Joy Comes In The Morning

7:16 am (Eastern Time).

I’d been awake for 17 hours, eyes falling shut as I hurried home on the cracked sidewalks, stopping only for traffic lights and the occasional garbage truck on it’s morning route.

The cool morning mist surrounded me, a sort of ethereal fog blanketing the quiet streets, muffling the sounds of the traffic, the crispness of the morning making itself known as my breath formed a frozen cloud in front of me.

Passing by several blocks of brick-framed houses and doors with chipped paint, navigating puddles and hearing the occasional crunch of some leftover snow beneath my feet, I crossed the second-last street before home, entering the park, knowing my destination was close.

And all of a sudden, as I entered that park, my awareness of my surroundings began to shift.

The cool air, the mist, the hazy fog remained.

But suddenly these were joined by a canopy of empty branches, tall trees reaching for the sky, housing birds that sang and chirped and crowed, filling my ears with their morning chorus.

My feet, before hurried and occasionally stumbling, began to slow.

My eyes, before drooping and fatigued, began to open.

My heart, before tired and worn out, began to lift.

I stopped on the sidewalk, taking it all in.

And as that glorious chorus of bird song filled my ears, and the fog wrapped around me like a comforting blanket, I smiled.

The morning was here. He was here.

The song that had been in my head all week ran through again; pieces of lyrics and truth swirling in my brain;

…And when I cannot stand, I’ll fall on You…

I stood in wonder, amazed at the beauty of the morning and it’s Creator.

And as I pondered, I thought of those times when I’d experienced similar feelings, been in similar awe of the beauty of our world, laid before me like a glorious canvas.

That time in Cambodia, at the top of the highest mountain, surrounded by green grass and fog and massive rock, and tips of mountains peeking through in between.
That time in Hawaii, at the edge of the ocean looking out across the vast horizon of water and sky, surrounded by glorious colour and cloud and the beauty of a sunset like I’d never seen before.
Those times in the Beatton Valley, close to home, seated on the tip of one of my favourite hilly ridges, surrounded by the sound of the rushing river and the wind filling my ears, looking out at the vivid green trees and hills, contrasting against the stark blue sky or the starry night or the rippling clouds or the fading sunset. I’d been there so many times, and each felt just as new and just as beautiful.
That time in Tumbler Ridge, as we crested the tip of a ridge deep in the alpine, and were greeted with blue-hazed mountains and valleys and lakes, endless vistas stretching to the edges of the horizon in all directions, so still you could hear yourself breathe.
That time in northern Alberta where on a drive home we were brought to a stop by the sight of the black skies suddenly breaking out with dancing green aurora, flitting across the sky like ballerinas across a stage, oscillating and curving and stretching and lighting up the sky in a light show unmatched by any created by man.

The list goes on and on.
Cambodia. Hawaii. The Beatton Valley. Tumbler Ridge. Northern Alberta.
and now Ontario.

I was reminded, not for the first time, that 

whether I sit or stand,
whether I rise or fall,
if I ride the wings of the morning,
if I dwell by the farthest oceans,
even there His hand will guide me.
even there His strength will support me.

He is with me.
Through all my life, through all my travels, in all the places I call home.
He is faithful.
Through all the ups and downs, through all the uncertainties, in all my doubts and fears.
He is good.
For though weeping may last through the night, joy comes in the morning.
He makes all things work together for my good.
Through all the long nights and joys and tears and adventures and deep breaths and new steps.

He knows me. He is right there with me.
He goes before me and behind me, hemming me in on all sides.

Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
too lofty for me to attain.

And just like David’s response after God had brought him across miles and years of journey, and so clearly revealed His love to him day after day, making and fulfilling promises all along the way,
I remain amazed.

Who am I, Sovereign Lord, that you have brought me this far?
What more can I say?

For you know your servant, Sovereign Lord. For the sake of your word and according to Your will, You have done such great things and made them known to Your servant.
How great you are, Sovereign Lord! There is no one like you, and there is no God but you, as we have heard with our own ears…

No matter where I go,
No matter what I do,

I am so thankful.

For He is with me.
And He is faithful.
And He is good.
And He makes all things work together for my good.

Oh, how I need Him.
And I am so thankful that He reaches down to me.

I love the Lord, for He hears my voice.
Because He bends down to listen, I will pray as long as I have breath!

And I have no doubts that this is not the last time I will stand amazed in His presence.
For He is good, and His love endures forever.

<3

I see Your face in every sunrise
The colors of the morning are inside Your eyes
The world awakens in the light of the day
I look up to the sky and say
You’re beautiful

I see Your power in the moonlit night
Where planets are in motion and galaxies are bright
We are amazed in the light of the stars
It’s all proclaiming who You are
You’re beautiful

I see You there hanging on a tree
You bled and then you died and then you rose again for me
Now You are sitting on Your heavenly throne
Soon we will be coming home
You’re beautiful

When we arrive at eternity’s shore
Where death is just a memory and tears are no more
We’ll enter in as the wedding bells ring
Your bride will come together and we’ll sing
You’re beautiful

I see Your face, I see Your face
I see Your face, You’re beautiful
You’re beautiful
You’re beautiful

.::.

