Monday, March 26, 2012

Radiatou Boukari's New Hope

Posted by Mercy Ships staff on Mar 16, 2012 at 09:00 am

Chapter 1

From a young age, Radiatou Boukari learned about loss. When she was only four years old, her mother abandoned her and left her with her father. At the age of 10, things became even worse when she started having pain in her gums. The painful spot quickly turned into a lump. As her deformity became obvious, she was shunned by everyone . . . including former friends.

Radiatou at the mass medical screening in Togo In 2010, Radiatou’s father heard about Mercy Ships from a radio program. He was excited about the possibility of helping his daughter. Sadly, when they finally made it to the port, the Mercy Ships hospital ship, the Africa Mercy, had already left.

When they arrived back home, they learned that Radiatou’s grandmother had died while they were gone. Radiatou felt even more isolated as she started spending more and more of her days hidden away from the world. Even though she struggled with depression, her father was always there to cheer her up.

In January 2012, Radiatou was devastated when her beloved father passed away.  She was alone and terrified. A great-aunt, whom she had never met before, came to take Radiatou home with her. Distraught about losing her father and only caregiver, Radiatou attempted suicide, but her great-aunt stopped her. That night, like many others, Radiatou cried herself to sleep.

Radiatou in her village The next day, a man came to visit Radiatou. He had heard that Mercy Ships had returned to Togo! What a difference a day makes! Within one day, Radiatou went from having no will to live . . . to having an abundance of hope. Radiatou was able to attend the mass medical screening in Lomé. After waiting for five years, she finally found someone to help her.

Radiatou grew close to some of the Mercy Ships crew while at the screening. They even went to her home a few days later to visit her. One crewmember assured Radiatou, “You will not go through this alone. We will be there every step of the way.”

Those comforting words were a lifeline that gave seventeen-year-old Radiatou new courage. After being abandoned, banished, and orphaned, Radiatou arrived for surgery with hope for a new life and an eagerness to meet new Mercy Ships friends.

Chapter 2 to follow.

Written by Nicole Pribbernow
Edited by Nancy Predaina
Photos by Debra Bell and JJ Tiziou

Friday, March 16, 2012

The Good Life

     What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him?  Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food.  If one of you says to him, “Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it?  In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.
James 2:14-17

     Everyone wants to live the Good Life.  No matter who or what you are, the Good Life is still out there just waiting to be lived.  But what is the Good Life?  Googling "good life" gives you 1,470,000,000 results.  So many different definitions makes it hard to just choose one. Is it being rich and famous?  Is it finally getting that dream job?  Or maybe its taking that trip that was only dreamed about.  Or perhaps, its the complete opposite.  Maybe the "good life" is harder than we thought.  I've been going to Beth Moore's "James" study on board and recently she just had some thoughts about the "good life" : that the "Good Life" is one that saves us from ourselves, one with a track record of yielding, one that is full of mercy, and one that is full of good fruit.

     Ok, so great ideas but how does that work out in the real world?  In church we can sit and listen to the sermon, nod our heads, agree, talk to our other churchie friends and say how much it touched our hearts, remember a few key points that stuck out to you to talk about in Small Groups, and then continue on as before.  There is a difference between being touched by something and being changed.  I'm working on the changing, but it is so much more work...

      So first up is the saving us from ourselves, Jesus saved us from our sins, but the rest of the changing requires more effort from ourselves.  "What good is it...if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds?"  Talk is just that, talk.  Doing is so much harder because it requires effort.  Ugh, work.  Who wants to do that? I do. It needs to be done, no matter how much I try to deny it or cover it up.

      Next up is yielding.  A synonym is submitting.  Now that second word carries some heavy baggage.  Because in America we are in charge of our destinies and we decide and we can control, if you submit to someone you are regarded as weak.  But what about submitting or yielding to God? I know, scary thought, even though its practically the focus of every other sermon.  That takes some faith.  How about another spin on that? What if yielding to God included yielding to someone else?  Think about a real-life yield sign.  What is expected when you are merging onto a highway? If someone else is coming full speed, you should slow down and let them pass, you would yield to them.  Think about the person who you always seem to be in competition with.  What would happen if you slowed down and said "Go!"? Yielding isn't easy, its real tough.

    Third characteristic of the "good life" is one that is full of mercy.  Now, I know that I'm in Africa and I should be the perfect example of being full of mercy.  PUHLEEZE.  I ain't nowhere near that.  Yes, I am living in one of the poorest nations in West Africa, but I am also living on a ship.  The ship is more of a hiding place, a refuge, an escape from reality.  I have to push myself to get off the ship, to get out into Africa.  I can walk through the markets and streets and try not to see reality.  True, I can't help everyone I see, but I can acknowledge their existence.  A smile, a touch, a "bonjour" or "bon soir" can make them feel as if they aren't invisible.  Invisibility can be hell.  Back in America helping someone on the side of the road, offering a friend a ride, paying for someone's meal or fuel is an act of mercy.  But if you are unable to help out in that way, acknowledge the need.  Let the person know that their problem has been noticed or that you'd love to help but can't.  Dignify them with notice.  If you don't know what to do, err on the side of mercy.

   The result of all the previous characteristics is that your life will start producing fruit.  Not all fruit will be easy or fun to produce, but in the end it is so worth it.  Once I had an assignment to write down goals for my future, and one of them was that I would live with as few regrets as possible.  My dream is to live each day to the fullest and at the end of the day to not regret not helping someone or not speaking to someone who needed it.  Impossible dream?  Psh, nothin' is impossible, some things may just be a bit more difficult than others.  What it all comes down to is: how bad do you want it? What good will your life be?

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Minnesotan Photo Shoot!

     One of the greatest things about Mercy Ships is that you meet people from all over the world.  Or, people from the same town/state/area.  Anna is a nurse on board that I actually knew before Mercy Ships since we go to the same church back home.  We've been discussing for several weeks that we needed to take pictures together for friends back home.  After several failed attempts to run into each other on our days off, we actually arranged a time.  We grabbed a friend to take pictures and had a blast! Anna had brought a Minnesota magnet and postcard, so we are holding it in the pictures but you can't see it that well.

Our "deckie boyfriend." He's always on duty up on Deck 8 so we don't get to hang out with him much...

Searching for Minnesota

Its cold in Minnesota