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Giving the Gift of Friendship

Dr. Brian Barki is an anesthesiologist from Oklahoma who took his wife and three children to live on board the Africa Mercy for four years. During his time volunteering, Brian met some incredible patients that left a mark on his life. From taking Funky Scrubs Friday to the next level, to learning card tricks to help lighten the mood of nervous patients, Brian gave the gifts of friendship, laughter, and life during his time on board.

In this episode Brian shares powerful stories of walking alongside a patient through their final days, celebrating an unforgettable Christmas with his mother on board, and many more moments that will uplift you.

Mercy Ships has brought hope and healing to those who need it most for over 40 years. Using hospital ships, we are able to provide safe, free surgical care to those in need and bring medical training to healthcare workers living the countries we serve.

Looking for a way to join our mission of bringing hope and healing? Partner with us through a gift, volunteering with us, or by joining us in prayer.

 

                       

New Mercies Podcast Transcript

Welcome to New Mercies a podcast by Mercy Ships, where we’ll take you behind the scenes and on board our incredible hospital ships that are transforming lives all over the world. We invite you to join us each week as we sit down with our crew, patients, volunteers, and partners to hear their stories of life-changing hope and healing.

On today’s episode, I sat down with Dr. Brian Barki. I had the privilege of first meeting Brian and his family on board the Africa Mercy when they came to visit in Senegal. So, it was fun for me to catch up with him and to hear some of his incredible stories from his time volunteering on board. I know you’re going to be blown away and blessed by what he has to share.

Raeanne Newquist:

Brian, I know that you were on the Africa Mercy with your wife and your three kids. And I really hope that in the future, we can sit down with your whole family… I would love to hear from your kids, especially their perspective, of living on a ship in West Africa for four years. So, we’ll catch up with all of them at a later date. But maybe you could give us a little teaser. What caused you to take your whole family from Oklahoma in the United States to live on a ship in West Africa. What was that like for you guys?

Dr. Brian Barki:

I have no other explanation than God prompting us to do it because it made absolutely no sense. You know, I had a great job. We had a wonderful house, a wonderful church, great friends, you know, I’d finally finished all my training… And it was like, Okay, now it’s time to settle down and live the American dream. I just got this unsettled feeling, and Jamie, my wife, did as well, that we were supposed to be doing something else. And it’s a super long story that I won’t get into now. But the short of it is, the main point is, it was God prompting us to go, and nothing else made sense. But we’ve discovered that following God is always the right thing to do.

Raeanne:

That’s incredible. I’m sure your kids have some great stories to tell.

Dr. Barki:

They can talk about their time on the ship and leading up to the ship.

Raeanne:

Well, we’ll look forward to hearing from them in the future. But today, we want to hear from you. You are an anesthesiologist. And you spent four years, but you’ve gone back after your four years of service to volunteer. I know we saw you in Senegal as an anesthesiologist… tell us a little bit about your role on board.

Dr. Barki:

So, I was the anesthesia supervisor. And so in that role, I was kind of tasked with staffing, the anesthesiologist, and the anesthesia assistants for the field service so that we’d have the appropriate staff and that we had the right people coming and the right mix of alumni and new crew. And my role there was really to guide people through these surgeries. And we have tremendous volunteers that are experts in their field, but when they come on a hospital ship, things are different. The equipment’s different, the medicine looks a little different, the patients are definitely different, and their pathology is very different.

And so, I’m kind of there to just welcome them, orient them, and give them some guidance and you know, a helping hand as they help take care of our patients. But along the way, you know, I get to work with people from all around the world. So, it wasn’t me just guiding them, I got to learn from people, from experts all around the world. And so, it was an incredible experience for me.

Raeanne:

Oh, wow, kind of a once-in-a-lifetime type thing. You probably don’t get that kind of exposure in the hospital that you work in now in Oklahoma.

Dr. Barki:

Not at all. You know, we have our hospital in Oklahoma, we have a great group. But you know, it’s a core group that changes, it does change, but it changes slowly. Versus on the ship, we have new people coming to the ship literally every week. And so, I was orienting people every week, which you would think should never work. You know, that would not work in a hospital or any organization in quote, “real life”. But by the grace of God, it works on the ship. And it’s great because you’ve got the stability of some long-term people, but you’ve got the fresh energy of new people coming on board every week. And people might say, “It must be amazing working on a ship in Africa.” And it is. But human nature is to kind of just get used to things and things become normal. And you have these new people coming in every week saying, “Wow, we’re doing these incredible surgeries on a boat in Africa.” And it’s like, “oh, yeah, thank you for that reminder. This is pretty special.” So it works.

