Sunday, June 19, 2016

Stepping Into Her Story...

This last week we got to hear so many amazing stories from so many amazing people, but one that I wanted to share was a little bit about acquiring the ship that is now the Africa Mercy. At the time they were looking for a new vessal, but had no idea how they were going to pay for a SHIP (not really your everyday purchase). They had prayed and prayed and prayed some more and felt confirmation time and again that God indeed seemed to want them to buy a new ship, but they just had no idea how to fund it…until one a day a lady came to them and told them that she would like to purchase them a new ship. They thought they had heard her wrong or perhaps she just had no idea how much a ship costs, but she had in actuality offered to pay for their next ship!

That was just the beginning. They had decided that for the purpose of a hospital ship, a ferry was probably their best option to reconstruct into a hospital ship. Let me pause and say that when I think of a ferry, I think of the boat that took me out to the statue of liberty, but that’s not what you should be picturing! They were looking at rail ferries, which are much larger. They looked at several different ships along the way and couldn’t find exactly what they were looking for or couldn’t find one at a reasonable price. At one point they were standing on one ship talking and there was this ship sailing by in the background and they kept naming specific things that they wanted on the ferry they imagined they’d buy and then this ferry would sail by and they say, “like that!” and point to some aspect of the ferry sailing by (it seemed to have every aspect they had been talking about). They ended up taking a ferry over to Denmark to look at a few ships and the ferry they were on was the exact ship they had seen sailing by the day before that had been the example of every aspect they were talking about… it was perfect…AND they found out that one of the ships they were going to look at in Denmark was the twin sister of the ferry they were on! They got to the port that night and everything was dark, but they couldn’t wait to see the ships they had come to see. They turned on the head lights of their car and the light flashed across a ship with the name, Dronning Ingrid (which means Queen Ingrid) and they knew they had found their ship. It was the sister of the ferry on which they had just come over!

The whole process of acquiring the ship and then the more strenuous process of reconstructing it to be a hospital ship was characterized by such struggle, but such prayer! At one point they wired six and a half million dollars to pay for the ship the day it was due only to find out just hours before midnight that the money had not been received! Can you imagine the scramble that took place in those last few hours across several countries to find out where that money had gone? It ended up that two numbers in the account had been reversed by the middle man and six and a half million dollars had been placed in some random account! They were told by people watching this whole process that this ship would never sail (reminds me of  Noah!). They were wrong.

Today the Africa Mercy (which is what the Dronning Ingrid became…did you know that a ship has to change names when it changes ownership?) has five operating theaters, an intensive care unit, a CT scanner, x-ray, laboratories, a recovery ward, a fleet of land rovers, crew accommodations, a pre-school, elementary school, highschool, a library, a launderette, a small supermarket, a restaurant, a gym, and a cafe.

The Africa Mercy has been so lovingly and painstakingly prayed over and I could have listened to hours and hours more of story after story of miracles that have taken place on and around this ship. Colossians 1:9-12 talks about the kind of prayer and strength that surrounds this ship. It says,

“Be assured that from the first day we heard of you, we haven’t stopped praying for you, asking God to give you wise minds and spirits attuned to his will, and so acquire a thorough understanding of the ways in which God works. We pray that you’ll live well for the Master, making him proud of you as you work hard in his orchard. As you learn more and more how God works, you will learn how to do your work. We pray that you’ll have the strength to stick it out over the long haul—not the grim strength of gritting your teeth but the glory-strength God gives. It is strength that endures the unendurable and spills over into joy, thanking the Father who makes us strong enough to take part in everything bright and beautiful that he has for us.”

The glory strength…that’s what I see in the people who have worked on the Africa Mercy and what I hope to take some part in as well. I get to literally live on a legacy…a legacy of prayer that has been passed down from the people who were there at the beginning and through all the rough and seemingly impossible situations continued to turn to God with every tiny problem. What a privilege that I get to step into her story!

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

A Day in the Life...

A few things I’ve learned so far…
-There are scorpions in my cabin

Case in point!

-When I walk outside, my glasses instantly fog up because of the humidity
-There’s no bad place to sit at meals because everyone here is so kind and so interesting!!!

A typical day here at Onboarding (that’s what the training here in TX is called) looks something like this:
·      Eat breakfast with the others in my cabin
·      Morning class (This week we are covering the foundations of Christianity so we are all on the same page before we go out and do our best to represent God to those around us in Benin)

·      Lunch together in the cafeteria (which I can successfully find on my own now!)
·      Afternoon class (the classes are really fascinating and I am highly enjoying the leaders who are teaching them! They so clearly want to communicate only what is Biblical and what God wants them to communicate. They choose their words so carefully because of that and I really appreciate that aspect. Today we were taught by a South African man, an American woman, and a Dutch woman! I love hearing the gospel in all those accents!)
·      Dinner
·      Free for the evening – so far I’ve spent one evening watching the NBA finals (in a little cafĂ© on campus, which has the only TV with cable, along with a our videographer, photographer, Second Officer, and guest services manager), one evening watching Armageddon (because I like being with people so much that I’ll watch whatever they want to watch and I haven’t told everyone yet that the only DVD I deemed worthy to come along in my limited luggage is Tangled), one evening in the pool on campus doing water aerobics (led by a roommate of mine who is the ships rehab team leader), and this evening we took our weekly run to Wal-Mart (which was totally worth it even though I had nothing to get because it’s so nice and cool in there)!
This actually happened! That's me in the front there!

