31 October 2013

normal morning...a few things for sharing...

It's Thursday morning...Eli and Caroline just walked out the door headed to school (it's so nice that they can leave at 7:58 and still be a bit early for school at 8:00).  The Deck & Engineering Departments are out on Deck 7 worshipping to begin their morning devotions (that's one of the most lovely sounds in the world!).  Emma and Nick are having a fabulous conversation about her stuffies before he heads to work (she's really good at naming her stuffies...quite creative).  In a little while Emma and I will work to get the cabin back in order -- that includes, among other things, making up the bed (folding up the couch) and cleaning up from breakfast (including taking the dishes down to the dining room for some other lovely soul to wash).  We'll get her ready for school (hopefully with minimal fussing).  Once she's skipped her way to school (just down the hall), I'll head down to the Chaplaincy office and then on to the Library (have I mentioned that I'm getting to work in Chaplaincy and in the Library?!  More on that another time...).  It's such a normal morning. And I am amazed.  Just wanted to share it with you.  

And some lovely faces for this Thursday morning....

And a prayer for all of us...

May we love each other deeply today...whoever that "each other" happens to be.

Surely there will be more to come.

20 October 2013

our friend 'chelle

Seems our blog has become quite the place for introductions....we have another one for you.
We have a friend named Michelle.  Actually, we have a few friends named Michelle.  The Michelle in this particular post is the Michelle that we call 'Chelle.  She's one of the photographers on the ship....and oh! the gift she has for using her camera as a worship instrument!  She takes pictures that capture the heart and essence of people and situations.  So many of the pictures you see on the Mercy Ships' website or Facebook page or throughout the blogs of so many were taken by 'Chelle.  
Not only is she a gifted photographer, she is a thoughtful and faithful friend.  There have been so many times when she's blessed us with an encouraging word...or an unexpected cup of ice and a coke....or a conversation that reaches the depths of our being.  She is a precious part of the Cash Family's community here on the Africa Mercy.  

The other day she sent us an email with a picture attached...we wanted to share it with you...

"Today, the preschool kids were playing on the dockside with some of the younger patients. Josh and I were able to take a few photos and videos of the interaction. I captured this moment with Emma and Selvie, so I wanted to pass it along. Emma was so sweet and kind to Selvie, playing ball and singing Ring Around the Roses with her and a few other friends.  It was a moment where I saw Emma’s place in this community, where she, too, can share the love of Christ with patients and classmates. I am so thankful that Emma, that your whole family, is a part of this community."

What a treasure...in so many ways.

It's nice to be reminded of the ways God is at work in and through us - and in and through our children.  

We do each have a place...a place to share the love of Christ.  Maybe it's on a dock playing with a patient who is waiting to have surgery...or maybe it's in a cubicle at the Synovus building in Columbus, GA....or maybe it's at a kitchen counter as you take care of and teach your little ones....or maybe it's at a nursing home in Upper Sandusky, Ohio.  Wherever you are....

You are right where God's love needs to be shared.  

Surely there will be more to come. 

15 October 2013

Let us introduce you to....

It's nice to have friends who are nurses and who are willing to share the stories that God has allowed them to become a part of.  Our friend Amy shared some suh-weet pictures & stories of patients that she has had the privilege of caring for on her blog  She's a kind and generous soul and doesn't mind if we share them with you.  Some of the information has been updated...but, for the most part, this is all straight from the heart and hands of Amy Humphrey.  Without further adieu...let us introduce you to....


"Merveille means 'wonderful' in French, and he is quite wonderful. He had a palatoplasty done to fix his cleft palate. Can you imagine going 12 years of your life with a hole in the top of your mouth? He wasn't a huge fan of the NG tube (who would be?), but he still weathered the recovery like a champ. He also wasn't a fan of the soft diet (no rice!!).  He had to adhere to post-op.  He loved to laugh as I tried to count in French and Kituba while he did his palate exercises. 

Merveille's dad was the best coach one could ask for, by his side every minute and encouraging him in his recovery, in his speech exercises, and in the game of UNO. Oh my goodness, I have never seen a kid have so much trouble learning a card game. Every time he tried to put a green 7 down on top of a red 3, I just couldn't help but laugh! To be fair, I was attempting to explain the rules of the game in VERY broken French and Kituba, with a lot of reliance on hand gestures. :) 

Please pray that he continues to develop his speech, as he is having to learn a whole new way to form sounds with his now anatomically-correct mouth!"