References: 2 Samuel 7, Psalm 30:5, Psalm 116:1-2, Psalm 139
and “Lord I Need You” by Matt Maher

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The Day That Life Changed

Spoiler alert! Don’t read this unless you already know we got engaged!
Oh wait.
You either knew that from somewhere in between August 7, 2014 and now… or else you just found out.
Sorry… not sorry :)

Today marks 30 days until our wedding! Just one month!!
And in honour of that… Here begins the long-awaited story.
Undoubtedly my favourite engagement story so far… because it’s ours.

<3

Here unfolds the events of August 7th, 2014, a day that started out so ordinary and became so absolutely special. It began early. Perhaps too early. I was staying over at Burkhart’s place and my alarm clock rang at 6:30 am, and I got up, dressed, washed my face and brushed my teeth, hopped in my car with Jordan, and we drove off to Sexsmith for breakfast at the Diamond Willow with the rest of his family. We ordered breakfast and were waiting for it to arrive, and I was feeling really chilly, even with a long-sleeved shirt, a cardigan, and a scarf. Jordan, wearing a long-sleeved shirt under his jacket, was feeling warm. As he took off his jacket, I asked him if I could borrow it, since he didn’t need it. As he held it in his hand and looked at me, he hesitated, but then after a moment handed it over. That’s odd, I remember thinking, because he had never hesitated before, usually such a gentleman and offering me his jacket before I ask. I shrugged it on. And as I pulled it closed, I felt something.

There was a box.

A box similar in size and shape to a ring box in the pocket of his jacket.

I froze for a moment, and my mind started going crazy.

THERE’S A BOX! A RING BOX! IT’S RIGHT HERE! IN HIS POCKET!

And as that happened, I looked at Jordan, and there was a million emotions written all over his face as he looked from my eyes to the pocket and back to my eyes.

He knew. And I knew. He knew I knew.

Due to some previous events, I’d known there was a ring, and had a hunch it would be soon, but past that, I didn’t know much of the details of ring or planned engagement and preferred to leave that one up to him.

So I let it go; shrugged it off, although it was more than a little distracting to feel that little box in the pocket over breakfast.
After all, maybe the ring had been there the whole week he’d been home, and I just hadn’t noticed. Maybe that’s where he kept it all the time, or maybe he planned to propose today. Either way, I tried to ignore it as breakfast went on. Eventually I warmed up, and handed Jordan back his jacket at the end of the morning, and he seemed uncharacteristically relieved to get it back.

We drove into Grande Prairie in my car, just the two of us, as Jordan had a psychology exam and we also had some errands to run. Over the course of the morning, we ended up at a variety of different places… a toy story, Peavey Mart, the licensing center (where we joked about marriage licenses but really were just there for a drivers’ renewal), Canadian Tire, and when eventually hungry and ready for some good food, Famoso Pizza. We had plans to go out to Camp Wapiti after lunch to hang out there for the afternoon, and I’d heard that the ideal time for that would be around 3. I wasn’t worried about timelines as I knew we’d be finished lunch around 3 and would be able to make it down to camp for a few hours to visit before returning to Webster for soccer that evening.

As lunch was winding down, I was finishing my drink, which I had about half left. All of a sudden, while I was mid-sentence, Jordan checked the time and said “Well, we need to go!” and went to stand up and leave. I was a tiny bit shocked, as my usually patient boyfriend had never done something like that before, and a little sheepishly he sat back down and said he really just wanted to get to camp.

Soon enough we finished up in the restaurant, and off to camp we went, after only a short delay of my looking up some nursing stuff in the parking lot, thanks to some new textbooks I had gotten. (In hindsight… sorry for slowing us down, Jordan. Curiosity got the best of me. If I would’ve known… ;) )

As we pulled up to camp nothing seemed too out of the ordinary. Camp was in full swing; elementary kids were sitting by the craft shack, or playing tetherball or the new Gladiator ball by the dining hall, as Daryn’s cabin of elementary girls were. As we pulled up we saw Connie sitting on the deck and Esther filling up a kiddie pool of water for a water fight and pool party for the winners from the points auction the night before. We spent a few minutes talking with Connie, and once Jordan saw Dylan by the new nature shack, he walked over to say hi. I continued to talk with Connie, and Esther stood by as well, finishing up the filling of the kiddie pools. It was a perfect day: the sun was shining, it was nice and warm, the birds were singing…

And then the stillness was broken.

All of a sudden, to my surprise, a flannel Smurf pillowcase was over my head and Connie and Daryn wrapped me in a big bear hug as a horde of elementary girls began to surround me and wrap rope around me. Startled, I started to scream for help and wriggle and attempt to get out of their grasp. I shouted for help from Jordan, but the girls quickly got smart and tried to cover my mouth. A process quickly ensued where they would tie me, I would get out of it, they would tie me… and so on until Connie and Daryn decided enough was enough. Connie was for some reason especially insistent that I get tied up, as she wrapped her 7-month-pregnant body around me and threatened me with “don’t make me throw you in the water!” and “Don’t make me get you all dirty and covered in pine needles!” and I remember thinking she was being especially violent in her condition. But, I hate being tied up and I especially hate being suffocated so it wasn’t long before I threw off the pillowcase and continued to resist. Eventually Connie and Daryn and the girls, much to their delight, threw me in the kiddie pool and I became soaking wet. After this they enlisted the help of some older guys who held me down as the girls tied me up. By this time, Esther had stolen my phone and was enjoying documenting the whole event with photos. I’m ever so glad that she did :)
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At one point one of them suggested they put war paint on me, and Dylan, who had showed up at some point, said quietly, “I don’t know if Jordan…” which I heard but all I could think of was “Where is Jordan, anyway?! And why isn’t he helping me?!”

