28 September 2012

Hat Day!

Today was the first "Spirit Day" of the Mercy Ship's Academy School year:  Hat Day!!The Cash Family contributed a princess, a boy fitted with the helmet of salvation, and a butterfly to the festivities...

All our hats are on, we're ready to go.  We're standing here outside our door...(sing with us)

Adalynn, Emma & Mrs. Herma & her Noah's Ark hat

First Grade!  Including their Are-some Pirate Teacher, Miss Kayleigh!

2nd Grade!  It's hard to tell Alex and Eli apart sometimes. 

23 September 2012

Ward Church!

We were able to attend Hospital Ward Service - Ward church! earlier today.  What a privilege to be able to be on Deck 3 this morning!  There was an unexplainable JOY in that room/hallway (well, I suppose it's completely explainable - the glory, power and presence of God!!!).  From nurses to patients to dayworkers to other crew, it was a beautiful mix of age, race, color, position, health, language, background -- as Clementine put it (she is an absolutely lovely lady from Togo who serves in a wide variety of roles in the hospital - the easiest way to describe it may be to say she's the Hospital Chaplain), it was a picture of the beauty of the Lord!! 

The worship was loud and lively! (maybe a bit too loud for Caroline...but she hung in there).    Drums, guitars and voices -- beautiful music!!  Authentic joyful ALIVE worship! What a blessing to be a part of it! 

Nick did a great job of sharing about the HOPE that we have (thanks to all of who you were praying for him!).  I'm always impressed by him..his preparation, his speaking, his creativity, his authenticity.  What a joy to be his wife!  I'm so proud of him in so many ways. 

Want to read more about ward church?  Here's a link to our friend Stephanie's thoughts

Random facts about the service this morning (I'm not sure I can make a blog post without a list of some sort):
  • The African man leading worship reminded me of my brother, Lane (that's a big compliment to both of them!).  JOY JOY JOY JOY all over him!
  • Eli liked the service more than he would like to admit (he was humming one of the songs long after we got back home!)
  • We got to play "air trumpets" as part of a worship song.  THAT was fun!
  • Emma was able to color with a little girl...I was proud of her interacting/sharing abilities 
  • Caroline's friend Isabella swooped in with skittles at just the right moment.  :)
I just asked Caroline if she had any thoughts on church this morning.  The conversation went something like this:

Caroline: "It was better than I thought it would be."
Dianna:  "What about it was better than you thought it would be?
Caroline:  "I got to sit on a bed instead of a chair.  And I got to see Emma." 
Dianna:  "Emma?  You always get to see your sister."
Caroline:  "NO, silly goose.  The OTHER Emma."
Dianna:  "oh!  got it (realized she was talking about Emma the nurse from Great Britain!).  Any other thoughts on church?"
Caroline:  "I had to close my ears.  I liked the music.  It was just loud.  Are we going to go again?"
Dianna:  "I sure hope so."
Surely there will be more to come!

20 September 2012

Bonus Blessings - Part 2

As promised, here are some pictures of Caroline & Emma and their first ballet classes here on the ship. Both of them were very excited about going and both had a wonderful time!!  

From the top of her head all the way down to her toes, God made Emma so lovely!! (Caroline, too - but I don't have pictures of her hair and feet!!!)

Emma's sweet feet

Emma's "ballet buttons"

Gretchen Bullock is the sweet lady who is volunteering to teach the girls (and the 2 little boys who are in Emma's class!!!).  She has all kinds of experience and credentials and expertise -- and what's really beautiful is that she is extremely humble about it all.  She's a lovely dancer and has a tender way of teaching....We're grateful that she's sharing her talent & teaching abilities with our ship family!  

Emma & Mrs. Gretchen  
Emma's class "Standing tall like trees." 
 (they were also birds and flowers during their class!)  This picture is compliments of Tracey Wall :)

Caroline's class is made up of all the girls on the ship from 1st - 4th grade. Eli's teacher, Miss Moriah, is also helping with the class. 
Caroline's class trying on their shoes. 
All of the shoes and leotards and such were donated!

