Thursday, March 31, 2011
Friday, March 25, 2011
Tomorrow, we are going to try this thing once again. I'll be attending this time as an escort inside the compound, which is a super safe place to be in case you were wondering. People are going tonight to begin pre-pre screening in hopes to eliminate anyone staying overnight who has a stomach ache, headache, or something that we just cannot screen and has no potential for surgery through Mercy Ships.
What we need now more than ever is your prayers. We need as many people interceding for us tomorrow as humanly possible. Satan is pissed and he is trying to infiltrate like he did so well last time. Please pray that we can have a successful screening, that everyone will stay healthy, that everyone will stay safe. Please pray that people who have intentions of starting a stampede or riot stay away and those who we can actually help make their way to us.
I'm really excited, but also terrified, worried, nervous, and heartbroken(already). Tomorrow will not be an easy day even if things go perfectly. We will have to turn many many people away. We will bring people through to the actual screening process, and have to say that we cannot help them. We will have people come to the ship for biopsies who will test malignant, and we will be unable to help them. Please pray that we are compassionate, caring, and empathetic tomorrow and that we wouldn't close doors right away, but strike conversation and be a comfort to both those we can help and those who we cannot. I know I will see things I've never seen before, and feel just a sense of hopelessness at times tomorrow, but I also know that I will see the sheer joy on the faces of those we say 'yes' to and give a surgery date.
It's going to be a crazy rollercoaster ride of a day, but.... it's not 'here goes nothing' ... it's ... "here goes everything...'
Thursday, March 24, 2011
Sunday, March 20, 2011
So, I woke up around 10ish and as I left my room, I expected something to be on the door, but much to my surprise there was a banner hanging across my door, meaning that when I came out, I'd be essentially hit by my birthday banner. It was pretty hilarious as it happened, I let out a little yell, and one of my friends happened to be walking by at that time, and I just laughed and laughed, but tried to be quiet since one of my roommates was sleeping still.
After that, use the gift certificate the ship gave for my birthday and I got myself a latte and just hung out on my computer for a while. At lunch, one of my friends, Dan, rang the bell(which is used to make announcements) and said, “Today is the Anniversary of Michelle Cristion's 16th birthday... “ and everyone sang to me. Honestly, the whole ' Anniversary thing made me think 'oh.. its not for me...' but.. oh it was:) So great.
After lunch, I did some blogging, etc and ended up semi- bored, but that's not a bad thing after a hectic few days of work. At lunch, I was told to keep the time immediately after dinner free, so I did. Dinner as normal, then I was told at 6 to show up to my friend's cabin(which is a family cabin so it has much more room than the others).
Noel and Kylie
I am guided up by the family's 7 year old- Savannah- who could hardly contain herself- she was so excited. I walk in and there's Tiffany(the mom), and my friend Jane as well as Kylie- Tiffany's 10 year old- who wouldn't talk to me all day until the party- she was excited as well:) Since I beat everyone to my own party, we shouted 'surprise' to everyone that walked in thereafter.. it was quite hilarious.
Tiffany made this amazing cake and cupcakes, which someone pointed out was tye dye. It was a yellow cake with chocolate sprinkles(to make it funfetti- my favorite) and the icing was vanilla as well as a nutella flavored- HELLO:) haha.. so good!!!!:) Ps- I've pretty much been limited to tye dye clothing for the last month and ½ since that's all I really packed for our time on land... because I thought I'd have my normal clothes back by now, but boy was I wrong.. so I've become known for my tye dye shirts, which are starting to wear down quite a bit:) So- that's why the tye- dye part was so funny and cool:)
Anyway- so we just had a blast- Tiff's husband Dan was the DJ, and we cranked up some great tunes, danced around, chatted and just had fun!! It was most of my gateway group and we'd only been together a few times over the time we'd been on the ship- so it was nice to be all together again:) I was surprised to find presents and cards- I honestly didn't expect anything at all since we're all on tight budgets- but people really found cheap ways to do it:) I loved it all- one of my favorites was candies and things wrapped up like an OR tray, since my friend is a sterilizer and does these trays all day long:)
The party was pretty short, since the Hospital Open House was happening that night, and lots of my friends are hospital staff. So, we pretty much moved the party down to the hospital, which I said was an extension of my party. It was actually pretty fun! There were stations throughout the whole hospital where you could sign up to give blood, find out your blood type(I found out I'm A+), be a nurse for a day(which was complete insanity), intibate a dummy, learn to do stitches(surprisingly easy), treat patients with infections(guhh so nastyyy... it was fake but so groosss.. this is why I'm not a nurse...), and so much more. It was pretty great!
