We are a family of three; Andrew, Jodie and Jessica (aged 18) from Tasmania, Australia who are currently serving in Douala, Cameroon, Central 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 Africa home, as we seek to bring hope and healing to the poorest of the poor.

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Friday, March 20, 2015

Finding the Right Ones

On the Africa Mercy our prayer for our potential patients, before we even arrive in country, is always that same, "Lord send us those who you have in mind for transformation, spiritually, mentally and physically. Help them to find their way to a screening site or to the ship. Give them a divine appointment. Help us to find the right ones, whatever it takes."

So just how do people find out about the ship? Long before the ship's arrival in port, the Advance team does a stellar job of advertising the ship's arrival and the surgical specialties we offer on board. Advertising is done for screening day/s and surgeries by way of poster, billboards, text messaging, radio advertising and probably a whole heap of other creative ways. The advance team also spends a lot of time forming strategic relationship with local hospitals, churches and government officials.

So by the time we arrive into a port our prayers have been lifted high and God is whispering in the right ears and planting seeds in the right hearts, prompting them to find a way to the ship or to help another find their way, often against great adversity that continues to stun us. So many of our patients walk for days to reach the ship with debilitating conditions, facing torment and ridicule along the way. Many are already on death's door and somehow God makes a way. We are often their very last hope. It is a miracle, plain and simple!

Things have been a little different in Madagascar. Ordinarily we conduct one huge mass screening day in a large facility such as a sports stadium. However this field service the screening in Tamatave was held over a period of two weeks at a local hospital, Hopital Be (pronounced Bay). After that several surgical screenings were held in large cities all over the island of Madagascar, including the capital Antananarivo. In conjunction with the surgical screenings, eye screenings also took place in many other regions of Madagascar.

Screenings have now finished for this field service and miracles are taking place everyday on deck three!
Miracles like eight year old Sandrins (below, right), her right leg was negatively affected by a quinine injection. The medicine that cured her of malaria unfortunately damaged the nerves in her right leg, causing her foot to bend inwardly at the ankle. Now she is free to go to school again with her twin sister, Sandra!

Zafaline....This courageous young woman travelled from the southernmost tip of Madagascar in search of the Africa Mercy. Travelling with her mother, the journey took four days. Zafiline shared with us that she never doubted that Mercy Ships would be able to heal her.

 Look closely.......fraternal nine month old twins, Ichaya and Aycha, were born with polydactyly (extra digits) of their hands and feet.

Five beautiful fingers and five beautiful toes.....


Meet eleven year old Windy, the electricity went out in his home, so a candle was lit instead. Unfortunately, the candle was too close to the mosquito net that enclosed Windy and caught on fire, leaving him horribly disfigured. Just look at him now, with his arms so free....


All her life Vanya, aged eleven, has been disabled by an unusual condition called 'windswept legs'. Look at her straight legs now! With her legs so crooked Vanya wasn’t able to wear a dress. Now that her casts have come off, she can wear a dress, showing off her wonderfully straight legs.

Little Sorelle was born with a cleft lip. After Sorelle's surgery, mum, Antoine said, “I am happy because now Sorelle can grow up without people laughing at her or pushing her away. God will provide for my daughter like He has done with this surgery.”

Zakael was ashamed of the cyst on his neck and would be teased by the neighborhood kids. Now that Zakael is healed, he want to follow his dream to become a soldier just like his grandfather!  

Two years ago, cataracts robbed William of his sight making it impossible for him to see his wife and son.

A simple operation changed his life!

Minette has been carrying around a 4.3 kilogram neurofibroma, that began growing on her back when she was just five years old. This young women has shed her large, oversized t-shirts and her sad demeanour. Now her face shines with joy!

Jocelin  had a golf ball sized tumour that had grown out of the tear duct and pushed his right eye almost completely out of its socket, immobilizing his eye and disabling his vision in that eye. Ssurgeon's had to disconnect and reconnect some of the muscles attached to his eye in the removal of the tumour.

Jocelin was told before his surgery that he may lose his eye but his eye was able to be saved.  He says, “I am so thankful to God and Mercy Ships. Surgeries are expensive. I could never afford to do this. Not only is the tumour gone, but I still have my eye. I’m going to be able to look people in the eye again!”

Eighteen year old Mamisy came to us with no nose or upper lip, his face eaten away by a destructive condition called Noma. Mercy Ships surgeons recreated his new nose from a part of his scalp and then fashioned a new upper lip from his bottom lip! Mamisy is looking forward to getting married and having lots of children!


For thirty two years a growth ate away at Vololonirina's cheek. After all her hope had left her, she began to pray. For fourteen long years Vololonirina and her church prayed for a miracle! Vololonirina, who became known for her beautiful shawl, proclaimed, after her surgery, “Hallelujah! Thank you, God! It’s gone! I feel free!”

Meet  four year old cutie, Priscilla who suffered from bowed legs, a physical deformity that gave her legs an “O”- shaped appearance. This condition created many limitations. She was unable to walk long distances or jump and walking up and down stairs was painful for her. Other children teased her. Priscilla’s mother, Llanariana prayed for a miracle and it came in the form of a hospital ship.
Now this little bundle of mischief is achieving all kinds of new things! She can squat, stand on one leg, and has even returned to school.

In our time with Mercy Ships, the story of Sambany has perhaps been the greatest miracle! After walking for two days with dangerously low haemoglobin levels,  fifty five year old Sambany made it to the ship, carrying the largest tumour even seen on a Mercy ship, weighing in at a hefty 7.46kg. After a marathon 12 hour surgery, that included the aid of  seventeen crew blood donors, Sambany was free of his burden!

Today Sambany is looking great and healing nicely at the Hope Centre. He says, “My heart is very, very happy. I’m very happy. I’m just happy!

"Being unwanted, unloved, uncared for,
Being forgotten by everyone,
I think that is a much greater hunger,
a much greater poverty
Than the person who has nothing to eat..."

Mother Theresa

Just to finish up, I couldn't resit a few pics of our othopedic cuties! How could you resist these gorgeous faces?