Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Moments of thankfulness...

A good friend of mine, who I met in Sierra Leone, has been an inspiration to me for a number of years now. She was full of smiles and encouragement. She loved to laugh and have a good time. Even after she was diagnosed with cancer a few years ago, she kept a positive outlook on life. She used to laugh at my blog posts, especially the ones about the challenges of living in Sierra Leone, and say how it made her more grateful. She introduced me to the book “One thousand gifts” by Ann Voskamp and shared about the importance of embracing a lifestyle of gratitude. The last time we spoke, as she was packing up to go back to Canada for good, she gave me her copy of the book. I still read it often and remember Jen’s smile and I continue to be inspired to live a life of gratitude. It's not easy, and I still complain a lot, but I am trying!

In 2014, at the start of the Ebola outbreak, I decided to write down something I was thankful for every single day, for a year. I did this so that I would have a little bit of reflection time everyday and focus on the positive things in life during a very challenging time. My initial month of postings can be found here: The first 30 days of thankfulness...

This past Christmas, I was reminded of the importance of being grateful at all times and was once again inspired to create a list of gratitude. It’s in these very moments of thankfulness that we experience beauty, peace and grace.

Here are my moments of thankfulness in January 2018:
  1. I went on my first walk on the beach in 2018 - thankful for my parents & beach walks.
  2. I’m not crazy about going to the dentist but I am thankful for good dental care in The Netherlands.
  3. Thankful for slumber parties with my niece & teddy bears.
  4. Thankful for freshly baked stroopwafels - yum.
  5. Thankful for grapes, blueberries and strawberries - oh how I will miss you.
  6. Thankful to go on a city walk in Middelburg - tourist in my own city & for hot chocolate and apple pie.
  7. Thankful for an amazing missions weekend at church - inspiring, encouraging and such a blessing!
  8. Baking with one of my nieces is always fun - thankful for time with Zoey & making blueberry muffins.
  9. Thankful for time spent with my mom and sister - I will miss family.
  10. Yay. I’m back in Sierra Leone and very thankful for a safe and smooth return.
  11. Thankful that day 1 in the clinic went well, even though I was on my own since my colleague is sick. 
  12. I was thankful it was Friday :)
  13. Thankful to spend time with an amazing Dutch/Ghanaian family here.
  14. 38 years ago my parents left the Netherlands and moved onto the M/V Anastasis. I was 2 years old. I’m thankful for their courage and perseverance and the amazing childhood I had.
  15. Thankful to connect with an MPH classmate through WhatsApp- it’s nice to be connected a bit more since we don’t have face-to-face classes.
  16. Thankful to start up the Kroo Bay clinic again. Sadly our first patient was critical and died at the Children’s hospital 12 hours later. A stark reminder of the need for the clinic.
  17. Thankful to see all of my friends at Bible Study.
  18. Thankful to see Abubakar and Mbalu again - they finally passed the 5kg mark this week. Hurray for growth.
  19. Thankful for an amazing team at work and thankful that we completed all of the staff reviews today.
  20. Thankful for time at River 2 beach with friends to escape work and study!
  21. Thankful for the international church group.
  22. Thankful I survived 2x8 min of running 😉
  23. Thankful for electricity after not having it all evening/night on Monday.
  24. Thankful for tea and chocolate!
  25. Thankful I survived a 20 min non-stop run.
  26. Thankful for quality time with a friend and trying Gigibonta’s pizza for the first time.
  27. Thankful for a games night with friends - we were so close to saving the world too...maybe next time.
  28. Thankful for a Sunday afternoon beach walk with Suzanne - it had been a while.
  29. Despite a very challenging case at work today I am thankful to be able to support the patient’s family through the child’s illness and the difficult situation they are in.
  30. Thankful to have submitted another individual assignment for my MPH.
  31. Thankful that a plant I’ve been watering back to life for the past week has green leaves shooting up today - it’s a great symbol of new beginnings.
#momentsofthankfulness #somuchtobegratefulfor #embracingalifestyleofgratitude #thankfulness #bethankful #thanksgiving #January2018 #2018makeitcount #alwaysanadventure #actjustlylovemercywalkhumbly

Thursday, January 11, 2018

It’s 2018 and I’m back in Sierra Leone after a cold but fun two week break in The Netherlands with family. I wonder what this year has in store for me. I have some hopes and dreams but I also have many questions and things to ponder. Don't we all. Some of these dreams I’ve had for a very long time...

So, 2018. What will this year hold? Am I the only one who never seems to know what I want in life? “When I grow up I want to be a...” Wait a minute I am grown up. Well, there are days that I really don’t know what I want in life and I don’t feel very grown up at all. The good thing is, we never have to have it all figured out. 

What I do know is that right now, I’m in the right place, doing the right thing. And I’m trusting that if I need to head in a different direction at some point, it will be made clear - I will know when to move on and where to move on to. For now, I am staying put. And trusting God. 

Life is busy. Work is busy. There’s an abundance of disease and never a shortage of patients. Today on my first day back I was in the clinic on my own. Seeing 54 patients. There were a surprising number with malaria and a lot with gastroenteritis. One child tested positive for HIV, while another had to be reminded of the importance of taking preventative medication due to his sickle cell disease. There’s never a dull moment. And, just to keep me on my toes, last month I started a distance learning Masters in Public Health. Yes, it’s busy. 

Let’s see where 2018 takes me...

#2018makeitcount #alwaysanadventure #actjustlylovemercywalkhumbly #sierraleone

~ Act Justly. Love Mercy. Walk Humbly. micah 6:8 ~