24 February 2013

A Week in the Bush, A New Way to Understand the Gospel

Some thoughts from Nick about the Dental Trip:

I just spent the past week in a Kissi tribal village in a remote corner of southeast Guinea, co-leading a Dental Outreach Trip from Mercy Ships. The Kissi are a West African people group who live in the forested border region between Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone.

We were a 25-hours-drive away from the coast - a two-day journey that took us first over winding mountain pavement, then zig-zagging through pot-hole infested highland roads, then flying through forested dirt roads, then crawling at a snail’s pace through hilly back-country trails. The last four hours of the drive were spent in first gear, going over what could be equated to four-wheeler or dirt-bike paths in the States: a thin, winding, forest “road” - if you could call it that - climbing huge boulders, dodging giant pot-holes and drop-offs, traversing hand-made log bridges over ravines, and fording creeks.

This description is a testimony to the remoteness of the people we were able to go serve. Their nearest medical facility is four hours away. The likelihood that ANY of these people had ever seen a dentist before in their entire lives was very slim. The need was great, and we were able to help over 400 people with free dental care during our week’s stay in the village.

During our Sunday in the village, we were able to worship and share with the local Christian congregation and share in a humble-yet-delicious meal of rice, sauce, and a small fish. On our way back from the church service to our team camp site, we passed by a huge crowd that was gathered under a patch-work awning in front of a small house in the village. I asked our interpreter, Morris, a Kissi elderman in the Christian church, “Is this another church gathering?”

“No.” He answered quickly. “This... this is a ceremony.”

I pushed further: “What kind of ceremony?”

He said, “they are offering a sacrifice. A person has died. The funeral was two days ago. Now they are gathering to offer a sacrifice to ask God to open the door for the dead person to enter heaven.”

“What will they sacrifice?” My curiosity was piqued.

“They will sacrifice a cow or a goat as an offering to God.”
A long silence passed as thoughts swirled in my head of how to possibly communicate the Gospel in the midst of such a deeply-engrained, traditional spiritual environment...

Then it occurred to me! The sacrifice that opens the door to God has already been made! Jesus’ self-sacrifice rids us of our separation from God and opens the door for us to be in His Presence! I shared this with Morris - who, as an elder in the Christian church, already knew. The rest of our journey back to the camp site was filled with discussion about the depth, the power, the amazingness! of Jesus’ self-sacrifice on our behalf.

Man is not able to offer a sacrifice great enough to open the door to God for himself or his loved ones. But that is what is so amazing about the truth of the Christian Gospel: man does not make the sacrifice for himself; God does! The sacrifice that opens the door to God for man was made by God Himself! He offered Himself as our sacrifice, opening the way for us to have direct access to Him now, as well as to dwell with Him in perpetuity in heaven!

Amen!! Hallelujah!!
As a non-medical person, it was an honor to get to be a part of the transformative medical work that our organization gets to do.  I am so grateful to have been a part of this awesome trip and this amazing team.

Surely there will be more to come.

19 February 2013


Just got to see the 60 minutes piece...

After it ended I said to a friend, "it's amazing that something like a million people got to see that!"

He said, "um...I think it was more like 13 million...and another 20 million that saw it on CBS news last night."

What?!  That's crazy.  I have no concept of 13 million people...(i know that sounds pretty pitiful...but i really don't) - definitely can't wrap my mind around 20 million....

It's AMAZING that MILLIONS of people got to hear that they are not rubbish - that no one here on earth is rubbish!  It's amazing that "the church" got a nice shout out - as one of the main ways the crew on the ship are supported.  It's amazing that the world got a taste of Jesus - whether they recognize it as such or not isn't really relevant in my mind.  HOPE and HEALING entered millions of homes... the Light and Truth and Love of Jesus went into millions of ears and hearts and minds. 

God, will you do something miraculous with the seeds that were planted Sunday night through the 60 Minutes segment and the ones that have been planted so far this week through other news reports and articles?  Please grow beautiful things for Your Kingdom! 

If you happened to miss it, or just want to watch it again, Here's a link to CBS' website.  There are also some "extra" segments that are worth watching.    (I hope all the links in this post work...I wasn't able to test them before I hit "publish").

And now THIS is 60 Minutes' cover photo on Facebook: 

That's pretty cool.
And other people are writing stories about what they saw on 60 Minutes (or on the news...or the website...or SOMEWHERE...)
It's amazing. 
Thanks to all of you who watched the segment/advertised for it/shared it with others and thanks to all of you who sent encouraging words/facebook messages/emails/etc. afterwards.  I'm in a little bit  large amount of awe that we're here...doing this...associated with something that is getting world wide (or at least America wide!) attention - we're such a small part of an incredible work that God is doing...we're thankful to be that small part (and are very aware that we couldn't be here without the support of so many...so YOU are a part of it all, too.)
 To God be the Glory!
In other news, Nick should be home from the upcountry dental trip tomorrow evening!!!!!!  We're all really excited about that!
Surely there will be more to come!

