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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Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Gorge-ous


One things we miss, even crave is the sights, sounds and smells of nature. The chirping of a bird, the thundering of a waterfall as it topples overhead, the sweet smell of a rose in full bloom, a butterfly settling on a branch, the smell of fresh cut grass......... Most of the sights, sounds and smells we see and hear are man made and not particularly pleasant at all. Needle gunning, chairs scraping on metal decks, rotten fish from a recent haul from the fishing boats nearby, garbage floating in the harbour, pylon driving in the port, metal containers and warehouses as far as the eye can see.

So it is no wonder the Diosso Gorge has become a hugely popular hangout for Mercy Shippers. It isn't particularly stunning like the Grand Canyon but it has its own beauty, away from the busy city, flanked by interesting rock formations, curious jungle plants and flowers and is home to many a chimpanzee.

 

As we stopped at some "lookouts" to check out the vista we become the source of much curiosity by local children. This young man insisted on having his photo taken! Andrew is in the background chatting to a group of very interested kids!

I always like to include a photos of Andy doing what he loves to do-driving the land rovers. There is some pretty good 4WD terrain between the ship and the Gorge which makes for great fun and plenty of ohhhs and ahhhs and a few ouches as well, being that land rovers are not built for comfort. Andrew is also sporting one of the Transportation team t-shirts he designed and had made up for his ten day crew, himself and I.

Jess and her BFF, Deborah

At the top of the Gorge we found a very timid little puppy that reminded us of our dog Barney when he was a puppy. So against all good rabies advice, we couldn't resist the urge to give him lots of pats and scratches behind the ear. The poor little pup was very shy.

Now being at the peak of my athletic ability (NOT) I thought it would be a great challenge to try the hike down to the Gorge from the top. Yikes! After about a 60 degree drop for several hundred metres we made it to the relatively flat bottom, mostly unscathed.

Andrew aka Bear Grylls hacks his way through the Congolese jungle with his bare hands!

Me with friend Nanita

Jess and friends Deborah, Anna and Megan.

An oasis after our big hike, The Club des Gorges, where we tucked into cold cokes and fries which we had pre-ordered before the hike! We were told that they did not have fries but....... they could get them!

Jess looking red faced but still smiling big!

Me looking ever redder but still smiling big!

I took a few "cultural" snaps on the way home. How many people can you pack into a car? Just one more, as we say in West Africa. Seems the saying applies in Central Africa as well.

Clothes shopping anyone?

How about a new lounge suite?

Time for a quick haircut after all that shopping?

African tan!

Saturday, November 09, 2013

Team Spirit!

 

In order to free up bed spaces on the ship, a small group of crew live off ship in each of our host nations. They are crew who work at the Hope Centre where our patients go after they are discharged from the wards for further recovery and also where patients stay who are waiting for surgery and have travelled long distances to come to the ship. The house where they live has the catchy name of "the team house", mainly because a team of people live there communally.
 
One of our good friends Leah, also a Tassie girl, moved to the team house in the Congo to begin working at the Hope Centre. She recently invited us over for dinner. I have to say what a wonderful treat it was to be in a proper "house" and to sit around a dining table and do the dishes like "normal" people. Sometimes we really miss the simple things in life. The team house also comes with some friendly canines here in the Congo, as the house is owned by another mission organisation whose occupants are on furlough. We miss our dog Barney very much so we relished the opportunity to pat Lexie and Ruby.
 
Living at the team house has it benefits like being able to see trees and grass, to have more space and pets but the guys at the team house also give up a lot such as regular internet, time in the community with their ship friends, participating in ship activities, TV, protection from malaria ridden mosquitos and other bugs and Starbucks coffee and the snack bar. My hats off to them!

Leah put in a special order of chicken and fries for us. We also had a lovely salad with avocado, a rare treat, and a delicious African tomato sauce. She also had a something special for dessert-double coat tim tams!!

Us and the doggies!