Caroline's class stretching & learning to sit up straight and tall

The last exercise of Caroline's first class. 

So other than karate classes and ballet, here are a few other firsts for us lately:
  • Had fresh homemade cinnamon rolls delivered to our door this past Saturday
  • 3 date nights in 3 weeks
  • Dianna and the kids - along with Gretchen & her 3 boys - ventured out and got icecream at a local grocery store...after a nice long (ish) walk and a conversation where we may have told a man that we'd buy shrimp for the whole ship from him, we all made it back safe and sound
  • Nick had his first soccer scrimmage (they either won 3-2 or lost 2-3, not totally sure)
  • Caroline attempted her first ship sleepover (she came home around 10:30)
  • We bought a family of elephants in the ship shop (hand carved locally)
  • We later exchanged family of elephants for a family of hippos (also hand carved locally)
  • Hired 2 boys to take our trash out (.50 and a blow-pop a piece...what a deal!)
  • Nick made and received his first local phone calls this week
  • Dianna addressed invitations for the upcoming Hospital Open House (it's tricky trying to figure out Guinean names and addresses!  The last name CAMARA is about as common as Smith!)
Feel free to pray for Nick --this Sunday he will be speaking at "ward church" (the church service in the hospital).  We're excited about going and sharing this time with the patients.
In other news,  we were told that if anyone wants to send us a package that will be here in time for Christmas, it needs to be in Texas by the end of this month.  I just updated the "about us/leave a note/send us mail" page on our blog - so if you need the mailing info, that's an easy place to get it.  (no pressure though).
We are so thankful that we are not on this journey alone...thank you for sharing life with us - for investing in us with your love, prayers, encouragement and support (financially, emotionally, spiritually). Thank you for reading our blog and making positive comments on it and on facebook...thank you for sharing our story with others.  Thank you for sending emails and mail and packages.  Thank you for loving the Cash Crew.  You are a blessing to us. 
Surely there will be more to come.

14 September 2012

Bonus Blessings

There are many things about being here onboard the Africa Mercy that are almost too good to be true -- daily and weekly reminders that our God is a good God who loves to give His children good gifts.  Bonus blessings.  One of the bonus blessings that we are experiencing are the activities that are available for our children here on the ship.  There are individuals on board who generously give of their time and talent to teach our children extra curricular activities - at no cost to us.  There are karate lessons and piano lessons and ballet class and craft nights and hand chimes and running club and other things that we're not even aware of yet!  Our lives could easily get filled to jam packed with the activities that are available!   But we don't want our lives filled for the sake of full...we want our lives and schedules to honor God. So, just like we did when we lived in Columbus, we're asking God to orchestrate our schedules.  Right now Eli is participating in Karate and the girls will both be taking Ballet classes (Emma's is more like "creative movement"...I don't know how much ballet a two year old can soak in). 
Thought we'd share a few pictures and Eli's thoughts/captions on his first karate lesson:
"Mr. Peter teaches my karate class. We learn punches for self-defense. I like it. I have friends in my class - Rhys, Jacob and Matthew. My stomach was sore after we did push-ups.  In this picture we are learning our fists. You roll up your four fingers (not your thumb) and then you put your thumb in front of your two longest fingers (not inside)."
"In this picture I'm learning my sitting stance. You sit criss cross apple sauce...kind of."
"I'm doing the attention stance."
"Open leg stance." 
 Closing thoughts from Eli:  "I am going to enjoy karate because it is so fun! I like my karate outfit, too.  And I like that we don't have to wear shoes.  That's always nice. Hope you like the pictures!"   

Surely there will be more to come (like pictures from Caroline and Emma's dance classes! They start those next week!)

