2017

Well it’s the new year. 2017! A time were you can make jokes about how you haven’t seen someone since last year, or you haven’t eaten since last year, or slept, or had cake, or coffee, etc. A time to begin anew. A time where you actually have a reason to stay up until midnight. And just when you get used to saying 2016, it changes on you, and now you have to get used to 2017 before 2018! The new year! As I look back on 2016 I think of all the great things that I have come upon. I left my first job after working there for a year in 2016, I volunteered for my last show at the playhouse in 2016, I applied for my first mission trip in 2016, I left home for the first time in 2016, I turned 21 in 2016, I moved to Africa, and I started working on a ship. A lot has happened in 2016, but the year is over and 2017 has started. I am thrilled to find out what happens to me in 2017. I’m learning about who I am in Christ in 2017. So glad to spend the new year with great people!

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This Christmas has been an amazing christmas. So much has happened on board. I got to experience different traditions from all over the world. I of course worked on Christmas day but we had an amazing Christmas day brunch. We had Santa Lucia, Sinter Klaus, A Christmas concert, carols by candle light, and a white elephant party.

I haven’t been out very much this month since I have been busy with work. I did go to the hope center, where they keep the patients at! And it is still nice to get out to see the patients.

Here is a story from one of our patients on December 19th.

“My name is Simone, and this is the story of my youngest child, Israel …
After thirty hours of labor and a last-minute C-section, my first son was abruptly brought into the world. But as quickly as he came in, he was taken away by the nurses because I was in such a bad condition. I continued to fight through the night. When I finally had the joy of laying eyes on my child the following day, I was shocked – I cannot tell you enough how shocked I was. My baby boy’s mouth was torn open at the top! Immediately, I fainted to the ground.

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After the nurses helped me recover, I took my son in my arms, cooing to him, admiring his eyes, and finally giving him the name we had planned on: “Israel, the victorious one.”
My husband and I began to pray and search for a solution. But after months of carrying Israel to different hospitals, we came up empty and exhausted. I did not stop praying, though.
Then one day, out of the blue, my husband heard some good news – a hospital ship, the Africa Mercy, had arrived to serve our people. I turned to look at Israel and nodded as a spark of hope ignited in my chest … I was determined to try again.
When I found out that the ship had already begun to see patients, I wasted no time in going to the screening center. With my son on my back and some food in my bag, I set out, arriving toward sunset on a Wednesday afternoon. It was too late to get in that day, so we slept outside on the ground in order to keep our spot in line. After waiting through the long hot day on Thursday, we still remained far back in the crowd. Exhausted, I laid down the same piece of cloth from the night before. Friday morning came, and the line continued to inch forward. But, as the sun dipped closer to the horizon, the gatekeeper let in the last patient for the week. Closing the metal door with an apologetic smile, he informed us we should come back on Monday.
My husband, knowing how tired I was, sent his brother to keep our place in line that night. Israel and I went home and collapsed on our bed for a few brief hours of sleep before heading back the next morning.
That entire weekend, I again kept our place in line. The hours stretched out in front of us. But when I looked at my son, Israel, I took courage – we had named him “victory” for a reason, and I felt my faith being renewed.
Finally, Monday morning arrived. I awoke from my sleep before sunrise, stretching my weary limbs and giving Israel his bottle of baby formula. As I nibbled on a few crackers, I looked again toward the front of the line – the entrance was now only three meters away. My heart jumped a little, knowing we were bound to get in that day.
Before the sun got hot, the gatekeeper let in the last people in front of us and then turned toward me and smiled. As he ushered us inside the screening center, I breathed a sigh of relief. Even though the lines inside still stretched back and forth across the courtyard, I felt we were safe. I knew that a nurse would see Israel today and that he just might – just might – receive surgery onboard the Africa Mercy.
The line moved quickly, and, before long, we were beckoned inside. Israel was examined and weighed and admired. Even with a torn mouth, he was quite a stunning baby! Then a woman in blue motioned for me to come over.
I was in suspense. Little electric twinges were coursing through my heart, and I prayed silently, “Oh, please, let this be a ‘yes.’” When I sat down in front of her, she smiled at me as if she had some secret to share. I knew then what she was about to tell me … Israel, my son, would indeed receive surgery onboard the Africa Mercy.
Onboard the hospital ship, we all prayed together before surgery. I did not stop my prayers the entire time Israel was being operated on. When he was returned safely back to my arms three hours later, I kept on staring at his mouth – no longer torn, but whole.
My son has found his first victory, and he is now a handsome boy!

Written by Anna Psiaki
(Adapted from the translated transcript of a video interview of Simone, Israel’s mother)
Edited by Nancy Predaina
Photos by Katie Callow, Miguel Ottaviano, and Timmy Baskerville
“Eight months ago, Israel was born with a torn mouth – since then we have not stopped praying and searching for a solution,” said Israel’s mother Simone.
When I first held my son in my arms, I gave him the name we had planned on … Israel, the victorious one.
We waited outside the Mercy Ships screening center.
After all the examinations were completed, a woman beckoned me over and smiled – I already knew she had good news.
We all prayed together before surgery. I did not stop my prayers the entire time Israel was being operated on.
Israel returned safely back in my arms three hours after he left for surgery. I kept on staring at his mouth – no longer torn but whole.
My son has found his first victory, and he is now a handsome boy!
To the people who support Mercy Ships, I want to sincerely thank you. Keep helping people in God’s name. If it wasn’t for your help with the arrival of Mercy Ships, I don’t know what I would have done, what my child’s future would have been. I will give thanks to the Lord for you.”

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