I couldn't have asked for a better birthday- it was seriously wonderful thanks to my thoughtful. wonderful friends:) I was a little bit worried because it was my first year away from my family for my birthday and I wouldn't have my friends here, but I got to celebrate with my new, HUGE, family:)
Monday, March 14, 2011
Now, we woke up and had to be pretty much ready to go around 6:45 in the morning on our day of departure(February 8th). Thankfully our wonderful cook, Shirley, made us some yummy breakfast stuff(scones, breakfast sandwiches, croissants,etc) to take along or eat on the spot. We got to Dallas Fort-Worth Airport without much of a hitch... well... there was a giant smoke cloud that we later discovered to be a factory fire, and one of our leaders went backwards on the highway while another did an extreme U-turn.. but.. you know... we got there:)
Our flights pretty much went without a hitch in the plan- no delays, not much turbulence, and the first 2 flights, I had empty seats next to me. We went from DFW to Dulles(which was kinda hard for me to be so close to home, but not able to see anyone), where we were for 3 hours, then we flew to Heathrow, where we were for 6 hours and met up with the other half of our group, who flew from DFW to Chicago, then London. I attempted to sleep, but it certainly did not happen.
Now, the flight we took from London to Freetown was a bit painful. It's the closest seats I've ever encountered, and there was me, a very tall guy from our team, and a pretty tall girl from our team with me in the middle... so. Uncomfortable. But, alas, it was the cheapest option to get all of us there.. so.. not much choice on that. I don't see myself flying with that airline ever again though. They had good service, but the rest was just pretty hard to deal with for 8.5 hours with a stop in Spain for gas..
Once we got to Freetown, we were met by a local pastor, who helped us get our cars situated and helped us get to our water taxi. Yes.. I said it right.. water Taxi... A group of men loaded up our lugguage and we didn't see it again untl we got to the hostel- honestly, we just had to let go and trust that we'd get it back. All of our bags made it to Freetown, so we were just hoping all of them would make it to the Hostel at this point. As we got to the hotel where we took the water taxi from, we were warned that the waters were very choppy and we need to be careful as we get to the dock and as we load on- especially for our bags as we might lose them.
So, with lots of anticipation, they picked the first group of people to go on the taxi. Honestly, I just wanted to get it over with- I had so little sleep that I almost passed out earlier in the day, and I just was miserable- I wanted to get there. There was one more spot availible an I JUMPED on that opportunity, which I would soon regret. I made my way in the pitch black toward this little tiny boat that had a cover on top to keep us from getting wet(which probably would've felt good at this point) and walked onto the moving dock, which moved with the ocean.... which... was anything but calm at this moment. I was afraid and the men who were helping us load could totally see it. They grabbed my hand and said 'jump when I say'... which wasnt helping my nerves. I realized that if I went any sooner I'd probably trip and fall into the ocean. So, I went the moment they told me to and just went for it- I made it. Barely.
The Water Taxi
I got on this little tiny thing that was hardly lit at all, and made my way to the front, since I know I get motion sick, and didn't want to risk it in this moment. There were life jackets on every row of this eerie boat. I put it on quickly, held on to my bag for dear life(there were marks on my hands after) and hoped for the best. My friend saw that I was in a semi-panic state, and said 'do you need someone to sit with you'. At this moment I knew I had to be honest and let out a desparate 'yes'. She sat with me and held my hand and tried to keep me talking through it- which was hard at first, but came eventually. Once she got me talking about my friends and UMBC, I was pretty much okay:) It was fun to think about the craziest moments in the theatre department again and re-tell those wild stories:)
There were moments where I was almost thrown into a full-on panic attack(which I think I've only had 2 of in my whole life), but thankfully, I had this friend to keep me solid. Man, that boat hit those waves, and I honestly thought it was going to sink, or that I'd be sick... I started looking around for the nearest bag at points, but thankfully, we didn't have to find out how that one would end:)
In the Poda-Poda
Once we got off the boat we waited for probably an hour before we could get in the poda-poda's(the taxi busses) and go- which was good and bad for me- my sickness settled a little, but I was exhausted. Thank goodness someone had a snack I could have because if I didn't eat, I would've probably been motion sick in the next leg of the trip. We got going eventually and got within walking distance of the Hostel when we heard a huuugee bang. The driver said something and hopped out, then quickly got on his phone and was speaking fast and angrily on the phone. One of our team members got out and said, “Oh man.. we seriously just dropped the drive shaft... like.. it snapped in half...” I had to see what he was talking about, so I got out and looked.. it was bad news... but we were so close that we hopped in another taxi(they insisted) and we finally reached our destination.
