What I'm Doing on My Summer Vacation: Mercy Ships

August 4, 2013

Tammy Johnson, http://tamtamsadventures.blogspot.com/
This week I have the privilege of highlighting Tammy Johnson, my brother's sister-in-law. Jake (my brother) married into an incredible family who have been involved in a variety of missionary work locally and abroad for decades. 

Tammy is continuing on her family's missional tradition with an organization called Mercy Ships. 

As I did the research for writing this particular post, I cried (probably not terribly surprising for those of you who know me well). Get out your tissues for this one, folks! 

What are you doing?
Until about a month ago, Tammy was a pediatric nurse in the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit at Children's Hospital in Los Angeles. 

Tammy left her job to team up with an organization called Mercy Ships. What is Mercy Ships? They have floating hospitals staffed with volunteer medical professionals that bring state-of-the-art health care to developing nations. These ships are completely self-contained, so they are able to provide care to places without reliable access to clean water or the basic infrasructure needed to support a hospital. 

The ship Tammy will be on has 68 hospital beds, making it the largest civilian hospital ship in the world.  She will board August 23rd and will spend the next 10 months serving as a Pediatric Intensive Care Unit nurse in the Republic of Congo. She will primarily be working with patients after they have had face and neck surgeries, such as cleft lip/palate repair and benign tumor removal.

Their website states: "Since 1978 Mercy Ships has performed services valued at more than $1 billion, impacting more than 2.35 million people directly during more than 575 port visits in 54 developing nations and 18 developed nations . . . and still counting!"

"Every year, 6 million vulnerable children die from preventable diseases such as malaria, diarrhea and pneumonia.  One child in eight will die before age 5. The challenge is enormous, but don’t let the statistics numb you. Every number has a name, a face and a story.  And they will break your heart."

Because images speak a thousand words, I've included just one video from dozens on their site that I thought gave a glimpse into the adventure Tammy is about to embark upon. It is only a minute long and was one of the best spent minutes of my day.

Why did you start? 
Tammy first learned of an organization called Mercy Ships while in nursing school. 

"I looked into it when I first finished school, but they required 2 years nursing experience. After I had 2 years experience, I started to pursue serving with them again, but they were in a transition time between the previous ship and the current ship, Africa Mercy. So, I decided to pursue pediatric nursing and move to Los Angeles." 

During her time in Los Angeles, Tammy joined the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit (CTICU) at the Children's Hospital. 

"I worked in the CTICU for 2 years, and the idea of Mercy Ships continued to stay with me. So, this last spring I decided to go for it and completed the application. I was accepted, and I made the decision to resign from my current job, to be able to go for the full 10 month service in the Republic of Congo." 

Want to get involved?

If you want to continue to follow Tammy (and you should because she is funny and sweet) on her adventure, she has a blog.  

If you want to support Tammy, click here

If you want to watch more videos about the work of Mercy Ships, click here. Some of these videos are pretty graphic in terms of showing debilitating conditions and deformities prior to treatment -- so watcher beware - but the before and after photos are AMAZING. Lives are being transformed, there is no doubt. 

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