All Aboard!

One week in and ready to go!  

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I will be working on B ward, which is the Plastics unit. Unlike what you'd think plastic surgery is all about in the States, these procedures are about function, not aesthetics. For example, a severe burn can cause contractures to the point that a person cannot use a limb or even walk. The surgeon uses a skin graft to release that tight skin and restore function to the affected limb, but only after weeks and possibly months of healing and rehab. This is just one example of a plastics case, more to come. 

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This last week has been all about prepping the wards for the patients and preparing us new nurses for their care.  

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We will have Day Workers, who are local translators, working alongside us.  

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The nurses station is quite small...well the whole unit is small. It's going to get VERY crowded! 

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I am in a 4-berth cabin with only 2 other cabin mates. Lucy and I are both working on B ward and Theresa (far right) is a nurse in the operating room (OR).  

Lucy is from Sydney, Australia and Theresa is from California.  

Lucy is from Sydney, Australia and Theresa is from California.  

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Deck 7 provides from great views of the port and the sunsets. The weather has been quite cool when it's cloudy and being so close to the water, there seems to always be a good breeze.  

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I've ventured out in Cotonou a few times. I went to an arts and craft market with these girls. The shopping lasted 10 minutes and then we sat in a bar (drinking what we'd ordered as Coke and came out looking like Fanta) to recover from all the vendor-hassling.  

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Another day trip led to this pool. The pool guy let us in for free when he found out we were nurses on the Mercy Ship.  

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Lucy :)  

Lucy :)  

Truthfully, the last week has included more downtime than I bargained for. I'm so thankful to have Lucy to sit around and laugh with. She's teaching me Australian. Haha! 

Surgeries have officially started this week and that means I'll have stories to tell very soon!  

Wait

"Wait."

It's the most clear message I can hear from God. 

"But God! I'll go anywhere and do anything You ask! Just tell me!"

"Just wait, daughter."

My feet are planted firmly in reality and my ears are the most open -- if I am being honest...waiting for anything but "wait." Haha. The emotions of the last trip have stabilized, events have been processed, and I'm "ready"...okay, God! I'm here for my next assignment! Where to next?!

"WAIT."

Sigh. Why is waiting so hard?! The longer it goes on, the more impatient I get for what is to come. But what I am learning in the waiting is that it is in the waiting that I learn the most.

I've been thinking about James 1: counting it joy in trials (i.e. when I have to wait). In the waiting, I have to be so intentional to seek Jesus out. In the Philippines, it feels like the Holy Spirit is present every other moment! In Portland, it's usually me on the couch, looking despondently out the window. God is in the small struggles as much as the big moments. I think that God uses all this waiting time to mature my faith so that I can handle the big moments without falling apart. He just wants me to spend time with Him. He wants this steadfast faith to be as effective as possible, perfect and complete, lacking nothing. (James 1:4)

So in light of that, " I will look to the Lord, I will wait for the God of my salvation; my God will hear me." (Micah 7:7)

"Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be CONSTANT in prayer." (Romans 12:12)

In Acts 16:6-10, Paul senses the Spirit closing the door to traveling to Asia so he waits in Troas. He has a dream that a Macedonian man stands over him and says, "Come to Macedonia and help us." Paul wakes up and "concludes that God has called us to preach the gospel to the Macedonians" and so he goes. 

I hope one day to hear God's call so clearly and then obey. 

Squad Goals

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These girls are the kind of girls I want in my pack. They are loyal, joyful, faithful, present, encouraging, good listeners, willing, able, loads of fun, and very good at laughing. :)

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The last night in Navotas, I was showing them some of my pictures from Haiti. (Two of the girls are nurses waiting to take boards.) I showed them the picture of my big-headed baby and Krissa, very nonchalantly, says, "Oh yeah, that's hydrocephalus." They have a good grasp of a lot of medical needs that I am only just learning about.

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Sometimes I catch a whiff of the Navotas smell here in the States. Not very often at all, mind you. Its so bad! But when I do, I almost love it. It reminds me of a place that I want to be.

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When I go to Navotas, I feel like I have to sacrifice most of my comforts-- hot shower, nice bed, quiet rooms and conversations, driving my car, etc. It only took me one day or so to get used to bucket showers, sleeping on mats in the heat with the sound of traffic all night, and riding fuming motos.

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Good friends check each other for lice. :) And lots of other things.

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All these girls have amazing voices. I wish they could record an album so that I could hear their voices daily from home.

Hazel

Hazel daaaaaarling. I met Hazel on my previous trip. She lives close to a mall with good souvenir shopping so our team met up with her last year. 

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Hazel is a small person with a huge heart to serve her own people. I was amazed as she was telling me that as much as she wants to spend time in the States, she knows God has called her to stay in the Philippines and put that dream on hold. That's so hard, girl. You inspire me to take a step back from my own dreams and ask God to do with them what He will, even if it means taking a different path. 

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Hazel wanted to pray for us as a team, standing outside Tender Bobs (restaurant). With laying on of her hands, she prayed life and peace over us. One of my teammates commented later that she wished we in the States could pray more like Hazel, so full of passion and longing for Christ. 

All photos by Jake Hixon

All photos by Jake Hixon

Hazel does get to see one of her dreams realized. She is going to South Korea this summer on a mission trip. I'm so excited to see what God does with this little lady. She sure is special. 

the sweetest of loves

Three days back on US soil and my jet lag game is strong. 

I feel like I have all these feelings and thoughts to communicate but it's all been coming out in tears. (Thanks to all my friends that have let me meltdown on them this weekend.) So here's a piece of my heart. 

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Scrolling through my photos from the Philippines trip, I keep stopping at this one. That shade of green will probably always remind me of Navotas. 

Tricia is a piece of the Navotas community that I am missing so much. On my first trip to Navotas, she came and found me in a crowd of Filipinos and wanted me to hold her, without ever having met me before or knowing me. She's let me hold her ever since. I'm not a mother so I don't know the feeling of a child wanting me like a mother, but I imagine this to be close to that. 

 

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She does little things that make me feel. She will always lay her head on my shoulder and every once in a while, look up and in my eyes, touch my face, make sure it's still me, and then lay her head back down.  

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She doesn't like the camera so it's been hard to get good pictures of her, but that's ok.  

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The morning that we said goodbye to the Navotas church, I turn around and see someone else holding her. I can't lie, it hurt a little bit. She let me hug her right before I got in the van to leave. The sweetest of hugs.  

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I hope I can hold you again someday.  

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