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Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Some Pondering on Kings, Bible Study and a Visit to Pauline.and Sketch of Israel

Having come back from the weekend away.  I have some reflections and things I have been learning over the past few days.

Whilst I was there, I remember looking around and pondering about earthly kings,  they certainly are respected and have a presence around them and that only made me realise why God didn't want to give Israel to have an earthly king.  He was their King and He knew that an earthly king would be prone to his own thoughts and ways and had the potential to draw His people away from His Words of life and into worldly endeavours.  If they were good kings then they would have a positive effect but if they worshipped other gods and wanted the power and admiration for themselves, then they would draw the people along.  It was no wonder God was not wanting this for them. Even King David, the King after God's own heart was like this.  I am not making a reflection here on the King we visited but just were my ponderings took me.
I had been pondering quite a bit today and found many spiritual lessons were seeking my attention.

I started a Bible Study on reading through the psalms and we were reflecting on Psalm one and found so many truths to pull out, it was a rich time and we thought about what a tree planted by a stream is like, with the group of us, we really we like a little forest, each one bringing up more and more thoughts on this beautiful scripture.    Tomorrow night I start a group who are going through a book called When Helping Hurts, its a book I have been trying to read myself but found it hard to read on my own, so I am looking forward to doing it with a group.

I have also realised just how important it is to make our own choices and how we are responsible for our own spiritual direction.  We must take that responsibility very seriously as it has eternal consequences to our lives.

I popped in to see Pauline, I hadn't been fora few nights as I had been pretty tired, but I am so glad I did. I thought she had lots of other visitors and I think she has but she noticed that I hadn't been, so I plan to at least try and pop in, even for a short while each night, or most.  Please do contiue to prayer for her, she is rcovering and seems to be doing well but she is not out of the woods yet.

I am hoping to find a photo of her so I can do a sketch, she has become very special to me.

Here is my latest sketch of a young Israel, he had cleft palette surgery.

And below are a few photos that are through for the event but more to come, there is lots of colour fashion

Tuesday, 24 January 2017

The Storm Started the Day but it didn't stay long.

Pauline is doing ok I think, I say I think because I am not sure medically due to patient confidentiality but I do now that she is still needing prayer for full healing, I have just come back from visiting her on the ward and she seemed in good spirits and was full of life but also know that she will be having more treatment.  I am hoping to get a photo of her soon, so I can do a sketch of her.  On of my friends is a Ward Photographer, so I am going to ask him about that.  I am still hoping that I can do that role as well at some stage, I may need to get some training as I am not technically good with a camera. 

Today started with an amazing storm.  I woke up at 5 and heading out, to find a note on my door from my friend Kim to say that there was a storm outside and she would meet me in the café.  Well, it was a storm and a half,  you could see the rain flying sidewards and in the middle of the rain was lightening, I have never seen that before but it was there.  The tents which are outside are our Outpatients, Rehab and Admissions tent were blowing around and we were quite worried to whether they would survive.  Our worry was founded, as as we walked around the ship, the next time we came past the tents, they were not looking good at all, two of them were bending inward from the top, due to water and were caving in.  I was convinced that there would be damage inside them, that’s how bad it looked.

We were very surprised when we came up a bit later, having alerted the relevant team, to see that the storm had calmed and the team had managed to correct the situation without too much damage.  What a relief that was.

The next part of my day was doing admin and preparing for another Art Class, on Optical Illusions, the kids were really great and managed to follow the plan and started to produce their Art work.  I  divided there page into four so they could play around with the designs. I will see if I can get a picture of them at the end.  I had fun and I think they did to, they are great kids, and I love doing Art work with them.  I just wish I knew how to teach, but I did think perhaps I could take some of these techniques to the wards.

Later on in day, I headed after work to an event in Mid Ships, our Starbucks café, were we listen to Nicky Rogers, a UK Christian singer songwriter, she is on ship for a week with her team and she did a mini concert for us.  She will be doing a tour around the UK and will be going to a lot of Churches and doing some concerts and will be promoting Mercy Ships, the songs were really lovely, so hopefully she will come to the Vineyard.

Tomorrow, I am off to the Accounts department, I am not expecting to find it suitable but I do want to give it a chance.  I did used to enjoy working with figures but my heart really is to not be behind a computer and at a desk, how, I am not sure yet. 

This weekend a lot of us are heading inland to Abomey, the King has invited us all for lunch, its about a 3 hour drive and there are a couple of buses going.  I am not really sure I want to go along, so I will wait and see,  I am in the process of trying to finish a new drawing, so may stay behind and do that, but part of me would like to go, to be part of the event and to witness more of Benin.

Prayer requests would be for Pauline and her full recovery, for the new little patient whom I met tonight who has had an operation on his web toes, I had the same operation when I was about 5 years old, so popped to say hello, he was sleeping but his mom was there and I had a brief chat to her, so please prayer for him. 

Here is a picture of Israel, its not quite finished yet, he was born with a cleft lip.

