When Hope Berg flew into Oklahoma City last week after spending several months in West Africa, she had to contend with plenty of reverse culture shock.
Seeing the city under a sheet of ice didn't help.
Berg, 26, returned Friday after spending nine months working with Mercy Ships, a global charity that sends hospital ships to provide medical care in poor and underdeveloped areas. Having been back for nearly a week, Berg said reintegrating herself into her life in Oklahoma City has been tougher than she expected.
“It's just been since Friday, so I've only cried like five times,” she said with a laugh.
While working with the group, Berg, a registered nurse, worked in Congo and Guinea. The ship had a relatively small medical staff for the service it provided. So on one day, Berg might have been assigned to orthopedics, and on the next day, she could have found herself doing laundry.
“You have to be very flexible,” she said.
Berg got involved with the group while she was working as a nurse at Integris Baptist Medical Center. She didn't feel like she was where she was supposed to be, she said. So she began praying for insight.
For a while, at least, that insight didn't come. She applied to programs at a few orphanages in Central and South America. But then one day, she was sitting in a park when a little girl came up to her.
Berg chatted with the girl, asking her about school. The girl told her she was homeschooled because her parents were missionaries in Brazil. Berg told the girl that she was interested in mission work, and the girl took her to speak with her parents.
The girl's father told Berg about Mercy Ships, and immediately Berg knew it was the right fit, she said. So she went home and filled out an application, and two months later, she was on a plane to Conakry, Guinea.
As she piled into the Humvee that drove her to the ship, Berg sensed God telling her that she was where she was supposed to be, and she could expect to stay there for a while, she said.
It's really amazing to watch, but it also worries you.”