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Friday, 18 August 2017

Arrived In Cameroon

We have arrived in Cameroon and the morning of our arrival, it was very beautiful to see the country come into view.  It reminded me I think of Norway, with all its outlooks to the sea and lots of greenary around.  My first view was just on the horizen and I was so sad that I didn't have my camera around my neck when I headed out to the deck because all of a sudden, there was a fishing boat, flying past us and these men with big smiley faces waving at us.  The wind was blowing them along and they fly past us, with rain pelting down at them and off they went, we still seemed very far out to me and we probably were but I think there are so many inlets, outlets and rivers reaching the sea here that they probably came from a closer  on of those.

We arrived in at approximately 11, or 10:30 and as always, arriving in country is a joy to be part of, there is worship bands playing on the ship, this time is was instrumental and we had the navy escorting us for the last 150 miles.  There was quite a few other navel smaller ships that came and met us too and there was much joy from them and us as were waved and sung in by both our crew as well as the advanced team on land.  As we sail in, I grabbed a South African flag as we were asked to and our English one had already been taken, but then I saw a colleague who was from SA to and happens to have a SA passport which I don't any more, so I passed it onto him,  I think there are 4 of us South African's on-board at the moment.

I will post some pictures as soon as things settle down and I am to upload them.  We have had really bad internet on the ship for most of the sail and it was up and down with the waves.

Oh, I forgot to mention a bird that sailed with us, I am not sure if he /she was injured and I only found him /her on the 2nd to last day but was told he/ she was with us the whole journey.  Picture to follow.  Just after we arrived though, the bird had gone, so much have seen land and flown off.

The rest of the week has been extremely full, setup here involved so much coming together, I am surprised and in awe of our Advanced Team who have accomplished so much to get everything off the ground.  They have been setting up mentoring programs, interviewing so many day crew, working out all the logistics for buildings repair for our Hope Centre, Dental Clinic and Team Houses, they have been setting up the Dock area with our admissions tents, screening tents and outpatients.  There has been dock spaced to organiser, and much much more. Know the IS team have been pulling wires and setting up the computer equipment, internet and setup of the operating room computers and various other things.  We still not finished yet, so its going to be a busy weekend and week next week.
I believe the first patients start arriving in a about a week, so the nurses and hospital team will be scrubbing and putting up the beds and organising everything for their arrive.

Please keep us in your prayers, it can be a stressful / exciting time for everyone, with a lot of unpredictable aspects thrown into the predictable, so you end up with predicated unpredictability.  Hugs are always my favourite things a these times.

Saturday, 12 August 2017

As Sea To Cameroon

At Sea

As we left Gran Canary,  I said goodbye to the Polar Star, our neighbour, an ice-breaker / small cruise liner that goes to the Antarctic, as always, it gets me thinking about going their again.  We also said goodbye to the grand and large oilrigs that were our neighbours for the time in Gran Canaries.

It was so lovely to spend time with my sons and Chelsea, just missing Emily being with us this time.  Seeing them was just what my heart needed and always does, I miss them so much.  We spend just quite time together, all on the same page, resting and chatting and having some nice meals out together, we all needed to just chill and restore. 

Spending a week in the UK was just so quick, I really hit the ground running and never stopped till I left, just not enough quality time with anyone,  everything seemed such a rush and whilst it was so lovely to catch up, there were many others I would have like to have seen and couldn’t.

I arrived back on the ship on the 30th or 31st, I cannot quite remember.  My first few days back were hesitant and I was relieved that things settled down well.  It is so lovely to have Jen back on-board, she is so lovely to work with and really making a huge difference to my workdays. 

Sailing has to be on the top of my to do list, I could spend much much more time at sea, the wild-life, the fresh air, the time to reflect and the vastness of the ocean, the magnitude or each day being recreated and the miracle of each new day is just much more evident to me here.

We have seen dolphins, a couple of whale spouts, a shark or two,  a few turtles plopping and bobbing by the ship, a few turns and other birds and lots and lots of flying fish.  They really are amazing creatures, they have grown since our last sail and I can see they have been practicing.  They have flocked and come in single flights, but they have learnt a few new tricks since last time, well some of them at least, they are bigger and have learnt to twitch their tails against the water to give themselves more air time, and gliding longer.  There are some prodigy babies too, who seem to have been born to fly, oh yes, and they were.

