Sunday, December 26, 2010
Saturday, December 25, 2010
Friday, December 24, 2010
Thursday, December 23, 2010
Sunday, December 5, 2010
May 12th. The day that will live in infamy; the date burned in my mind. The day I left home.
Last everythings were over – last night in Dali, last supper, last walk on the dike, last bike ride, last good-byes… last ride on our bus. Am I ready? Ready to leave? Not only Dali, but Hong Kong, and my childhood. I’m leaving the only life I’ve known. It’s over.
Wednesday, December 1, 2010
Sunday, November 28, 2010
Monday, November 15, 2010
Tuesday, November 2, 2010
Monday, November 1, 2010
Sunday, October 31, 2010
Monday, October 25, 2010
Sunday, October 24, 2010
Friday, October 8, 2010
Saturday, September 25, 2010
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
Thursday, August 19, 2010
Tuesday, August 17, 2010
Friday, August 6, 2010
Thursday, August 5, 2010
Wednesday, August 4, 2010
Today I learned what soft wax is and got to use it on the natural fibre hemp (adds a little more protection coating) that we fixed the van lifting gear with. We had to pull those whippings so tight my hands are red and sore, but regardless ropework is one of my favourite jobs!
There is a sign on the elevator door, right under the 'Out of Service' sign, that says:
"God just gave me ONE LEG THIS WEEK! Go Go Go Electricians! I miss my Buddy the Elevator. -Matthijs" (on crutches from playing sports)
Today it is FUN to have a long distance relationship! (Wow, I'm being optimistic...!) If we were together, we'd miss out on the packages to look forward to, letters, e-mails and phone calls and bragging on my man when he's not here! Every other day it really SUCKS, but for some reason I'm in a good mood today! (Still, I'd trade it if I could-!) Maybe it's because I finally wrote in my journal again last night. ;)
Tuesday, August 3, 2010
Monday, August 2, 2010
This brave girl wasn't the only one who's body could no longer fight off diseases due to the HIV/AIDS virus killing their immune system. There was Abby, a mom of four young children, who was admitted to this ward yesterday. She was scared and you could see the fear in her eyes as they darted around the ward, seeing the other patients who were all in a worse condition, knowing that this soon too was her fate.
And then there was the Elderly Lady. The thing that stood out to me was her smile, which filled up her whole face! She recognized the bright blue Logos Hope team T-shirts as the same as a previous team wore, and tried to make a violin motion as she lay on her bed. So she loves music! And she wanted us to sing!
I looked down and there was dried blood and vomit on the floor. Horrible coughs racked the patients' whole bodies, and they were constantly spitting out phlegm. They were so thin; just skin stretched over skeletons really, so thin I had thought Cynthia's bloated belly to be malnourishment and had never imagined the possibility she was pregnant. The ward was drab, plain cement walls and floor, broken beds and makeshift side tables. The open windows had big heavy grates on them - I wasn't sure why because no one in their right mind would ever want to come in there, and it would have been physically impossible for any of the patients to be able to climb out. There was nothing to steal from this cold, simple room anyway. The only bright spots in the otherwise colorless room were the patterned African cloths that were the cover on each patient's bed. It was hard not to concentrate on the blood on the floor... and who knew what else my flip-flops were stepping in. I closed my eyes and turned my head away. I wanted to run, run away from there. Run out into the bright sunshine and fresh air, where everything was pretty and nice. Even the dusty African roads and scorching sun was appealing compared to facing this... this dying.
But we could not just leave. We had to be there. I had to face this. Shoes could be washed - feet even, if necessary - but time for these patients was trickling away... drip, drip, dripping away like the liquid in their IV bottles. What did you say to someone who was so close to facing eternity? The only thing I could do was read. And pray. And sing, I guess, since it made the Elderly Lady so happy. I tentatively sat down on the edge of Cynthia's bed, unsure if this action was appropriate, but feeling it broke down a barrier showing that I was not afraid to get close, and reached out and took her hand. Before I had always wondered, what it would be like, to knowingly touch someone you KNEW had AIDS. But it was not different than touching anyone else. She was a girl, just like me. It seemed cliche to realize, that HIV/AIDS patients? - they are normal people just like you and me. God helped me to see not a disease, but to see PEOPLE, people who desperately needed love and touch. Outcasts, the kind of people you would find Jesus with if He were on earth today.
I opened my Bible to Psalms and read the 23rd chapter; the most comforting one I could think of. Cynthia didn't understand English (people in Ghana also have their own language), but she got the message. And through her mother we found out that she does know Jesus, hopefully as her personal Savior.
And then another girl and I, we sat by her bed and braided her hair. The matted, gross mess that probably hadn't been washed in weeks and was starting to fall out; we did our best to smooth it out and braid it onto her head African style. When we held the tiny mirror for her to see she smiled! She liked have her hair done. Because she wanted to look pretty, just like every other girl. And that's who she is - a girl, just like me.
It was only after we left that I found out from some of the other team members that it wasn't a swollen stomach from malnourishment as I had thought, but that Cynthia was actually pregnant. Five months along actually. And that started a whole string of questions in my mind. Will the baby have HIV? Will she even live long enough for the baby to be born...? If you get to heaven before I do, and at the gate welcoming you there's a smiling old lady playing the violin, a mother waiting for her children, and a little black African boy holding the hand of and looking up at a tall slim girl... you'll know her name is Cynthia.
Sunday, August 1, 2010
Saturday, July 31, 2010
Pray that the books sold, conversations had, and the gospels of John and tracts handed out would make a lasting impact in each person's life!
Thursday, July 29, 2010
(My part in this video? I got to run in front of the van that the videographer was riding in, clearing the streets so the van could move up the line without stopping - and without running over people and street vendors!)
