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Sunday, 25 September 2016

A Full Week

So, the week has been busy, we still have about 160 jobs in our queue so I am quite tired at this stage.

On the work front, this week I have gained a bit more knowledge on the Television system on the ship.  I learnt how the cabling and were the boosters and cabling went around the ship.  After having a lesson on the Satellite system and the different channels and booster boxes, we found ourselves in prayer for our work and the ship.  Immediately an analogy popped to my prayers about us receiving and then being sent out to different parts of the ships, each with different things to do and accomplish, somehow that just bedded in the new knowledge.  I know that probably sounds strange but it was helpful to both my job and my spirit.  Knowing God was close by and helping me not just to absorb the work information but also teaching me about spiritual matters at the same time, re-enforced for me His walking with me and His love of the around the ship, always helping me to grow and helping me to focus on Him and others.  If only I could remember all the time.

We also had a very sick patient on-board this week, he had a major operation and had one of the rarer blood types and had started to bleed.  That was Tuesday evening,  he is doing better but still very much in need of prayer.

The evenings have also been busy, I do tend to do too much which can leave me pretty tired.  This week has not been an easy one for me, a lot of that has been to do with tiredness.  But on the positive front, I have spent time drawing whilst pondering a bible passage, that was Monday.  I am drawing a picture of Robert Swan - I am doing a series on good leaders. I will finish that today and post it.

Tuesday night I attended a talk on the new ship that is currently being built in China.

Wednesday night I went off ship and made a new friend,  his name is Orlando and he was initially quite shy when I appoached him but by the end of my time of visiting, he seems to be comfortable around me.  You probably have guess, he is a horse.   I can't afford to ride here in Benin, its so much more expensive than in Madagascar and to be honest, I am happy not riding as the horses don't have enought excericse space here and I just dont' like riding horses that are in this sort of environment. I did really enjoy being around the horses though and will probably visit sometimes.

Saturday, a few of us went off ship into the markets of Benin in search of some fabric.  I did manage to chose some and we have a tailor coming to the ship tonight so I will have something made to remind me of my time here.

This morning, I attended the ward service again and the presence of God was there and the patients were interacting and many brought some insight into what they had picked up from the story.

Tuesday this week, I am hoping to have some time off work to go with our Mercy Ministries to a centre were they help young women develope skills to have a trade of their own.  I am excited about going.

Off to draw now.

Saturday, 17 September 2016

Kill the bloger

I am having a difficult time with this blogger.  Because we are in Benin, the site keeps trying to translate.  I type away and check it and then post it and go back to only find its got capitals all over the place, its translated different words.  That is the reason for perhaps some funny posts.

A Wee One Grows in Strengh

My friend Janet is a nutritionist and is charged with helping patients, especially the wee ones, get strong enough to have an operation.

At dinner the other night she told me such a touching story.  She had a mom arrive with a 3 week old baby that had been born with a cleft pallet and had been accepted on our program.  She arrived in Janet’s office, Janet said the little one was so tiny and all shriveled up.  The mom explained that she had not been able to feed the baby, she wouldn’t suckle and thus was wasting away. 

They were amazingly able to help and they got hold of a some teat that the baby was able to suckle on and she took her first sip, a very tiny amount of about 25ml.  When she first arrived, they took her blood sugar and it was dangerously low, I don’t remember the exact amounts and don’t want to put the wrong information but whatever it was, it was loooow.  Half an hour after her first feed, it had crept up to a much better level and the little one look like a different child.

They explained the mom how to pump milk and explained that this really was the best thing for the baby long term health. The baby was admitted to the hospital and a few days later Janet saw the little one who was look full of health.  What an amazing role to be able to be involved in, this little one really looked like she may not have made it through the next hours, to now starting to thrive.  

Wedding day Benin.

Last Saturday, one of my friends from Benin, from last field service in Madagascar was getting married. His name is Coffi and he was getting married to Ubi it was lovely to meet her, she was such a gentle lady, a perfect match for Coffi.  Coffi is one of our hospital chaplains and is a very special man. I started learning a bible teaching techniques with him service and hope to do more this time.

