Sunday, May 27, 2012

10 Things I Couldn't Live Without (on the Africa Mercy)

After passing through the initial stages of culture shock, we have settled into the "new norm."  Things that were essentials at home (driver's license, keys, credit cards) have sat in a drawer unused for nearly 18 months.

Instead, these are the items I find most essential:

  1. An Electric Kettle.  We do not have full kitchens in our cabins.  We eat our meals in the dining room (prepared by our amazing galley team, and served by our dining room team).  This is an amazing luxury.  But it means we don't have a stove, oven, microwave, toaster, coffee maker, or any of these items in our cabin.  They are available to us in a common kitchen area called the Crew Galley, but to be honest, we don't do much cooking in there.  However, every day we fill our electric kettle, turn on the button, and in just seconds the water is boiling away.  It shuts off automatically when it reaches the magic temperature - and voila! Hot water for coffee, tea, cocoa, ramen noodles, or oatmeal is ready. 
  2. Sticky Tack!  You thought only teachers bought the sticky blue (or white) stuff that holds posters on the walls?  Well, in an environment where you are forbidden from using tape, sticky tack is a valuable currency here.  We use sticky tack to hold up artwork, tack messages on other doors, and even secure sign up sheets and pens to the wall.
  3. Magnets! When sticky tack won't do the trick, you just find a stronger substance: like magnets! All our walls are steel, so if you want to make a fort, you just stick up a few blankets with magnets!  Hang a fan on the wall?  Find a strong magnet.  Coat hooks?  Backpacks?  Organizers??  Magnets hold all these up as well!  Some even have projectors secured to the ceiling with magnets for movie viewing pleasure!  In the hospital, the magnets come in handy too- need a privacy curtain?  You can put one up anywhere, with.... you guessed it..... magnets!
4. Hand Sanitizer!  I'm against this stuff at home - I think germs are quite good for you and make you stronger, but... out in the heat, sweat and stink here, shaking countless hands, I find hand sanitizer a necessity.  We have hand sanitizing stations at the top of the gangway, in the dining room, in the bathrooms and at various other points throughout the ship to cleanse away!

5. Doxycycline - I thought it was an apple a day that keeps the doctor away, but here the thing I take every day is one doxy.  This is a malarial preventative pill.  Living in a country that has a high malaria rate means making some medical decisions: do you risk getting malaria, or risk the long term effects of medications?  For me, I find that one doxy a day is a good choice.
6.  My Name Badge!  We live in a PORT! A shipping port!  It is so random, really, when you think about it.  Where is the nearest port to you?  Have you ever even walked through the port?  It's probably in a rough neighborhood, industrial area, and you've never come near it!  We walk through the port, drive through the port and call it home.  Not only do the port authorities require I have a name badge, but also I need one to get on and off our ship.  I wear it from sun up to bedtime - it is debit card for our bank onboard, and my tracking device to verify if I'm onboard or not. 

7. Sweat Rag.  Not really charming, but the truth.  In this land of high humidity and warm temps, I find it impossible to exercise without requiring a cloth or towel of some sort to absorb half my body fluids that perspire out of every pore in my body. 
8. A Laminating Machine.  Everyone loves pictures! When we take pictures with patients, caregivers, people as the school we visit, or other friends we have met, they usually want a copy of these photos.  We don't have a proper photo printing machine on the ship, so we print them just as colored copies.  In order to make these pictures last, we laminate them.  Which means, a continuous cycle of taking pictures, printing, laminating, distributing, taking, printing, laminating... you get the point.

9&10. Dancing Shoes & Heart Full of Song - be ready to sing & dance at all times!  You might be on the ward and the day workers bust out a guitar and all of a sudden it's worship time.  It could be 90 degrees and you're on the dock sitting with a sweaty, snuggly toddler on your lap and the grateful eye patients who had cataracts removed burst into song and start praising God for the mighty things He has done.  You can't help but move.  I find myself humming or singing as I walk through the halls, wash the dishes, or even exercise.  Jehovah-eh, Jehovah-ah, Jehovah- you are the most high!  Akpedada ye dje ne...  Baba olua oshea, baba olua oshea.  Ehhhhheyeyehhhh, my God is good-o ...Everything He double double, He double double.  English, French, Ewe, Fon, Yoruba, Krio: the languages are many, the tunes are catchy, and it does my heart and soul proud.  I wouldn't have it any other way.
Dan Togo "chicken" dancing at our last YWAM/King's Kids Outreach