15 February 2013

She came 661 miles...it took her six months to get here.

A long journey to healing 

Binta's story, written by Mercy Ships' staff writer Catherine Murphy

What could possibly compel a poor woman in West Africa to travel over 1000 kilometers – a journey that would take six months and exhaust all of her resources and ingenuity – to get to a hospital ship? The answer is stark in its simplicity – the journey was born out of a desperate, fragile hope that she could find healing and restoration.

Binta lives in southeast Guinea. Six months ago, a man in her village told her about news he had heard on the radio – a hospital ship was coming to the nation’s capital, Conakry. “The ship has doctors that can help you,”the man said.
Binta is in her late thirties and has suffered from vesicovaginal fistula (VVF), a devastating childbirth injury, since she was a teenager. During several days of prolonged, obstructed labor, Binta’s baby was stillborn during a traumatizing delivery. The injury to her birth canal made Binta incontinent; she has been continuously leaking urine for years. Her condition made her an outcast within her own remote village. But now there was news that she could be “fixed” . . . and she dared to hope.

With the little money she had, Binta set out on her journey – a trip that was filled with new experiences.
She traveled from her village in the dense rainforest region to the city of Senko. Once there, she used what little money she had to pay for transportation to the next city – Beyla. It was her first time to ever ride in a car.
From Beyla to Nzerekore to Macenta to Gueckedou to Kissidougou to Conakry – a blur of new sights and sounds. She stopped when she had to, staying in one city for up to two months where she worked doing laundry to save enough money for the next leg of her journey. She paid people with cars or motorbikes to give her a lift. Binta traveled more than 661 miles (1063 km) in 6 months to seek help from Mercy Ships.

Finally, she arrived on the dock – with no money and only the clothes on her back. “It was something inside of me that told me, ‘Do it!’” Binta said. The Africa Mercy is the first ship she has ever seen.
Last week, Mercy Ships volunteer surgeon Dr. Steve Arrowsmith repaired Binta’s fistula. Today she is dry. She no longer leaks urine; she no longer smells.
Dr. Arrowsmith and some of the VVF ladies
And now, Binta longs to return home to her sister’s children, triplets, whom she has cared for since her sister passed away in 2011. Because there are no phones there, Binta hasn’t spoken with her family since she left. Fortunately, she will get home to them soon – a much simpler journey this time, with assistance from Mercy Ships.

And Binta will leave Mercy Ships with a dry skirt, a full heart and a new life. Her courage has been rewarded, her hope has been reborn, and her life has been restored

07 February 2013

pictures, pictures, pictures

Hospital Open House Round 2

As you'll be able to tell from the pictures, Caroline was just as into the Hospital Open House activities the second time as she was during the first open house (if not more so!).  Emma was way more into it....Eli significantly less (he was really trying to convince us to let him go play with friends).

Caroline working with a sweet lady named Jill to intubate a baby
Putting an IV in with Mrs. Andrea - who is not only a nurse but an incredible singer & choir director 
Hearing about the relay race...trying to decide whether or not to do it...being told that the winner got a little bag of "happy pills" (aka M&Ms) convinced her
Participating in the relay race!

In the pharmacy trying to guess the number of pills in the cylinder

Aunt Amy may not end up being the only doctor in the family!
Emma doing the intubating thing

She made the "baby" breathe!!

Having a go at wound care
Some more wound care. 
Sweet girls meeting one of the patients in the ward
Hair cuts for the Cash Girls!

The pictures will tell you better than my words...no worries, the streaks were very temporary :)

After a fun and exciting hour in the hair salon last Thursday, we've got 2 ponytails in an envelope waiting to go back to the States to be mailed to Pantene's Beautiful Lengths program.  It's fun to be able to give freely of a gift God has given us. 

A few other glimpses into Cash Family Life
sweet sisters' saturday snuggling

one of Eli's favorite spots lately - at the computer playing Minecraft

Spirit Day in the Acadamy - Theme: Dream Job
We've got a Skittles Tester & Analyst, a Star Wars/Lego Consultant and a Clown
Too sweet of a picture not to share
Eli's hidden talent may be rapping.

And dancing...he was surprisingly good in the Christmas Play.
Alright...I suppose that's enough pictures for one post.  

Been thinking alot about how life is completely normal and ridiculously strange...that may be coming in a post soon.  We'll see if I can get the thoughts to make sense...

Please pray for Nick and the team as they go upcountry next week.  They'll leave early Monday morning and will be returning the following Wednesday.  Feel free to pray for me during the 10 days that he's gone...I like him alot and miss him tremendously when he's not around! 

Thanks for sharing life with us...it's encouraging to know that people care enough to keep up with us through this blog. 

Surely there will be more to come.