Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Faces of Love

What does love look like?

Here's a glimpse of what love looks like every day here.
Dr. Gary, who performed the facial surgery on Joseph when he was a baby.  Born with a cleft lip, several years later he greeted the Africa Mercy with the flag of his home country, Sierra Leone, with a beautiful smile.

Joan greets the first patients that arrived from "up country" in Sierra Leone.  These patients she helped to screen during her (hot, long, challenging, difficult) time with the Advance Team prior to the ship's arrival.

Richard holds this patient's hand as he completes the admissions process, after arriving in this very foreign and weird hospital that will be come home for the next several weeks.

Anna makes checking in a fun time for this nervous little one.

Deb uses some down time during her shift as Ward Nurse to play with patients and siblings.

Students at the Agricultural Project learn new techniques that can transform their crop yield for the future.

Ursula brings a smile to her patient's face.

Tricia works long days to keep all 400+ of us fed well.

Ibrahim listens compassionately to a dental patient's story

Gini pre-screens a little boy waiting in line for the semi-weekly dental screenings held at the Hope Center.

Charles, Chris and Mark work in the hot African sun putting up the dockside tent so our patients and day volunteers have a shaded facility to rest in.

Oretha and Albert bake and bake and bake their hearts out - croissants, rolls, loaves of fresh bread, and more.

Eye screening continues every Monday at the Kissy Eye Clinic.  There are often 1000 waiting in line to be seen each week.

Jeff keeps our galley stocked with fresh fruits, vegetables, grains and fish, like this barracuda.

Jessica, our Registered Dietician, works with baby Barbara and her mom on a diet plan to get her up to weight so she can have her cleft surgery.

An engineer works in the hot doldrums of this ship performing checks on our generators so we don't lose power.
Mekenzie loves on a patient who is staying at the Hope Center between surgery and follow-up treatment.

Barry and Cheryl extend their arms of grace to this patient and her mom at the Hope Center.

Stefan continues work on the electrical needs of the Hope Center, Eye building, and the many other projects that are needed to be up and running.

Melissa and Jess pray for baby Barbara and her mother as part of their Infant Feeding Program day.

Speech Therapist, Sally, enjoys a moment of snuggle from this precious patient.

Jana and Anna, physios, help this little guy through the hard work of therapy after surgery.

Dan's two-month old patient after surgery.  It's moments like these that make it all worthwhile.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Fire Drill!

Part of the regularly scheduled week that comes with living on a ship includes safety drills.  Because we have lots of maritime regulations that we have to adhere to, we have fire drills often while we are at the dock, and while out at sea we will have evacuation drills.


I wish I could express how loud, shrill, and annoying these beeps are.  First is the one, LONG beep that tells you there is a situation.  At this time the team trained to help (the Emergency Team) reports to their stations, and the rest of us return to our cabins to await further direction.

From our cabin you can look out the window onto the dock, and we see the Muster Station leaders.  The dock is where we Muster (gather) to take role and make sure everyone is accounted for.  I like the Mustard colored hats on the Muster leaders.  Don’t know if this is required by law, or just a chance to be punny.
Thursday Fire Drill (4)

Beep – Beep – Beep – Beep – Beep – Beep – Beep.

The seven short beeps tell us it is time to evacuate. 
Thursday Fire Drill (6)
Everyone files out (calmly), to the gangway,
Thursday Fire Drill (7)
Down the forty very shallow steps,
Thursday Fire Drill (8)
To find their appropriate Muster Leader on the dock – as determined by your last name.
Thursday Fire Drill (10)
Nap times get interrupted, school teachers bring their classes,
Thursday Fire Drill (1)
jobs are abandoned mid project. 

Well, some jobs are abandoned.

All the medical crew are separated and are put on standby to assist in evacuating the hospital if a true emergency is occurring. For the majority of the drills, though, the patients, caretakers, on duty nurses, doctors, and surgeons remain in the hospital area to continue providing care.

The rest of us are gathered out on the dock under the African sun.  Those that have been here for long enough to know better come prepared.  Lawn chairs, sun umbrellas, books, blankets, backpacks of coloring books and markers accompany most moms out the door.  Our Muster Leaders take role and report any names of people who aren’t found on their attendance list (which is maintained and updated daily because of our constantly changing crew), and also any absentee members. 

Sometimes there are people who have signed off the ship so this list has to be double checked with that, and if still the person isn’t accounted for, then there is an overhead page to help locate the missing crew.  Cabin Checkers are also going through the ship to inspect the cabins and make sure there are no unaware sleepy crewmembers, frightened children, or obstinate rebels.  Family cabins are an exceptionally frequent target for the Cabin Checkers, as in real fires children often will hide out of fear. 

Also onboard during this time is the Fire Team, and they “locate” and “put out” the “fire” (a new hypothetical situation is presented each time).  After everyone’s location has been verified, we are given the all clear to return to the ship.

Back to your regularly scheduled business.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Mercy Ships Academy Gets Book Donations

This week Kylie's class was given a gift!  You see, in February of this year a pipe burst over the school's library and a section of about 300 fiction books were ruined. 

Brian Blackburn, the school's administrator, joined the other Ships Academy teachers and the principal in prayer over how these books would be replaced. 

As prayers went up, the phone started to ring.  Brian had reached out to several schools in the East Texas area earlier in the year to see if they would like to partner with Mercy Ships.  And it just so happens that as we incurred this need a school began to respond (coincidence?).  The Texas Assocation of Future Educators at John Tyler High School in Tyler, Texas were the first responders.  Their school's theme is "Shock the World."  They felt helping kids whose families are helping in Africa lined up perfectly with "shocking the world."  In a few short weeks their fundraising efforts had paid off.  Here they are presenting the books to Brian that their hardwork earned for the kids onboard.

Brian and his family came to the ship three weeks ago to do some work for the accreditation process for the school, and with him he brought some of the new donations. 

Kylie is listening so attentively as he explains how students in Texas raised the money to provide new books for them!  This is the fourth and fifth grade class.

Brian shows off some of the new collections.

 Is there really anything better than a new book?

God is good....

...all the time. 

Mercy Ships Academy has also created a Wishlist on Amazon so that others can now
donate books or other supplies for our students online. 

Thursday, April 7, 2011

The Nursing Team

Have you ever wondered what sort of nurses come to Mercy Ships to volunteer?
 These sort of nurses.  Young, old (I mean, mature).  From all countries in the world.  Currently we have 35 countries of the world represented on the ship, of that 14 nationalities make up our nursing team.  (US, New Zealand, Australia, Ireland, Great Britain, Switzerland, Norway, Sweden, Germany, Netherlands, Canada, Denmark, South Africa and Italy). 

We have singles and marrieds - some of whom came together, like a young couple from Minnesota we've met -  others who have left their spouse to hold down the fort at home while they live here for a few weeks or even a few months. 

We have nurses from all specialities from pediatric to palliative.

 This is one crazy crew.  They rotate day, evening and night shifts. 
They try to sleep through the noise of 400 people living together,
many on the same floor as the 24/7 hospital. 
They learn to stop asking, "Have you ever had Malaria?" and now ask,
"When did you last have Malaria?" 
They see things you would never find in the US.

But mostly, they are women. 

That's right- these are the lucky guys that get to put up with all those crazy girls. 
So, all you MURSES out there (you know who you are) - there's a place here for you.... 

Do you notice the three guys in the middle with big cheesy grins?  That's because they are single...