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Friday, 9 December 2016

Sick Week and Turning Corners

So this week did not start well.  I had the pager that I so struggle with that over the weekend and I was not feeling well at all, I had been fighting tooth pain which gratefully has now subsided and starting to get a cold so it was not a great weekend.  Thankfully I had Monday off and ended up in bed for Tuesday and Wednesday.  Its fairly hard on the ship when you are not well as I want to crawl into a corner and just not see anyone but you have to venture out (which is good for me I know) and get some food, the good thing is that you don't have to worry about shopping or cooking.

So at the end of that I was still not really well enough to venture back to work but did do and managed to get through the day and also today.  Today was a bit quieter and we had a Christmas lunch with the IS Team, we went to a Lebanese Restaurant and I had a most delicious burger, burgers being one of my favourite junk foods and having not eaten much this week I felt ok to have it.  Have way through the meal though, a piece of my burger jumped down the front of my shirt, I quietly had a look when I saw no one was looking quickly grabbed it out, only to look up and finding one of my colleagues looking at me, we had a quiet laugh.  How embarrassing.

So what else was different about this week.  Due to my struggle with the pager and the job in general, for certain reasons, the same issues I have had for quite a while and with some encouragement from a few people, I chatted to my boss and asked his permission to explore other possible jobs on the ship.  There are certainly parts of the job that I am ok with but my heart has never been connected with computers, so it seems about time that I at least venture out trusting the Lord to either keep me were I am or to open the doors to another role.  It would just be good to have something more relational. 
My boss was very understanding and has said that he will let HR know and that I can chat to them about other possibilities and that he would release me for a few days to try out other roles to see if they suit me.  So please be praying about the right fit. 

As I had been unwell also, I was not able to go and visit Pauline who I had told I would come along but did manage to get her a letter to explain why.  So this evening it was really good to be able to go down and do some patch work with her and to see how much better she is looking, she was wearing her own cloths, had the bandage off and her one eye was almost normal.  She still had one side swollen but it certainly was great improvement.  Her father was there too, I found out today he is a fisherman and he taught me to say "God be with you", I can't spell it but its something like Mawu cona Powaa, this language is Fon.  I will have to get it written down.  Please do keep praying for them.

Friday, 2 December 2016

SA Ambasadar

It was a fairly quick yet impressionable meeting with the SA Ambassador, she was really lovely and come along with her husband and a few other people.  I arrived at 10:30 as I was asked to and seemed to be the last person there.  I quickly said hello and shock hand and sat down and much to my horror, my zip came down, how relieved I was to have worn that longer shirt.  So how was I going to navigate getting up and doing it up again with all these people around?

On to more dignified matters, the Ambassador asked one of our ladies what bought her to the Mercy Ships and she responded, Jesus.  The Ambassadors eyes just lit up so bright and I could see that she loved Him very much, it was like a little pocket of heaven just opened up.  The nurse then said that she didn't think that she would go back to working in the private sector again.  The Ambassador immediately got the reason and explained that to was why she worked in government, because the private sector is to make money and to help wealthier people but she really felt she wanted to help those who really needed help and didn't have other help.  Her heart was so beautiful and I couldn't help but have my sense and idea of Government change a lot.  I must admit to have always had the prejudice thoughts about Government, corruption is a word that always crops up in my mind when Government is mentioned but this although it didn't totally change my mind, as I know there is a lot of corruption, it also gave me a lot to think about and to respect the very many people who do work very hard for the poor and those who really would be no where with people like this putting their heart and soul into their work. 

We went on a hospital tour with the group and it was nice to spend a bit of time showing them what the hospital was all about.  Michelle who is a Physio was put on the spot and asked to take a tour, she did a great job.  They all looked very touched and I was so pleased I had been able to included as a South African.  We have been invited to a couple of National day events later in the service, that will be interesting.

Thursday, 1 December 2016

Home for Abandond Babies

Today, I joined Mercy Ministries again, this is one other organisation that we are involved with.  It was a very touching experience and also quite overwhelming.   There was the sweetest little 5 month year old that just was so sweet and about 6 other little ones, between the ages of 5 months and 5 years old.  I did not get to hear the stories of the little ones expect for the one little girl, she seemed so sad and her story is tragic. The facts that I have are that she was found by two ladies at the market and bought to the home.  A lady claiming to be her mother came looking for her and the young girl recognised her, but she had no way of proving she was the mother, so was unable to take the young girl.  The judge is obviously trying to protect this young girl, and I don't know the full story so can't say much else but its really heart-breaking. 

Please be praying for these little ones, each one of them touched my heart yet I couldn't not spend much time with each one as I was holding the 5 month old and I was the only one who signed up today.  The big prayer of course would be that some clarity comes for this little 5 year old, they call her Moma. 

Tomorrow I will be meeting the South African Ambassador.  They asked me if I consider myself to be British or South African and I thought about it and had to say both,  Growing up in South Africa, I realise I am still very South African at heart but of course have so many of my friends now in England and of course my sons. 

Monday, 28 November 2016

More Photos of the trip to and Songhai

·         Created By Krissy Close On 24 Nov, 2016

We Welcomed Four Peace Corps Volunteers Aboard A Few Weeks Ago To Learn All About Helping 
Babies Breathe – A Simple, Low-Resource Algorithm For Newborn Resuscitation That Was Created 
For The Rural Health Centers Where These Volunteers Work For Two Years.  
We Then Sent Them Out With All The Materials Needed To Teach The Class To Their Local Health 
Center Workers!  I Recently Received The Following From One Of The Volunteers:
Yesterday The General Physician And I Led The Entire Staff In The Introductory And Pre-Testing Portion
Of The Help Babies Breathe Training. The Results Were Already Astounding. The Trainees' Enthusiasm
For Their Work Grew Overnight. We Spoke Not Only Of How The Procedure Is Important, 
But Also Reflected On Their Individual Impacts On The Community. 
The Next Morning, The Physician And Several Assistants Rushed To Greet Me. They Were All Smiling 
Ear To Ear. The Physician, With Whom I Had Worked Independently To Share The HBB Curriculum After My Own Training, Had Amazing News. In The Early Morning The Day After Training, A Woman From A Small Settlement Went Into Labor. The Team In The Maternity Ward Was Struggling To Make This A Safe And Comfortable Delivery. The Middle-Aged Woman Had Already Suffered The Loss Of One Child -  Her Previous Pregnancy Ended In A Complicated Birth In Which She Lost Her Strength And The Baby Died Before She Was Able To Deliver. The Baby Was Born Limp, But The Team Moved Quickly And Cautiously, And The Physician Performed The Skills Acquired During Our Training. Today We Have A Beautiful And Happy Baby Boy! Helping Babies Breathe Is Going To Have A Big Impact In My Village And Surrounding Area!

