Quite the journey indeed! Where to start!?
I returned home in September 2012, after having spent 5 1/2 months with Youth With a Mission (YWAM) in Townsville and Papua New Guinea (PNG). Over the 3 1/2 months that I spent in PNG in different villages and with the medical ship, I have seen and had the privilege to do so many things! I had the opportunity to connect with amazing people throughout, whether it’d be a strong local women harvesting Sago (tropical starch for palm stem) or a local health worker. I had the opportunity to serve alongside PNG nationals in clinics and was amazed at how much we learned from each other. I myself gained a great deal of knowledge in tropical medicine from the local nurses, which enabled me to better care for my patients. It was these and similar experiences that confirmed to me I wanted to be involved more with the medical ship and help bring life to PNG.
“I Want to Live” is the motto for YWAM Medical Ships, one that echoes the hearts of people in PNG … and from within all of us.
So what did that mean for me? Releasing from the military, renewing my passport and visa. It also meant meeting with family and friends to share my passion and plan to work with YWAM, as well as raising support. If you knew me to be quite laid back and saw me in my last weeks prior to departure you might have sensed a little (or a lot) of stress.. here’s a little insight as to some of the things I was challenged with.
I was blessed with the quickest release from the military I’ve ever heard of (less than 3 months total) but unfortunately it was a day late for the Australian Immigration to look at it prior to the Holiday break… Meaning that it was put off to January 7th. I was scheduled to leave on the 13th.
On the 7th, they looked at my whole file and found a problem with my health exam (a blurry shadow over my right lung) and required I’d go for a 2nd chest x-ray to rule out lung pathology (they were thinking tuberculosis due to my prior trip to PNG). I called the clinic that day and got an appointment for the following day. But the results weren’t sent until two days later our 10th (Australia’s 11th; a Friday). My flight was scheduled for that Sunday and the only thing I had was a proof that they had received my 2nd x-ray and that I had met all “Health Requirements”. So I decided to leave as scheduled and pray for my visa to come through on time.
Couple highlights of my travels… how do you travel without a visa!?
I left Montreal without a valid visa for Australia, but was confident that I would receive it before I landed in Australia and had to face immigration… Fortunately enough, I received my visa before I landed in Los Angeles (first lay-over)! Also having to travel (on 5 different flights) with more luggage than I could carry (total of 5 bags; with an estimated worth of over $3600 in medical supplies for the ship)! Seeing $400 of fees for excess luggage dropped by luggage attendants/customer services personnels and the other half covered by a generous donation! (Thank you ;)
And last but not least… to get stopped at every single security check points for possession of suspicious equipment…
This is a picture of what an “X-Ray” screen of my bag would have looked like… I eventually got to a point where I would look at the security agent working the computer screen and know that my bag was being checked when his face would be suddenly distorted! “M’am what is in your bag!?….an OTO-WHAT!?” …”O-TO-SCOPE, Sir :), to look into people’s ears”. They all preferred to let me go through rather than to get their ears checked out..!
BTW…Medical professionals… I got this amazing stethoscope donated by an even more amazing friend, how awesome is she!? Looking forward to put it to good use in PNG!
I have arrived and had time to settle in a little. I have 5 amazing roommates, I have had the opportunity to reconnect with some of the friends I had made here last year, as well as to meet some awesome new people. It feels so good to finally be here, however I do miss spending time with all of you.
Thanks so much for reading, I’m glad you’re part of this journey :)