Sunday, July 25, 2010
Thursday, July 1, 2010
Wednesday, June 30, 2010
Saturday, June 26, 2010
Lord, thank you for this drill
For this time we had to practice
Thank you for the skill You've given us
Thank you for safety
And that no one got hurt
Through this dangerous procedure
In an emergency help us to be prepared
Help us put into practice what we have learned today
That each of us could take our positions and remember what to do
Thank you for these lifeboats
But Lord we pray
We never have to use them
Sunday, June 20, 2010
Friday, June 18, 2010
-> 70% of population under poverty line
-> over 60% of the population is Muslim
-> 50% population age 16 and under
-> 1 in 8 mothers die in childbirth
-> 1 in 4 children die before age 5
These are just depressing-sounding statistics until you think about the people behind the numbers. When you see four curly-haired dark-skinned African kids playing and to think that one of the smiling youngsters will die (most likely by accident or disease) within the year... When you see two toddlers laid to sleep on the bare ground of what can barely be called a sidewalk, the nonchalant in which the six year old boy mentions his mother died yesterday because she was having a baby - his brother - both now motherless, and the fear in the Muslim man's eyes as he accepts the Bible you are giving him. the extreme poverty, some people walk around with cell phones and ipods... and both are somehow Africa.
FIRST HELP PROJECT!
Our first Help project in Sierra Leone was a bit of a unique one. We are a shipload of healthy people compared to most of the locals who are too malnourished to donate blood - so you can see why the nurses from the maternity hospital MercyShips started were so excited to have such a large blood bank literally sail right to their door! Yup, we've been in Europe, the Caribbean and Africa in the last year, have had the Yellow Fever vaccine, and are taking Malaria tablets but... we're IN Africa!!! It was cool to join the "party" of ship's company in boiler suits from the engine room, dusty workclothes, those who ran in from the galley (kitchen), and everyone else who took a few minutes to pop by in the middle of our work day to donate blood. In total we donated 45L of blood - each half liter worth US$50 - saving the hospital US$4,500 in buying from overseas donors! :)
Over 70 people attended the onboard "How to Start a Business" program today! I got to hear a bit of it and it was really quality teaching, and practical to help locals have some idea of how to start and run a good business. Our goal in this port is to pass it on - invest in influencers and encourage them to speak into others' lives and keep the blessing going on.
One of the changes we had to make coming to a new region was respecting a different culture in the way we dress and behave. Out are the shorts and knee-length skirts and in are the new fashions for Africa: long skirts or long pants for girls (showing our knees would be like going topless-!), and always long pants for guys. And it's sweltering hot.
African sunrises and sunsets are beautiful... it is pretty green jungle-y here compared to what I pictured the terrain to be like... and I'm still waiting for the safari animals from Madagascar 2 to appear somewhere!
PRAY for the spiritual warfare going on here; there was a "devil's dance" done right outside the port gate tonight, but also, God is doing a great work and my friend coming back from a church team shared many exciting stories of how Muslims are listening to the gospel and coming to Christ!
And all of this was just ONE day.
Friday, May 28, 2010
Thursday, May 6, 2010
" 'These men who were hired last worked only one hour,' they said, 'and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the work and the heat of the day.'But he answered one of them, 'Friend, I am not being unfair to you. Didn't you agree to work for a denarius? Take your pay and go. I want to give the man who was hired last the same as I gave you. Don't I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?' "Matt. 20:12-15
This real-life situation shocked me into thinking - What if I were on the late-worker end of the scale?! - I would sure appreciate Jesus' generosity! The thought that maybe, just maybe, in Jesus' book we are ALL 'late workers,' undeserving of salvation, catapulted me on a journey to find out about Grace."The whole world is starved for grace," Philip Yancey writes in his book What's So Amazing About Grace? I've always thought of grace as forgiveness, actually I relate more to what Lewis Smedes said in a quote; it's more than that: "Guilt was not my problem as I felt it. What I felt most was a glob of unworthiness that I could not tie down to any concrete sins I was guilty of. What I needed more than pardon was a sense that God accepted me, owned me, held me, affirmed me, and would never let go of me even if he was not too much impressed with what he had on his hands." (What's So Amazing About Grace, pg. 36)Grace is getting something you don't deserve.Grace is not fair. It is not logical and it does not make sense. I like to have a reason. But try as I might, two things I have found, are not logical: Love and Grace. They are intertwined (inseparable and interchangeable) because grace is at the core of unconditional love.It is hard for me to accept - if to accept, then to give as well - Grace (and thus, Love). It feels like I need to earn whatever it is I want. I'm too proud when someone extends grace to me.Recently there has been a situation in my life where I want Grace. It is not forgiveness for something I have done; it is something I would like but there is nothing I can do to help myself get it. There is no reason I should get it even. For the first time in my life, I want Grace.The Bible is full of God trying to get the picture of grace across to us. God bestowing on David - adulterer and murderer - the title of "A man after God's own heart." Seriously??? And then the famous Old Testament prophet Hosea, sent to live out an example of God's grace. When Jesus came to earth he tried and tried to help us get the picture: The parable of the prodigal son, the Pharisee and tax collector praying, the servant who was forgiven a huge debt he could never pay, but wouldn't forgive his fellow servant a small debt, and One Denarii."Grace... is a gift that costs everything for the giver, and nothing for the recipient." (pg. 25) In one final amazing act of Grace, Jesus gave the gift of eternal life to a criminal on a cross beside him who had no time left to do anything for him.This lesson of one denarii is helping me see that I shouldn't be jealous when I see others get better than what I think they deserve, because actually... I am the one hour worker who didn't deserve the pay.Jesus wants us to just accept his gift humbly with thankfulness and joy and not belittle the gift that cost him everything by trying to earn it.