Sunday, 27 November 2016

Day Trip

We headed off this morning for a trip to Songhia   The trip was about 45 minutes in the car, in the direction of Porto Norvo and in fact we drove through Porto Norvo.  We were on the look out for some interesting Zimijon (motorbikes) and passengers.  We were amazed at some of what we saw, this included whole families including little babies on their mom's backs and goats and we also saw a car that had about 10 pigs, still alive tied down on the top of the vehicle.  I will post whatever pictures came out.

Songhia is a wonderful place, it is an Eco Centre, with Hydroponics, animal  , including fish, rabbits, guini foal, chickens, turkeys, very large rodents.  They were also making their own plastic, that had mushrooms, very large grapefruit, they made their own bread, clay pots, rice and tons more.  We spent about an hour and a half going on a tour and then ended up having lunch.  We were 3 Mercy Ships vehicles out and when we head home at the end of the day, we were very hot and tired but it had been a good day. We stopped for ice-cream on the way home,  somehow one of our guys new of a proper Italian Ice-cream place and it was a wonderful treat, I had a scope of lime and a scope of strawberry yoghet, but there must have been about 20 different flavours to chose from.

 Petrol being sold , these are found all over even though illegial

Thursday, 24 November 2016

A long week and a Long Weekend again.

This week is one where I see the benefits of Mercy ships and the wonderful work they do.  I have managed to pop done a couple of nights this week to see Pauline and had the opportunity to prayer with her and a few other ladies on Tuesday night.  I took down the serviettes to make flowers and took one already made for Pauline as I didn’t think she would be up for making one and of course she wasn’t but I think she did like to get it.  There were some other ladies who were in the same room and they were keen to make one, so that gave me some time to be in the wards.  I still feel a bit lost without conversation.  I am really terrible at language and keep trying to remember the basics, I tend to remember some words but then can’t remember what they mean so that’s not much good.

After we had made the flowers, I was offered prayer and all the ladies said yes, so we held hands and said a simple prayer for healing and peace. 

I did feel very concerned for Pauline after I left and found out later she had to go back into OR last night as she had developed further infection and I believe she has been in a lot of pain today but she did look a lot better to me this evening when I popped in.  She gave me a small thumbs up but I later heard that the day had not been great for her.  I said a small prayer again this evening for the ladies and have signed up again today to go back to the prison in a couple of weeks’ time.

Tomorrow we have a ship weekend and yippee, I am not on the dreaded pager duty so am going to an Eco site, I believe it is a very nice place to go and they have a great ginger drink.  I will write more about that when I get back. For the rest of the weekend I plan to try and do some life admin and hopefully do some drawing, I have been too tired the last few weeks for that but am very much feeling like I need to draw. 

Prayer requests:  For all the patients and especially Pauline, healing, peace and for me, my tooth is still not right and I am probably going to have to have root canal.  Eekkkkk.  And please prayer for me when visiting patients that I will be able to communicate even though there is the language barrier.  I am considering taking up some French lessons but there is so much to do already, so I need wisdom about what I do take up.

Saturday, 19 November 2016

Prison Visit

I woke just after 7 and headed for breakfast, and then got ready to meet the ladies and gents for the prison visit.  The drive was around about half and hour and I was so busy chatting with the driver that I missed a lot of the city sites on the way. 

The prison building seemed to be fairly new and the man who headed up the prison was pleased to see us and had said how pleased he was that people would come and show love to the ladies and men.  It was good to know that he had a heart for the prisoners.

It is quite sad to know that many of the people here have not yet even had a prison date.  They get accused and are assumed guilty until proven innocent, some of them have been here quite a while with no court date even mentioned.  The other sad thing to see is the young children that are in prison with their moms.  You just don't expect to see young children.  I was prepared though as it was the same in Madagascar. 

We started off our time praying for the ladies and Kim had made beautiful name tags for each of the ladies and had written down all the details of the previous visits prayer requests and seemed to know each lady's name and each of their heart aches and prayers. 

A few of the ladies came in and we were very saddened by the first lady, she told us that after the last visit two weeks before, she had found out that her son had been killed on a motor bike on the way to church.  Kim just hugged her and cried with her.  It was quite a shock. 
After the other ladies arrived, we sang some songs in French and then Kim gave a lovely talk about beauty and how God created beautify and how we also loved beautify and were drawn to beauty.  We spoke out what beauty was and how God looks for the beauty of a soft and gently hard and an inner beauty.  Our craft we made I lead, show them all how to make the flowers from the napkins, they were bright pink and they seemed to really love that.

We ended off by praying for everyone who wanted prayer. I prayed with one lady and could just see that the Holy Spirit was ministering to her, I prayed for her needs and then just stayed with her and was quite and she remained engaged with God for quite a while.  It was a real priviledge to pray with her and another lady too, both experienced God's love, I could see that and know that they had been touched by him.

It good to be able to take a hope and show love, its so good to be part of this in some small way.

God is good and His love so much greater than I can know. 

Friday, 18 November 2016

Off to the Prison

Tomorrow morning I am off to the Prison Ministry and we will be doing a Bible Story and then doing a craft  and worship.  I am helping with the craft, we are going to be making flowers, the same ones that I do with the patients.  I will write more when I get back.

I just wanted to thank everyone praying for Pauline,  she is the dental patient, its been a long road for her but she is finally doing a bit bitter, she is still in ICU but improving.  I have managed to just pop down and connect a little bit with her father, I so wish I could speak the language. 

My tooth continues to pain me and it looks like I may have to have a root canal which they can't do here.  They do do front teeth ones but not back teeth, so please pray for a healing.  All has been tried now and I do have some uncomfortable nerve pain, so I will be appreciative of prayer for this

Food for Life Speak from Eliphaz Essah

I attended this session this morning, each Friday one of the Programmes present and I find it so interesting to hear about how Mercy Ships is helping in so many areas.  This is on the Agricultural program and I thought he explained it very well.

