (left), Sarah from COLORADO! (right)

A lovely patisserie, La Citronelle

Becky from Canada (left), Solveig from Norway (right) 

 Jessica from South Africa (left), unknown weirdo (right)

 Thankful to have friends with bikes, who share

"Suffering for Jesus" (not)

Our bikes were still locked up after hours at the pool, yay!

Helena from Canada (left), Amy from North Carolina (right)

Laura, a delightful friend from Australia 

KP (left), Collin, my bunk mate, middle, from Arkansas

The incredible egg sandwich made fresh with an open flame burner by the stand in the left background