Tuesday, 17 January 2017

2nd Week at Academy

Its been up at 5 for my walk and then back to get ready and do some quite time.  I start at the Academy 15 minutes earlier in the morning and as I am not used to the the routine and admin is a challenge for me, the concentration it takes makes me quite tired, but I am enjoying being in the department.

I had my 2nd Art Lesson - this week was with slightly older children, and we did Optical Illusions, I enjoyed the lesson, we didn't quite finish but I find the demonstrating and doing with them and concentration on one thing at a time, as well as having the interaction really enjoyable and I guess God will help me develop in this area, if that is what He wants me to do, so I am just edging forwards with His help and learning to trust Him more.

After work tonight was prayer time.  Tuesday nights is praying for family time, one session is mom's meeting to prayer for our children, and then after that I meet with some friends from the Academy to prayer to other family.  Chase and Kyle and Emily and Chelsea get two sets of prayers.

I was pretty tired this evening but felt to pop down to see Pauline again just to see how she was doing. She was wanting to learn crocheting which I can only do very basically so we spent a short time which I think we both found a bit tiring but it was good to see how far the other lady had come along with her crocheting, so I am hoping she will help Pauline tomorrow.

Now I am really ready for bed.

Sunday, 15 January 2017

Back on the Ward

Lovely Pauline is back on the ward, please be praying for her, her wounds are still giving a problem, so they are waiting to see what may be the cause.  Please do prayer that they will get to the bottom of the issue for her.  I heard she was back and popped in this evening with some sewing.

Thursday, 12 January 2017

Art Class

I woke up this morning and headed out walking at 5pm with my friend Kim and we prayed together and shortly thereafter, I started get lots of ideas of how to teach the Radial Symmetary and as usual with me, once I started, the ideas just keep coming, so know I have tons of ideas and need to simplify.

After getting back to my cabin and having showered, I was just getting ready for breakfast when we heard the alarm.  I picked up the phone, sure that I was mis-hearing and was almost surprised when it didn't stop ringing.  Next was the "this is a drill, this is a drill", it was 6pm in the morning. I was grateful I was already up and awake, as I have a new job as a Stairway Guide during drills and this is my firsts time, so I needed to be awake.

The rest of this morning I have been getting my ducks in a row and planning the class, so I will write again this evening.  I love art and feel energised by it.

A few hours later

The class went ok, I started off explaining what we were doing and what these big words meant and we slowly got into the work.  I did have one of the other teachers with me who participated and as the kids knew her really well, they asked her quite a few questions.  By the end of the class, they had each created a peace of art and I think caught onto the concept.

The kids here are lovely and very well behaved and it was nice to see their personalities coming out in the way they each did art.

Off to the wards for a short time this evening as someone has asked me to teach him how to make some flowers.

Just back from the wards and our weekly meeting.  I was delightfully surprised when I got to the ward and found the gentleman who had as me to come and teach him, to find that he had another 3 men lined up, all quite shy and wanting to learn how to create the flowers.  I spent some time and watch their faces light but at the point when they started opening up the flowers and they started turning into a flower.  More ladies around the ward wanted to be shown to, but I had to go to a meeting, so I have said I will go along tomorrow night after 8pm.

I felt that I had a new connection the gentleman had a young daughter who was sleeping and she is due to have a serious operation tomorrow and it is to do with her head and she is due to be around for a few weeks and is likely to have to have a 2nd operation.  I have told him that I would be praying for her, so please would you be praying, I don't yet have the young girls name.

Wednesday, 11 January 2017

Last day in IS and First Day in Academy

Last day in IS was just about shutting down and sorting out my desk and then I headed off to the Hope Center in the hope of seeing Pauline, the dental patient who was so close to death last year.  She had recovered really well and is now sleeping at the Hope Center, our off-site, non-medical care facility and coming back to the ship daily for Out Patients appointments.  Our Mercy Ministry team regularly visit in order to provide some Bible Study, worship and crafts.

As soon as we got there, a young girl with some sort of braces to her legs, jumped into my arms, having never met me before and just hugged me, and would not let go, for about half an hour.  She sat on my lap, very happy and bubbly but just making sure that she had some attention. 

When we started to do the crafts, a young lad next to me saw me take off my glasses for a short while and grabbed hold of them and pulled them in half, I was rather shocked and he started to look like he would cry and just melted my heart as he had not done this on purpose.  I was pleased that they did clip back together sort of OK, and am praying that they stay OK, today they have been fine. 

We spent a good time with the residence, although I must say, it can be  a bit overwhelming, just too many patients for the amount of volunteers and I am better with a smaller group and am not too sure how to handle a larger group.

I was passed the camera and that was where I felt most comfortable and loved taking the shots and one young chap was also very interested and kept popping over to help me push the button.

After I got back to the office, having missed Pauline (she was actually at the ship), I organised a few more things and then left an hour early having completed my tasks.