On Wednesday 2nd November 2016, the Food for Life train the trainer programme was launched.  Here is Eliphaz Essah's speech from the Opening Ceremony:
"The train the trainers program in Agro-ecology that we are inaugurating this day in the Centre International d’Exp√©rimentation et de Valorisation des Ressources Africaines (CIEVRA) answers actively to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) for which our country Benin committed to work in order to get its agriculture community out  of poverty.
This program collaborates with National Partners like: the Fondation Espace Afrique one main Partenaire of Food for Life in Africa. Other partners such as: ALDIPE-ONG, CARDIOP-ONG, GEDDA-ONG, MIERS-ONG, AJAEV and AVAATH work with the program in order to expand agro-ecological approaches in Benin.
Everybody knows that nowadays exists a concern that is a problem all around the world and in particular in Africa; the Climate Change that leaves our farmers in intermittent dilemmas. If nothing is done by 2050, our populations will not know anything other than live with the consequences of a bad management of natural resources. These consequences will include: undernourishment, decrease of agricultural productivity, famine, severe malnutrition, reduction of life expectancy, loss of biodiversity, etc.…
The International Association Mercy Ships, through this train of trainers program, wants to reinforce the capacities of actors of the agricultural development on purely agro-ecological techniques, with the aim to insure a good human and environmental health, a good nutrition and also food security.
In the course of the next 5 months, trainees, coming from Gabon, Ivory Coast and Benin, will receive practical knowledge on:
    • Agro-ecology in the context of climate changes
    • Impacts of climate changes on african agriculture and research of strategies for adaptation and mitigation
    • Agriculture of soil conservation
    • Organic farming
    • Product processing
    • Nutrition
    • Rabbit-breeding and poultry farming  (small farms)
    • wormcomposting  
    • The diagnostic study of agro-ecological innovations in nearby farms
    • Communication for development
·         Entrepreneurship
Mrs the Vice-President of CIEVRA (He Claudine Afiavi Prudencio), Mercy Ships is entirely satisfied with this beautiful workplace that you are offering to us in order to allow beneficiaries to acquire the maximum knowledge which will enable them to be more competitive on the employment market. I take this opportunity to reiterate my deepest gratitude, and i am  assured that the Mercy Ships For Life  program, in partnership with the Fondation Espace Afrique, will leave at the end an indelible impact that I call "Lasting Impact".
May Almighty God bless you.
Thank you.”

Thursday, 17 November 2016

Dental Screening

I went off this morning to help at the dental screening and took my sore tooth with me.  I think this was a good thing, as it really helped me emphasis more closely, what a predicament so many of these precious people are in. 

We were explained the process of selection and why they do not take first come first served.  My understanding is to stop people sleeping over night outside the building, it also stops people from standing in line and selling their places, and it also helps in selecting those who are in the most urgent need.  For all these reasons, the way that it is conducted is for the screening team to go up and down the line and to look for those who have the most need, they also do random checks and they then take as many people as they can for the available appointments that week.  Those who do not get selected may come back the next week and try again.  I have told myself that we have to concentrate on what we can do, but it was still hard and it must be even more so for the screening team.

The screening team got started, my job was security, this meant just making sure that people could see were to line up if more people came and to make sure they were safe on the road when cars came by.   We did have a drunk man who is apparently there each day, he seemed rather harmless and like to conduct the traffic and occasionally had something to say to the patients, I think he saw himself as having a role in keeping them safe and entertained.

On a more serious note,  I watched a woman standing near the front of the queue, the people before her had opened their mouths to be assessed, she observed the process and therefore opened her mouth as they finished with the lady ahead, as she thought she would be next.  But, due to the way we screen, she was not next and  I saw her confusion and shock and felt a deep sadness for her and also for the screening teams as I wondered just how hard that must be for those who have to walk up and down the lines, looking for the most serious cases, they would be seeing this each week.  Knowing the reason didn’t make it easier.

I then watched a young man further down the queue who was seen as the screeners made it further along the line, he open his mouth and the screening team place a acceptance bangle on his arm and he gestured a cross on his heart and gave thanks to God.  He had a gentle, grateful smile on his face and it was very touching but I also felt the pain for all those around him who may not get the opportunity this week to get help. 

Also in the queue and gratefully found early on in the morning, was a young women, her whole face was swollen, her eyes, nose and mouth and cheeks were full of infection and it seemed likely, that without help she would not survive. Once again, I saw the reason we had to screen in this way,  how had she coped with this pain for so long?  She was taken to the ship hospital to receive intravenous anti-biotics and will then be able to receive the help she needs.  I got the opportunity to prayer for her and ask the Lord, to do, what I know He was doing anyway, walking this journey of recovery with her, to help her fully heal and that she will be relieved of pain, not just the physical but the emotional as well.

There was also a lady in the queue who was not a dental patient, she was orthopaedic and we had to inform her that our orthopaedic program is full.  I was astounded to see her arm and her leg, she had obviously broken both at some stage and they had really set badly and she was hoping for help.  Thankfully she was not in pain. 
I am so grateful that many will get help and so heart sore for those that won't & I am also grateful for the new ship that is being built which means more help.

I never thought I would be grateful for toothache but I am for this one, as it has helped me today to have a bit more empathy and I am so grateful that  I will be able to have it helped and that many of those in line will be helped too.

My heart was doing sea saws today on this giant sea saw called the African Mercy.

I will update more over the weekend of the now precious patient in our hospital, its been a hard week for her, we wondered if she would survive. 

Please be praying for her and her father, who has stayed by her side.

Saturday, 12 November 2016

Meeting New Patients

This evening after a quite day on the ship, I went down for a short while to visit.  The patients with whom I connected last have left the ship, so I was not sure were to go next.  I met a lady called Elizabeth and her daughter Michele.  Michele was hanging tight to her mom and did not want to be put down for a moment.  I had with me some pink serviettes to make flowers, they seem to really enjoy learning this craft.  Michele her mom says, is scared of the white people, I guess she doesn't usually get to meet us, so I am praying that that fear will diminish as she is loved and cared for here. 

There were quite a few of the ladies came over and also wanted to learn and it was great as each of them slightly cut out the end differently, so each had a slightly different flower.  They asked me for more flowers, of different types, so I am going to have to hit the internet and see what I can find.