Little did I know that Jordan had actually coordinated with Connie (camp director) and her husband Dylan (also one of his best friends) to have me kidnapped and brought to the upper campfire so he could propose. If I would have known… I might have fought a little less ;)

With the guys help, the girls eventually got me tied up enough so that I couldn’t get free anymore, and then Dylan showed up with the camp’s John Deere Gator, backed up, and he and two other guys wrangled me into the box of the Gator and shut the tailgate. Dustin sat with me as Dylan and Nic got into the front and started to drive. Dylan tied me down with a tie down strap, and the three of them started talking about trucks and engines as we drove out of camp up the trail. They seemed pleased with themselves; accomplished, satisfied, and ever-so-nicely avoiding the topic of why in the world they were kidnapping me, anyway.

It was on that drive up that hill that all of a sudden I started putting the pieces of the day together.

The ring box in the jacket.

The conversation about marriage licenses at the licensing centre.

 The “we need to leave now!” at Famoso.

The sudden and convenient disappearance at camp.

The fact that we were heading for the upper campfire, a special place for both of us.

 …

 It suddenly dawned on me that I was going to get proposed to up there.

And I thought, “Oh. Okay. Well then I suppose I’ll behave and play along.”

The guys stopped the Gator just above the upper campfire, and Dylan led me by the rope that was tied around me down to the upper campfire. I was barefoot, having lost my flip flops long, long ago in the whole foray, and attempted a tiny run away just for fun (and to keep the act up for the cabin of girls coming over the hill), but Dylan quickly grabbed me and made me sit on a bench by one of the trees on the east side. The bench was backed up against a tree, and the guys placed some cardboard behind my back (how kind) and proceeded to tie me up to the tree with more secure 1” rope. First they tied my torso, leaving just my hands free, then my feet back to the tree and knotted the rope securely, making escape quite impossible.

But, by this time, I was much more willing to be kidnapped, and as Daryn’s cabin of girls re-appeared over the hill, they all sat in front of me on the benches of the upper campfire and asked me to tell them a story. It was then I proceeded to tell them the grand tale about Daryn the very hairy bear who was ran off from the camp of igloos by all of her hairless friends who made fun of her hair, and then was headed for a place called Camp Wapiti when she ran into a pink flamingo hairdresser named Kevin, with a British accent. (No idea where those ideas came from… my brain was a little distracted at this point ;) )

At about this point, suddenly a herd of elementary boys covered in war paint and being led by a war-painted Justin (their cabin leader) and a war-painted Jordan came over the hill, hollering, screaming, and looking actually sort of ferocious, for a cabin of elementary boys with war paint and sticks.

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    (Jordan looking like he’s up to something…)

The girl’s cabin and Daryn ran over the hill to the west, most of the boys following with Justin. Jordan stuck around the campfire, and so did one little face-painted boy who shouted “I’ll save you!” and began to untie me at the tree. Jordan quickly assured the boy that he would take care of it and the boy should go help capture the girls, and so he joined his cabinmates and rushed to carry out the rest of the kidnapping plan. (I learned later that Daryn ended up tied to the sand swing and she herself got dunked in the kiddie pool as well. Oops.).

One boy came back over the hill again to “save me” but Jordan waved him off as well and then it was just him and me at the upper campfire. Up until this point, Jordan hadn’t made any eye contact with me, but now smiled, and came and sat next to me on the bench, to my right.

“How are you doing?” he asked, amused and looking at the rope that still held me quite securely to the tree.

“Oh, you know, not bad.” I said playfully, and then proceeded to ramble on about everything that had just happened, including the kidnapping, the Gator ride, the story about Daryn the very hairy bear, and the girls and their attack….

He nodded and smiled through it all (and later told me he didn’t remember a thing) and all of a sudden interrupted me. “So I have something for you.” He says, his eyes amused.

“Oh?” I ask, quite innocently.

“Here’s…..” (reaches into his back pocket) “your phone.” Even more amused, and proud of himself, he laughingly hands me my phone.

“Oh really.” I say, a little disappointed but just as amused as him. With what arm reach I had, I took my phone, turned it to the camera, and said “Here, why don’t you take a picture?”

He takes my phone, puts it out in front of us to my left, and as he moves in front of me he begins to take some pictures of us, making faces at the camera.

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 (Please note the rope to the bottom right, securely fastening me to the tree!)

He begins to bring his right hand down, with phone in hand, and as I turn back to him, he is kneeling in front of me, holding up THE ring between us, which he had managed to wriggle out of his pocket while taking photos.
All I see are his shining, gorgeous eyes looking at me, his crooked smile emphasized by the black smears of war paint on his face.
His heart is written all over his face.
He grins, and doesn’t even breathe before he asks, all at once confident and satisfied that his plan had worked.