"This sweet one has captured my heart. And not just because she is from my home-away-from-home, Uganda. :) She was brought here by a local doctor who is doing some pretty incredible things for disabled Ugandan children through his non-profit EDYAC.  She was admitted for severe burns she experienced as a young girl, her first surgery (of several planned) was a few weeks ago. She is very self-conscious of her scarring and shyly keeps the burned side of her face turned away-- BUT she is gradually beginning to come out of her shell, slowly starting to lift up her gaze, and us nurses couldn't be more thrilled. 

We sing through her dressing changes, and I tell her how beautiful she is, praying that she would know that she is SO loved. She teaches me to count in her local language while she compliantly takes her daily cocktail of less-than-tasty nutrition supplements to aid with wound healing. We turned one wall of her room into an art gallery displaying her superb coloring skills, and you will often find her bandages covered in "flair", like stickers and pipe-cleaner flowers." 


"Alphonse was with us for over two weeks. He served as our ward's DJ, keeping us entertained with Congolese, Nigerian, and American tunes played from his phone. It was not uncommon to hear his voice singing out on the other side of the ward or when we were giving shift report. 

He had a surgery that required a giant skin graft to be taken from his leg and placed on his face. He carefully watches each dressing change with a mirror, surveying our technique and never once complaining, though I am certain it is quite painful for him."


This is Amy, by the way! :)

"Oh Vernel. I dare you not to fall in love with this 6-year-old's smile. He is just as full of life as these photos depict! And he gives the best hugs. One of my favorite moments of him was after his surgery when he was having trouble keeping down any food. I finally sweetened up some yogurt and gave it to him, and he just devoured it. As in, almost ate the spoon itself. The whole ward was laughing and he responded with a tiny yogurt-covered smile (difficult post-cleft lip repair, as you can imagine)."


"Baby Pressley was one of the first of many precious babies with cleft lips to come through our ward. I didn't get to be his care nurse, but I did get some good snuggles. Just look at him!! What a blessing that he will spend the rest of his life without a lip deformity!"

Many, many thanks for Amy for letting us share some of her stories.

Please pray for these precious ones and for all of the others who have had, and will have, surgery.  As of October 12, 282 surgeries had been accomplished onboard the Africa Mercy since the Hospital opened in September.  Each one, a miracle!

Surely there will be more to come.  Hallelujah, there will be more to come!  

08 October 2013


Meet Mirabelle!  She is a sweet little girl who is in Emma's class - and today is her birthday!  She doesn't actually live on the ship - she is from the "Country of the Team House." (at least that's how Emma said it!).  Her parents are Franck and Armelle.  Franck is the Off Ships Project Manager - so they live at the Team House a few kilometers away from the ship.  Armelle brings Mira to the ship everyday for school and she works in the Sales Department. 

Emma's words about Mirabelle:   "She's my friend.  I sit by her.  I like to play princess with her and I like to play with her.  That's what I like to do.  And Mrs. Herma and I call her Mira sometimes."

Pretty much every morning when Mirabelle sees Emma she says something along the lines of "Emma!  My friend! I am so happy to see you!" (you must say that with an amazing African accent)

I love it.  Makes me smile (as does the picture above).

So thankful for the friends God brings into our childrens' lives.

Surely there will be more to come.

05 October 2013

"He'll take care of you."

Sit back, relax.  I (dianna) have got a little story for you (enjoying this while drinking a cup of coffee would be completely appropriate).

As many of you know, there's a Starbucks onboard the Africa Mercy.  It's not really a Starbucks...it's more of a really great cafe'/snackbar that serves Starbucks coffee.  However, we call it Starbucks and it's certainly the closest thing to a Starbucks for millions of miles (or maybe just thousands).

Dozens of people are daily made a bit happier by the coffee served and the drinks prepared here....and the prices are amazing!  Because the coffee is donated, the crew only pays for the milk and syrup and such used in the drinks.

My favorite Starbucks drink of the hot persuasion for quite a while has been a Caramel Macchiato (kind of makes me feel sophisticated to say it....).

So, shortly after arriving on the ship last August, I decided it was time for a treat.  One Caramel Macchiato, please.

Unfortunately, it wasn't very good.  I was a bit disappointed.  And, unfortunately, I don't "know my coffee" well enough to tell someone how to make it the way I like it.  The upside of this is that I didn't get into the habit of getting Caramel Macchiatos often...next to never actually.