Raeanne:

Yeah. Oh, that’s neat. Well, I’m sure that aspects of your job become normal, even though you are on a deck on a ship, but I wonder if the patients that you see aren’t so normal from the ones that you see in Oklahoma. That you have a whole different variety of conditions in West Africa than you experience here in America.

Dr. Barki:

Oh, for sure, the extent of the disease that we see on the ship is just so much more advanced. You know, these patients will go years and years, sometimes decades, and their conditions just get so severe, that it’s unlike anything we see back home. And it’s nothing I saw in training, it’s nothing I saw in practice. And so, there’s there was a lot of learning on the ship, a continuous learning process. And just when you think you’d seen it all, something else came up, and it keeps you very humble.

Raeanne:

it’s really unusual to find someone who has left their comfortable, known, and even predictable life in the United States to go overseas and serve. And you mentioned going out of obedience to Christ. And I’m sure also trusting that He would equip you in all areas that you’d need. But in addition to that obedience, it takes a special type of person to do what you’ve done, and what you do. So, with your unique talents, and gifts, what are some ways that you were able to bless patients on board?

Dr. Barki:

You mentioned, you know, the type of person that, you know, that I am and things like that… and I want to emphasize that we’re normal people, I’m just a normal guy. And I think God gives all of us those opportunities. And it doesn’t always come in the form of, “hey, go move to Africa.” But it does come every day, I truly believe if we quiet our hearts, God prompts us through the day. And it might be, “Hey, go talk to that person”, or “go pay for that person’s meal”, or, you know, “be nice to that person” or “go ask for forgiveness, because you messed up there”. And in that obedience, we learned to trust Him more and to hear His voice more. And eventually, it comes these things of “hey, go move on to a ship in Africa”. And, and it’s like, “Well, God, I’ve trusted you before, and it’s worked out.” And so, I’m gonna go ahead and keep doing that.

So, I just wanted to mention that first. But as far as gifts, you know, when I first moved to the ship, I thought, I want to do a good job. Obviously, we’ve got people’s lives at stake. And one of Mercy Ship’s values is to be people of excellence in all we say and do. So, I wanted to be an excellent physician, I think it was an appropriate goal to have, you know, maybe a gift to give to our patients. But I kind of learned early on that that was kind of… something was still missing from that.

You know, you can take care of people, their physical ailments, but still keep kind of arm’s length from them. And so, I learned early on to try to connect with patients individually and kind of on a heart level. And I learned a few ways to do that. One way I learned, was to learn their African dialect, the countries that we served in, were all French-speaking, because they were former French colonies. But if you speak with them in French, which I know a little bit of French, and if you speak to them through a translator, it’s nice. It’s cordial, but it’s just very kind of business-like, I started learning a few phrases, a few greetings, and people would just light up.

And the first time, I really noticed it was in Madagascar. There were four gentlemen, four patients on the ward and I greeted them all in French, just you know, “Hello, how are you?” And I said it three times, because I guess… I don’t know, I thought, “why would I say four times?” I don’t know. So, there’s four of them. But I said, “How are you? How are you? How are you?” And I shook all their hands. And the last guy said, “You didn’t greet me.” And I said, “Oh, I’m sorry.” And so, then I said, “How are you” in Malagasy. And he said, “Oh, now you’re treating me with more honor than these other guys.”

I learned at that point, there’s a difference when you speak their heart language. And so, every country we went to, and Jamie was much better at it than I was, we tried to learn phrases and even maybe some slang phrases. It was a gift to the patients because I think it would shock them first. But then it kind of said, it kind of spoke to them and said, you know, you think it’s worthwhile to learn my language. It kind of, you know, touched their heart. And so that was a way I’ve presented a gift to some of our patients.

And then you know, our patients were very, a lot of times they’re very reserved, maybe scared anxious when especially when they first got on the ship. You know, it’s a very strange atmosphere for anyone. Especially if you’re coming from a remote village you know, in the middle of nowhere. And so you know, all of a sudden you find yourself on a hospital ship and so I would try to loosen people up a little bit. It started with Funky Scrubs Friday, every Friday, we would wear just crazy scrubs, and I kind of took it to the next level pretty much every week and just would wear ridiculous scrubs. And I think people would get shocked and surprised but then they smile. And it would really kind of break down some barriers and really the whole ship started embracing it people in the hospital and people out of the hospital. And it was really just a way to make people smile, and to kind of loosen people up. And you know, Mercy Ships does a lot of mentoring of local healthcare providers.