“Will you marry me?”

Heart racing, smile growing, I said the first thing that came to my mind.

“Will you untie me?”

He laughs, so full of joy.

“Yes.”

A heartbeat doesn’t even pass as I say the answer that I’ve had waiting for months.

“Yes.”

We couldn’t stop smiling as he looked down and said “Okay, which hand?” and took my left hand and placed the ring on my finger.

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 For a moment we just admired it and stared at each other in joy, and then in between my excited squeals (“EEEEEE! We’re engaged!!”) I got to admire the ring as Jordan set to work untying me and undoing Dylan and Dustin’s handiwork, which all in all took about twenty minutes.

I guess they weren’t taking any chances on me getting away.

Now that it’s all said and done, I can’t say I mind. ;)

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 (“THE” tree! Every time I look at this I’m amazed at all the rope they used,. Ha. Oh my.)

It was somewhere around this point that I realized what a mess I was. Somewhere early in the foray I’d lost my shoes, was soaking wet thanks to being thrown in the pool, my mascara was running, my hair was coming loose, and my feet were definitely filthy, covered in camp sand and little leaves and woodland bits.

But somehow, I’d never felt more beautiful.

In between there was some hiking through sand, some telling people our news, some further searching for the elusive grain shovel at Peavey Mart… and then fast track to driving back to Webster later that evening, when Jordan took my hand and said “Well, this has been a productive day. Wrote a psych exam, got my driver’s license, got engaged, went to Peavey Mart…”

I laughed. A productive day, indeed.

And now I cannot wait to keep adding to this story; to add to the adventures and memories and moments with Jordan, for the rest of my days.

The story continues every day, but a whole new chapter begins December 20, 2014, when I get to marry the most amazing man I’ve ever known.

My cup overflows.
<3

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Why You Should Shave Your Legs For You (And Not For Your ER Nurse)

While reading this, please keep in mind that it’s 0630 after a night shift. I’ve had a solid two hours of sleep in the last 24 hours so please don’t judge me if I ramble.

You know, sometimes being awake in the wee hours of the morning makes me ponder things.

Tonight, I was pondering the many, many comments I get from from community members, patients, and patients’ families about ER staff and personal hygiene.

Not the staff’s personal hygiene, mind you.

The patient’s personal hygiene.

By now you may be confused.

Let me explain, in the form of a story…

Once upon a time (the day before yesterday), I met a patient, and the patient’s daughter. Let’s call her Sue.

Sue’s mom was under my care for a little while, and during that time we discussed a variety of different topics, and somewhere along the way the subject of leg hair came up.

“Don’t mind my hairy legs” says Sue’s mom.

“Ha! You should see mine.” Says I.

“Winter is coming.” says Sue’s mom. “I need to stay warm!”

“Absolutely! Otherwise you might freeze.” Agrees I.

Sue sat and stared at me.

I smiled.

“So much for shaving my legs in case I have to go to emergency.” says Sue.

I laughed.

That’s not the first time I’ve heard a comment like that, and I really doubt it’ll be the last.

See, somewhere along the way patients labelled ER staff with a stigma.

The stigma says that we staff have a total aversion to hairy legs, hairy armpits, hairy chests, mismatched underwear, socks with holes in them, or dirty boots.

The stigma says that if we are performing CPR on you, and all of a sudden happen to notice any of the above, we’ll immediately stop.

We’ll step back.

Throw up our hands.

“That’s it!”

We’ll say.

“I’m not saving this person’s life anymore! Their legs haven’t been shaved in a week.”

And we’ll walk away. Wander down the hall. Wash our hands.

Ha. Yeah right.

Sorry, Sue, and all the other patients out there…

If you have hairy legs, or hairy armpits, or a hairy chest, or mismatched underwear, or socks with holes in them, or dirty boots,
we actually won’t stop saving your life in disgust of your body hair or your choice of style.

We’ll actually just ignore it and focus on what really matters: airway, breathing, and circulation.

Yes, we promote personal hygiene.

Yes, we appreciate someone who smells nice.

But no, we will not judge based on if your socks match, or if you just came in from the worksite, or if it’s been two weeks since you scraped a razor over those shins.

So, my tip of the day is, shave those legs because YOU want to shave your legs… not because you feel you need to have perfectly shaved legs (or clean shoes, or matching underwear), in order to impress us.

Trust me, it takes a lot more than perfectly shaved legs to impress us.

life is good. crazy… but good.

Alright, I’ll admit it. Lately, I have stunk at blogging. In the words of the Grinch… “Stink, Stank, Stunk!”

But,  I’ll have you know that it wasn’t for lack of interesting things to blog about.

My last post was innnn….. May?
Let’s start there.

May: Spent the month in Cambodia, running village clinics with the bomb-diggity-est team of people ever. Flew to Korea. Travelled to Korea for a day. Flew to Hawaii. Spent a week in Hawaii re-capping all of that six-month medical missions adventure. Flew to a different island of Hawaii. Reunited with a future sister-in-law (although that wasn’t confirmed quite yet ;) ), vacationed.