09 September 2012

Home Sweet Home

Finally sharing some pictures of our cabin! Most of the "captions" are above the pictures instead of below. 
This one was taken as we were coming into Conakry a few weeks ago! (this is a view of the back of the ship)(back = aft)(our cabin is on the starboard side...never did I ever think I would be using words like "aft" and "starboard"). 
Next is my attempt to take a picture of the map on the back of our door and enhance it with "Paint" to give you a better idea of the layout of our cabin...it didn't work as well as I wanted it to.  It helps if you get really close to the screen and squint.  "A" for effort?  (I guess I really deserve a "B"...to earn the "A" would require more time than I'm willing to give.  "B's" aren't so bad.) 
As you walk in the cabin, Eli's room is the first thing on the left...the bathroom is to the right...the next 3 pictures are the "view" in front of you.
The 4 cabinets hold (from left to right) our 1) sporting goods/swimming stuff 2)books/games 3)random things: wrapping paper, envelopes, our "give away" pile, and gift box 4)the pantry!  The baskets on top are completely empty...but they fit perfectly, so they are staying.  
Microwave and Wall of Love! (if you want your picture on it please feel free to send us one!)(though you may already be on there!!)(multiple pictures of the same people are ok with us!)
 Kitchen Counter, Shelves, Cabinets & Sink

 The Bathroom.
Eli's Room.  There are four more cabinets at the end of his bed...and there's a little corner cabinet and 4 shelves on the wall.  Plenty o' room for all of his legos and star wars paraphernalia. 

 The Girls' Room (the door to their room is just past the "wall of love").

The Dining Room/Breakfast Nook/Family Room (I'm still trying to figure out what we should put on this wall...if you have any ideas, feel free to share them!  It's become somewhat of an art gallery for the kids' work since this picture was taken...)
The Marriage Bed. Not sure what else to call it.  The bed that Nick and I sleep in.  The futon that converts from a couch to a bed each night (except for the days when it stays a bed all day).  The surprisingly comfortable place we sleep.  Call it whatever you want.
And last, but not least, The Couch (the artist formerly known as the bed)(a different view of the same space as the above picture!)

So that's our home (in 13,000+ words)(...if each picture is worth 1,000 words...).  These pictures show how I would like for our cabin to look - not how it actually looks most of the time.  Life is lived and enjoyed here...and the mess reflects that sometimes (sometimes I have a hard time remembering that....)...

It is home sweet home...plenty of room...plenty of storage space.  A place where we love and laugh and rest and play and work and eat...a place where we write stories and make videos and watch movies and have family church and do school work and check email and take 2 minute showers....a place where we've already made memories and where we know that plenty more memories will be made....a place we would love for you to come visit (so if you're here on the ship, come on by....if you're not here, we would love for God to bring you here someday!)...a place where we want God to be honored and on display.

Surely there will be more to come. 

05 September 2012

Screening Day Was A Success!

Our friend Shell took this picture of the Screening Line
Quotes from friends (via facebook) regarding Screening Day: 
  • What an amazing day! God is good!
  • Just got back from the Screening Day. It appears to have been a sucessful day. Thank you all so much for your prayers
  • A HUGE thank you to God, Mercy Ships, volunteers, day workers, military security, media, prayer warriors and all of the absolutely wonderful and blessed people (and little people) who came to our patient screening today. I fell in love with all of the kind eyes and gentle hearts I met. I love my lot in life!!
  • ‎19 hours after beginning my first screening day, I am going to bed... More thankful, humble, and amazed at the suffering in this world and the joy of the Lord that can overcome all circumstances. Over 3,000 people were seen by medical professionals today. Amazing! It took a village to make this day work. Praise God for His faithful and humble servants
  • Back from a full day of screening thousands of potential patients! I am exhausted in every way possible, but so thankful to have been a part of it. Thank you for your prayers!
  • Yesterday was my first screening and everything turned out very successful here in Conakry. I talked to a lady working at the gate and she said that we saw over 3,500 potential patients. Many had already been turned away at that point during the pre-screening. With caregivers, potential patients, and pre-screening I would say that there were around 8,000 people yesterday
  • Praise God for an amazing turnout at the Screening yesterday!
  • Truly the power of prayer and the power of people devoted to reflecting God through our mission
And this last one from our friend Dr. Bullock (He's the ship's the Chief Dental Officer):
After screening thoughts: I think I now have a glimpse of how it will feel when I stand before my Lord and Savior and realize how insignificant I am. It was like standing before a storm and there is nothing left but faith, love and obedience.
I was prayerful the pictures from past screenings were a condensing of the worst, but sadly it was the norm. Perhaps this is how Jesus feels when looking at us. The image of His Father twisted in pain and suffering and only a dogged sense of just saving as many of us as He can.  
No matter how bad it looked He was still there. Every Tumor, every growth, every blemish to be hidden from the sight of man. His loving presence was there. Abounding in loving kindness for many.  
If you have have any calling to help 'the least of these'. Please don't hesitate. Answer His call. TODAY!