So, we approach Cameroon, we are due to go by 0 0 soon, and we will all become Diamond Royal Shellbacks, and will have a ceremony to celebrate.  That is what we call someone who has going across the Equator at 0 0. 

We had our first preparation for Cameroon last night in our community meeting, information was passed on and our hearts started to engage, and the reason we sail and the reason why I still do IS work for the moment is evident again.  There are many many people awaiting an opportunity of surgery.  The stories from last year, start to come back and I start to realise again how Good God is, how much He cares, how He has drawn each one of us to this ship and put it on the hearts of all those who support us, so that He can show His love to the people we will interact with, our lives being changed by there’s and there’s by ours.  A God who brings it all together in such and amazing way.  How could this work without Him.  It could not.

Please be praying for the Advanced Team who are there preparing for our arrival, please pray, that we will have good relationships from day one, please prayer that we will be equipped to serve and equipped to learn and to love by Him.  Please also prayer for our families., mom is moving on Monday to a lovely place but it’s a huge step.

Please also prayer for our IS Team to be able to work well in the setup phase, to be able to have the energy we need and the co-ordination of the tasks. 


Saturday, 5 August 2017

We Are Sailing

So we and me are out of Dry Dock.  After a most wonderful time with my lads and Chelsea in Gran Canaries, lots of resting, having meals together and just generally hanging out, we headed for London were I spend a very hectic few days catching up with people, as many as I could, seeing the doctor, dentist and getting a few more things done and flew back to the ship. 

It was good to be back and after a few days of adjusting I started to feel at home again on the ship, I was glad the dry dock period was over and I felt more whole again. 

We set sail today and what a beautiful sail day it was, the water was beautiful, we had a few flying fish, lots of dolphins, the first lot arriving as we did out At Sea Muster, and spotted a whole school of them just to the side of us,  and later on after work, the bow of the ship opened and pretty soon after that, another school of dolphins arrived and were swimming in the front waves of the ships, it was so exciting and then to top it up a little later we saw a whale spurting.  The sun went down and it was a beautiful sun set. 

So Cameroon, here we come.  We have a couple of weeks sail and then we will be in full swing of setup.

The ship is full of new crew, all excited to serve on-board. 

Back at home, my mom is preparing to move home, an obviously very stressful time.  Please prayer for her.
Other prayers are for a good sail, time of rest before we begin a very busy season. And please prayer for all our patients to be found and for our advanced team who are busy working hard, preparing so many things for our arrival.

I just want to thank you all again for supporting me to be here and I ask for prayers for wisdom for me for this season.  I am so grateful.

Sunday, 9 July 2017

In the Storm & Cactus's

Canarie Island has been a storm and a desert for me.  Everything just got harder.
Friends left, new people arrived, the air-con was no longer, work men were all around and I ended up feeling so sick that each day was difficult.  A variety of external difficulties were ongoing and work pressure mounted in a way I couldn't foresee or expected.

After a week of trying my best to preserver I had to take a day and a half off in order to recover.  Coming back to work, I landed in a storm or so it felt, confusion was before me and it was hard to see the wood for the trees.  It felt like my life too was being overhauled, pulled apart, pipes breaking and being put back together.  I too felt like I was in dry dock and it felt awful and I had such little reserves to work with.

God is good all the time and that was evident.  In the midst of everything was the vision of Him, the perfect Saviour, the one who gives and takes away, the one who builds and breaks down, the one who died for all and in the midst of this storm, I could see that clearer than before, it just drew me closer to God, it helped me see why He had had to come, it helped me see more of His ways, the more of our ways, the more of the need.  The Gospel message just got clearer for me and my love of God stronger, my need for Him all the more and the realisation that I still try and rely far too much on my own efforts, those that never work.

Through this, I came to see that more clearly, what He had been saying to me about nor being afraid to get out of the boat.  Its still not clear, but one thing I do know, is that it is calling me to Trust him and take a step that I have felt afraid to do and from that step, I think I will see clearer. 

Please do prayer for courage, wisdom and seeking first His Kingdom.