June: Vacationed in Hawaii for two weeks. Flew home. Reunited with Canada after six months away. Swung on the swings and laid on the grass at my old elementary school with three of my best girls and just soaked it in. Flew to Montreal to see the handsomest, most amazing man I know (also known as, my future fiancé, although that wasn’t confirmed quite yet ;) ), and ventured around the city with him for a week. Flew home. Laid low for a while. Drove tractor and baler. Made a few hundred bales. Went to a wedding. Visited people.

July: Laid low for a while. Drove tractor and baler. Made a few hundred bales. Went to a wedding. Visited people. (see a theme here?) Worked as a camp nurse for a week. Drove tractor and baler. Applied for jobs. Washed my car. It rained. Had a job interview.

August: Picked up the handsomest, most amazing man I know (also known as, my future fiancé, although that wasn’t confirmed quite yet ;) ) at the airport. Tried on some bridesmaid dresses for my other future sister-in-law’s wedding (which was confirmed! still is ;) ). Visited people. Went on a date. Got 14 free nursing textbooks. Had some pizza. Got kidnapped by a wild group of girl campers. Thrown in a water pool. Thrown in the back of an ATV. Tied to a tree. Rescued by a wild group of war-painted boy campers, led by the handsomest, most amazing man I know. He got down on one knee. Got engaged. Played some soccer. Laid low for a while. Had a birthday. Visited some people. Had a job interview. Got hired. Simultaneously hiked a mountain and had engagement photos taken. Dropped off the handsomest, most amazing man I know (also known as, my future fiancé, which was confirmed! still is ;) ) at the airport. Realized August had only been around for 17 days. Realized it was one crazy month. Bought a wedding dress. Started working full time. Baked some cookies. Visited my pregnant friend. Visited some other people.

September: Continued working full time. Slept. Hung blackout curtains. Slept. Took blackout curtains down. Continued working full time. Made some Skype calls. Went to a wedding. Visited people. Laid low for a while. Read a good book. Continued working full time. Took a course to save tiny people’s lives. Visited some people. Continued working full time.

Aaaaand now it’s October.

Oh, my life.

No wonder I’m tired.

My apologies for not carrying through on promises made, like “I’ll post more once we get back to Kona and my life isn’t strewn all over my hotel room,” or “I’ll have to blog about that later!” or “It’s a long story… I’ll write a blog about it.”

Maybe someday I will write about those things. Then again, maybe I’ll tell them to you in person over a good pair of chai lattes.
For now, I’m going to go drink some egg nog and eat a cookie and read a book (I’ve got three or four on the go at the moment) and go to bed.

And I will leave you with this:

My life has been a seriously-amazing-crazy sort of crazy over the last few months. But I’ve come to realize, as Grace Hopper and/or John Shedd said, ” A ship in port is safe; but that is not what ships are built for. Sail out to sea and do new things.” And the thing about being a ship out of harbor and out of my comfort zone is that no matter where I go, not matter what comes, I have an Anchor that will never let me go (Hebrews 6:19) and for that I am more thankful than ever before.

Peace and blessings.

Jenn

 

Outreach Week Eight: The Grand Finale

And just like that…. outreach is done.

Did all of that really just happen?!

Our team spent week eight continuing to drive all over Cambodia (mostly to the south, to Kampot and Kap, right near the Gulf of Thailand), continuing our ministry in villages running clinics, children’s ministry, and health teaching. We also were given the opportunity to visit two orphanages, and were so blessed to spend time with the little ones there.

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(Medical check-ups were a frequent part of village clinics! This little one at a clinic a few weeks ago was so adorable. I remember wishing I had a photo of this moment and then lo and behold, somebody got one. :)

During our travels we also visited several churches and a couple schools, one of which was established in the middle of a slum. The day we went to that school was a really, really hard one for me; I have an incredible story about a little baby and his mom that I cannot wait to share with you… but it’ll have to wait until I’m not so jet-lagged and my stuff isn’t strewn all over the room. A girl has to have priorities. ;)

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(The area surrounding one of the schools we visited. Tough to see, and even tougher to meet some of the patients and see the circumstances they lived in and their resultant health problems.)

I remember learning in nursing school about the 12 health determinants, or circumstances that affect a person’s health, for better or for worse. This definitely put a whole new meaning to the determinants of “income and social status,” “physical environment,” “employment and working conditions,” and “healthy child development.”

In addition to doing some more nursing, I also got the chance to “intern” a bit with my favourite pharmacist! Bless is from South Korea and has an incredible heart for the hurting, as well as a lot of knowledge about so many things, including medicine. She’s taught me so much! And, I admire her ability to provide patient education in Khmer… “muey-grab, bee-grab…” and her love for every patient who came through her pharmacy. :)

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(Bless and I set up the pharmacy in front of the stage in one of the churches we visited.)

In the midst of a long week, we were blessed with a day off, and I was part of  a group who traveled to Bokor Mountain, close to Kampot and a beautiful drive and view! It was so refreshing to be in the midst of the mountain air, touch some clouds, see some beautiful fog, and enjoy the scenery and fresh air.

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(Near the top of Bokor Mountain. B-e-a-u-t-i-f-u-l.)

Our team’s eight update can be found here (Outreach Update Week 8) for your perusing pleasure!  Many more details and photos of our last week of outreach in Cambodia.

