"It’s not about you. It’s not about me. The moon models our role. What does the moon do? She generates no light...Apart from the sun, the moon is nothing more than a pitch black, pockmarked rock. But properly positioned, the moon beams. The moon reflects the greater light.
What would happen if we accepted our place as Son reflectors?" Max Lucado
It’s full steam ahead aboard our hospital ship - legs being straightened, tumors being removed and lives being changed on the Africa Mercy! We've been in Cameroon just over a month and the hospital has been open about 3 weeks. Over 100 free surgeries have already been completed in the areas of Maxillofacial, Orthopedics and Women's Health. Throughout the year we will also be doing Plastic/Reconstructive surgery, Pediatric General and Thyroid surgery, as well as hundreds of eye cataract removals and thousands of dental procedures! It's been a busy but rewarding month; we are already experiencing what is unique and beautiful about the country of Cameroon.
When I last wrote, we had just arrived in Cameroon after almost 2 weeks of sailing. While I love sailing, our arrival into any country is always an exciting time, and made even more thrilling when it's a country the ship has never been to. The anticipation and expectation felt onboard is almost tangible! The port of Douala is actually on a river, not the open ocean so we sailed for several hours up the river before finally making it to our home for the year (we even had a military escort!).
Once we stopped moving, it was time to get to work cleaning and unpacking 5 patient wards, 6 ORs, and 3 dockside tents. It took lots of scrubbing and tons of soap to get it all done in less than 2 weeks! It's so rewarding to see a shiny hospital ready to welcome patients. We also spent a few days training all the new nurses and day crew (local Cameroonians who will be our translators). I think I've finally learned all their names!
"Our nurses make up approximately 25 percent of the Africa Mercy crew, with over 102 currently on board. They are the heart of this ship, caring for patients with trained hands and warm smiles that quickly make the wards feel like home. Whether they stay for two weeks or two years at a time, they play an integral role in the fabric of our ship community."
"Three-year-old Cecilia’s smile has stolen the heart of everyone who sees it - and she bravely beamed her way around the wards as she practiced stepping with her miniature walker. The only one smiling bigger was her father, Emmanuel, who says that now her knocked knee has been set straight, her future is looking 'bright and full of possibilities'."
Ernest’s eyes tell of a pain and sorrow beyond his years due to a large facial tumor that he has had for over a decade. At only 27 years old, Ernest has spent his prime hidden from the world- but then he heard of a big white surgery ship that could help him. “Many men from my village have tumors like this but they were too scared to come to the ship. They told me I would die. I can’t wait to go back and show them that Mercy Ships has given me new life.”
During our first Dress Ceremony in Cameroon, the Africa Mercy community celebrated the healing of five women from obstetric fistulas and years of shame. The women’s health ward was transformed with bright fabrics and drums beating to commemorate the occasion. Our guests of honor, who were beauty personified in their colorful dresses and radiant smiles, shared their stories -- and their hopes for a new future.
The hospital has provided over 100 surgeries in less than a month and there many more patients arriving each day. Pray for wisdom of the doctors and surgeons onboard to know how to best care for each patient.
The obstetric fistula clinic is scheduled to open in a few weeks. There is much work to be done to be ready to house post-op patients and train local nurses.
Smooth transition and organization for the dental and eye clinics which have recently opened and are currently seeking more patients.
Courses in our Medical Capacity Building program will start soon and they need to find the right participants for each class.
There is some political tension in the west regions of the country. Pray for safety and peaceful outcomes for the Cameroonian people on both sides of the disagreement.
Continued good relations between Mercy Ships and the government and media of Cameroon, especially that they would see Jesus in everything we do.