Mercy Ships

Mercy Ships
The largest NGO hospital ship in the world providing free medical care to the forgotten poor

Friday, February 20, 2015

Got Book Recommendations?

Hello Friends,
I'm making a compilation of books I want to read, so that I can load up my Kindle. I'm not sure what my access to books will be like in Madagascar and I'm not sure if the wi-fi on the ship will allow me to download books (I've heard it is very slow).  So I'm playing it safe and taking lots with me! So if you've read a great book lately, send me the title! I like all kinds of fiction, especially historical fiction as well as non-fiction.

Here's a couple of books I would recommend if you looking for a good book to read:

  • Maya's Notebook by Isabel Allende
  • Between Love and Honor by Alexandra Lapierre
  • Where The Pavement Ends by Erica Warmbrunn
  • Iron & Silk and True Notebooks, both by Mark Salzman
  • Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer

Sunday, February 15, 2015

A Clean Closet and a Coincidental Quarter

My preparations for moving overseas continue.  I finally told my principal this week that I will be leaving at the end of the school year.  It was a hard conversation because one of the biggest challenges my school faces is retaining teachers long term.  So even though I think teaching on Mercy Ships is the right thing for me in this next season, leaving will be difficult and bittersweet.

I want to be 100% present at school for the rest of the year; I also have a huge to-do list begging for my time and attention. So my goal is to knock one thing off my list every weekend.

Here a partial look at my To Do list...
  • Get a new passport 
  • Create a blog
  • Sort through my belongings and decide what to keep and what to get rid of.
  • Choose health insurance
  • Have a garage sale
  • Go to the dentist
  • Figure out what to pack and what not to pack
  • Raise some money
  • Start to learn French/Malagasey
  • Read Foreign To Familiar and Old Testament Template (assigned pre-reading)
  • Get required vaccinations and malaria medicine
  • Sell my house
  • Sell my car
So as you can see I've already accomplished the first 2 things on my list! This weekend I started on the third and tackled my closet.  Even though I love to organize and declutter, I am somewhat of a packrat.  Which mostly means I have shoeboxes full of letters and cards from my entire life.  Because all the letters and cards remind me of meaningful relationships, I find it hard to throw them out.  

But I think you will share my delight in what I found.  A homemade card from my childhood best friend, Nicole, with a quarter still taped inside with the following note:

The card is over 20 years old (1993) and I don't remember the story behind it or why I never spent the quarter.  But I hope Nicole will be happy to know I am finally spending it on its intended purpose.  

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Why Mercy Ships? Why Now?

Every 7 years I try to take a "Sabbatical Year." I quit my job in order to rest, to volunteer, to travel, to seek God's direction for my do things I might not have time for while working full-time. During my last Sabbatical I wrote my Master's thesis, participated in Hurricane Ike clean-up, mentored students, and worked part-time tutoring.  I think my last sabbatical was instrumental in preventing burn-out and has allowed me to stay working in high-need public schools.

I first heard about Mercy Ships back in college from some visiting authors who had met on the Anastasis, the very first Mercy Ship. I was intrigued by the organization's mission, but didn't think much about it since I was not going into the medical field. Fast forward to the present; I have been exploring ideas for how to spend my upcoming Sabbatical Year. I was hoping to find a place where I could live in community, use my gifts as a math teacher to serve others, and have some new experiences. I read everything I could get my hands on about Mercy Ships and their mission still resonated with me, specifically their desire to follow the model of Jesus in caring for the poor.

So after thinking and praying about it for over a year, I finally applied last October. I had a couple ideas for Plan B if I didn't get accepted to Mercy Ships (live on a farm in the Appalachians, teach overseas with WorldTeach), but nothing I felt as strongly about as Mercy Ships.  So I was absolutely elated when I got the call in January offering me the position of math teacher on the ship.

Leaving Sharpstown High School (my current job) will be extremely hard, because I love it there so much. But I believe that this change is the right thing for me at this time.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Will I Get Seasick?

The simple answer is no. Even though I am prone to seasickness (as my family knows!), the ship will be docked for the majority of the time.  Crew members say that you can rarely tell that you are on a ship while it is docked, which is good news for me.  Since the ship is in port, crew members can and do get off the ship often, which means I will get to experience a little bit of life in Madagascar even though I will be working and living on the ship.

More specifically, when I join the ship this summer, it will still be in South Africa for its annual maintenance. Sometime in August we will sail from Durban, South Africa to Toamasina, Madagascar. The ship's field service in Madagascar will last approximately 10 months before we set sail again, back to South Africa, and then on to the next country. So there will be a few short opportunities for seasickness. I am just glad they will be few and far between!

Friday, February 6, 2015

Welcome to My Blog!

Welcome to the first post of my first blog. As many of you know, the catalyst for this blog is my upcoming service with Mercy Ships, the world's largest non-government hospital ship. The ship houses approximately 400 volunteers (doctors, nurses, engineers, writers, project managers, etc) who enable the organization to provide free medical care to the forgotten poor. The ship has many of the things you would expect to find in any small town...a bank, a school, a hair salon, even a Starbucks! At any given time, there are 50-60 kids living on the ship. I will be teaching math to all the students in grades 6-12.

I was accepted to be the math teacher on Mercy Ships about 3 weeks ago in mid January. Which means in approximately 5 months I will sell my house, car, and most of my stuff to go live on a ship on the coast of Madagascar. This is a daunting adventure and I really want to share it with you.  In following blog posts I will address some of the following: Why Mercy Ships? Why now? Will you get seasick? What will you pack? And many other riveting questions. Stayed tuned as the preparations begin!