Our team has now arrived in Kona again safe and sound after two red-eye flights in a row sandwiching a 14-hour layover in Seoul. So thankful that all of our luggage made it intact, and that even though we almost missed a bus, had some trouble checking people in and working out visa information, not a single flight was delayed and no other complications with travel! As Casey would say, PTL. ;)
I’ll be blogging more on our last few days spent in Cambodia to debrief our adventures there and what we have seen God do in us and through us these past two months, as well as a bit about our time in South Korea for the day!

Our next few days will be full of debriefing with our team and also the rest of our Medical DTS group, who spent the last two months in Iraq and Israel for their outreach, then will be packing and graduating!

What a journey it has been.

But all in all, I’m so, so glad that it happened. Thank you, Lord, for being such a good God and a faithful Father.

Looking forward to seeing you soon!

Jenn

Outreach Week Seven: There And Back Again

Now I know how a nomad feels.
Or maybe like a hobbit on a grand adventure, looking forward to the return home (hence the Tolkein reference above, heehee).

Safe to say, week seven was a little bit exhausting.
See, Cambodia is a beautiful country. And it’s been so amazing to be able to see so much of it… but packing and moving and unpacking and packing and moving is getting a little bit tiring.

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(A map of Cambodia for a bit of a reference for all of these travels!)

This week saw us travelling first 5 hours from Phnom Penh northwest to Kampong Thom, where we stayed for one night and ran two clinics at local villages.
We then packed up again, drove another 3 hours northeast to Preah Vihear, a BEAUTIFUL area where we were blessed to stay at a gorgeous guest house and ran a clinic right in a health center. So blessed by our accommodations!

Our travels then took us south to Kampong Cham, a gorgeous city right along the Mekong River, where we stayed for three nights and first enjoyed a day off, renting bicycles for $2 and riding around the city and then across a rather sketchy bamboo bridge to an island village right in the middle of the river!

It was so much fun to be out in the open air and enjoy the sunshine, even if it meant paying for it with a sunburn and a whole lot of sweat!

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(Bamboo bridge connecting Kampong Cham to the island village we visited. No large vehicles are allowed on the bridge, only mopeds, bicycles, or pony-drawn carts. I will never forget bicycling along, avoiding little piles of pony poop, and being passed by mopeds driving wayyy too fast as the bridge creaked and groaned. Not sure if I’d ever prayed that hard in my life! But yes, Mom, I made it safe and sound. ;)

When we were planning our outreach, there were many options presented to us for our time here in Cambodia. When reading all the options over, I really, really felt drawn to visiting villages and running clinics there. It was one of those things I’d never done before, but felt would agree with my heart. And, oh, how I love it. The people I have met and the experiences I have encountered have left such a mark on me. I love that nursing is nursing, and people are people, whether they’re in a bamboo hut in the middle of a Cambodian forest or in a hospital bed in a northern Alberta ER. This is my passion.

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(Wound care in the middle of a village, surrounded by palm and fruit trees, a captive audience, my shoes covered with dirt, and my patient sitting on a wooden bed frame covered with a woven mat. I’ll miss this! Once I’m home, ask me about this lady… it’s quite the story! There are more pictures of her arm… but definitely not for the faint of heart. ;) )

After a couple more clinics in the Kampong Cham area, we packed up again and drove a few hours south, back to Phnom Penh, completing our first loop of village tours during our last few weeks here.

Week Eight (soon to be blogged, as I’m a bit behind…) saw us travelling wayyyy south to the city of Kampot and then to the village of Kep, eventually ending up only 12 km from the Vietnam border before returning to Phnom Penh! I feel like I’ve been all over this country… backpack and stethoscope and all.

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(The sunset view from one of our guest houses in Phnom Penh… absolutely breathtaking.)

For more on the happenings of our week, check out our team’s update here (Outreach Update Week 7). Full of more photos and lots of information on our travels and experiences!

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(Before hitting the road in Kampong Cham, I snuck off to a fruit market and bought some delicious lychee. Only $2 a kilogram… I couldn’t really say no!)

For an authentic ” Cambodian road trip” experience… have a little listen to some of what I’ve been playing while on our many bus travels! I’ve discovered Josh Garrels, and I don’t think I’ll ever go back. ;)
Josh Garrels – Rise

Though they may surround me like lions 
And crush me on all sides 
I may fall, but I will rise 
Not by my might, or my power, or by the strength of swords 
Only through, your love, my Lord

Take courage sons, for we must go under
The heart of darkness, and set them free
But don’t lose heart when you see the numbers
There’s no measure for, the faith we bring
It’s given us, to overcome
If we run, where the spirit calls us on
The greatest things, have yet to come
With the dawn, we will rise

Stay tuned for next week’s update… the last one of outreach! Good grief… where has the time gone?

Praise God with me for seeing His heart and His blessings during my time here. He has given me such strength and so much of His love and compassion for the Cambodian people! His resources are indeed so limitless. :)

<3

Love, Jenn

Outreach Week Six: On The Move

A green and yellow 25-seater bus. Rice three times a day. Bamboo huts and plastic chairs.  Gummy bear vitamins sandwiching albendazole tablets.  Tuberculosis patients. Tuk tuk rides. Finding oatmeal cookies in a tiny mart on a muddy street. Three different guest houses in four days. Hand-washing laundry in a sink the size of a juice jug. 
Put it all together, and what do you have?

