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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. 

Medical Inservie

Each Wednesday night we have what is called Medical Inservice.  This is a educational medical talk on different topics.

Dr Gary is our long standing AFM Doctor and has become a top specialist in this area. He spoke last night on different tumours and how they operate.  The graphics were extrememly technical and following the exact way in which they operate, it was a touching, gross and awsome experience.

Touching to imagine with the help of the picutres of the patients and to hear a bit about their human stories and what they have had to endure.

Gross because the picutes were so graphic and I won't go into the details, in case any of you reading are munching on a chocolate.

Awesome to see just how incredible fearfully and wonderfully we are made and how the body can heal amazingly after these operations, and also awsome to see how God has given such amazing talents to different people to learn and perform these operations.

Attending these seminars I find very helpful in various ways.

I find they help me in my day to day work.  When things get tough, I just think back to what is happening on Deck 3 and know that what I am doing does contribute. 

It helps me to remember how good God is, that He would touch the heart of so many volenteers from so many Nations and bring them all together for each individual who is having an operation.

It helps me to see the incredible value in each person, week, strong, poor, rich, sick and healthy. 

Seeing what other departments are doing helps me keep engaged.