I will take a photo soon and post what they look like.

There was another little girl who must have been watching from a distance from her bed and the next thing we knew, she had fallen fast asleep sitting up.  Her mom was one of the ladies that must have just had that artist flare, as her flower came out beautifully.

Tomorrow, it is either the ward service or I will visit the Hope Centre service.  I am hoping to do that as I never got to say goodbye to Mometa and her sister Anita and little Seco. 

Medical Inservice Talk on the Medical Capacity Building Role in Mercyships

Each week, on a Friday, just after breakfast and before work, we have a half hour talk from one of the departments on what they do and how they work towards the aim and mission of Mercyships. Bringing Hope and Healing to the Poorest of the Poor.

This week was the Medical Capacity Building

The following are what the are involved in and with:
  • Courses & Mentoring
  • Donations
  • Agriculture
  • Infrastructure
  • Who Checklist
  • Biomedical
The main mission of this department, is helping to strengthen health care system across cultural barriers.

Some of the Courses are:
  • Essential Pain Management
  • Surgical skills
  • Safe obstetric and paediatric anaesthesia
  • Primary Trauma Care
  • New born resuscitation and helping babies breath
  • I think I missed a couple
The WHO Checklist
This is basically a safe surgery checklist which apparently cuts down hugely on the mortality, complications from surgery and readmission rate. my understanding is that it promotes teamwork and communication for the who surgical teams and they are trained and encouraged to develop their own checklist based upon their own environment and teams.  We provide the training as it can be a difficult transmission but after about 7 - 10 practise it becomes a very helpful tool for them.

Our surgeons also come alongside others for Surgical and Anaesthesia Mentoring during our time in country.

There is a partnering and mentoring program for nurses on the wards, the biomedical teams and serialisation.  They also help train technicians on how to use equipment that has been donated.

Our Ponsetia clinic, alongside others and help train them up to do the ponsetti technique which is a simple, non intrusive technique used to correct club feet.  This takes a series of stretching and casting that slowly brings the feet around until they are straight, at this point, there is a simple surgery which cuts the achilles tendon (in children this is not a major thing and they heal quickly and well.  After this stage, their are braces,  our team comes alongside and trains in each of these stages, so that when the ship leaves, there is a trained team and a physical environment for this technique to be practices. 
we have found that it is much more effective to train a team then an individual who needs to go back into a team and make changes. 

Agricultural Training:
This includes nutritional training , healthy food, nutritional agricultural development, within this they do a 4 week, train the trainer programme.

Infrastructure, includes renovation, construction, upgrades and maintenance.

I hope to get more indepth input into these as time goes on.  The agricultural programme is not as far away from the ship as it was in Madagascar so soon, I should be able to go on a trip there.

Friday, 11 November 2016

Another Goodbye, Dancing on the Dock and Worship

Its been a full but good day today, we went off ship to have lunch to say goodbye to Jonny and Steph who are leaving to go back to New Zealand.  I have really enjoyed working with Jonny, so am sad that he is leaving. 

After getting back we finished off the week with some Contraband dancing on the dock, although I find it hard to follow the dances and usually am about to learn them when the dance finishes, it was still great fun and the young kids really seemed to enjoy it. 

We then said a final farewell to Jonny and Steph and heading into the International Lounge for a time of really beautiful worship. 

Thursday, 10 November 2016

Part Day off Computers and off to the Deaf School

I should have some photos to come of this experience.  It late in the service for me to get started with Mercy Ministries but its been such a busy start to the service and I have also been a bit unwell for a while, nothing serious but feeling like I am coming down with something and being awfully tired and on top of the have had a bit of tooth ache.  I am seeing a dentist onboard but it has taken a bit out of me.  So last week I was supposed to go the the Deaf School but really was not well enough to go, in fact it was the first day, I just needed to lie down for an hour, forgetting of course that it was a Thursday and that we were having a Fire Drill, so just as I started to snooze, the alarm went and off I had to dash to the Server Room as I am on the IS Emergency Team.  Soon as we got there, they issued a Abandon Ship alert and we all marked down the gangway to a very hot Benin sun.

So today was infact the first time to go.  It was a very touching experience.  The children were between the ages of about 5 and 15, both girls and boys.  The staff there were very loving towards the children and they looked well looked after but it just dawned on me how little they had, and of course, how much we have, or I have. The floors were concrete and stayed and their classroom was just a chair for each child, and no other frills at all.  We spend time with a bible story of the 10 virgins and the oil lamps, the lady who was telling the story had a lovely way of including the children and a couple of us in the acting out of the story and we all had a little giggle at the sleeping virgins who didn't have their own oil, the noises and expressions were very sweet.  After that we cut up some paper plates and make them into lamps.  This experience was rather full on for me, too many people asking for help at the same time but the children seem to enjoy it and we ended off playing a little bit of skipping, blowing bubbles and some ball games.

This is just one of the ministries that we go to during the week.  I will describe the others I find out more about them.

Photos to come .....

Tuesday, 8 November 2016

Hospital Tour and the IS Team

Our Department today went on a hospital tour, this takes you around as if you were a patient coming on-board.  It is to give us the experience so we can know how a patient must feel coming along to this ship for the first time.

This is a picture of our now full team, although we lose Jonny on Friday which is sad, we will all miss him.  From left to right is Will, Ryan, Zach, Jonny, Jasper, Me and Elfred.

Don't you love the hat.

The tour started by getting a picture of a patient and we were asked to image how it may have been for this particular person when they first came to the ship. We were introduced to the initial story of Mercy Ships and how after a hurricane years ago, Don Stephens our founder was standing in a locker and a young lady prayed that it would be great to have a ship, fully supplied with everything it needed to come and help people.  That was many years ago.

We then moved down off the ship to the Admissions tent were they first arrive, many of the patients would have travelled far and are very unfamiliar with what they will experience here.  So the first part of the journey is a lot of education and also questions about health and family.  The admissions nurses do an amazing job of explaining every part of the journey. They explain the entire procedure, what it is like to get blood and to have blood tests, down to how it feels to have the needle put in. They are also show pictures of other patients before and after photos so that they are properly prepared for how they may look after a skin graft for instance. 