·      Then it’s off to bed to be ready for tomorrow (after checking under the covers for scorpions of course)!

So... having fun, learning a lot, meeting awesome people! So far so good!

P.S. This is a verse from class today that I especially liked!
Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. And now he’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls!
                                     -Hebrews 12:2-3 (MSG)

Monday, June 13, 2016

I'm Here!

I’m here! After flying out the day school ended, going to Kate’s Sweet Adeline Concert, and driving four hours from Houston to Tyler, I am finally here at the Mercy Ships Headquarters for my Onboarding training! 

Last night I moved my stuff in and went over to my small group leader’s room for tea and to meet my small group for the next month. Mom and Kate and I spent my last evening together for a while in the most lovely way…eating at Cracker Barrel and watching the Tonys!

Today was day one of training for me! The people here are from all over the world (Australia, Brazil, the Netherlands, England, New Zealand, Germany, and who knows where else!) and there are people of every age and background! The campus where we’re staying is very pretty and I’ve only gotten lost twice (trying to find the training room and trying to find the cafeteria). I got to eat lunch with Mom and Kate today and then they had to leave to go back from Houston. So my goodbyes are officially all done! Whew! I am in Texas, flying solo, but surrounded by lots of soon-to-be-friends!

My counsel for you is simple and straightforward: Just go ahead with what you’ve been given. You received Christ Jesus, the Master; now live him. You’re deeply rooted in him. You’re well constructed upon him. You know your way around the faith. Now do what you’ve been taught. School’s out; quit studying the subject and start living it! And let your living spill over into thanksgiving. –Colossians 2:6-7 (MSG)

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Goodbye to PVCS Kindergarten

I usually write big blog posts about things I love dearly and that bring sparkle and twinkle to my life, but there are truly no words for how much I love PVCS Kindergarten. This is my home. These are my little people. And I'm their little teacher. So I'm going to stop with some of my favorite photos and a quote from Miss Jane Austen that perfectly sums up how I feel about kindergarten: 

"If I loved you less, I might be able to talk about it more."

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Graduation Day!

This week my little sister, Jennifer Caroline, graduated from high school! I sure love that girl!

Dear Jenn-Jenn,
I have this vivid memory from the summer before you were born when I was eleven-years-old. You know how I get excited and amped up about different things and I remember so clearly having this thought process run through my mind. I was in the shower after a soccer practice and I remember thinking,
“Wow, I have so many things to be excited about! This Saturday I get to play in my soccer game, next month I get to perform in the homeschool group play, and then in October the baby is going to be born and then I’ll have something to look forward to and be excited about for the rest of my life!”
That sounds a bit over the top and ridiculous, like me, but in my little eleven-year-old mind, you were going to be something, someone, to be excited about forever and always! And you know what? I was right! I was right.
You have been, and will continue to be, one of the biggest joys of my life. I was so excited to hold you for the first time, excited to show you off to my friends, excited to make you do your “tricks,” excited to plan your birthday parties, excited to hear what precocious thing you would say next, excited to tell “Jenn stories” to the cousins, excited to coach your soccer team, excited to take you to Disneyland for the first time, excited to be your stage mom, excited to do the Jane Austen unit with you, excited to go to your back-to-school nights, excited to go to NYC with you…you have literally provided me with endless things to look forward to and be excited about. I have thought time and time again over the last seventeen years, “What on earth was going on in life before Jenn was born? Were we board out of our minds?” I think you know that our family has never once been board out of our minds, but you sure make our family a whole lot more exciting, funny, and entertaining!
I consider it one of the hugest blessings of my life that I’ve had the privilege of living close to you for most of your growing up years and I feel especially blessed to have gotten to be a part of your highschool experience. I love that you ask me to coach you before each audition. I love that I get to be your personal hair stylist for each show! I love getting to me your Mom on back-to-school nights. I love that I get to chaperone dtasc (sp?). I love that you want me to read your papers. I don’t particularly love studying for chem or chapter title battles with you, but if we can do it at TIFA it’s so much better and I do love that I live close enough to be there when you need to study!
There are so many things about you and me that are complete opposites, but maybe that's why we get along so well! Despite the fact that you don’t like inspirational sports movies and that I’m not all that keen on Benedict Cumberbatch, we are most definitely kindred spirits!
As you graduate today, I’m so proud of you and words could never describe how much I love you, Jenn-Jenn the pumpkin girl!
Love, “Beff”