Friday, May 11, 2012

Kylie on Night Patrol - Kylie's post

Friday night as we were heading to the cabin around 9:45pm, we passed by our friend Francis who was just beginning the night shift as the night patrolman.  After hearing his stories of how he had received such little sleep in the past few days as he had been scouring the city for a potential patient to see a plastic surgeon a couple of hours north at a hospital we have been partnering with, I was feeling very sorry that he was having to stay up!  I suggested that Kylie could take his place since she hardly ever seems to fall asleep these days (way too many fun things to work on after lights-out hours)...  Francis loved the idea of having Kylie join him at work, and offered her the chance to do rounds with him on the ship.

This is what she journaled after the hour-long adventure that brought her home at 11:15pm:

Today I went on a round with someone for security and check down.  I got to use a beeper and see all the AC rooms, one of the fire lockers and some other things I donot remember the names of, and better yet, it was Night Patrol!!!!☺☺☺☺  Plus, I think I even went on deck 1 which is totally AWESOME!!!

I also learned a TON of things about how we get our stuff on the containers and where deck people keep their supplies.  Also you have to do five rounds of patrol between 10:00pm and 6:00am and you have to go to deck 6 then 5, then 4, then 3, then 2, and then I think 1, and then you have to go to deck 7 and then you start all over again. ☺☺☺☺☺ 

Other than that I got to see Missy (our friend who works in the OR and had surgery herself last week for suspected appendicitis) and have a lot a lot alot alot alot of fun in language arts and Music!  In Language ARts we recorded a reader's theater play and afterwards we put it in really high voices and all of us DIED laughing! :P  And in music we all created a STOMP rythm and we are going to perform it on Thursday in Quior! 

Well, I"d better go to bed because it is 11:20pm right now! Catch ya later! ☺ Bye!

P.S. I got to go on the elevator to get back to deck 7!!!!!!!☺☺☺☺

☺♥ Peace, love and happiness!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

K-Love Pays a Visit

This week we were privileged to have two staff members from K-Love on board with us - to see what the mission of Mercy Ships is all about, and phone into the stations and blog about the work taking place in Togo.
Amy (left), Jessica (right) with momma of a cataract patient baby they met and witnessed her seeing for the first time this week. 

These gals, Amy (morning show DJ) and Jessica (publicity manager), were very jazzed up about being here and had some incredible experiences.  Here's a link to the KLOVE blog to hear some from their perspective.

 Lots of cataract surgeries took place this week as we had Dr. Glen Strauss back on board for a short time - who has worked with Mercy Ships for many years developing and perfecting the cataract removal surgical techniques that make this such an effective surgery.  You can read the story of one little girl on the K-Love blog.  But also we had a family arrive with not one, not two, not three or even four children with cataracts, but FIVE children with congenital cataracts born in the SAME family.

Kokou, the second boy from the left, wore dark sunglasses when we saw him at the Hope Center on Friday afternoon as I led a group of Junior High students (and 1 high schooler) in an elective class of "Blessing Others."  The children (and I) wondered if he was blind, sitting their in the dark, Stevie Wonder glasses.  But, then he asked for a coloring page and some colored pencils and created a lovely work of art about JOY.  As he played soccer with one of the boys, we quickly realized how much this nine-year old's life had changed in the course of two days since his surgery occurred on Wednesday.

Another perk of the K-Love visit was streaming music!  I never thought I'd be so excited to hear K-Love! I mean, I love K-Love, but at home I listened so much that I knew all the songs by heart.  Because streaming music and video takes up so much bandwidth and we have 400 people sharing one internet source, all streaming sites are blocked for usage (YouTube, radio stations, other videos, etc).  So, to have our IT department be willing to open up K-LOVE streaming in the cafe during the day was a little breath of fresh air!  New songs! New music!  Hoorah!

Many of you may have heard Amy talking about Mercy Ships on the airwaves.  We are also very grateful for this exposure.  K-LOVE has a listener base of around 7,000,000 people - what a great way to find potential recruits for the MANY positions we need to fill in the coming months, as well as raise funds to cover operational costs and crew fees for the 400 volunteers that live onboard. 

We pray that God will use this time to raise up the people and the resources that he provides to accomplish his work here.  It is great to partner with other organizations that share in His heart for seeing people to come to know His awesome power to save, restore, and heal.