After admissions, they take the journey up the gangway, which for many is a very strange experience and also difficult, depending on their ailment. 

We then went on a tour of the different departments that the patients would potentially travel through.  We have 5 different wards, including an ICU unit.  We were not taking into the wards for patients comfort but we did get dressed up as seen above in scrubs so that we could go through the OR and sterilised area of the ship and were able to look through the windows at ongoing surgeries, I think a couple of the guys did feel a bit weezy but did remain standing. The other areas that we saw was Radiology, there is a CAT scanning equipment and other XRay machinery, there is a full lab for all the blood works and of course, we the crew are the blood bank.  I have only needed to give blood once so far, as we have crew from all over the world, we get to put our mark on the Wall World Map to see were all the blood comes from.   We also saw hospital supplies and some of the general office areas.  

The experience was a good one, one that allowed me to get a walk through of the patients experience and also got some important questions answered.

Saturday, 5 November 2016

A Visit to the Patients

It was a good way to end the day, after dinner I took some napkins down, some red, some pink and some white.  These are just perfect for making paper flowers as Sandra showed me last year and its a really good craft to do, it doesn't take too long but it brings beauty quickly and smiles to those who see the flower slowly unfold from the simple napkins. 

This evening there was a new lady on the ward who initially said no she was not interested in making the flowers but as she watched, I saw her curiosity build and by the time we were unfolding the first flower (photos to come), she was enthusiastically attempting to make one and as she did she flowered too, a smile came forth, not just on her lips but in her eyes too.  She had a huge deformity on one eye and her mouth too was totally deformed, I am not sure how she was eating as there was not space at all for her to open her mouth anymore, this is common here and thankfully the wonderful doctors can do something about this, both from a point of view of restoring eating ability but also to restore dignity that is taken from these young precious lives.  I left the ward feeling heart sore at what this young women must have gone through before now.  How pleased I am we are here and these surgeries are possible.

The young baby Seco was playing mischievously again this evening. If he could find a flower to break or a cloth to pull at, or something to pull off the bed, he was there doing it.  He is a really cutie and his mom, the patients sister, a real gem.  She seemed hard when I first met her, but she is the first one to give up her craft for the new person who comes over and is always thinking of others.  I do hope I can write her a letter to tell her who special she is.  I think I may see if I can draw her picture and little Seco, I know I have spelt that wrong but its how you pronounce it.

I heard from Fifilianna's mom the other day too, that was the little girl in Madagascar, the Wee Artist I called her, it was lovely to hear from her.  It warmed my heart to see her say that she hopes we can meet again one day.  I do too. 

Some Posts don't Make it to the Blog

I realised today that not all I type makes it to my blog, Dad said to me that he thought I had not posted as much this time.  I felt that was strange as I know I wrote some more things earlier in the week.  I think I writing drafts and then forgetting to post them, some are also on my work computer, as I do a few minutes blogging at the beginning, lunch time or the end of the day. I will go and check on my computer later and see if there are any things waiting to be posted, but they may not be in a good order.

I have just come back from going off ship to a hotel nearby with a friend to have her hair cut (you should see mine, or maybe not)  and to have some lunch.  Whilst she was having her hair cut, I sat down to read my book, I am reading a autobiography on Helen Keller, I had no idea she was blind and deaf.  After popping along the corridor to visit the ladies, I came back and was asked by an African gentlemen on the way back. 

"Hey, are you from Mercyships",  he went on to tell me the most amazing story of how he was a day worker on the ship about 7 years ago when the ship was in Benin.  He is actually from Cameroon, which is were we are going next year for the field service.  He told me how he had come on as a day crew worker as a translator and that his life was transformed whilst he was here.  He said that before, He had come from a world were life was all about making money and taking advantage of other people to make a buck but on the ship, he had experienced a very different life, one were people came from far and wide, all paying to come here to help other people.  The effect on him was transforming, he realised that there was so much more to life and he wanted to live his life this new way.  He started by attending a bible school and getting some counselling training and now he wanted to go back to Cameroon and not work for Mercyships, but take with him what he learnt here. He has formed a business and training idea to take back home where he can help others and train other to train others, a model he saw here on the ship.  You could really see his passion for God and for helping others, the love of others obviously being born in His love of God and how that relationship has transferred his heart for others.  He told me a sad story of his upbringing, his mom leaving when he was 3 and being put in a family were he was punished aggressively for any small mistake he made.  He found himself one day at a seminary and witness the love of God, he didn't want to go home but had to.  He told me how know he wanted to help others and that he could do that under God's guidance, as he listened to people, he prayed and asked God to help him give and encouraging word to whomever he came across.  I was just so amazed how this lovely man and conversation came out of a sitting down to read a book.  A God-incidence I know.  My vision although not to form a company but would be similar to help to bring encouragement and healing to those whom God brings across my path.

God has been close this week, He has been speaking truths to me and helping me work through some areas.  In the midst of the darkness there is always His light. He doesn't bring us into situations that He won't bring us through.  Each day I walk with Him here, He teaches and counsels me with new things. 

Tomorrow I am going off ship again,  I have been invited to a house church with some other South Africans.  That will be so good.  Hearing my homelands accent always brings a feeling of home.  On this ship were we have so many nationalities, it also feels like home,  a little glimpse I guess of heaven.

I will try and find my rough posts tomorrow and post them but they will just be random writings but I will post them anyway as there are little bits of life on the ship.

God is good.

Tuesday, 1 November 2016

A New Week, Patient Visit

We heard that our patient who had such and emergency on the weekend is doing ok.  I will post more info when I have some.

I have had an interesting day, not many other roles I have had, have taken me into the middle of surgery.  We had a computer down in the OR and we have a big operation tomorrow so I needed to make sure the computer would be up in time, so off into the OR room I went.  Step one in this procedure is getting into the right gear,  a blue hat covering my hair, a yellow hospital gown and some blue overshoes.  It was a little nerve racking, as I entered and walked past the patient and the doctors, I was nervous of knocking something over.  Once I had diagnosed the issue, I had to make a phone call to get some firewall settings sorted, and again I was nervous of distracting the doctors. Thankfully all was well, the issue got sorted and off I went.  Almost too quickly, as I nearly forgot I had the hat the shoes on, and saved by Bronnie who asked me if I would like to pass them back, I made it to supper without blue hat and shoes.

