Saturday, December 10, 2011

Saying Goodbye

I had to say goodbye to the Cheshire Home kids yesterday.  It was a tough day, they are such a amazing group of kids.  One of our last days together we spent it hanging out, singing songs, dancing and snapping photos.  I thought I would share some of the products of that day.  I am praying the God does some amazing thing in their lives.






























Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Woman at the gate


Yesterday, as I was walking a patient and friend home from her follow up appointment we ran in to a woman.  She, like many others, was standing at the port gate hoping to talk to someone from Mercy Ships that will be able to help her with her medical needs.  She had stomach pains and I told her (like I have told many others) we don’t treat stomach pains and all the surgery slots have been filled for the year.  You could tell that she was fighting back tears, and it broke my heart.  I have no idea the extent of this woman’s pain, but I wanted to hold her and cry with her.  Instead, I apologized and walked away with my friend.  There is so much pain here, yet I am still struggling with finding my place here.  How do I help bring heaven to those that come in to my life?  My answer comes to me as I am sitting with my friend, amongst her family and friends; we talked, crocheted, and drank ginger beer.  But this woman, I don’t even know her name, is still on my mind.  Questions rage in my head every time I run in to a person desperate for treatment.  I would appreciate if you could take time and pray for her, I know she is one among millions, but God knows her, loves her and has placed her on my heart.  I hope he puts her on your heart as well…

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Life at Reception

One of the ship photographers (AKA my roommate) took some pictures of me hard at work (not a real common occurrence :) ); so I thought I would share them here.  My job is pretty similar to normal receptionists.  Probably the most impressive thing I have to do (and the reason our desk is 24 hours) is we monitor the fire panel/911 phone.  So if there is a fire/emergency on board the call will come to us.  So far (and thankfully) I have only had false alarms in that aspect.  I think the best part about my job it is easy, so I can read/study while I am at work and do other ministry things when I am not at work (like crochet with my girls and patients!)


One of the nurses that I was helping


Running errands (with coffee in hand, of course!)





Tuesday, April 26, 2011

AHHHH!!!!


Okay, I am sure most of you will agree with me that this is getting ridiculous.  It has been who knows how long since I have posted last and now have been in Sierra Leone for over three months and have shared nothing!  So I am starting this post with an apology, something I have been warned by my fellow bloggers never to do, but I feel now it is unavoidable.  So I am sorry.  I have now started this blog post a total of three times now (honest truth).  Sometimes I lay away at night thinking about what I should say (it is about 4am now and I am awake partly because I am coming off night shifts and partly because I can’t stop thinking about this silly blog post).  New topics come to me almost weekly, but this desire to start at the beginning forces me to keep a note of those topics and keep rewriting the first post.  It has gone from over thinking it to utter insanity!  I don’t know what is wrong with me.  Actually, that is not true I know exactly what is wrong with me; I am a procrastinator and at times a perfectionist. Well maybe it is those things or it could be that I am trying to squeeze too much in to one post.  I thought I could cover my first two weeks in one post and I think it is just too much.  Well whatever the reason I am picking myself up, brushing off the dirt and starting over, (don’t feel too badly for my craziness, I do intend on using what I wrote in later posts; ironically none of it was really on my first weeks in Africa).  I have now resolved to just write and not think about it.  I have discarded being chronological and moved on to topics.  Topic one is my favorite, my girls! Well okay I think that is still too broad, maybe just day one with one of my girls…

Putting up walls at the seafarer's building
My group of Gatewayers and I came to Freetown two and a half weeks before the ship.  Our mission was to, “put in to practice what we learned in the lecture portion of our class.”  Since there was so many of us (approximately thirty) they had to split us up in to two projects.  Our main project was remodeling a seafarers building next to the port that would be our dental clinic and recovery area for non-critical patients.  The second project, the one I was involved in, was working with a sort of orphanage for children disabled by polio (these children are considered war victims because during their civil war the country stopped vaccinating children for polio).  I say sort of orphanage because all of the children affected by polio lived there, and some still had families, but many of their families couldn’t afford or didn’t want to take care of them.  While we were in Texas we knew we would be working with the Cheshire home and I volunteered to work with the teenagers ages 14-17.  I believe that this was totally God breathed.  My instinct is to work with younger children; I have the most experience there and often feel the most comfortable.  However, I felt that there were going to be a lot of people wanting to work with the younger kids.  I realized that working with teenagers could be a suitable alternative (haha, silly me).  We had no idea what to expect; from how many kids there were to how much time we would have with them.  It was just me and another person working with the teens, so I was excited to be able to be a lead on this.