In the midst of the storm was an Oasis,  a trip this Saturday, even though I was exhausted, we had to get off the ship due to some maintenance that was going on.  So a work collegue, Elfred and I headed off to the Botanical Gardens.  I was much in the need of just wondering around in nature, seeing the amazing design in the creation and the diversity from  the other gardens I had been too in other countries.

The day started off with stumbling our way to the bus station, its about a 45 minutes walk out of the Port and its hard to know how to get around, we bumped into another Merchshipper who was also not quite sure of were they were going and we teamed up.  At the bus stop was a lady who looked quite desperate and in fumbled communication was trying to get us to get her onto the bus, she looked so exhausted and it just felt right that we assisted, we got to the blue bus station and found our way to the correct bus and off we went.  The Island I would describe is desert like, and the bus trip had a different type of beauty, Elfred is from Benin and has not travel much out of Benin before and everything was new to him and that was delightful, seeing old things with new eyes and lifting me outside my simmering storm into the moments around me. 

We got to the area and headed down a long drive to a top of  a very large hill, or small mountain,  which way to go, there were many choices and a map, that I just can never read, so very much relied on Elfred's wit and ability to read the map and we headed down the slopes, there were no guard rails, just a pathway and in this I realised I had accumulated some sort of courage or was it blindness to danger, I couldn't quite tell which ,but I felt sure footed and was happy that I was going downhill rather than up and could also push the trip home away for the moment.  The views were beautiful although different to other Botanical Gardens, all the more bringing home God's amazing creativity and diversity. 

We did feel like we were in some sort of Oasis in many areas and it was stunningly beautiful and as the day went on, more and more people appeared.  I will post some pictures when I get to download them and they will speak much more than I can.  We left the ship at about 10:30 and probably go to the site around 12ish and left there around 3pm.  There were also amazingly large lizards that at one particular spot were so abundant that they actually looked like they were part of the wall.  There was a very large one that looked like the Godfather and another one who was not so big but he looked like the Grandfather due to his greying sides and wrinkles, pictures to follow. 

The trip home was an adventure too, we were directed to a bus stop that was not in operation, this was in our attempt to not have to climb back up the mountain but after a while, we decided to ask a restaurant opposite the bus stop when the next bus would come and we were told, it wouldn't, so off we went and hikes but up the slopes, on arriving at the top, we saw an old lady of about 75 and wearing some not so wonderful hiking shoes, starting towards the down climb and wondered if it was such a good idea. 

Getting back to the bus stop and cooling down was a joy and then getting back to the ship was a great thing too.

Elfred was a delightful person to see the gardens with, due to his delight in everything he saw, although I am sure he may have found it more enjoyable with a younger group of young men but either way, it was a good day and left me exhausted but well travelled, more delighted in the world and not needing to go to the gym or for a walk.

Thursday, 22 June 2017

Praise always Bring Back Hope

I can't say I am enjoying Ship Yard, its hot, sticky, living in a mettle home with no aircon and being below deck is not the most pleasant environment.  Work has been a bit harder, energy has been low and my tooth has been playing up again, and I can feel a summer cold coming on.

The day was a touch one, emotions all over the place for various reason, but in the middle of all this, God is good.  Community meetings that I just didn't feel like going to was just what I needed.  Starting off with praise and worship and being reminded of who God is, how great, amazing, compassionate and powerful and feeling His greatness even in a small way brought my heart in the right direction and being reminded of our mission and why the ship is here, in her own hospital, being fixed and refitted, again, pulled me higher.

Why do I forget so easily?
Why do I let worry and fretting come in? That only leads to evil, His word says.
Why do I stop even for a moment, looking to the One who can help and wants to help?
Why, because I am frail, and He know it, He knew I would need Him, He knew those I love would need Him, He knew that is would all be too much for me, He knew forgiveness would be needed, He knew that Grace, Compassion and Long-suffering would need topping up and He knew that I would need all that from Him.  So, He sent Jesus, He sent Him to live and die and raise from the dead, He sent Him to be my Savour and Redeemer and I am so glad He did.

Where would I be without Him.
Where am I with Him.

And, today, He also send me good friends, friends from afar, to talk to, to prayer and to help.

Praising Him always brings back Hope.

1 Corinthians 13,