Later this evening after my two prayer groups, I headed back down to the ward and sat for a while and made some paper flowers with one of the patients sister.  She is the same lady whom I meet the previous time.  I didn't' spend too long tonight but it was good to connect again.  I noticed her sister who is about 17 but I think who does have some development issues, was contently colouring, she had such concentration, I think there is a little artist looking to get out.

I am possibly going to help out tomorrow for the eye screening.  It starts at 6:30 so I best be settling down.

Saturday, 29 October 2016

A Unique Place A Weekend Retreat

This really is a unique and special place to be.  We have just finished a ladies retreat, which started on Friday night. The theme was to hear Gods voice.

Friday night we got started and in the middle of the evening, there was suddenly an page that came over the ship, the Emergency team were being called down to OR.  5 of the ladies sitting near me, jumped up and ran out and one of the Chaplains stood to say a beautiful prayer for the whoever it was who had been injured or whoever was unwell.  We were not too sure straight away what had happened but we all joined in prayer. 

A little while later, I was on deck speaking to Kyle, when there was another emergency call, this time asking for B+ blood donors to please come immediately down to Deck 3, our hospital deck.

After we finished the retreat for the night, I headed down for bed and was feeling really sad for the situation.  Again we got another page, called all crew members to stop and pray for the patient who we were told was in critical condition.  All over the ship people stopped and prayed.  We knew now that it was indeed one of the patients and not an accident.  A short while later I was relieved to hear another page to say that whilst the patient was still in critical condition, he has been stabilised.

We started off our retreat this morning with the same news, he was still critical but stable, so please keep our patients and our doctors and nurses in your prayers. 

I was also very touched tonight toward the end of the retreat when one of the ladies shared how she had heard from God for the very first time, she said she had thought about Him a lot, just this was the first time she really had heard from Him and when she shared, my heart just expanded again for the love of our God and how big and humble He is.  She said that she had been on duty when this had occurred and her first thought was on no Lord, not on my watch, this cant be happening, when she heard God say to her,  it is on My watch. 

All things are in His care and control. 

Thursday, 27 October 2016

Weekend Retreat Coming Up

This week so far I have not been able to go back to visit the patients.  Sunday we did bell ringing which is always such a good experience, even though I was not feeling very well.  Monday to Thursday this week I have not been feeling well, although not too bad, just a sore throat and that means visiting is not a good idea. 

This weekend we are having a ladies retreat on-board, the theme is on Hearing God's voice and it sounds like a wonderful program.

I am thinking of starting to sell little greeting cards with my sketches, one of my Madagascan friends from last field service who was one of my room mates, needs to raise money to do a course, so I am going to see if this can raise just a little bit towards that.  After Christmas, I plan to continue and see if I can raise any money towards crew fees. Whislt I am fine for the moment, its always a good idea to be thinking of ways to do this.

I also have missed going to see the horses.  This week I missed going as I wanted to listen to a talk on a world study on safe, available, affordable surgery, but due to a long operation down in the hosptital, that talk had to be delayed till next week. 

Instead, we had Dr Gary talk on Noma's. This is a real poverty sickness, meaning totally avoidable and generally only seen in poor countries due to the lack of availability of care, either due to lack of resources, lack on funding, or lack on being able to get to help quick enough.

Basically, we all have bacteria in our mouths but our immune system is ontop of this.  When in a poor country someone develops an ailment that their body can't fight, this can develop further by becoming infected, and as they have not availablitiy to antibiotics, or not being able to see a Dr, basically the skin on the lips and noise look like they have been eaten away.  Dr Gary explained how within a very short space of time, that is about 10 days or less, the poor victim, leaves the human race, in respect of having this develop so badly, that they are no longer considered human by fellow travels.  The pictures he showed us were just awful to see.  If you are interest,  google Noma and you will see what I mean.  He then went onto explain how they can operate and how they can use skin graphs and how they did the operations.  The work is amazing.

Sunday, 23 October 2016

Long Weekeed

I did go down to the ward on both Friday and Saturday night.  The young man was fast asleep for most of my visit but there was another child in the bed nearby, I am not quite sure what was wrong with her but she had some sort of handicap and was there with her sister and her sisters baby. 

I did some sewing with me although the material was not very nice and the needles a little bit too small I did manage to pass on some material and needles to her and shortly after that, the young man woke up.  He did spend quite a bit of time looking at the book on the Origami and I said I would come back the next day.

Saturday night was a bit difficult for me, there were lots of other people around and they were all trying to ask me to help them at the same time and the young chap wanted to do Origami and I was hoping he would be able to work things out for himself as I am not very good at working out how to do things from diagrams.  At the end I asked him to pick a few things (quite a few other also decided they wanted me to help them so put paper in the book also.)  So know I need to learn how to do a few of these and I think next time I will just take one thing to do and see who would like to try. 

Sunday was a quietish day, a group of us did go to the wards to Bell Ring.  We did that last field service and the patients really enjoy it.  We have books that are colour coded and the songs are written out with cords draw in colour, we have a set of bells in all different colours and we ring the bells to the tune of some lovely praise songs.  Once we have demonstrated as a group, we offer the bells to the patients and the just light up as they play the song.  From the 5 years olds up to the adult, men and women included.

Friday, 21 October 2016

Ward Visit and Long Weekend

We have a ship holiday this weekend but unfortunately I am on pager duty. This means that I can't leave the ship.  Quite a few of my friends are going to a place called Bags Dock.  It was good to have today to rest a bit. This left me refreshed enough to plan a visit to the wards.  On my way to dinner, I was stopped by the Hospital Chaplain who ask me if I might be able to visit a young patient and his mom, he is a 15 year old lad, I don't know more details than that. 

I was not really prepared with things to do but did have some material which I found out was not the best material to work with but it was ok.  When I got to the ward, the young man was fast asleep and so was his mom.  There was another young patient and her sister there who seemed interested so I spent some time with them.  I am not much of a sewer but could help just enough to get them going. 

Just as I was about to leave, the young man woke up and I was able to sit with him for a short while and pass his mom on some sewing to get on with.  I had a beautiful adult drawing book that I got before I left and he picked out a picture that I could leave him to colour in. 

I have a book with some origami which I will take tomorrow night. It really did feel good to be visiting again. 

