Saturday, March 23, 2013

A week in the life (on a hospital ship)

What do we do on the ship?  Isn't it boring?  Don't you feel trapped? Sometimes.  Yes, we are limited in our shopping and our excursions.  But, here are just a few things that we participate in or lead during a sample week:


Foley's Fitness - Three mornings a week the amazing Bill Foley, a retired state trooper leads us in thirty minutes of brutal core and cardio conditioning in our international lounge.  About 30 people brave the darkness at 6:00am, stumbling into the International Lounge with bedhead and sleep in their eyes to shape up.

Communications Meeting - Monday mornings we kick off the week gathering together as a community for updates, fellowship and teachings. 

Work Experience - Kylie and the other junior and senior highers had a special week in school where they applied to work with a department for several days.  Kylie got her first choice of being a writer with the Communications Department.  She was able to shadow them and write about the Plastics screening day that happened at the beginning of the week as well as following existing patients.

Plastics Screening - This Monday we had more than 60 potential patients come to be seen by our plastics surgeon who arrived last week.  He will assess these patients with burn contractures of the eyelid, neck, axilla (armpit), elbow, wrist, knee and ankle.  Those that would see improvement in their range of motion and or a dramatic change that allows them to work or live well in their society again were scheduled for surgery.  Kylie was a part of this as a junior writer, and I was a runner for paperwork, waiting with patients for X-rays, and other menial tasks.
Running Club - open to all Academy students and any others that want to be a part, one night a week for 45 minutes the kids have relays and fun running or walking back and forth on the dock and earning points towards their cumulative mileage for the field service.

Computer Class - immediately after running club, I have been teaching some beginning computer classes - how to write a blog, how to create a digital newsletter, using Microsoft products such as Outlook, Word, and Excel.  This is a real joy to teach the beginnings of computer use to crew members that have no or little computer experience.


Dock Open House - this Tuesday was a little bit different in that the four departments that work in large inflatable tents on the dock opened their doors to the crew so we could all see what happens in Outpatients, Rehabilitation, Screening and Admissions.  Kids and adults enjoyed participating in balance games in the physiotherapy area, a screening bingo in identifying which patients belong to each type of surgery, a photo booth and more.

French Class - weekly our Petit Frere (little brother) Innocent leads both beginner and intermediate French lessons (complete with homework) for those that desire to brush up or acquire this language that is so widely spoken throughout this region.  Togo, Guinea, Benin, Congo-Brazzaville, Cameroon, Gabon, Senegal, and Cóte d'Ivoire are all French speaking nations.


Parent Teacher Conferences - Also this week we were able to play both ends of parent teacher conferences in that we sat in as parents for conferences, and in between those I was the teacher for ten other families to discuss how their children are doing in math and ways we can move forward.

English Lessons - Three afternoons a week I meet with a day worker who has never attended school.  He was banished from his home village when he became a Christian and started working in labor jobs to make ends meet at a young age.  We are using "Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons,"a book I used both with Kylie and Savannah.  It's been a joy to see the "lightbulb" go off, and watch as W-O-W becomes "wow!" I find I LOVE adult education.

Small Group (cancelled) - this week we had to cancel it because (as you can see) the schedule was full.  But normally we meet on a week night and worship, read a chapter from the Bible together, discuss, and pray for each other. 


Health Fair - Near the end of the week, all the K-8 students had two mornings of health fair where they had presentations and hands-on exhibits with the dental team, nutritionist, and doctors who presented a lesson on tropical diseases and on cardiology.

Ballet - Thursdays girls are blessed to have an amazing ballerina and instructor (and mom of three boys), Miss Gretchen, who arrived with her family this fall and has been teaching the girls since she arrived.  They look forward to ballet all week long!

Piano Lessons - One of the many benefits to living in community is that we have a wealth of talents and gifts present in the same building.  Since we are all volunteers and we all basically live on the same status quo, everyone is willing to share these gifts and talents at no cost to those sharing life with them.  This ranges from karate to African drum lessons; ballroom dancing to ukulele club.  The girls get to benefit from piano lessons by piano enthusiasts and while they don't look forward to them, it's so great to have the option here and the shared pianos to practice on or play.

Dinner Date - Every once and awhile we need to get out and have a date, too!  We discovered a Vietnamese Restaurant in town and found sitters (also a free perk of fellow volunteers!) and had a night out on the town.

Community Meeting - Another chance to get together as a community for updates, a teaching and some worship. (The highlight of the Thursday evenings is usually the ice cream that follows in "Town Square.")


Diving - Every other week Dan gets to submerge under the ship and go to work cleaning out the intake valves so our air conditioning and generators keep running.  This is a not very glamourous job, but something he looks forward to.

Hope Center - Friday afternoons I head up a group of crew members to spend time with our future or former patients at the Hope Center.  We head out with a bag full of crafts, games, and our singing voices and practice the motions of He's Got the Whole World...  This is a highlight of the week for me as I get to interact with these precious folks that have made their way to the ship for surgical reasons.

Zumba - We had a special treat this week to have a certified Zumba instructor onboard as a guest.  She lead four classes this week full of energy (sweat) and us trying to find our groove.  it was a great way to break up the week and burn a few calories!

(Did I mention our jobs, too? Oh yeah, we work...)
Work Schedules - Dan's working these days in our Maxilo-Facial & ICU ward three shifts a week, in addition to two shifts a week in the PACU, our recovery ward.  I'm teaching junior high math in the mornings, working for the screening team in the afternoons, getting some HR work done during the spare moments, and then balancing these other things.

So, when the weekend comes, we are ready for some down time.  This includes reading, naps, the pool, a long run, a game or two with friends, and sometimes trips to the offshore islands or a trip into town for a bite to eat.  If you try to reach us by phone, there's a good chance we won't be in the cabin to answer your call.  Hope you will understand. 

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