Kadija
Coloring with Omar
The first day we all went to see the Cheshire home kind of overview day of the projects we would be doing.  I am not really sure how it happen, we came in to the home (yes all thirty of us) and I was so overwhelmed; and I am sure they were too.  There were a lot of them, but there were even more of us.  We were to hang out with them, and talking (for those who know me, mingling is not my strong suit).  People were coloring with them and talking.  Soon a familiar panic began to arise when I have to interact with a large group of people.  I often just shut down at that point and close myself off to any potential relationships.  However, by the grace of God I saw Kadija sitting by herself coloring, she is beautiful and doesn’t seem to have any kind of disability (still to this day I have no idea why she is at this home, I am sure there is a story and I am determined to find out, I will let you know when I do).  We sit there coloring, and I think just how boring this must be for a teenager, to be coloring so I tell her the coloring book is also a story, we read the story (it is an extremely abridged version of Treasure Island).  Soon we are talking about other books and books we both like to read.  Eventually, Kadija ran to show me the books she has been reading and I am sad to find out it is a book about the TV show OC; regardless, we chat about it anyways.  It wasn’t perfect, there were a lot of awkward moments, but still nice and later on she introduced me to the other girls.  If you are praying with me this year, I would love if you would take some time to pray for her.  I still don’t know much about her, except she loves to talk and joke about boys!  I think she has stretched me in that, because I am terrible at talking about boys.  She is considered the troublemaker of the group and teases the other girls about potential boyfriends.  We also tease each other about the boyfriends we don’t have or even make up boyfriends.  To me this is totally weird (maybe it is not for teenage girls), but I am learning to accept that there is a cultural gap between us right now and even though I don’t quite understand, hopefully soon I will.

FINISHED!! Finally! I am labeling this post AHHHH!!!! Because it is what I originally had it saved on my computer as, and it was what I was feeling as I tried to write this post, and then as I was trying to write it again and then again. Tisk, tisk….

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Teachable Spirit


Blogging is such a foreign concept to me.  I have no idea who is going to read this and what they will think (and I hate that).  I have no idea what people reading this will find interesting.  I often wonder if my life is even interesting enough for the “public,” (I put public in quotes because again, who is reading this?  It may just be my family, hi mom!).  People keep tell me I should be writing this for myself so I have sort of “journal” of my year, but if I am completely honest with myself, I won’t do it for myself because I have no desire to share my thoughts, struggles and joys in this way.  Then I think maybe I should do it for my supporters, people supporting me financially and through prayer, but again I would much rather share with them privately.  So, why am I still led to write this blog?  My answer to that question and my prayer is that God speaks to someone through it.  I am not sure how, but I will leave that to God.  That being said, blogging is such a foreign concept to me!  I would love suggestions of what you want to hear and what you don’t want to hear.  I know my title of my blog is cheesy, so any suggestions for that also be would be great.

I have been in Freetown for about three weeks now and am excited to tell you all about it, but feel that I should back up several weeks.  Before serving with Mercy Ships for a year, I was required to attend a five week training session called Gateway in Texas.  Before I left for Sierra Leone I wrote out a blog telling you exactly what I did, but before I could finish realized how completely uninteresting it was and as you can see below I wasn’t exactly fascinated with everything being taught.  Don’t get me wrong those five weeks were significant to me, but still I couldn’t figure out how to express it.  After I left Texas, God really laid on my heart to share the poem I wrote during gateway, but internet and well power in general has been sparse in Freetown so I have only been able to put this up now.  Now some of you who know me well might have been thinking, poem?!  Cassidy does not write poems, and you would be absolutely right.  But in this case we were asked to share an “aha” moment in a creative way with the group and uninspired to do anything really creative I did a haiku.

I came to Gateway very disappointed with myself.  I had been working the past six years towards medical school.  After graduation I had planned on taking the MCATs (entrance exams for medical school), finishing my application, and then hopefully getting accepted to a school.  But, after graduation I had this sort of motivation fog come over me and could not bring myself to study for my exam.  I felt as if I had climbed 95% of the mountain and all that that was left to reach the top was a small hill, but I could not do it.  I told my sister this and she said my hill was more like a sheer cliff, which is partly true and made me laugh.  Also mixed with my anxiety over the MCATs was this incredible desire to serve God in a major way; to not just be in school serving myself, but in the world serving others.  During that time I discovered that I was accepted to Mercy Ships, not in the original position I had applied for, but as a receptionist.  This gave me very mixed feelings.  On the one hand I was very excited to be moving to Sierra Leone and finally working with the same passion and vision as my own, and on the other hand this was not the role I saw myself serving in.  Still I had this draw to put aside medical school and go to Sierra Leone.  This decision has been continually challenged, probably most significantly in Texas.  As we spent a week on classes about working with the poor, God gave me my answer.