Oh, just another week of outreach.


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(All packed up! My trusty backpacks are getting a lot of use lately as we are moving a lot these days, typically every two or three nights we travel to a different part of Cambodia. Tiring, but so neat to see different parts of the country!)

Our week saw us travelling first to the south west of Cambodia to several different villages, running clinics and learning from two local men about their ministries and their dreams for the villages they live in. I was blessed to meet some incredible people, including patients, translators, contact people, and even a fellow Canadian who works with YWAM and actually knows some people from Fort St. John. So cool. :)

One of our contacts was a young man who was a tuk tuk driver in Phnom Penh, saving for his future with one tuk tuk ride at a time, when he drove for some mission teams and started asking them questions with his limited English. They taught him some English, introduced him to Jesus, and got him connected with a church. Nobody in his family had ever been a Christian, and he was curious as to why these foreigners would come to another country to serve Cambodians.

Fast-forward six years.

Over time, that young man became a Christian, sold his tuk tuk to pay for a YWAM DTS, moved back to his village, started a school for local kids, and began to pour his life out for his family, his village, and the Lord.

Within a year of starting his ministry and school, 25 people in his community became believers.

Since then, he has built two churches, an even bigger school, a group home for boys, a coconut oil business for community members to work in, and has plans for a mercy clinic and university in the village as well. So many people in his family are believers, and they have been so blessed and prosperous.

All because of one man’s curiosity and subsequent obedience to the call of God.

He has an amazing story, and it was such a blessing to spend time with him and his family this week, and run clinics at two villages he works in, to bless the people there and provide some sort of  basic health services that they otherwise have to travel hours to access.

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(Me and that young man’s grandmother – and in the background, one of the huts we ran our clinic in. She literally glowed with joy. When our team pulled up to her place to run a clinic, she met us at the van door with huge hugs and a big smile, and never stopped grinning at us the whole morning. Even though she didn’t speak a word of English, communicating with my limited Khmer taught me that she was so sweet and had such a lovely heart.)

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(The view from one of the villages we visited. Ahh, mountains. How I have missed you. :) All that was missing was a cow or two to have the stereotypical “Cambodia” photo.)

This week we also began a new chapter of outreach, ministry with a fellow named Phillip, a Korean man who with his wife Grace pastors a church and runs a sort of group home in Phnom Penh for young Cambodians from faraway villages to come and stay while studying university.

We’ll be travelling all around Cambodia with Phillip quite a bit over the next two weeks, travelling to the villages of his students!  It’s so neat to get to know the students (studying medicine, midwifery, nursing, and seminary/bible teaching), and then get to see their roots and meet their families.

For more information about our ministry here, check out our team’s update here ( Outreach Update Week 6 ) as it contains more photos and information about our adventures in Cambodia!

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(The view out the back of our tuk tuk of the traffic congestion in Phnom Penh. It’s definitely a good place to hold tight onto your bag, and to look both ways a few times before crossing the street!)

It’s hard to believe that there are only two weeks left in this beautiful country; our time here has just flown!

Praise God with me for an incredible burst of energy, enthusiasm, and joy this week! Somebody out there must be praying for that for me, so thank you. It made a huge difference in my ministry and in my heart. :)
Please pray for me to finish the race well (2 Timothy 4:7) and to keep my eyes and my faith fixed on Jesus as outreach starts to come to a close.

Thanks so much for your encouragement and your prayers! Looking forward to hearing from you. :)
Jenn

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(Welcome to outreach in Cambodia, “elephant pants” and Mekong River and all. :) )

Outreach Week Five: Here, There, and Everywhere

I know I probably say this every week… but what a week it has been.

This week saw me hugging tiny Cambodian children, teaching about hand-washing and tooth-brushing to a group of little ones, examining infected skin wounds and enlarged lymph nodes, washing lice-ridden hair, teaching CPR to a group of staff, walking through a red light district in Phnom Penh not once, not twice, but several times, getting my nails done at a salon that teaches women sustainable skills to get them out of prostitution, and teaching about breastfeeding in a tiny church in the middle of a slum area.

This week was fast and furious, but God really poured hope and strength into me when I was overwhelmed, filled me with refreshment and rest when I needed it most, provided me beyond what I could imagine, and taught me so much about waiting on Him.

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(Teaching a tiny little Cambodian girl how to write the letter “I” during English classes at her preschool program. She was much more interested in scribbling. We compromised. ;) )

I got to tap into my heart for knowledge, emergency nursing, and health care by teaching a basic CPR course for several staff members who work with a ministry in a red light district in Phnom Penh. It was so much fun! They were such excellent students, full of joy and enthusiasm for learning. And it was good to brush up on my own CPR skills! Gotta stay up on that, after four months away from the ER.

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(Amazing how easy it was to teach something so familiar to me! And I was sure thankful for those many, many CPR classes I had to take for nursing school! Sure is a lifesaver here. Har, har. :P )

My week ended with a wonderful day off on Saturday to spend several hours with just my journal and some music and some sunshine, catching up on all my thoughts and all the action over the last little bit! A few of us also went to the Russian Market here in Phnom Penh (strange name, I know, but apparently Russians used to live there. Who knew?!), where we browsed the stalls and enjoyed the chance to see some local culture, make some new friends at a pottery stall, drink the acclaimed best iced coffee in the city, and snag some good deals.