And so, we would have doctors and nurses come onto the ship. And it would be Friday, and I’d be wearing these ridiculous scrubs. Part of me was like, “Oh, I’ve got I’ve got the lead anesthesiologist in the country here on the ship, and I’m wearing, you know, just stuff that I shouldn’t be caught dead in.” But, you know, by the end of their time on the ship, they were joining in and wearing the same crazy scrubs that we were. It was just kind of, you know, it’s kind of reminder, we’re all just people and really kind of, we’re all kids and grown-up bodies. And it’s like, it’s, you know, let’s bring some joy to the place. Let’s break down some barriers. And, you know, let’s have a little fun when we can.

So, I would do some of that. And then, you know, visiting, visiting patients on the ward, you know, there is that language barrier and cultural barriers. And so, I started learning some tricks and some card tricks. And I would do those for the patients on the ward. And they would just, you know, they’d be in disbelief. And then it would just again, break down barriers. But I learned quickly that I had to show people how I did the tricks. Because in Benin, when we were in Benin, that’s the birthplace of voodoo. And so I, you know, people would think, “Oh, no, this is voodoo.” And I would say, “No, no, no, no, no. Let me show you how I did this.” The first time I did a magic trick. I remember. I did it for one of our translators who is a Day Crew. A local guy. And I did the card trick. And he just looked at me in disbelief. And he said, “No, I do not accept this.” I said, “No, it’s not anything, you know, anything bad or evil. Let me show you how I did this.” And so, magic tricks was another way of doing it. But I had to be careful with that. I had to reveal all my secrets.

Raeanne:

Oh, that’s funny. Well, I have to ask at your hospital in America, do you were crazy scrubs and do card tricks?

Dr. Barki:

That’s a good question. They don’t let me wear my crazy scrubs in the O.R., because there’s a policy, they have to be hospital laundered. But when I’m outside the O.R., I take every opportunity to wear my crazy scrubs. So, if I’m in the pre-op clinic, or if I’m in the GI lab, or other places that are not in the, or I will wear my crazy scrubs, and I get comments, “Oh, those scrubs are beautiful. I love those scrubs, makes me smile.” And it brings up opportunities for me to talk about Mercy Ships. So yes, I do. I do try to do crazy scrubs as much as I can. I don’t really have, you know, with COVID, and germs and stuff. It’s hard to do magic tricks and card tricks. But I’ve learned some dad jokes. And so that that’s, that’s my new hobby. And I make people groan before they go to sleep.

Raeanne:

Oh, that’s great. Well, can you tell us maybe about a special patient that touched your heart when you were over in West Africa?

Dr. Barki:

Again, going back to Madagascar, there was a patient named C he was about 13 years old. A little background, you know, it was important to Jamie and I, that we get our kids involved in loving the patients in spending time with the patients. And so, we would regularly go down to the wards as a family once a week and visit and just try to you know, spend time with some of our patients. Which was a unique opportunity, because here in the States with privacy and COVID I can’t bring my family to the hospital to visit patients. And so we visit patients, and I remember the first few times for several times, it was very difficult. Like for an example, our youngest, Hannah, who was just turned four at the time, I remember holding her going down to the wards and she was climbing my arm like almost drawing blood and I thought what is wrong. And then I look around and you know, it’s a hospital ward, which is already kind of intimidating, full of people that don’t look like us. They don’t smell like us. They don’t speak our language. A lot of them have giant tumors hanging off their faces. And I thought, “Ah, maybe it’s this is gonna take a little bit of time.”

And it did take time, but they would, they would gradually open up. I remember one time we were playing with a patient and the mom was trying to get handed open up. And Hannah was having none of it, business face and just not smiling at all. And the mom says through our translator, “I think Hannah doesn’t like black people.” And I was like ooo… And my middle daughter Maya says, “No, no, no, she just doesn’t like people.” I was like, there you go. Maya started to, you know, chime in a little bit.