All was well- there was pizza for us to eat and we were assigned our roommates. Soon after, the power completely went out.... now I'm entering territory I've already written about... :)
But for those who are interested as to what a 'normal day' looked like for us during field service it normally included:
Up around 6:45
Breakfast at 7ish(remember.. we're on africa time.. that normally meant 7:20), which normally meant some kind of egg and bread. We also made our PBJ lunch every day during this time
Leave around 8
Arrive to the Hospitality center sometime between 8:30 and 10 depending on traffic
Devotionals all together sometime between 8:30 and 10
Arrive to Cheshire(or begin on-site work) between 9:15 and 10:30
Lunch at the hospitality center 12-1(almost always included a coconut- yumm)
More work 1-3ish
Arrive back at hospitatlty and wait for the other group to be ready 3:15-4ish
Drive back home 4-?
Arrive back home anywhere between 5 and 7
Relax/ worship and prayer time most nights(optional) 8- whenever
Weekends normally meant some form of a beach trip or relaxation and church from 10-1 or 2ish
There is so much more to tell, but this is getting a bit long:)
Wednesday, March 9, 2011
We came in and on one of the first days, one of our leaders was told that Cheshire would like us to take both the morning and afternoon(normally school time) with the kids so that we might be blessed by them as well as them being blessed by us... so.. we had probably about 3 hours more per day than we anticipated. In the end, it worked out perfectly- We would arrive somewhere between 9 and 10:30(depending on traffic and how long devotionals took) and break for lunch at noon, come back around 1 and finish around 3. If we kept to our initial schedule of 2-5, we would NEVER have gotten back to the group then to the hostel on time... ever... hah:)
Basically, what we ended up doing with the kids is a VBS type deal. We decided early in planning to teach on the fruits of the spirit, which was perfect because then we had 9 days of material and one free day to do what we wanted. In the mornings, we would normally start with puppets(Tomba and Tolu) who would basically act out a scenario that fit our theme for the day- an introduction, if you will. Then we would normally have the 'teacher' of the lesson come up and teach(we rotated daily) and we'd sing songs- some that applied to the theme, a few that we did daily, and normally one goofy song(thank goodness I learned a bunch at Dragonfly last summer:)). By this time, it was normally around 11 or 11:30, and if we had time, we'd do some reading together, draw, or do anything else we could come up with. When we returned from lunch, we'd normally do a craft, which literally took up the whole afternoon- these kids LOVED doing crafts- so great:) They were really really talented as well, but dont have the supplies to participate in these kinds of activities normally, so they were at a bit of a loss of how to use scissors, draw hearts, or even fold their paper properly.
I think I got so much more out of this experience than I had ever ever ever imagined. As we got going, I started kinda getting into the motions, but then every day something would happen that would either take me by surprise or excite me or just rattle me. As we approached the end of our time with these kids, I began to realize how little I processed about them. We witnessed some things that really shocked me on the second to last day, and it completely broke me. It all hit me at once, and I began to absolutely dread saying goodbye to these kids. Fortunately, we live within 25 minutes walking distance of the orphanage, so I've had the chance to see them again since we left, but it's been difficult.
The day we had to say our goodbyes, we had a great afternoon which included coconuts and little 'goody bags' which had a water bottle, underwear, socks, a lollipop, potato chips, and popcorn in it. I never saw kids get so excited about these things until that day. It went flawlessly- the kids were generally behaving, and all was well, until we began to leave. It was seriously the worst thing that could've happened in that moment. One kid began to cry, and then they all began to cry, which kinda set us all off. I had to pull myself together and pretend I was fine as we left so that they wouldn't get even more upset- but it felt like someone tore my heart out in that moment. How do you process something like this- I was completely bewildered. Thankfully, I had a very observant roommate who helped me through, as well as some great friends who just listened to me as I processed and got it all out- man was that a doozy.
I've included a few pictures, but check out my facebook for all of them:)