I think I am going to need some more material, paper for origami and some more sewing needles, croucher hocks and wool.  Activity books for young adults would be good too.  The younger kids do tend to have more visitors, the older ones can get quite board.

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Procrastion and a Heart Kick Start

So I have procrastinating about going down and visiting the patients.  Its hard to get started and I was waiting for my crafts to arrive, as well as really very much needing to get work to a calmer level.

This morning I was needing to go down to the hospital ward because I have to go past that way on my way down to engineering to sort out an AutoCAD problem.  On the way down I was praying for God help in connecting to any of the patients.  I walked past a young man who reached out to me, he had bandages all around his head and I realise it was the same person that I had been sitting behind in the ward service.  He had the look that just said, am I worth it and of course he was worth so much more than the time I felt I gave him.  I just reach out and shook his hand and then too soon I heard a baby crying and crying so I walked on and reach out to a young mom, she had a baby on her back, they were both so very small, the baby was tiny and was in fits of tears.  I tried to rub the babies back and had a little calming response that that was short lived.  I had to head on down to engineering as they were waiting for me but those small connections were enough to kick start my heart to the other reason  I here.  I decided that I would pop down to the wards this evening, even for a short time just to see if I could say hello again to the young boy and also to see if I could see the mom, I had heard the baby was crying because she was going to have an operation but I found out later that she had in fact had a scan and that they wouldn't be able to operate.

So this evening I did pop down and found a very lively ward, lots of the kids from the Academy were there playing and chatting to the patients.  In A ward were lots of the children were, there was music and dance, I walked in and joined in, although dancing is not really my comfort area.  I happened to see the young mom in the corner and was pleased to see she had a gentle smile on her face, even though she had been told they could not operate.  It was only then that I noticed that the baby had huge tumour on its behind, the size, if not bigger than her head.  I had heard about the little one the day or two before but was astonished at the size.  The little one was sucking on an apple and seemed bright eyed.  I will have to follow up again tomorrow.

I know that just because I feel clumsy at this and its hard with no language, I would rather try than not, I think the awkwardness is just going to have to be part of the whole experience and I will pray each time for more of Gods love and grace.  A friend has also expressed an interest in coming with me so that is really good news.  Please do pray.

Tuesday, 11 October 2016

Starting Drawing and Crafts Arrived

I have managed to start drawing again.  I joined an Art Journaling Group as well as a Group on a Wednesday that has good talks and discussions.  I also have been drawing on Sundays and hope to start visiting the patients again. I am just busy getting my craft ducks in a row after my container came.  Please be praying for me about heading down to the wards, its always so rewarding but also makes me a bit nervous. 

I really too am going to get involved in some of the Mercy Ministries that have just started up, my prayers really are that I will be able to plan a doable diary, I tend to do too much and that's not really too good for much.  So I am working on my planning at the moment and will chose a couple of ministries that I will start off with.

Here is my first picture, nothing to do with Mercy Ships but comes under my category of good leaders.  I am four categories of drawing at the moment.

Good leaders
Art Journelling

This is a picture of Roberts Swan, an Antarctic Explorer, you can find his website by googling 2041 an Antarctic.

Town Hall

Today Don Stephens and Donovan Palmer Town Hall

Today I attended a mini Mercy Ships course, we covered various topic that I have covered before but I was particularity interested in the security training.  It was the sort of training I think everyone needs and I will put a few of the tips into this later on.

This evening, we had our Founder on-board and Donovan Palmer who is also one of our leaders. They are such humble and down to earth men, like Selwyn, they have a Godly perspective on all they say and do, they reminded me of Captain John who was our last Captain, all men of God, seeking to lead by serving with excellence. 

Yet another day of saying please Lord, give me what need to give of my best here, help me to see life from your perspective so that your loving will can come to this earth, in this place.  The more I learn of His heart, the more I see it here on this ship, the more I see the work on the ship, the more I see His heart.

Saturday, 8 October 2016

Medical Inservice and Flood on a Saturday Morning

Medical In-service Talk by Dr Tertius

What a very touching talk I listened to this evening. What motivation, a talk on beauty in the midst of terrible tumours that we were seeing on the screen.  The talk wasn’t really on beauty but he talked beautifully about how God creation is beautiful and how science find beauty.  We are naturally drawn to beauty and repelled by ugly and distortions of beauty and perfections.

It really touched my heart, it made me realise that we all have the desire to have people drawn to us and not away from us.  It made me realise just how difficult it must be to live with the deformities that some of our patients have and how beautiful for them to have people here being drawn to them and accepting them, after a life time of the natural instinct of others to drawn away. 

He spoke about the healing that comes to the spirit here when nurses or visitors to the wards treat the patients with a smile and with an acceptance and look them in the eye and look past the deformities that many of them have.

I really can’t explain the talk adequately; I can just say it touched me deeply.

A Morning in the Rain

I signed up to visit a home for abandoned babies this morning, run by the Sisters of Charity. 

As we headed out, it was pouring with rain and I was hesitant whether to go or not, the roads here are full of Zimigons, and full of traffic at the best of times, my gut told me that this rain would be a problem.  There were a few mutterings from various other people but we didn’t want to let the leader of our group down, nor the Charity we were visiting, so off we went.

It was not too soon after we left when the main roads started to look like a river, the cars kept going on, so did the Zimigons, my logic couldn’t work out how this was happening, usually cars would not head into this sort of water and I was waiting for the first car to putt out and a long traffic jam to start ahead.  The sides of the roads were so full of water that it was flowing into shops and I couldn’t help but wonder how many of the shop keepers would be loosing their stock and their simple possessions.  We tried to get down various side streets but our driver wisely decided not to venture down.  The sights we saw were quite amazing, nothing I have ever seen before.  The strangest of sights was a young man, about twenty, just after we left.  Imagine driving down the main street of a town, water rising all around and there in the middle of the two way, just on the walk way between the two roads, someone doing push ups, using the middle walkway  for his hands, his legs heading out into the road.  The traffic was at that point quiet but it would only be minutes before car would be approaching. Strange indeed.

