Monday, October 3, 2016

Is a PICTURE worth a thousand words?

I've been on the ship over 2 months now and have yet to update at all about being back. I could list a variety of excuses for not posting enough, but mostly it all boils down to the fact that I don't like to write and I never know what to say - plus, the longer I wait, the more there is to tell you about! So instead of words, I thought pictures would be an easy way to update you on what has been going on here the past 9 weeks.

I met the ship in Durban, South Africa at the end of July. This cabin is my new home for the next 10 months:
I've been given a slight upgrade this year so I only have 3 other cabinmates and a little extra room. And just last week, we got our very own couch!

The view from the ship in the Durban port...this view is very different from our usual African country landscape. Skyscrapers?! 

August 1st, it was time to sail! Lifting up the gangway is the last step in the process: 

My friends and I stood on deck for several hours watching the whole process of leaving the port. This is our "we're so excited to be moving" faces!

We had a few days of rough sailing but mostly it was very pleasant. I really enjoyed the slower pace of life (forced relaxation when you can't leave the ship) and fewer people on the ship during the sail. My absolute favorite part was the sunsets:

After a few days of sailing, we stopped in Cape Town for a quick visit. Here's the ship being tugged into the CT port. This is one of my favorite cities and it was even more special to be there with the ship this time!

After our 3 days of rest, it was time to hit the seas again. We had lots of activities during the sail to keep us occupied including movie nights, a 'sock golf' tournament, becoming "Shellbacks" as we sailed across the equator, and worship on the Bow (a part of the ship ONLY open during sails).

Just about 3 weeks from when we left Durban, we sailed into Cotonou, Benin. An arrival party complete with Beninoise music and dancing were waiting to greet us!

The day of our arrival, a ceremony was held to welcome the Africa Mercy to Benin. One of our Beninoise crew members carried the flag in the ceremony.

The next 3 weeks were filled with SCREENING: 

 Aren't the colors of West Africa so amazing! These are the types of outfits people wear everyday. (I visited the screening center one day to help with crowd control and got to see so many Orthopedic kids like this - my favorites!!)


At the beginning of each field service the nurses have to unpack the hospital that was secured for sail, clean everything and set it up to look like this so it's all ready for our patients to come.

Finally, on September 12, the doors to the hospital opened and our first patients received surgery! Now, after 3 weeks of surgery, our wards are filling up and the joyful chaos has begun. This is Valentin, one of our first burn reconstruction patients playing with a ward nurse.

And Miracle, another plastic surgery patient. with my friend Erin from Canada. This little one in particular screamed and cried pretty much the entire first 2 days he was here but now he begs to be held and played with all the time. I love seeing the transformation!

Well, I think that pretty much catches us up on the past few months. Sorry for the lack of updates but hopefully these pictures will make up for my few words. Things are off to a great start and it's so wonderful to be back in this place where I know I am meant to be - doing what God has called us here for: to bring Hope and Healing to the country of Benin. 

Prayer Points:
-Screening Team continues to search for patients. They leave next week to visit possible patients in the north of Benin.
-Our Hope Center opened last week to accept patients once they are discharged and they're still working out a few kinks in the system.
-Many, many plastics patients who are waiting for wounds to heal: pray for skin to grow and wounds to be free from infection
-Training classes are happening for local physicians, anesthesiologists and sterilizing technicians
-Continued unity for the crew and seeking God as we serve
 -Safety and peace for the country of Benin