We heading off from the ship at 9:30 and it would be aware were a long day. In Africa invited when you get to an event at a time like ten o'clock, you are not really sure what time it will start. The event starts at ten could mean starting to get ready at ten. 

We arrived for the first civil ceremony; we all went into the building around ten o'clock purpose i think it only started around 11:30. The bride and groom were there a good half an hour after-us and then they were too awaiting the official to join us and start the proceedings. Ubi looked beautiful and coffi look very handsome and happy too. We were glad we had come along, as if we had missed this service, we would have been waiting at the church for a good hour or so more, and would have missed this portion of the wedding. After the ceremony, we all headed off to the church services. The place was really packed and we managed to get the last row, just before it started to rain. The preacher was very animated and very passionate about the services and preach a lot on how the women should submission and submit to her husband. I was very pleased that he got the balance and also write spent a lot of time preaching the husband too should submit to the wife, a mutual submission. He also taught how when the husband like Christ had given his life for the church (his people) and so the husband should give his life for her. It was good to hear the balance of his sermon and give the proper picture as the bible says it. It was a very passionate sermon.

After the service everyone moved across to the reception. Martha  Janet and I were left stranded outside the church for a while you kind Martha slow our vehicle for the collection of the cake and the driver got stuck in traffic. With Martha, you always-have an adventure and we ended up eating and peanuts having a special Benin ice cream on the side of the road and made an adventure out of the experience. We arrived at the reception just in time for the meal and celebration. There were not many speeches goal there was singing and celebration. We finally left the reception and got back to the ship at five. Shortly after that Coffi and Ubi arrived back on the ship and made their rounds through the dining room, we are all family their ship and they wanted to make safe we ​​all got to see them and their witness union. Well it was exhausting day but I was glad that I got to go and am looking forward to seeing some photos of the day.

In the evening we had a special meeting community meeting, instead of our usual. We broke up into teams of 8 and went all around the hospital and to all areas were the patients would be. Each team went into an area and we spent time praying each department and each patient that would be coming onboard. We prayed for the doctors, nurses and technicians and for department's needs. It was a special time and i got to pray in one of my favorite departments, rehab.

This morning just after-arriving at work, we heard ship page. It was Dr. Gary, our beloved doctor whose-been serving here for over 25 years. He asked the entire crew to stop what they were doing and the whole ship prayed to start off the field service. He committed to serving god and invited then god into our time here and asked for his blessing and guidance and help for all of us. I heard later that all the nurses and hospital staff hand holding hand all around deck 3 in the hospital and praying together were deck. We had five patients precious onboard last night by now who would have had their operation.  

How good it is to be here. Often there are tough days this goal is what makes it all worthwhile. Seeing god's heart for the poor and for each individual is brought` home answered by prayed and the heart of the people. Ii am touched each day by our managers and leaders, they really do serve-have hearts. 

Thursday, 8 September 2016

Hospital Open Night and Helping today with Screening

Life has been busy on the ship as all departments prepare for the beloved patients, the ones we come here to serve.

So the hospital  opened up all their departments to show the crew all different aspects of the hospital. 

  • We had the nutritionalist giving samples of the food that the patients have at different stages of their recovery and operations.
  • The pharmacy had us counting out chocolate drops 
  • The Operation Rooms had nurses dressed in tiaras and crowns and were operating on Donkey from Shrek, gosh, he had many operations.
  • The Wards, had a variety of "patients (nurses)' in various different of recovery were showing different nurse activities.
  • I tried sutchering, one of the doctors was showing us how to sew up a piece of foam and how to do the stickers.
  • The blood department had a mock patients having her blood taken
All in all it was a nice way of getting to know our Hospital ship and have crew from some of the other departments get a good idea of a patients journey.  Of course there are many other departments, like Admissions, Physiotherapy, Outpatients etc.