As we turned further down, the flooding started getting worse, at least we were in a Land Rover but the motor bikes were up to their exhaust pipes and so were the cars.  Down a side street we saw kids diving and swimming under the water, its not worth mentioning the state of the water.  When was the jam going to begin, when was that first car going to just stall?  My guts was telling me that we should turn around as this could only get worse, so I finally picked up the courage to be the first one to suggest it. The leader, jumped at the decision and so did everyone else.  This was at the point when we saw a fridge floating down next to us and the cars ahead jamming and the rain still coming down.  None of us had bought cameras as we don’t take photos when we visit the charities but I really did wish at this point, that I could have taken a few shots.

We were very lucky and did manage to turn around, we saw more kids swimming in the road and managed to make it back to Port without too much of a mishap.  I did feel bad about not making it to the Charity but I think it was the right decision.

The rest of the afternoon was spent setting up a little competition for the Cabins, to take pictures of how the make best use of storage and other ideas for when you are sharing a cabin with up to 5 to 7 other people and then finished off the evening in the Midships area were tons of the crew were hanging out for a Quiz.  Half way through the quiz, one of my quiz partners got called out as one of the patients from the Hope Centre was being bought in and needing attention.

Please keep our doctors, nurses and patients in our prayers.

Sunday, 2 October 2016

Ward Service Sunday Morning

I have just come back from the Ward Service. 
It really is a special place to be to worship God and fellowship on a Sunday morning.  Its on the ship on Deck 3, the hospital Deck.  Most of the patients come along to the service,  the are all dressed in their hospital attire and nurses and other crew from all other departments come along.  We start off with songs or worship, usually in the local dialect and we have a translator.   Clementine our resident hospital Chaplan makes everyone feel welcome and always starts off with the phrases God is good, and we all respond, "all the time"  she then says
"all the time" to which we respond, "God is good".  During the services patients pop in and out and so do nurses.  The nurses come with medicine, or come to collect a patient who may be needing some procedure or medical care.  Their are patients with huge tumors on their faces, young children with burns healing, their arms or legs in full casts and stretched out to the side and bandaged up.  All God's precious children.  Some of the patients have severe deformities on their faces and they are used to hiding.  So to see them opening up and giving you a smile is a sign of inner healing that goes beyond the physical. 

Clementine tells a story from the bible and then engages us all to respond to various questions, all this taking us deeper into the stories and helping us to see the amazing Mercy, Grace and Love of God that is there as you look deeper.  Its wonderful to see your own heart expanding and hearing what others are discovering in the
word. What a great God we serve.
At the end of the services, as the crew came out, they all lined up against the walls of the corridor and shock hands with those coming past.
Have I said that this is a special place?

Should I or Shouldn't I

Should I or shouldn't  I was the question I was asking myself.
I was invited out to go on a walk, not a far work, not one even were you need special shoes, and it would be on the flat as well. The alarm went off at 7 and I braved it, went up for breakfast, look out the window and saw that it looked like it could rain.  Rain and walking and me just don't go together but neither do a very humid hot day.  So it was, do I go this morning on this gentle walk, out in the Benin country side or do I wait for another time.  My thought was go today, its cooler now and it wasn't really raining that hard and of course it was going to be a gentle walk.  so off I went.

We decided to do this Benin style and instead of taking a vehicle part of the way, nor phone a taxi, but rather head for the Port gate (we are not allowed to walk in the Port in Benin) in the MercyShips mini bus as then hailed a taxis.
We headed out with around 10 of us, two men, and the rest woman, mostly younger girls and Janet and I both the older ones in the group.  We drove for about half and hour, I was expecting that we would be dropped in the country but we were actually dropped still in a fairly built up area.  Oh, I forget to mention the goats and the policemen. 

We had been  visited by the USA Embassy the night before and told that we should always travel with a copy of our passports and more importantly with one certified. We had not go around to doing that yet and of course we did get stopped by some police, all three of the vehicles, and were asked for our identity documents, we were greatly relieved when they accepted our Mercy Ships ID badges and we could carry on.  The traffic was not too bad and I was not surprised to see a couple of goats in that had been tied in the middle of a round about, next to them were two kids (small goats) that were not tied up but were staying very close to their moms.  The next area we came to, to my surprise I found out that we were suddenly in a flood, there was water everywhere but the cars just seemed to keep going.  I was greatly relieved when we found our way out to the other end and drove out onto a clear road ahead.
We were dropped off and we started walking,  Benin smells and sights all around.  We walked far and a lot of the time na old railway track which seemed the best place to walk at the time, until a little way along, we heard the word "poo" coming from ahead and looked down to find a rather large one, in the path, we stepped over and kept walking.  "Poo" came the next shout and then "poo" again as we kept walking, thanks to the leader of the trail who kept alerting us to what was ahead. 

We walked through many villages and came to an area were our leader wanted to stop and have a look, there were some statues off to the side in a small area.  I decided not to go in and look as I realized this was a voodoo temple and the statues were ancestors.  There were quite a few of these sort of things on the way, I just keep my eyes ahead and my heart set on Jesus, knowing that He keeps me safe but also not wanting to engage at all with this practice, even to look.   We had a bit of teaching on the wide spread of voodoo in Benin.  There were quite a few upsetting sights along the way, very eye opening to the poverty that so many people live in. 

At about 11:30 we hit the beach and the smell of fish rose high.  We were going to have lunch at the beach but instead we just walk to the beach and observed the fisherman pulling in huge nets from the ocean.  We had also been warned never to swim at the beaches in Benin, the waves were just far to dangerous and we could see that. 

We saw the fisher men, diving in to the waves and heading out to pull in the nets. I couldn't help but wonder how many young men were lost to the waves, they looked so dangerous.  One of our group decided to try and get some photographs which was not a good idea, again we had been warned not to do this, without asking permission.  She was soon to find out that this really was not the done thing. We thought she had learnt her lesson earlier in the day when she tried to take a shot and was given and angry shout, not only from the lady but also had comments from our group, reminding her what was said.  The fishermen were not happy, we heard that they believed we were stealing their souls when a photo was taken.
So by that time, I was really ready to be home, only to find out we had to walk home from there.  Well the rest of the walk was long and hard and by the time I got home, my feet and head hurt and I was so happy to see the ship gate.  It was 3pm.  We had walked more than 27,000 steps which was 12 miles.

I learnt today that I really am a gently walker and that was way beyond my comfort level and the big blister on my toe will remind me that for the next few days.  Walking to bed latter this evening was an adventure too.  Lets see how I am in the morning.
Should I shant I?  next time will be shant.