In 35 days I will be across the ocean. In 35 days I will be doing something that was never in my plan for this year. In 35 days I will begin a new adventure that God has been preparing for me since before I was created.
For those of you who know me, I am a planner. When I was in middle school, I decided I wanted to graduate high school with an associates degree. Years later I am preparing to graduate in a little less than a month with about a year and a half of college courses completed (which has given me a huge head start on nursing). Last fall, I planned to attend Blue Ridge in the fall of 2019 for nursing while participating in JMU’s co-enrollment program. this would allow me to graduate only three years later with my BSN. In 2021, I would graduate from BRCC and could work at the hospital as an RN, and a year later, I would graduate from JMU with my BSN. Then, I would work for a hospital in the area for a couple years, maybe start a family, and be a stay at home mom until my kids were in school so I could return to nursing.
Structure makes me feel secure. Without it, or when something shifts and changes, it often scares me or stresses me out. But often, my plans can be exhausting, especially when life happens and I haven’t scheduled out the time for anything other than work and achieving my goals.
Back in November, I was sitting and talking with my mentor, Sylvia, and at that point was sharing with her how school was stressing me out, how exhausted I was becoming, and how I just needed a break. Something she repeated over and over that afternoon was something that has stuck with me since:
Time is your friend.
I had no idea what that meant at the time, honestly. A few minutes later, she asked me if I had considered taking a gap year after I graduated. I said no, because I already had everything planned out for the next five years. So, she asked me again if I had (and would) consider a gap year. All I could think when she asked was: No, I can’t. It would mess up all my plans.
But, one thing I remember so clearly is feeling of relief that filled me when she mentioned it. I felt like I had just taken my first breath of fresh air after being stuck in a hot, stuffy room for months.
As our conversation continued, she brought up Mercy Ships, a volunteer medical ship that docks off the west coast of Africa. They provide medical care to people in the area that have no, or little, access to it. The ship has provided many incredible, life-changing surgeries and has changed the lives of thousands of people.
My mom had brought it up several weeks prior to my conversation with Sylvia, and I had dismissed the idea, saying I could do it later after I had my nursing degree so I could be more useful on the ship. When Sylvia brought it up again, though, the idea stuck in my head. For a couple weeks, I thought about it and prayed about it. Finally, I went to my parents and asked them if I could look into taking a gap year and volunteering with Mercy Ships. I had so much peace about this decision despite the fact it interrupted my plans and also meant I would be an ocean away from home. (I am a home person, and even chose colleges based on how close they were to Harrisonburg because I didn’t want to leave.)
In December of 2018 I applied to serve as a Hostess from July 2019-June 2020.
Fortunately, things didn’t go quite as planned. I was contacted in February of this year and was told I was accepted for the Hostess position, but would be put on a waiting list. I wouldn’t be able to serve in July because they were already staffed. The closest to July I would be able to serve was December. So, I asked about applying for a different role. I was put on the waiting list for several other positions and was waiting to hear back when I was contacted again.
Instead of being approved for the other positions I applied for, my placement facilitator told me they were in urgent need of a Receptionist, asked if I would be interested, and asked how soon I could be available. Although it was much sooner than I expected, I let her know I would definitely be interested and would be available by the end of May.
Over the next couple months, I had many different tasks, an interview, more paperwork, and finally, on April 11, I was officially accepted for the Receptionist position. My official date of arrival on the Africa Mercy is now May 26, and I will be serving for 10 months until the end of March 2020. During my time on board, I will be serving in Guinea, visiting the Canary Islands, and then sailing to Senegal where we will be docked the remainder of the time I am onboard.
This has been such an answer to prayers. Something I have been reminded of over and over again is how eager I was as a child to serve with Mercy Ships as I raised money to help support our friend Colleen (who is a lab technician on board). The desires of our heart when we are younger do not go unnoticed by our Father. He is faithful.
I am absolutely overjoyed and extremely excited for this opportunity. God has been so good through the whole process, lining so many things up so perfectly. Blue Ridge even deferred my acceptance to the nursing program to the fall of 2020 so I will not have to reapply. I still have a lot of preparation to do in the next month and will need a lot of support through prayer, encouragement, and financial gifts.
If you’d like to hear more about Mercy Ships or what I will be doing over the next year, feel free to get in touch with me!
If you would be interested in committing to supporting me financially, I do have a fundraising page set up at: https://hscreations.net/LauriannaMercyShips
The next month is going to be crazy, and I’m extremely nervous to be leaving and to be gone for so long, but I know God has some amazing things planned for me. I am trusting His plans are better than mine. My plans may be pushed aside for a time, but the time I am investing into Mercy Ships will be worth it. After spending much of my life scrambling to find time to do everything, I now can now rest in knowing time is my friend.