I tried another one around November (happy birthday to me!). Again, it wasn't so good...

Here's where the story gets better.  In January, I got a really great Caramel Macchiato.  it was sweetened perfectly (and if you know me, that's quite the accomplishment!).  It was made by the ever so friendly and capable Ibrahim.
From that point on, I got into something of a habit.... if I walked by the Cafe and Ibrahim was working and I had even a partial craving for a coffee drink, I would get a Caramel Macchiato.

Fast forward to about April...I walked by the Cafe...Ibrahim was working - but he was at the cash register and another "new girl" was making coffee.

The following conversation (or something similar) happened:

Me: (in a quiet voice in an attempt not to offend the new girl) "Ibrahim, is there any way you could make me a Caramel Macchiato?  You are the best at making them!"

Ibrahim: (with a smile....pointing to the new girl) "She'll take care of you...."

Me:  (disappointed)  "oh...but yours are always good!  is there any way you can make it?"

Ibrahim:  (again smiling....in a very knowing way....) "SHE will take care of you."  (read between the lines:  "Trust me!  She knows what she's doing!")

Me: "oh..ok..."

So I proceed to the counter and ordered my Caramel Macchiatto....and all of a sudden this "new girl" starts whipping it all together and it's so obvious that she knows what she's doing.  Turns out she not only worked in a Starbucks (in Seattle!), she was the manager of the only Starbucks to have 100% Customer Satisfaction for 4+ months!  KJ definitely served me the best Caramel Macchiato I've ever had (and has continued to bless me in so many ways with her coffee making skillz and her friendship!).
It's stuck with me.

I thought I knew what I wanted....I thought I knew what was "best" for me...I thought I knew just what to ask for.  Turns out I didn't.  And there was the voice of Ibrahim saying - so knowingly and so lovingly - "She'll take care of you.  Trust me...."

How often do I do that with God?  I think I know what I want...I think I know what's best...I think I know just what to ask for. And there's His voice saying, "I'll take care of you...I'll bless you...I'll give you more than you even know that you want/need...TRUST ME."

my most recent caramel macchiato...my cup runneth over....
He'll take care of me.  He'll take care of you.  He's a good God who gives good gifts - even gifts in the form of Caramel Macchiatos and life lessons learned through cups of coffee.

Surely there will be more to come.

02 October 2013

School Pictures & Mini-Interviews

The Academy had picture day a few Tuesdays ago.  Everyone met on the dock for a group photo with the landrovers followed by class photos in front of the ship.  Then the students went class by class to the Bridge to have their individual shots taken.  Before the day was over the photographers had the pictures available to us...what service!  Well done, Michelle & Deb!!

Emma - Preschool
What are your goals for the year? (and I quote):  "PLAYING! and having snack! and I would like to do playing princess."
What is your favorite thing about preschool? "painting!"
If you could give a piece of advice to another pre schooler, what would you say? "They are not to fuss. or scream or hit anyone.  They can do good things....like...hmmm...like....be nice to one a-other."  

Caroline - Grade 2
What are your goals for the year? "learn times table, learn cursive (I know that's for next year....but I really really really want to learn it this year), nothing else." 
What do you most love about grade 2?  "That we get to change seats...about every 9 weeks."
What's your best piece of advice for someone in Grade 2? "If someone says they are bad at math, I would say 'you're not bad at math, you just need more practice.'"

Eli - Grade 3
What are your goals for this year? "doing good and stuff"
What's your favorite part of Grade 3? "learning cursive"
What is your best piece of advice for someone in Grade 3? "use encouraging words and be nice to one another."

The Mercy Ships Academy Family

Grade 2 
the most amusing thing to me about these 2 pictures is that it's hard to tell which is the "serious" picture and which is the silly picture...that probably gives you some great insight into what Miss Moriah's days are like.

 Grade 3 

 Mrs. Herma & the Pre-Schoolers

The teachers
They are doing the classic "jump shot."  (I'm quite impressed with Miss Miriam, the French teacher - third from the right - she's got ups.)

One more shot of the entire Academy

We can't say enough how much we love and enjoy the Mercy Ships' Academy.  We are so thankful for the teachers who love and serve and teach...so grateful for the organization and vision of the administration...so thankful for those who give to make the Academy possible.

Surely there will be more to come!