The day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom. Anaïs Nin
The year was 2009. Over the previous months, I'd begun to realize that my marriage was likely to end up as a cold statistic of those that do not survive the loss of a child, never mind two. Plans for a move to Australia were shaping up. My sister asked me “Joc, what do you want to do?” I didn't know. I wanted my life to return to what it had been, but that was not to be. Death is rather irrevocable that way, but surely God wanted our marriage to survive as much as I did. I had always wanted to live in another country, but could I leave the one I'd spent my entire life in? My only daughter was returning to live in Africa. The next question Rita asked: “In five years time, which will be the bigger regret—to go or to stay?” How could I know the answer; but I thought the bigger regret would come from not trying. And what did I have to lose?
My scaled down belongings for my new life were packed into three suitcases, along with a large mix of uncertainty and anticipation. My new job location, the Mount Hospital was a private hospital in Perth with eleven operating theatres. Yes, they called them theatres.
The nursing recruitment team had arranged an airport limousine pickup, and a fruit basket was delivered to the hostel ... my only address at the time. I had almost two weeks to adjust to my new surroundings and find a place to live before my first day of work.
Western Australia has the perfect mix of aqua blue skies, sunshine, white pounding waves crashing along miles of uninhabited shore; the ideal spot from which a healing journey should take place. And I was ready for the going ...
With trembling in my knees and thick with anticipation, I walked up to the private hospital on my first day. It was surprising to discover that the head nurse that interviewed me, had been let go the week before I arrived. But I had little time to focus on the political climate, as I was struggling to get my feet on the ground. I did not know a soul in this country, and no one knew mine.
I could understand why it was called the land down under, everything seemed opposite ... they drove on the wrong side of the road, you flipped the light switch up to turn it off and down to turn it on. This confused me on several occasions, but none as bad as when I turned the lights off in the middle of surgery. The Ozzie slang bears little resemblance to Canadian English. With every fiber of my being I concentrated to comprehend the surgeon's call for instruments ... it was a snap not a hemostat, a honey not a meniscus shaver. The nurses were called sisters, sistah. The Ozzies added r's to words that had no r's and words that ended with r's had them omitted. A good idea became a good idear, water became wattah. Some days were holy and religious days ... Jesus Christ was called upon so many times (in vain) I thought I should be baptized with the saline solutions that flushed our patient's knees. Some days were animal days with continual references to the Fox, (those little animals are not allowed in Canadian theatres) the surgeon was always asking what the fox is going on, or something to that nature ... it took me a week or two to understand that the fox was the Australian doctor swearing and me not understanding his accent. When I heard him talking about a fox, it was not as offensive as the swear. I had never experienced this amount of profanity in any OR I'd ever worked in. Operating rooms are stressful to begin with, but when your co-workers are not supportive, the stress increases. I had not realized when I arrived, new management was in place. (The reason the head nurse that I was interviewed by had been let go, and many staff were upset with the changes.) The environment became toxic and within months I realized I was unable to stay, but what was I to do. The nurse manager sounded threatening after a conversation in which I raised my concerns ... “you do realize that our hospital holds your immigration Visa?” she said to me. Without a job, I could not stay on in Australia. This was an incredibly difficult time ... what to do now? I'd left all behind in the hopes to make a new start here, and to take the time for healing. This was far from healing. Two things that helped: prayer and emotional support from my sisters in Canada, and the knowledge that I'd already been through some of the worst life case scenarios. God had taken care of me in the past, and I chose to believe he would again.
And what a burden lifted from me after I submitted my resignation. When I pondered “what was that all about?” My sister reminded me that the job offer was what I needed to get into the country. Since nurses were needed, the immigration officer granted me an extra year on my Visa in order to find a job. Australia turned out to be a wonderful place of healing. I met many wonderful people and learned a lot about myself. Through another nurse, I heard about Dr George O'Neil's Fresh Start clinic, a faith-based organization for people with addictions. The doors opened for me to get involved there. This was a huge learning opportunity with amazing staff. My life and moving on were bolstered by the amazing opportunity that lay in the midst of job loss.
This resurrection life you received from God is not a timid, grave-tending life. It's adventurously expectant, greeting God with a childlike "What's next, Papa?" Romans 8:15 The MSG
An update for those of you that were praying for Bella, the little girl transported emergently from N Africa ... she is out of the emergency phase, has begun a treatment program. The family will not return to N Africa for at least two years. Prayer support is still needed in this next adjustment phase. Thank-you for praying.