So we would visit patients regularly. And then we met C, and C was a 13-year-old boy who had a giant tumor on the back of his head. And it was at least double the size of his head, it may have been bigger than that. And he was there with his mom and his little sister. We did surgery on him, took this giant tumor off. And it was amazing. He was transformed. And it was, I mean, he was so happy, his mom was so happy. And we would visit him regularly as he was recovering. And then, you know, fast forward a few months in C came back because his wound wasn’t healing. So, we did some more investigating. And we discovered that his tumor had actually turned into cancer, and was starting to invade his brain, which was just devastating.

So, I remember going back to our cabin, our family cabin, and telling the family about it, and I just said, “Hey, guys, C has cancer, and there’s, there’s nothing that we can do. And barring a miracle, he’s gonna die from this.” And I looked at my son, Brandon, who was 10 at the time, and I said, “Brandon, C, could really use a friend right now.” And Brandon replied only as a 10-year-old boy would reply and said, “You know what, that I could be his friend. But then he’s just going to die. And I’m going to be sad.” That’s absolutely true. And I said, “But Brandon, if you were C, and you were dying, and you were, you know, in a strange place away from your friends away from your family… Would you want to be alone? Or would you want to have a friend?” And he said, “You know, I, I’d want to have a friend.”

And so from then on, every night, he went down to the wards, to hang out with C. And it got to the point where I would have to go get him and say, “Brandon, it’s getting late, you got school tomorrow.” Here we are trying to give the gift of friendship and love, and C and his family gave that right back to us. And we got to be close with his mom and his sister, and with Claudio and got to hang out, get to spend a lot of time together. And then a couple of months after, after we left Madagascar, C did end up passing away.

Our lives are so much richer for that experience. And we still periodically will chat, C’s mom and, and see his sister and so that is really special.

Raeanne:

Wow. That’s, that’s a really powerful, you know, we talk a lot at Mercy Ships about offering hope and healing. And for this little boy, how powerful that maybe the surgery wasn’t the answer, but the gift of friendship, the gift of love, and saying, “You know what you matter, and we want to offer you and your family hope, and healing emotionally.” And that’s so special, and how really special that your children got to be a part of that and see a beautiful part of life and realizing that “hey, life together is so much better.” And even in our hardest times, the end times of our lives, to have a friend, it’s pretty powerful.

Dr. Barki:

You would hope and you would think maybe on the ship, we’re doing God’s work and we would be protected from bad outcomes or outcomes, you know, such as C’s. But I do think God does protect us, because some of the surgeries we do are just so extensive and so risky. I mean, we try not to take any unnecessary risks. But some of these conditions are just so severe that I think God does protect us a lot of the time. But I will say, the times when we’ve had outcomes that were not expected or were not what we wanted, God has come through, I don’t want to say even more, but He showed up in huge ways, even when it’s outcomes we don’t desire. And that’s in the lives of crew, in the lives of patients’ families. God really, He can work good through any situation.

Raeanne:

Sure. And I think a lot of times we have the idea of what the desired outcome is exact, God says, “I actually have a whole different outcome that I’m shooting for here. So, let’s go ahead and set your ideas aside. And let me go ahead and do Kingdom work. Let me go ahead and do something even bigger,” right?

Dr. Barki:

Exactly. Yeah. How often do we say, “Hey, God, I’ve got a problem. And here’s the solution.” Actually, maybe we should leave the solution to him.

Raeanne:

Right, exactly! Well, giving the gift of friendship is a really beautiful thing. And I understand that you also have a story of a rather unique gift that you gave a patient on board.

Dr. Barki:

So, I did have a unique opportunity to give a gift to a patient that I definitely would not have had here in the States. I was on call one night or no actually, I was not on call, I was tucking the kids into bed. You know, eight o’clock at night. And I was not on call one of our short-term anesthesiologist was on call. But I did have my pager on me in case they needed anything. And so, I’m talking to the kids into bed, and my pager goes off. And it says, “I need your blood now.” And it’s from the blood bank. And I’m thinking, “What on earth is going on?” And so, you know, we were living on deck six hospitals on deck three, and so I went down to the hospital and went to the blood bank, and I say what’s going on in and she says, “I don’t know, something’s going on in the O.R.” And I’m thinking, “Okay, do they need my help in the O.R. or do they need my blood.”

