We’re bringing New Mercies highlights from the past year this holiday season. So many powerful, inspirational stories have been shared — some too good to only hear once!
Today’s holiday highlight features Mercy Ships volunteer Carys Parker, who shares the impact friendship can have both in and out of the hospital.
Carys Parker first came on board the Anastasis at 6 weeks old. Growing up on hospital ships resulted in a unique childhood for Carys, whose life has been molded by the many different cultures, patients, and people she has met. One of the strongest influences on her life came from a young girl named Blessing. In a time of loneliness, Blessing became a friend to Carys, and their friendship continues to this day.
Carys’ father has been a volunteer surgeon with Mercy Ships for over 30 years. Growing up on board, Carys often wanted to be in the hospital to see what her father was doing and be with the patients. But when she was younger, Carys didn’t have the courage to visit the hospital alone, instead choosing to visit alongside her mother.
As a “ship kid,” Carys spent some years surrounded by lots of other children her age and other years where she did not have many friends around. This particular year in Liberia, Carys was without a good friend and felt lonely. Her mother noticed a patient named Blessing who was staying in the hospital. Hoping to encourage both her daughter and the young patient, Carys’ mother encouraged her to go to the hospital by herself.
“It became this story of just two little girls sitting in the hospital every day painting rocks, playing games, learning each other’s stories, and Blessing became one of my dearest friends,” Carys shared. “Her story and her perseverance healed me in so many ways and inspired me as I was facing a lack of friends and feeling a little restless on the ship.”
The girls formed a strong friendship and truly blessed each other in their time of need. Carys said, “I love that her name is Blessing because she was one of the greatest blessings for me and continues to be.”
Carys continued to visit patients in the hospital throughout her teenage years as well. Many friendships were formed, and she quickly found herself at home in the hospital. Carys recalls, “All of a sudden, I wasn’t alone. I had friends, and that’s what I loved about the hospital — they weren’t just patients. For me, they became my friends.”
The relationships that are built on board the Africa Mercy and Global Mercy are strong healing agents for homesickness, loneliness, and broken hearts.
“I think that’s really a reflection of how Mercy Ships does the work that we do. We’re not just there to do a job and get it done, but to care about the entirety of people’s story and their humanity.”
Click here to listen to Carys Parker’s full interview.