Thursday, April 12, 2012

A New Chapter

Well, my dear few readers, I know I've been off the blogging scene for quite awhile. There have been some changes in my life lately, and I've recently started a new chapter with a whole new set of adventures. Since I have a new name, new family, and new home, I thought it would be appropriate to start a new blog as well. So, I'll be leaving this old friend of a blog behind...if you'd like to keep up with me and my family, you can find us at

God bless!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

The Airport Scene

When I finally arrived at the Austin airport last night after 40 hours of traveling, it was truly magical. Epic theme music was playing as I ran in slow motion across the terminal, and glitter fell from the ceiling when I leapt gracefully into my boyfriend's arms and he spun me around. Everyone was wiping tears away and sniffling.

Ok, so really my plane landed early and Patrick hadn't even gotten to the airport yet. I came down the steps to baggage claim searching in vain for him and the 10 or so friends who were driving down from Temple to welcome me home. About half-way down the stairs my friend Jen appeared, a happy but concerned look on her face.

"Jen, where is everybody?"
"Girl, I don't know. They're not here yet. You'd better go back up those stairs and come down again after they get here."
"I'm not going back up the stairs."
"You have to! You don't want to miss the Hallmark moment. Just go on back up the stairs and wait a few minutes. I'll take pictures."

I didn't go back up the stairs. We went and picked up my luggage, then found a spot to sit and wait. Before I could sit down, Jen said "Oh, wait, I think I see them! Aren't those some of his friends?" I turned around, saw Pat walking in the door, and at that point I don't really remember what happened in my brain, I just lost control. Poor Jen, I dumped my bags in her arms, abandoned her and took off running - definitely NOT in slow motion. The graceful leap was more like a body slam that almost brought us both to the ground. Pat didn't even see me til I was about 5 feet away, at which point I realized I running too fast to slow down. He had time to throw his cell phone at Chris and say "hold this!" before I almost knocked him over. He claims I broke a few of his ribs...but I don't think he minds.

It's good to be home.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Back in America!

It's been a long 2 days, but I'm almost home! Yesterday at noon I went out on the dock for my last round of Mercy Ship goodbyes...only this time, I was in the Land Rover, not standing on the dock. Freetown traffic was awful, we probably could have gotten to the ferry quicker if we'd walked. But we finally made it, and then had a couple of hours of waiting before the ferry took us across the harbor to Lungi. There were over 20 people disembarking yesterday, so we had plenty of company. :) On the other side of the harbor, we all loaded up in SUV's and minivans and drove to the airport. After getting our bags through, we all gathered in a corner of the non-air-conditioned airport and sat for hours before it was time for our flight. It was very hot and humid, but that's been the norm for the past 6 months. Winter is going to shock me this year. An 8-hour flight got us to Brussels, where we had one last round of goodbyes as everyone went their separate ways. Then I had a 6-hour wait in the boring Brussels airport. At least I didn't spend money on stupid airport souveneirs or overpriced food, since I didn't have any euros. (well, Rachel did buy me a cup of coffee). After the long layover, I had a 9-hour flight to Washington D.C., where I'm currently enjoying the incredibly fast, free airport wi-fi, and a Starbucks frappucino. :) One more flight left, and I'll be in Texas with my honey! I'm dirty and sweaty and crumpled and grubby and tired, but so so excited!!!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Goodbyes and Cleaning

I'm down to my last few days in Sierra Leone, and probably won't have much time to blog this week, so here's a quick update.

After an energetic worship service with the patients in the wards, we slowly sent each one of them home last week and shut down the hospital. There have been lots of goodbyes lately - not only are the patients gone, but so are our day volunteers (locals who work on the ship as translators, housekeepers, deck hands, and help in the hospital). We had a celebration on Friday to say thank-you to all of our day volunteers, and there were lots of tears as everyone hugged goodbye. The crew have also been trickling out; every Monday and Thursday a crowd gathers on the dock to send off the Land Rovers full of crew members and their baggage, headed to the airport. We're down to just 3 people in my 6-bunk cabin, and soon Julie will be all alone, as Rachel and I leave this Thursday!

Although the surgeries have stopped and the hospital is closed there is still quite a bit of work to be done before the ship will be ready to sail. This morning all the remaining nurses, about 30 or so, gathered in B ward for a time of worship and devotions before we donned our rubber gloves and got to work scrubbing and bleaching every inch of the hospital. I spent the morning outside on the dock, helping the dental team pack up all their equipment into a shipping container that will now be lifted up onto the top deck of the ship with the crane. Many hands made light work, and we were completely finished before lunchtime! After lunch and another round of goodbyes as more crew headed to the airport, I went down to the ward and joined the cleaning team. We have our own ways of making cleaning fun. Imagine about 8 nurses, wearing scrubs rolled up to their knees and blue rubber gloves on their hands, holding sponges and spray bottles. The main lights are turned off, but the emergency alarm light is on, flashing like a disco ball. "All the Single Ladies" is blaring out of the little computer speakers, and rather than wiping down cabinets or sorting dressing supplies, the nurses are just dancing around the half-empty ward and singing. Yep, that was my afternoon. After the dance party we got back to work, but first put the movie "Grease" on the TV's and sang along to "Summer Days" and "Beauty School Dropout" while we cleaned.

Now I have the evening free, and am trying to get up the motivation to go start sorting my stuff and packing for home. I might just end up in the cafe playing cards with friends instead...

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanksgiving on the Africa Mercy

A month ago our galley staff cooked up a lovely turkey dinner in honor of Canada's Thanksgiving day, and today we got to enjoy another Thanksgiving dinner for the Americans onboard. All day my American friends and I have been trying to explain to our non-American friends why we celebrate Thanksgiving. It's made for some entertaining conversations.

Brit: "So...the pilgrims, from England, were thankful to the Indians that they didn't starve?"

Canadian: "Yeah, and then they gave the Indians smallpox blankets."

American: "They didn't know the blankets had smallpox on them!"

Brit: "England's such a small country, but it's interesting how we're involved in everything."

American: "We were trying to get away from you!"

I ate dinner with 3 nurses from the United Kingdom, and when we sat down to eat Jess looked at me, the lone American at the table, and said "is there something we're supposed to do? Do we have to sing a song or say something special before we can eat?"

I'd already started eating. Oops. "Um, well, sometimes my family all goes around the table and everyone says something they're thankful for." So we did that, and then I got back to my turkey and mashed potatoes. Yum!

I didn't get very far though before Larry, an older gentleman from somewhere in America, stood up and rang the bell. There's a bell in the middle of our dining room that people ring when they want to make an announcement during a meal. Usually it's an announcement for someone's birthday, and everyone in the dining room sings happy birthday. Today, Larry stood up and said something nice and nostalgic about it being Thanksgiving, and then added "and I'd like all the Americans to join me in singing God Bless America."

What followed was a half-hearted rendition of what sort of sounded like 'God Bless America,' but nobody really knew all the words, and everyone was off-key. Every time I tried to sing I just heard how off-key everyone was, and started laughing, which made me start coughing. I've had a cough for about 3 weeks now. Anyway...the Thanksgiving song fell rather flat, but the meal was lovely. I miss my mama's cornbread stuffing and sweet potato pudding, but dinner was still really good. And a few hours later we all gathered in the cafe and had delicious apple pie and ice cream! All in all, it was a nice Thanksgiving. I have so much to be thankful for right now, I can't even begin to list it all.

Happy Thanksgiving!