Thursday, February 2, 2017

The Journey Home

After landing safely in Amsterdam I said the final good-byes to my team. It was definitely a bittersweet moment, but as I hugged them and let go I still tightly grasped onto the lessons that Africa taught me. I want to go home changed, more like Jesus, having a better perspective, more loving, more tolerant and more welcoming.

As I changed planes and waited in airports I thought about what I was going back to: the final 2 months of class & clinical. When I left for Africa I was beaten down and exhausted...I lost what the point was somewhere along the way. How can I now go back and truly walk differently in the hardships and the mundane of the every day? I had to ask myself: does my behavior in all facets of my life reflect my belief in God? Is my life evident of who I serve?

We all know by now that we cannot control the actions of others and though we work for degrees, promotions, grades, relationships.....we still can't control the results. But I rest in the fact that the results aren't up to me, the effort though is. Persevering in faithfulness and showing up when every fiber in you doesn't want to is what we have to do. We must serve Jesus even when we are discouraged and even when no one says thank you because no one is paying attention. We must carry each other's burdens and work for God, looking for the treasures of heaven He showers all over our days. We must work for the benefit of all, never growing tired of the hard work it sometimes is to simply do good and to at the bare minimum just show up.

Luke 10: 34
"Love your neighbor as your self and you will live. The Samaritan took pity on a man who had been robbed and beaten, he bandaged him and placed him on his donkey and took him to an inn"
                                                               Have mercy on each other.

There is NOTHING God cannot do through you. But there is no path without risk and all roads will have toils and snares. Show up anyways.

                              "He who refreshes others will himself be refreshed." Proverbs 11:15















Blaze a trail! Run don't walk! Depend and seek God. Never give up! Always show up! Always create time to rest, reset and pray for guidance and refreshment. Partner with the Gospel! Be changed and motivated by the word of God. Sing your songs loudly. Don't dilute your stories, your past or your testimony! The good, the bad and the ugly is a beautiful integration of who we are, who we were and the exciting journey of who we have yet to become. You are what people need. Share your life, your love, your pain, and your story. Live out all your days in joyfulness. You are here!
                                                   Fill me up God that I might overflow!

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Safari!!!!


 The Vast Beauty of God's Creation 

We arrived to the Masa Marai safely and it is gorgeous!!



The Lobby walking in

Our room


We were told that if we didn't keep our windows closed...a baboon would have no problem hopping in!


The view from our room was incredibly breathtaking:



In between game drives I ordered a drink and sat and journaled by the pool. I decided I was going to continue the daily fight of picking up my cross, putting on my armor and submitting to God's will and the denial of worldly things. May I yearn for the things of God, to live pre-occupied by God's beauty... He is an all-consuming fire


Photos from our Safari Game Drives
Kenya Relief has the best drivers! Driving where there are no roads is an art. They took such good care of us. Truly men of service!


























As I prepared to leave Kenya....I felt the ashes of what was left in my heart burning, of what to take back with me. May I rise...rise above my circumstances, may I walk, actually may I run my race, becoming more like Jesus every day. May I just be grateful, grateful for my own breath on my lips, the cold wind on my face. This life, this is the air up there, on earth be done as it is in heaven until His Kingdom come. May we all be victorious in this life by serving in any way we can.

The sun sets and it rises of no doing of our own. Divine power is exactly what brought us here and it's exactly what will bring us home. Teach us to number our days so that we don't miss the beauty and the colors of the world lying before us....a world desperate for God's touch, His love and our God-given dreams. Step into your passion... the roads lying before us in Africa would never have been there if someone's dream hadn't of made them.

"Follow me and I will make you fishers of men...." No one can walk your path because it's yours. Create it.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Until we meet again

Last day at Brittney's Home of Grace

Saddened to leave the compound on this morning as we showered and packed up for our 6-7 hour drive to the Masai Mara Safari Lodge.

We had such a beautiful dinner on our last night after clinic. The food was AMAZING my whole stay. The cooks, the drivers, the hospitality we received...I really have no words for it. I really just came to serve but was served so many times over.

I brushed my teeth with bottled water, took cold showers, used a hole in the ground as a bathroom at times and the toilets we did use we really couldn't flush often, we carried toilet paper in our purses, the Wi-Fi service was difficult to get, the power went out a lot... but all of that, those daily things we never think twice about, was really nothing compared to serving the Kenyans and being there with my team. I plan to come back. I would do this again in a heartbeat.

Our beautiful dinner set up

The back patio area of the compound
 And here I am pictured with Steve James, the Founder and CEO of Kenya relief: 
A man who exemplifies turning tragedy into great God breathed triumph. Please check them out: www.kenyarelief.org 
And here are Curtis and Devry Coghlan, the missionaries who live in Kenya, at Brittney's Home of Grace year round. People I continue to pray for. When I think about them and their story it makes me cry. Check them out! They are such an inspiration of being true servants of the Lord. 

http://maypatterson.com/2017/01/africa-learned-curtis-devry-coghlan/

http://maypatterson.com/2017/01/interview-curtis-devry-coghlan/


May God blanket all of you and protect you as you continue to live out God's purpose for your lives on this mission field. I miss, love and admire you guys! Thanks for showing us such love and grace. You reflect heaven's beauty, you are His Kingdom come, on earth as it is in heaven. 
As we all go back to our lives in America, they stay to continue caring for the sick and the orphans.