And then this morning when I went down the steps to go to work, there were patients!!  They are already here!!  The first surgeries will be tomorrow. 

Thank you so much for praying for us and with us.  Please keep it up!  Being a part of God's work through this ship is incredible - hope you're enjoying being a part of it, too.

Surely there will be more to come.

03 September 2012

It's screening day!

I feel like I should have a grand report for you...but I don't...yet.  I'm trusting that there will be a grand report - a God sized report on this day and its success. 

Nick is there...I'm looking forward to hearing about and experiencing screening day through him later tonite. 

As I prayed for screening day, God made it very clear that I was to stay on the ship...it's interesting when what the Lord tells you to do isn't quite what you thought He was going to tell you to do (that sounds familiar). 

My duties (marching orders!) for screening day: stay on the ship and pray...and bless the other moms (mainly by being an emergency contact for their children)(Every child must have an emergency contact if both of their parents are off the ship). It's been a privilege to do those things...

It feels a bit awkward and yet completely comfortable to be here on the ship when 97% of everyone else is off the ship!  I'm being reminded again and again that nothing beats being where God wants you.

It was an absolute honor to stand on Deck 7 this morning at 5:45 and again at 6:45 with my friend and co-worker Pam and pray for the convoy of vehicles as they were pulling out (I should've taken a picture!!).  Honestly, my heart was so overwhelmed by it all that I couldn't speak...just tears and prayers from my heart that I knew the Father was listening to.   The phrase that He kept saying was "I am enough."  He is enough for every person that is lined up for screening.  He is enough for every crew member as they deal with language barriers and heat and sickness.  He is enough for all of the heartbreaking things people will encounter today.  He is enough for security and protection and provision and schedules.  He is enough...hallelujah!

The little snippets that I've heard have been that there are thousands of people going through the screening lines...and that it's very hot   The fact that the people came is evidence of God at work - the Advance Team wasn't confident that the word about screening day had spread as it should have.  And it may be hot but, other than a brief shower this morning, there's been no rain -- "no rain" was a specific request!

So if you happen to be reading this on Monday, September 3, please join me in praying for the screening as it is going on right now - and will probably last late into the evening (with the possiblity of it continuing tomorrow). 

Here are a few quotes from friends' facebook pages over the past 24 hours or so:

For every Mercy Ships medical screening we pray fervantly that God sends us the people who have the conditions that we can treat. On Monday, Sept 03, we are holding our major medical screening in Conakry, Guinea. Prayers that the people who we can help make their way to us are much appreciated.

Got to make BBQ ribs for 400 people today. Hope they enjoy them, they'll need the energy tomorrow when we do our Medical Screening. We could see 3 or 4,000 people tomorrow in need of medical attention. Please keep us in your prayers the next 36 hours as they begin set up, secure the area tonight and process all the potential patients tomorrow.

Please pray for the Africa Mercy crew and all the people who will come for screening day on Monday. We anticipate that around 3,000 people will come to seek medical help. Pray for strength for the crew, wisdom for the doctors, safety for all... and for the Lord to be made known in all we say and do.

Tomorrow is the screening day for our time in Guinea. People were already starting to line up tonight in hopes of a life changing surgery. Please pray for this big day tomorrow that those in need would come and all would go well.

Please pray for those who come hoping for healing. Many will be helped, but many will not. Pray for both camps. Please also pray for our crew as we see up to 4,000 folks come through the screening line. Pray also for safety and favorable weather (it's rainy season!).

Big day here at Mercy Ships...screening day. Please be praying for us.

Our God has begun a good work - He will be faithful to complete it.

Surely (absolutely) there will be more to come!