Thursday, March 23, 2017

Spiritually Wealthy

My “AHA” moment this week.....................Spiritually Poor vs. Spiritually Rich

I preface to say that I speak in generalities, and not for all. Just my overall observation. 

In Africa, Day after day we are faced with African Friends, Families, Patients and acquaintances that are in need of medical or surgical care, yet do not have the resources to obtain treatment. 
What does one do?........In Africa, they have no other choice but to pray. They truly have NO other choice. There are no other options. If you do not have the money or the transportation to get back and forth to the clinic or hospital......You have no other choice than to pray to God for strength, endurance, healing, peace and comfort and for basic needs to be met daily. 

The outcome.....  Spiritually Rich individuals who love and trust our Amazing Creator!! 
They praise, worship, sing and dance for every occasion. Their singing is loud and alive!! The joy witnessed on their faces is contagious! They know to cry out to God and have SEEN HIS amazing wonders! They SEE answered prayers.....because being short of miracles, what they witness can only come form God!

I SEE what Jesus was speaking of in the Beatitudes in Matthew 5:1-12

Now when he saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to Him, and He began to teach them, saying:
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness,
for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful, for they shall be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the sons of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 
Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

These ladies, each of them and many, many more across the third world countries have a story.......a story of Hope, A story of Prayer, A story of Pain, Suffering and Rejection.......and now, a story of Healing. 

When I think of these ladies, I think of descriptions of Resilience, Patience, Strength, Dignity, and Humbleness. 

These ladies suffer from Obstetric Fistula.....They come to the ship for healing. 

What is obstetric Fistula?

An obstetric fistula occurs during an obstructed labor when emergency care is unavailable.
Women suffering from obstructed labor often struggle until the baby dies.  During this agonizing process loss of circulation causes tissue to die, leaving large gaps between the birth canal and bladder or rectum, causing incontinence.
Most women and girls suffering with obstetric fistula are ostracized by their families and communities as they smell and are constantly wet, leaving them to live as outcasts.
Fistula is all but eradicated in the developed world.
In contrast, it occurs to thousands of women and girls in Africa every day and they have no-one to help.

It is important to remember that behind every statistic is a woman or girl suffering. A woman just like your mother, sister, aunt, friend. A girl just like your daughter

These lovely ladies have been a tremendous joy to care for. We witnessed amazing transformation from admission to discharge. They arrived solely trusting in God and walking in faith. They entered the big white ship hopeful for a new life, hopeful for a cure. They entered frightened and unsure of all of the "white people". Truly, some of the ladies from "up country" have never seen a "white person" before. Some were very shy and timid. All in need of translators. Some required 3 different translation from English to French, to Fon, Bereba and Yoruba. There was always a patient that would step up and translate for another. The love, bonding and genuine care and respect for each other was heartwarming. Multiple times throughout the day and evening we would get the ladies up to exercise. They would walk the halls singing and dancing! Such a BEAUTIFUL SOUND TO HEAR!!!! 

Each had a story to share. We were Blessed for the opportunity to LOVE on each one and enjoy the Blessings that Radiated from Them. 

The ladies typically stay with us 2-3 weeks. At discharge they are given beautiful dresses to celebrate their "NEW" life free of continuous leakage. You can see the amazing JOY that radiates from each one of these ladies. 

 Lots of Love for Dr. Andy!!!!

Dan Perino from Fox News

This room was filled with Singing and Dancing as we celebrated with the ladies! 


You can see why I love my job and Desire to Go to Work Everyday!!!!

The following are random pictures taken on my days off........Wandering around Benin :)

Out and About visiting the Area of Adjarra.......Transportation always means being jammed into a van and getting bumped around......Always hot and sweaty and totally dehydrated by the end of the trip......BUT.........ALWAYS FUN!!!!

A lovely, relaxing canoe ride through the jungle.....It was so nice to "hear" peace and quiet and to actually hear the birds :)

I said I would not get on one of these......yet here I am, on the back with no helmet!! YIKES!!! I have to admit it was so much fun!!!

Loving the Great Conversation with these two........Lauren from New Zealand and Paul from Ghana. Unfortunately we had to say Goodbye to Paul last week.

I can spend hours watching these tug boats bringing the ships in and out all hours of the day and night

We learned some drumming :)

Anything and Everything can be strapped to the back of a Zimmy

Lovely day at the beach

Good byes always mean a nice dinner out :)......This helps to ease the many goodbyes!!

A HOT, SWEATY day walking endlessly in the market

Rianne left me last week and Sandra will be leaving me next week :(

OH my goodness.........HE actually wanted to carry me on His back to reach the shore. I was close, BUT could not do it!! Praise God they were able to pull the boat up to shore so that I did not have to get on his back or to walk in the river water. 

The smiles on these children are so precious!!!

I am so filled with JOY!!!!........My dear Friend Mary had reminded me of the following............

I believe your exceeding joy comes from being in His will in humble obedience. 

John 15:11-12
"These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full. This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you."


Monday, March 6, 2017

Go "OUT" Impacted by LOVE

God never ceases to amaze me!! I love it when I have “AHA” moments and I begin to understand what God is doing in my life and the lives of others!!!

