Travel

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Moving Home: Why I Loved Intermissionary

I doubt anyone noticed, but I’ve been majorly MIA for TWO whole months! Consistency on the blog during summer is a challenge because my routine is all over the place. Last summer I took an unintended blog hiatus for two months (although I wrote about culture shock and re-entry afterwards), and the same thing happened this summer. Even though I only spent one week at Intermissionary Chamonix, I’ve gotta tell you about it. Partly because I participated in the very...

Thank You Benin

I left Benin 2 months ago. It already feels like an eternity. I’ve already started to forget things. The feeling I hold on to is the one that consumed me as we pulled away from the Cotonou dock, “I have to come back here” and, “Will I ever meet people as amazing as the ones I met here?” Yes, I do… and, yes I will. I do hope to return one day, yet I know I’ll meet beautiful, inspiring people...

Choosing a New City: Things to Consider; Provocative Joy; Moving Home Series

Moving Home: Choosing a New City

I am thinking about home all the time these days! If you’re new here, you should know that I’ve been living on a ship for the past 3 years. Yes, a real ship with portholes, toilets that make loud sucking noises, and watertight sliding doors (like in Titanic). Three years and this season is coming to an end. Even though I only have two months left, I’ve done barely anything productive to prepare. I’ve spent a lot of time on...

Managing My Depression; Provocative Joy; West Africa Benin; Life Overseas

5 Essentials: Managing My Depression Overseas

Third time’s a charm This third season with Mercy Ships is the best so far. Last year was the perfect storm as lots of factors combined to make a sucky year culminating with a season of depression that lasted too long. I entered this third season back in August optimistically because it could NOT get any worse. Things HAD to improve. After my service in Madagascar came to completion, it was so much easier to see what I could have done differently to...

My Plan After Mercy Ships? Swim Upstream

Airport life these days The man at the front of the queue went up to the airport desk clerk pointing and looking toward the end of the counter. He was describing someone –a woman, red hijab, with black polka dots. Just as the clerk hopped down to look for her, she came running around the corner with two massive suitcases on wheels. At first I thought it was the man’s wife and he had lost her, but as she rejoined her pile...

Provocative Joy Ivanna Overseas Volunteering with Mercy Ships in Cotonou, Benin West Africa This is how to drop it all and just do it

Overseas Volunteering: 3 Tempting Reasons to Try It!

overseas volunteering I arrived on this ship full of energy to pour into the lives of others and I was so psyched to live abroad on a ship for a full year (although it turned into 3 years). It wasn’t a huge sacrifice for me; it was something I couldn’t wait to try. I heard so many people say, “I could never do that. I’d never be able to live far from family with no steady source of income.” I...

Venice of Africa Ganvié

The Venice of Africa: Ganvié on Stilts

An Intriguing city A journey away from my steel-box home always overwhelms me more than it should. My lack of a car, a local phone, or a sense of direction make exploring feel like a monumental task. That’s why I’m glad we didn’t wait too long before heading out to Ganvié, the lesser known Venice of Africa. Ganvié was the first Beninois attraction I hoped to visit. I’ve been reading a book called Show Me the Magic (affiliate link) written by...

Reverse culture shock: My Experience

Reverse Culture Shock: My Experience

seven weeks of home Coming home was the highlight of my year! It was awesome, especially when I only get to do it ONCE a year. It’s a necessary step back so I can see the big picture. Reverse culture shock unfortunately played a big role. When I look back, I can laugh at how ridiculous I was being. Here are a few snapshots of my time to help you understand how I experienced reverse culture shock. Where is safest?...

Missing Rochester: How I Find Peace

I confess. I want to go home. I’ve been missing Rochester, NY for months. This isn’t homesickness. Rather, it’s a desire to connect to my community and the place I call home in the deep way I do here. There are plenty of things I’m missing out on at home, but I know I’m missing those things for a good reason. I know the reward will outweigh the cost. In the end, I’ll get exponentially more than I lost. More...

The Checklist Team

The hospital opened, ward shifts have started, patients are trickling in and out as we fill a growing number of hospital beds. This is all so exciting, but there’s something else that deserves attention. A small team was sent out today to Fenerive Est, a town just north of the port city of Tamatave. Their sole task will be initiating a life-saving training for surgical teams across the country that, if understood and accepted, will literally save lives. Mercy Ships...