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(Tapping into my “Nurse Jenn” side at a clinic this week, seeing patients and preparing medicine, in this case for a pregnant momma almost 6 months along! Such a wonderful experience.)

If you’re interested, check out our team’s update here (Outreach Update Week 5). It contains a few more photos, more intel on the happenings of our week, and was even written by yours truly. :)

Thanks for your encouragement, lovely people. I miss you!
Pressing into Jesus to finish well for these last three weeks in Cambodia,

Jenn

Outreach Week Four: Khmer New Year, Kids, and Clinics

What a week! Full of clinics and village kids and cleaning and finding out new ways to love people and traditional Khmer dancing and saying goodbye to the sweetest puppies and the sweetest people in Siem Reap as we finished up our week there and planned the remainder of our outreach in Phnom Penh.

This week some of the highlights included seeing traditional Khmer dancing and music at the Angkor National Museum, as part of the Khmer New Year celebrations, put on by the young ladies and young men at a local orphanage. I met my new friend, Neat (in yellow below) at a local cafe and she and I and Dani (one of my teammates) became fast friends as we got to know each other! I’ll sure miss her and her sweet smile!

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  Another highlight was getting to attend an Easter service at a local church! Easter is not a holiday nationally celebrated in Cambodia, so it was so strange (for the first time in my life) not to see Easter bunnies in the stores or dye eggs before Easter Sunday or hear anything about the Easter story other than within our own team. So going to church and hearing a message in English (no translation!) and singing songs I actually knew just made my heart swell. Thank you, Jesus, for your sacrifice for us and for your resurrection – You are Lord, no matter where we are! So good.

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(Easter service with a Scottish pastor… sitting next to people from Cambodia, France, Germany, Austria, New Zealand, the Philippines, Africa, America, and many other countries. Truly a multicultural experience! 

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(myself, Priscille from France, Dani from Germany, and Rosie from Austria all dressed up for Easter Service! Love these ladies!)

I also tried something new at a clinic this week, becoming a pharmacist in training! We try to rotate roles in our clinics so this was my day to take care of the pharmacy along with Casey. It’s not all that high tech… or pretty… but it is the best pharmacy we’ve got and we love it. :)

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(Pharmacy station while Charm, our team doctor, sees patients in the background with our friend Nary translating)

This week we are back in Phnom Penh, where we will be until the end of outreach in just one month. Time is flying, but we’re glad to be here!
Here is our latest update from our team (Outreach Update Week 4) . I’m hoping to post another blog this week about how missionary life and I are getting along… so stay tuned for that :)

Hope to hear from you soon!
Jenn

Outreach Week Three: Cockroaches, and Cold Showers

Okay, I have to say that this week I encountered some of the “not so nice” things about living in a more tropical country.
But I’m also proud to say that I squared off with a rat… and lost. Or won? I’m not sure, since he was the one who scurried away.
I’m also proud to say that I was not eaten by the massive tarantula that scuttled out from under a chair during one of our clinics, and I am forever grateful to one of our brave translators, Kimlang, who killed said tarantula with a broom… and tried to ignore a second tarantula who hung  around the entire day on the wall above my head.

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(My girl Casey and I with our faithful translators, Rany (L) and Kimlang (R) . They were fantastic translators for the two of us at many a nursing station over the past two weeks!

I also got to meet the biggest cockroach I’ve ever seen, take a shower with a proper showerhead (cold water is THE BEST thing to beat the heat here!), visit an orphanage where some new friends of mine live, see the famous Angkor Wat and surrounding ancient ruins and temples, cuddle some two-week-old puppies here on base, meet and get up close and personal with an elephant, and play Settlers of Catan in a five-star hotel’s restaurant area.

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(Sunrise at Angkor Wat before a full day of adventuring)

It’s been a busy week, but we’re quickly realizing that outreach itself is busy, and goes by quickly. After all, “three weeks down, five to go” means that this coming week is “hump week” or the infamous “halfway” mark. I’m praising God for what He’s already done in me and through me in Cambodia so far, and am looking forward to the good things He’s going to do in the coming weeks as well.

Here’s our team update for this week (Outreach Update Week 3), which includes more photos and highlights. Enjoy!

In addition to what’s listed in the update, I would really, really appreciate your prayers for me, for energy and encouragement. We learned early in the lecture phase of our DTS that “our ministry flows from our intimacy with God” so I’d been trying to be intentionally making time with the Lord to continue to build my relationship with Him. However, among other challenges this week, with the sometimes hectic schedule of outreach plus being with the team 24/7 and the heat causing a lack of energy, it was challenging to find time or energy for what I like to call “introvert time.” I’m glad to say that things are improving in that area, but I could certainly use some prayer warriors on my side for this :)

I’d love to hear from you! We occasionally find a cafe with wifi and reading your updates from home always making me smile.

‘Til next time… keep fit and have fun!
(Bonus points if you know where that phrase is from, heehee)
Love, Jenn

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