These two verses lay the foundation for my “AHA” moment :)

"So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them, male and female he created them"
 Genesis 1:27
"For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future" 
Jeremiah 29:11

HE created us!
We are created FOR Him, For HIS Purposes!
HE knows HIS plans for us!
HE knows exactly HOW to transform us into HIS image!
HE knows what we are up against at birth. HE knows this is a fallen world and what we are born into!
WE are to Submit, Believe and TRUST in HIS WORD!

For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, 
by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations. 
His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, 
and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. 
He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near”. 
Ephesians 2:14-17 (NIV)

Living in the "Bubble" of the Ship gives me a visual of God's Desire for the Whole World. I perceive Ship Life as...........

 "Life, as created by God, on Steroids"

I always refer to ship life as "LIFE on Steroids" because we enter into quick, intense relationships so quickly. All guards are down. It is very difficult to hide or wear a mask. We eat, sleep, play and work together. Typically, crew that have never spoke to you still know all about you. There is little room for "not being seen". 
We are blessed with meeting people from all over the world, which means many differing "perspectives" of life and ways of doing. This, I found is such a blessing. Without these perspectives; cultures, families and life can become very isolated and oppressed. Our worldviews can become so limited based solely on what we know from a little slice of life in our hometown. This, to me, is truly dangerous. 
We see faith, hope and intense LOVE in action. We witness miracles every day. Every patient comes with a story of faith, hope and healing. Their stories are often formed from lives of long-suffering, yet they had faith and hope that a time would come for healing. 
        The African worship on the ship is continuous. So many Africans are “spiritually rich”. They must rely on God for food for their table everyday. They SEE daily God’s answers to their prayers. Most live in community, helping one another. If food is left over, they share with the neighbors. I love this verse from scripture.......
Listen, my dear brothers and sisters: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him?”
James 2:5

Thus, ship life opens and intensifies our worldview the moment we walk up the gangway :)

Enter Gangway.............Transformation Begins :)

For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.
Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household
 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. 
In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord”.
Ephesians 2:18-21

Bridgette went from scared little girl to confident bundle of joy!!

This way of life gives each of us a taste of "living life as one family"......We are all one family, each of us created in HIS image. 

HE sets us up to be TRANSFORMED in HIS IMAGE 
HE instructs us to SERVE.......When we SERVE, WE are TRANSFORMED! 
Yes, we serve to help others, but it turns out to be a “Win-Win” plan.....God is in the center and both sides are transformed!!

 Trust HIS commands.....

WE are to Follow HIM!!
Come, follow me...........” 
Matthew 4:19

For me, I discern and “hear” God calling me to Mercy Ships......saying “Come, follow me” 
......This is the mission, vision and Core Values of Mercy Ships......Come, Kathy, follow me and I will use this mission to create you in MY IMAGE :)

Mission Statement
Mercy Ships follows the 2000-year-old model of Jesus, bringing hope and healing to the world's forgotten poor.

Vision Statement
Mercy Ships uses hospital ships to transform individuals and serve nations, one at a time.

The Core Values Of Mercy Ships
Desiring to follow the model of Jesus, we seek to:
Love God
Love and serve others
Be people of integrity
Be people of excellence in all we say and do

For some that enter the ship, this specific transforming takes weeks, for others, years :) all depends on what God has planned for them.
Each seems to "know" when it is time to disembark and "Go Out"
In the midst of the transformation......there is LIFE, LIVING and God’s Hand in the midst of it all.
"For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future" 
Jeremiah 29:11

Back to the BUBBLE :)...........We are all "ONE". One, big family, all here for the same purpose......Some come knowing that God is molding them, some come to serve, and some come for the adventure......BUT God brings them all for the same purpose..........To MOLD them into HIS IMAGE :)
For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do”.
Ephesians 2:10

I end this “AHA” moment with Psalm 51 knowing this is the work that HE is doing in me and everyone else that walks up the gangway. This includes crew, patients, families, visitors, TV reporters, Dignitaries, vision teams, first ladies, and all nationalities :)

Psalm 51

Have mercy on me, O God,
    according to your unfailing love;
according to your great compassion
    blot out my transgressions.
Wash away all my iniquity
    and cleanse me from my sin.
For I know my transgressions,
    and my sin is always before me.
Against you, you only, have I sinned
    and done what is evil in your sight;
so you are right in your verdict
    and justified when you judge.
Surely I was sinful at birth,
    sinful from the time my mother conceived me. 
Yet you desired faithfulness even in the womb;
    you taught me wisdom in that secret place.
Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean;
    wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.
Let me hear joy and gladness;
    let the bones you have crushed rejoice.
Hide your face from my sins
    and blot out all my iniquity.
Create in me a pure heart, O God,
    and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Do not cast me from your presence
    or take your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation
    and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.
Then I will teach transgressors your ways,
    so that sinners will turn back to you.
Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed, O God,
    you who are God my Savior,
    and my tongue will sing of your righteousness.
Open my lips, Lord,
    and my mouth will declare your praise.
You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it;
    you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings.
My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit;
    a broken and contrite heart
    you, God, will not despise.
May it please you to prosper Zion,
    to build up the walls of Jerusalem.
Then you will delight in the sacrifices of the righteous,
    in burnt offerings offered whole;
    then bulls will be offered on your altar.

Enjoy the pictures of HIS Work in us :)