This morning I was up at 5:00 am and heading for the dining room for a quick breakfast before meeting on the dock to join the screening team.  We drove whilst it was still fairly quite on the roads and Contonu was mainly slowing rising for the morn.  We arrived at the screening facility which was a local school. We were briefed on the process and shown around and then were giving our positions.

Some people stood and welcomed in the patients and directed them to the area were they were to line up.  Since we were on the 2nd to last day of screening, we were not sure whether to expect a huge amount of people or not.  We had been told that the crowds were dwindling.  

My was to stand in the area, just after the first stage of screening was completed, the person would have at this stage been told if they would be able to be seen by the screening team further or not. Many of the surgeries at this stage were full.  We can only take a certain amount of people for different types of operations.  The reasons for this are varied but all very good reasons as I found out.

I was heart breaking on so many accounts.  There was actually a small percentage of people who made it through to the 2nd stage.  Watching coming along with their many varied aliments, from big tumours, to bow legs, little babies to elder people was not easy.  I could at least pray that God would bring some level of healing to them and that He would do what only He can.  We have to focus on the ones we can help and not on the ones we can't or you would get disillusioned.  

I think the saddest case for me was a young women, she crawled in on her hands and knees, through all the dust and concrete and after all that, we couldn't help her.  Too big to be carried and no access to a wheel chair, gosh how blessed we are in England and other countries to have so much more available to us.  

With all the people we couldn't help, it was so good to see those that we could.  The next phase of our work here will then begin and we will see how small drops in the pond make a huge difference to those who do get the help they came for.  I look forward to meeting a few of the patients and to get to be part of the journey.  I will once again pick up my sketch book I hope soon.

Sunday, 4 September 2016

Picture of a Benin petrol station

There are  tons of  Zémidjan's (motor bikes) on the roads in Contonou.  

Here is a picture of one of the many Petrol Stations on the streets. 

This is a little article I found on Wiki

Gasoline smuggled from Nigeria is Widely available in glass bottles and jugs at informal roadside stalls Throughout Cotonou and much of the country. This gasoline is of unreliable quality, water Often Containing gold --other contaminants That can damage or disable vehicles. There are periodic Gas Shortages, qui peut être PARTICULARLY acute in the north of the country Where There are FEW gas stations

Saturday, 3 September 2016

First Couple of Weeks

After the exciting of arrival, the hard work has began.  We have a setup plan which each team on the ship is envolved in.

Here is a list of a few things that are under way.

  • Dock setup - our team is involed with this from a technical point of view, this involves getting the tents which will be used for Admissions, Rehabitation and Physiotherapy and Ponsti which is for club feet.  There is also an Outpatients deparment.  The IS team are busy laying cables for both networking and telephones and I have been working on getting all the laptops setup and working for these departments.
  • The Hosptial coridors have had tons of nurses and other crew helping with cleaning and sterilizsing as well as setting up all the beds and other equiptment.
  • The Hope Center are in the process of doing the same as the hospital and the crew that sleep at the team house on land have been setting up their accomodation.
  • Carpentors and electricians too have lots of work to do
  • The Galley and Dinning area have been preparing food for about 600 people a day including the day crew.
  • There have also been a viarity of connecting with heath care professions.
  • The National Geographic Filming crew have been seen in different areas with the cameras and sound equipment and we had a screening of the "The Surgery Ships"  and answering questions for us crew on how they will be part of our day to day lives here on the ship as they put together a 8 Series National Geographic Documentary series which will be release mid next year if I remember correctly.
So, as you can tell life is very busy at the moment, lots of us are working over time on the setup and prayer for stamina, grace and good boundaries would be helpful. 

The surgeries I think start this Monday so we are all go trying to get all aspects underway.

I have not been off the ship again since my last blog, but I do plan to go off next weekend for a Benin Wedding, one of my collegues called Coffi is getting married.

I will be putting off helping with screening till later in the week as our department is too buys at present.