On our trek to the Masai Mara.... I captured one of God's many rainbows that He sent us that week. Between talking and sleeping on the ride I reflected.... I want to allow this experience to continue changing my life. I want to be more thankful in EVERY situation and I want to focus on how great God is, instead of how big I think my problems are. Focus on finding the good...it's always there. God's treasure are everywhere, we just have to be open to them.


"If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you." Matthew 17:20-21
 
True greatness, an extraordinary life is serving behind the scenes, going un-noticed, and working because there is mystery, not living in fear of it. For there to be faith, we have to move away from the shore and towards the deep end, towards the people. Smooth seas never made a good sailor anyways.

Faith in things unseen and hope where there is none is exactly how we are called to live and why we have to serve and share the Gospel. By faith...

Hope, Heartbreak & Healing

The Clinic Days

<Warning: A few graphic photos below!>

As a nurse, interwoven in my life are the stories of those I've cared for along the way. After every shift I learned something about life, love, family, things I will never do, and things I pray never happen to me or my family. To glimpse the vulnerability and fragility in the lives of those around us, in people we do not know and may never see again, draws us closer to the human experience and helps us to understand our own fragility and our own blessings.

On the clinic wall it is written: "By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another." John 13:35
Loving others is the greatest commandment ever spoken and what the cross so perfectly and beautifully symbolizes: Jesus' gift of sacrificial and perfect love to all.

While we are far from perfect, loving others is a gift, it is a commandment, and it is why we are here. To serve, to bless, to love, and to be there, sacrificing ourselves for the sake of upholding someone else in their most vulnerable moments.

Some patient stories during our week at the clinic:

***A mother brought in her young child who had an advanced cancerous tumor growing out of his head. She said that they had been to many doctors and that he needed chemotherapy. They had two choices: travel to India for chemo or to America--both of which the mother could not afford. So she thought that if she brought him to American doctors we could help. Unfortunately in the time between his diagnosis and now, the cancer was too advanced. Our medical doctor sat with her and had the difficult conversation and explained to the mother that at this point all she can do is take him home, spend time with him, love him and ensure he is comfortable in his limited days.***

***Another young boy came in with an aggressive and advancing tumor that looked to be cancer on his foot. It was out of our scope to provide any surgical care for him today. So we called over to another hospital and all pitched in money so that he could pay for transportation and a doctor visit. He too could not afford any type of care to get help any sooner.**

It may never feel like we are ever doing enough. We get up only to fall on our knees in anger, hurt, disbelief, thankfulness and in prayer to ask God that we might simply help who we can. It's not our plight to have all the answers or the ability to fix everything but it is our duty to live out our days fully and wholly in love and in service. We should live expecting God's treasures and miracles along the way no matter how foggy or bleak it sometimes looks.

Here are some other patients we were able to care for during our week at the clinic:


**This young girl had a foot deformity and she was unable to wear any shoes on her right foot leaving her barefoot. She often asked her mom why she was different than the other kids. Dr. Tim, one of the surgeons, was confident he could help her and her surgery ended up going very well. She didn't flinch when we had to put in another IV so that she could receive one more dose of IV antibiotics. Two incredible nurses on our team even taught her the "itsy bitsy spider" and sang it to her as they infused her antibiotic. A beautiful moment I have yet to forget. She then quickly learned how to use her crutches and never once complained of pain. Her mother was a kind, gracious and gentle spirit. It was a honor to see this unfold before my eyes.**


**This next man came in wearing a special shirt "cape" that someone in his family had made for him. This mass on his shoulder had apparently been growing for years and he was unable to afford or receive any care. We added him on to our day after we finished our scheduled surgeries.**


Here is picture of the father (Dr. Jerry Smith) and son (Dr. Tim Smith) surgeons on our trip. So amazing to watch them change this man's life. To hear afterwards a father say: "I am so proud of my son. He is an amazing surgeon." They were both truly dedicated and good at their jobs. It was a privilege to provide anesthesia for them. 

Part of the mass they removed from his shoulder!
Praise God! What a difference! Mass is gone!

 **This next lady came in wearing a scarf around her neck in an attempt to hide her huge goiter. In Africa they have no iodized salt (Iodine is needed to make thyroid hormones) so therefore many suffer from thyroid issues and grow these large goiters. She waited so patiently for her turn and was so excited to have her surgery.
This is the goiter and on top you will note the jugular vein!

Thumbs up from me! She is doing well!
And voila! It is out!

In recovery...What a privilege to care for her! Look at that smile

**I took care of another man who was completely blind and spoke no English. So I carefully took his hand and led him into the operating room and onto the table. He had a mass to be removed on his right side. Without a translator or being told what to do , he rolled right over to his left side to expose the surgical site and then closed his eyes and fell right asleep.** It amazed me the trust he had in us. Regardless of language barriers or cultural barriers, caring and love know none. People can feel and understand when others are being genuinely kind.

There were so many other beautiful moments woven throughout our week but I wanted to share just a few.

The ache remained in my chest every night... praying for God to fill me up....the unfairness of it all, the pain, the heartbreak. Oh how I ached for these beautiful people.
Living a life of service is not only enriched with great happiness but also comes with great pain. To live is to hurt at times but to live at all is worth it. It was my absolute honor to learn and serve in Kenya. The best is yet to come... God promised.