So, I run down to the O.R., and it is just chaos in there. One of our patients who had a big, big surgery on his neck and chest area, developed a wound infection, and that infection, invaded his carotid artery, which is the giant artery that delivers blood to your brain. And it eroded through the artery, and he was bleeding to death out of that, that there was blood all over the place and there were doctors and nurses trying to do everything they could to save his life. And there was plenty of help. The short-term anesthesiologist and a couple others were in there. I said, “Okay, they need my blood.” So, I ran back down to the blood bank, and I donated a unit blood, and then ran it back down to the O.R., and still warm, and I squeezed it into the patient, then continued to work on the patient continued trying to keep them alive, and Dr. Gary is working away.

And he ends up stopping the bleeding. He couldn’t see where the bleeding was coming from because it was just his neck was just filling so quickly. So, he packed it closed. And then long story short, the patient ends up living, walking out of the hospital, and was fine. But it was an opportunity for me to give the gift of my blood to a patient. And I’ve never had that opportunity again. And I may never again in my life.

Raeanne:

Wow, that’s so incredibly unique. And that is, as a little side note, that’s one of the unique things about life on the ship is we have a walking blood bank. And so, any crew member who desires to donate blood, can. But we don’t store it up. It’s almost like you give it in the moment that it’s needed. We’ll keep on file your blood type, and will page you as you’re tucking your children into bed at night and say, “Hey, we need your blood right now come”, you know…

Dr. Barki:

Yeah, exactly. We have limited capacity to store blood, like as you mentioned, and so we can store some but then for our bigger surgeries that are going to require lots of transfusions, they will send out notifications to our crew and say, “Hey, you are in a and we might need your blood. So, you can’t leave the ship today.” And so they do a tremendous job of it.

Raeanne:

That’s so crazy. Well, I have to say most crew who do donate blood don’t actually get to go into the O.R. and help put that blood in the patient. So, you had a pretty unique opportunity to get to meet that person. But how special

Dr. Barki:

It was special. It was crazy. But it was awesome. And I’m just so grateful that the guy lived.

Raeanne:

Yeah, I know, having been in West Africa just for a brief amount of time with my family, I found the African people to be very generous and very selfless, they give so much. And especially we see that in our patients who are so grateful for what they’re receiving for free on board. And oftentimes, they just can’t contain their generosity and they want to give something to you whether that’s a tangible thing or even just their love and their hugs and you know, their thanks. Have you experienced that with a patient that you can tell us about? Maybe a patient that gave a gift to you?

Dr. Barki:

One patient that comes to mind is a guy named Felix. I called him Papa Felix because he was in his late 60s. And this was in Cameroon. But he had a tumor inside his mouth and looking at it from the outside, it didn’t look that bad. And you might even miss it if you don’t really pay attention. But when he opened his mouth, you saw this tumor and it was literally suffocating him. I mean, we got a CAT scan and we got to see what the inside looked like. And he was breathing through literally about the size of a coffee stirrer’s straw. And so, this is Dr. Gary’s specialty. This is what he does best. But the problem was Felix also had a bad heart. He was having issues with his heart. And so, we had a decision to make, “Do we proceed with, with the risk of, you know, putting them at risk for a heart attack, even death? Or do we say no, that’s too risky, and sorry, we can’t do surgery, but then you know, he would probably suffocate within a few months.”

And so, we had some very serious discussions with Papa Felix and his wife, his family. And he ultimately decided that he wanted to give surgery a chance. And so, we proceeded with surgery took every precaution we could. And by the grace of God, He did well, had a fantastic result. And was so happy. I mean, every time I would visit him on the just shake my hands, and say, “Thank you, thank you for saving my life.” And, and it was like, I didn’t know what to say. But just you know, he was just so grateful. And then so several weeks go by, and I’m going about my business on the ship working, living life.

And then I get a call from the gangway. And the Gurkhas, our security guys, say you have a visitor. And I’m thinking what in the world we’re in Cameroon, who’s coming to see me. So I go, I go to the dock, and there’s Papa Felix. And again, he’s in his late 60s, and it’s like 200 degrees outside. I mean Sweating and I’ve just been out there for like two minutes… And he came to give me a bottle of peanuts to say, you know, just to say thank you for saving my life. And it was just so, so humbling. So moving. And then he did it again. He came back later and came back with tailored clothing for me and my whole family. So just lots and lots of gratitude expressed by Papa Felix and yeah, that was definitely a gift to us.