I went down briefly in the evening to see if there were any children yet on the wards who had syndactyly, this is a condition were one is born with some sort of webbing on the toes or hands which effects balance, flexibility and self-esteem depending on the location and severity.  I had this surgery myself when I was about 5 and was in plaster for about 6 weeks, so when I found out that they were going to be starting this surgery in January, I thought to pop down.  As yet they do not have any children yet on the ward, so I will try again later in the week.

I had my first day in the Academy today.  I just got shown a few things, like a whole load of filing, not my favourite activity but it was at least something that didn't require too much reading and was sort-able

I also got asked to do an Art Class tomorrow were I will be teaching 6, 5 - 6 year old how to do a radial symmetry design, so I have been looking up what that means and trying to plan a lesson.  I have had some help and feel a bit more relaxed about it since my friend Karen came in and gave me some advice,  just relax she said and pretend that you just sitting around showing them.  So with a bit more trying, I will relax and just do and trust God.

Some photos from the Hope Center
Listening to a Bible Story

When you can't speak the language, you
 point to the ear to suggesting listening.

Drawing the Bible Story
Lots of dancing 

Helper Photographer

The little girl in front is the one who greeted me and wouldn't let go. In the background you will see a man with a very large facial tumor that we often see here in Benin.

A Russian Christmas Celebration

On the 7th on January my lovely freind Sveta invited me to a Russian Christmas Celebration.  She was missing home.

We meet and helped prepare Russian Dumplings which consisted a doe and mincemeat and onions.
We had great fun together and planned to meet the next day for lunch.

Sveta prepared a Greek salad which was mayo, grated cheese and grated garlic, we also had Russian Cavier which she was sent and so kindly shared with us, another cold salad and we later had the dumplings and then some homemade shortbread and just hang out together.

It was a special time, we shared conversation, we were from America, Russia, South Africa and Australia and Britain.

Sunday, 8 January 2017


I ended 2016 and started 2017 the same way as last year.  On the ship we had a retreat area set aside with lead times of reflection.

The questions were what do you want to take with you from last year, we had a little suitcase we could put all the things into that we wanted to be with us in the new year and future.

We then had a place were we could write down things that we wanted to leave behind, and we had a shredder that we could shred the paper that we wrote those things onto.

We then had a time to reflect over the past year.

We then had a place to sit and ponder and prayer about vision for the new year. Last year I chose 6 scriptures that I could ponder and prayer over, when I didn't have a particular bible study or I was just not sure what to read in the bible that day.  I spent a lot of time in Matthew 6:33 and also the whole of Mathew 6,   I also found the other scripture that I chose particularly helpful, so this year I found myself praying and choosing 7 new scriptures for this year.    It was a good way to start the year although I wished I had spend a bit more time.

I had a few days of cabin sitting, that is looking after a couples cabin, which means some own space for a few days.  As the Harmattan (a sub Sarah wind that settles over Benin and West Africa for about 2 months at this time of year, bringing a constant mist of dust in the air) arrived, my nasal passages and chest was not on top form, so it was nice to have my own little space for a few days.

On the work front, I am quite delighted.   My department has agreed to release me for a whole month and I am going to work in the School Academy.  One of the teachers there had to leave unexpectedly so they are one teacher down, putting pressure on the whole department.  As I had already spoken to my boss and we had agreed that I would be able to explore with HR other possible jobs, I had sent out some mails to different departments, those I felt like I may be able to do that job.
The idea is that I will shadow someone doing the job for a day or two, to determine if that job may be suitable for me and enjoyable or not.  The idea is to see if any of these will suit me in the future.

The departments I chose, in sort of order of what i would like were:

Crew Clinic Assistant, this has no need for medical knowledge, I am not sure if this may have too much administration for me and if this will or wont be possible.  This job is currently filled

Star Bucks Cafe, making coffee, serving in the ship shop and making waffles, very people interactive and I don't think too stressful.  Sounds great for a while.  It would be that this is something that I could do occasionally anyway, Perhaps even half a day or one day a week.

Accounts Department.  I must admit that this doesn't fill me with excitement but I did used to love maths and did get my Bookkeepers certificate about 25 years ago, and did rather enjoy that work, so its worth exploring,

I start in the Academy on Wednesday and there is a possibility of being able to help out the Art Class, which would really be a delight.

I am trying hard not to run ahead of God and see what comes out of all of this, but I am excited even at the possibility of exploring and finding out if there is another role that may suit me.

Prayer requests are:
Harmattan:  many people are suffering with breathing and allergies at the moment, I am hoping mine is just a cold.
For Benin people, there is a bit of civil unrest at the moment as the Government have marked a lot of properties and boundaries to be pulled down, they have marked the buildings, walls with a red X those that need to be pulled down.  Whist they have given people a lot of notice and there are legitimate reasons for doing this, many will be effected and peoples livelihoods and operating businesses are effected and this is wide spreed.

For my new job role for the month.  Some of this work will be challenging for me and my prayers is that I will be a blessing in the role and be able to find a role on-board that I can be a blessing and not be left so energy depleted.

A very blessed 2017 to you.