Preamble

We are a family of three; Andrew, Jodie and Jessica (aged 17) from Tasmania, Australia who are currently serving in Cotonou, Benin West Africa on the M/V Africa Mercy, the largest non-governmental hospital ship in the world, through Mercy Ships International. God has called us on a journey that has been many years in the making. For this season we call West Africa home as we seek to bring hope and healing to the poorest of the poor.



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Thursday, October 25, 2012

We are His Workmanship

4:00am Monday 3rd September 2012. Mercy Ships Mass medical screening. People's Palace Conakry, Guinea. 3,500 screened.  300 crew members, 100 day workers involved. 9:00 p.m Monday 3rd September 2012: 852 patients issued with surgery cards or plans for follow-up treatment. Guinea: 1.3 health care workers for every 10,000 people. These are the facts.
This is my fourth blog post on Mercy Ship's mass medical screening days in West Africa. If you want to know all about the facts this is not the post to read. This is about the people. A few days before the screening the crew were challenged to look in the eyes of the people and see God's image in each and every one of them, whatever their affliction or circumstance. Standing there with sweat dripping down my face handing out sandwiches and heaving heavy bottles of water I forgot all about this simple message. Then without warning it came to me......"Jodie, look into their eyes". A still small voice. I saw pain, confusion, uncertainty, shame, humiliation, joy, humour, love, hope, desperation, frustration, anger, gratitude. Isn't it true that Jesus felt all these emotions whilst on earth?

"So God created mankind in his own image,
in the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them."

Genesis 1:27 NIV

 

"i am a reflection
of the one who loves me most
created in His image, on purpose
i'm supposed to be me
and no one else could ever,
no one else could ever take my place
after all, i was made in the image of God

in the image of God."

"Image of God"
Crystal Lewis


Just because I know you would like a little look.....Check out this clever little movie of the screening day in two minutes! FYI-Andrew and Jessica enjoyed their first screening day. Andrew worked as driver commuting between the ship and the screening site and also lent a hand with logistics. Jessica accompanied the Academy Junior High and High School and rotated through the stations of patient escorting, children's ministry and food and water distribution with grace and dignity!


Wednesday, October 17, 2012

A Beautiful Sight!

To many West Africa is smelly, dirty, overcrowded and diseased. To me West Africa is home. I see past the decay into the hearts of the people who smile through their circumstances, unwilling to be caught up in their poverty and desperation. It is a beautiful sight! It makes my heart sing!

After some welcome down time in Spain it was time to head back to our first calling; West Africa, to the port of Conakry Guinea where the Africa Mercy has never berthed, and it has been over ten years since it's predecessor, The Anastasis graced Guinea's shores. Above the rainy season is still making is presence known as we make our way into port on an early August morning.
After quite a roomy berth and dock space in previous countries it was a little bit of  a shock to see our "tiny" piece of concrete. Our berth begins on the right hand side and finishes at about the end of the yellow building but there is a fence that runs alongside our tent which makes the space quite narrow.
Lowering the gangway, ever the popular sight and always met with a rousing cheer after it makes contact with the dock!
Crew line the starboard decks to get a glimpse of the action. Arriving in a host nation, after many days or weeks at sea is cause for much celebration and emotion. Andrew and I are on the lower deck on the far right. I have my head turned.
The Mercy Ships Academy elementary kids wave their Guinean flags as we pull alongside. Every crew member is involved in our arrival from the youngest to the oldest, from those working in the engine room to those who are standing on deck.
Jess curled her hair for the occasion and is wearing her African dress she had made in Togo for the first time. She is growing up so fast. We pray that she will treasure each of these moments in time and look back at the very special life she has led with Mercy Ships.
Jess with new friend Abby who arrived while we were in Tenerife (her and Jess are only six days apart in age) and old friend Josie standing on deck 8.
Andrew decked out on deck!
It is customary for a crew member of the host nation to carry the flag down the gangway but we have no Guinean crew members! So the honour was bestowed upon the Mercy Ships Academy's three high school seniors (grade 12) from the USA, UK and South Africa.

A curious crowd of onlooker gathered marvelling at the big white hospital ship coming into their port. What a curious sight we must be!
Captain Tim welcomes Guinean President Mohamed Said Fofana on board after the arrival ceremony is over.
How does all this happen?? How do we sail into port with a reliable water source, tents and fences erected, security in place. the arrival ceremony organised complete with the presence of major dignitaries and media? How do we sail into port with the land rovers registered and given diplomatic immunity, candlers waiting to deliver us fresh fruit and vegetables, over two hundred day workers sourced, interviewed and TB tested ready to begin work? How do we sail into port with the Hope Centre, Dental and Eye Clinic buildings sourced, prepared and ready to open, with the location, publicity and cooperation for our mass screening organised. How do we do it???

We send out an amazing, efficient advance team, many whom are fluent French speakers, into a port six months before the ship's arrival. Thanks wonderful advance team (above) for all you do to get the kinks out and make it possible for us to enter a country and do what we do!
About a week after our arrival over 200 day workers met with their ship's department head at a meeting point just outside the port and accompanied them up the gangway to begin their orientation. Andrew has begun his third field service as the engineering day worker "mum". He was very excited to pick up his day workers and bring them back to the ship, many who have served with us in previous countries. It was wonderful to see old friends back again and so much excitement and anticipation in the faces of the day workers!

So that is our arrival back into the fray!


Fast forward seven weeks............ Fast facts!

* 25,000 km driven so far in ship's land rovers
* Received about 200 new crew and guests so far
* 6,720 watch keeping hours so far
* $190,000 in local currency brought to ship and processed
* Grew to 383 crew from 39 nations


Engineering
* 1505 Hours worked in tanks so far
* 198 hours of plumbing in September –emergency call outs , Saturdays, Sundays and Ship’s Holidays
* 220 Hours in September - Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Engineering
* Engineering average for September - 187 hours

 Galley

* 90000 meals served
 * 17 special events
 * 2 luncheons
 * 28879 kilos of meat, chicken, and fish used
 * 16000 kilos lettuce
 * 16000 kilos tomatoes
 * 26000 kilos melons
 * 16000 kilos onions
 * 520 kilos tuna fish
 * 16800 eggs

The total number of people who have showed up to Mercy Ships screenings so far in Guinea.


 
11,500+
God is good, ALL the time!