Teachable Spirit

Lord I am crying,
crying to you, teach me!
What am I to learn?

I heard your call.
I know you have called me here,
but still I ask why?

Lord why am I here?
What purpose have you designed?
I need an answer!

The path I was once on;
I was focused on a goal,
but this has faded.

Lord, the people here,
everyone has a reason,
and I still ask why?

All you say is, Listen!
but, Lord! What am I to hear?
Again you say to listen.

I do not understand.
You are telling me nothing.
Then you say to learn.

What am I to learn!
God, you have told me nothing!
“Just listen and learn.”

Suddenly it clicks!
Lord! the reason I am here…
to listen and learn.

My path is not new!
The goal has not differed.
My will is the same.

Lord, what you request,
is for me to take a breath,
and listen and learn

Okay, not the world’s greatest poet, but I hope it expresses what I was feeling.  Serving the poor is a passion of mine, but I have absolutely no idea how to do that.  I have come to that realization even more living here in Freetown.  The people here have such a painful history; slave trade, civil war, natural resource exploitation, the list goes on.  I find myself asking; who am I to be the one to serve these people?  How am I to relate to them?  How am I to know the needs of these people?  How are we to bring real transformation?  This year may not bring answers to all these questions, but I know it will better equip me to serve in the future, if that is as a medical doctor or not.

I realize that this post maybe completely unsatisfying considered I have been in Freetown for three weeks and am now living on the ship, but I promise I have already started on my next update.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

In one year from today....


One year from today I will be finished with my service on the Africa Mercy in Sierra Leone.  Because of this, I thought today would be fitting day to start my blog.  This blog was supposed to be up weeks ago, but I kept putting it off because all the information had to be up, formats had to be just right and the writing well done.  However, as you can see this is not the case, so I suppose this will have to be a work in progress.  I have resolved that I will add things throughout the year as I learn about them.  I have added different tabs up with the intention to put information about Mercy Ships, Sierra Leone etc.  As most of you have discover or are about to discover all of these tabs are blank, but by the end of the year I hope that this is not the case.  I am expecting to learn a lot on this trip and want to share it here with you.

For those of who may not know what I am talking about, I have committed to serving a year with a Christian organization called Mercy Ships as a receptionist.  The Mercy Ships motto is, “bringing hope and healing to the world’s forgotten poor,” and I truly believe that is what they are doing.  Mercy Ships uses hospital ships to serve the poorest regions in the world.  They offer free of charge, life changing surgeries, dental and eye care, they train local health care workers, and offer water sanitation and agricultural programs to the countries that they serve.  They are currently in West Africa and during 2011 will be in Sierra Leone.  As indicated by the tab, I want to put up information about Sierra Leone, but here are a couple facts I found interesting; approximately 63% of Sierra Leone’s population is living below the poverty line (>$1.25/day; http://hdrstats.undp.org/en/countries/profiles/SLE.html  - the scientist in me just had to put the resource :) ) and 2002 Sierra Leone finally came out of a 10 year civil war.  These factors and many more has left Sierra Leone with little to no access to health care (lots more on this later!).

Serving the poor has been a cry of my heart for many years and now God has answered my prayers.  I first heard of Mercy Ships when one of their ships the Caribbean Mercy came into port in Seward, Alaska around 2000; Mercy Ships has been in my heart ever since.  I have always imagined my self-serving Mercy Ships in a medical role (because medicine is my passion), so needless to say serving as a receptionist has been a bit of a disappointment for me.  Regardless, I still feel this path is what God is calling me to.  Not completely sure of what my role consists of, but I do know that it is important.  I will tell you more of my job as I find out.
I have been in Texas training for three weeks now and have two more weeks of training before I leave for Sierra Leone.  If you would like to pray for me please e-mail me at sassidycassidy@gmail.com.  I am sending out a simplified prayer request “newsletter” for those committed to praying for me.  I am looking forward to this next year and hope you come along with me.

Much Love,
Cass

Friday, January 21, 2011

A good overview of what Mercy Ships is and what we will be doing in Sierra Leone.