Raeanne:

Absolutely! Well, you guys, having served for four years on board, I’m sure you spent some Christmases on board. Which Christmas is a very, very special time on board the ships. Tell us maybe one of your Christmas memories or Christmas highlights from the ship.

Dr. Barki:

Yeah, it’s like you said Christmas is so special. You know at any given time on the ship there’s about around 40 different countries represented onboard from the crew. And so super special that some people may not know is we get to celebrate Christmas throughout December in different ways. And so, like you know, one night we might do carols by candlelight like the Aussies and the Kiwis do or we might do Santa Lucia like the Swedes do or Sinterklaas like the Dutch do. And just being part of, you know, getting a little taste of other cultures, that was really special. And seeing, you know, some of our dear friends, having them show us “Oh, this is how we do it. And this is, this is what we do. And this is what this means,” that was really cool and really opened our eyes up to just the richness that different cultures have to offer.

But I would say specifically for me, one of my biggest memories was when my parents got to come over Christmas in Cameroon, they got to visit. And that was special for a few different reasons. One was, you know, we don’t get we didn’t get to see them very often since we lived around the world. Two you know, they were very supportive of what we were doing. But for them to see it for themselves, I think it really changed… It just changed their mindset, their hearts, they really kind of understood, they really understood, “Ah this is why you want to do this.” And so that was really cool. It was just to show them our day-to-day lives. What that’s like on the ship was really, really special to be able to share that with them. And that would have been enough. But as God would have it, He had other plans. So over Christmas, we usually shut down the O.R. for a week or two just to give the crew some rest. Give them opportunity to celebrate Christmas. And also, it’s hard to get volunteers to come over at Christmas because everyone wants to celebrate a home, rightfully so.

Well, we shut down the O.R.s but we still have patients in the hospital, and we have one surgeon that’s always on board in case there’s any sort of emergency where a patient needs to come to the operating room. We also have an anesthesiologist on call for that same reason. Well, that Christmas, Dr. Gary or our amazing maxillofacial surgeon was on board and on call. But he was covering you know maxillofacial patients, he was covering plastics, he was covering…it may have been orthopedic patients and also some gynecological patients. And so, we had a patient, one of our gynecological patients who was developing an infection in postoperatively, developing an infection. And she was getting very sick. And we had an agreement with a local Cameroonian gynecologist that, you know, should we have any issues, we could turn to them for help. Well, Dr. Gary was going to have to go in and clean out this infection, which he’s an amazing surgeon. But that’s, you know, Women’s Health is not his specialty. And so, I said, Gary, actually, my mom’s here in she’s got 35 years of experience as an OBGYN.

And he was like, “Well, let’s, let’s get her to see the patient.” And so, she went and saw the patient. And she was like, “Yeah, she’s got an abscess, she has an infection, we need to go wash that out.” And so, for the first time ever, I got to do a surgery with my mom. So yeah, she always had plans of me joining her hospital in Oklahoma City. And that didn’t happen. And so, as God would have it, she had to come to Cameroon for us to do our first case together, and she was just a godsend. She saved that lady’s life. And the support that she got from it was amazing. I mean, she just she

experienced, you know, God puts the right people at the right place at the right time. And the nurses were so gracious on the ward, they wrote her a thank you note, a Thank You card. And it was that was just a that was a pretty special Christmas.

Raeanne:

Oh my gosh, yeah, that’s a Christmas, none of you will ever forget.

Dr. Barki:

No, no, no.

Raeanne:

How incredible. I bet your mom had no idea that when she got on that plane, to spend Christmas with her family in Africa, she was actually going to really be instrumental in saving someone’s life.

Dr. Barki:

Yeah, she was coming as mom and grandma, she was not coming as a surgeon.

Raeanne:

Wow. Oh, my gosh, isn’t God good? And His provision is so extravagant. Again, things that we could have never asked or imagined. It’s so incredible.

Dr. Barki:

We go to help and to serve, but we come away, blessed and we can learn from each other.

Raeanne:

Well, thank you so much for sharing with us today. And I look forward to getting to chat with your whole family on a future episode. But until then, please wish them all a very Merry Christmas from us. And we hope you guys have a Happy New Year.

Dr. Barki:

Thank you.

Raeanne:

To see photos of Brian in his funky scrubs, and other photos from this episode as well as all our episodes, visit the show notes on our website: newmercies.mercyships.org. Next week, we’ll hear stories from a nurse from Columbia who just started her fourth-year volunteering with Mercy Ships