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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Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Little Bean

(Photo credit: David Forrest)

"Our hearts are broken over the loss of a young patient.

The beautiful 5-year-old girl from Northern Madagascar passed away on board the Africa Mercy on Thursday 10 March, at 5.45pm. She died two days after a very unusual, rare and severe reaction to the surgical procedure in combination with general anaesthetic, during treatment to remove a complex tumour of her lower face and neck. Her mother had been at her bedside since their arrival to the Mercy Ship on 20 January and her senior uncle joined them Thursday evening.

Official formalities with the local authorities were completed and the family and the body were flown back to their village  to prepare for her funeral.

Our prayers and our love leave with them."

(Mercy Ships Media Statement March 2016)

Little Bean, I did not know you, but as news of your passing filtered through the decks my heart broke for you and you family. I am a mother too, you see and while I cannot fathom what you mamma was feeling that day when she said goodbye, I can imagine her pain. I can hear her wails of despair.

As we waited for your condition to improve, all of us as a united crew stopped what we were doing, wherever we were on board, to pray. The galley stopped preparing lunch, the housekeepers stopped mopping, the teachers paused with their classes, meetings came to a standstill, the hospital staff dropped to their knees, to storm heaven for your healing.

But God chose to take you and whilst our frail human minds cannot comprehend, we have chosen to trust in Him.

As Andrew co-ordinated clearing of the freezer to store your broken body, now just a shell, your soul was flying free in heaven. As one of our carpenters skilfully crafted a coffin to carry you back to your village and some ladies on board lovingly created padding to soften your journey, you were dancing beside Jesus. As your body was dressed in a beautiful outfit, by hospital crew, you were free of the tumour that had taken your life.

Little bean.......your last days on earth were dignified. You were loved, prayed for and treated like the Princess you were! A daughter of the king.

Little Bean.......we did our best for you but it was not enough.

Be uncomfortable with us as we have mourned and we continue to mourn and pray for all the other beans......all 5,165 people whom our screening team saw and for whatever reason we could not treat! Yes your eyes did not deceive you, five thousand, one hundred and sixty five.

Then there are the thousands that we could not physically reach due to poor roads and sheer isolation in this vast nation. There are those we pass on the street from day to day that we cannot help as our surgery schedule is full to overflowing. There are five operating theatres running, an extra ward as been opened and the Hope Centre is overcapacity, as we race to the finish line, desperate to help as many beans as we can.

Do you feel uncomfortable? We do. We rest comfortably in the knowledge that we can access world class medical care, medication, clean water, electricity, education and freedom of religion while others are dying just trying to access these basic human rights.

It is so hard to consolidate. I don't think we can really. We can only place our faith in a loving God who sees each little bean. Every. Single. One.

Can I ask that you pray for the 5,165 people who we had to turn away, for the family of the little girl who passed away, for the patients recovering in the wards right now and for those who are yet to receive surgery in the next few weeks before the hospital closes it's doors in Madagascar for this season?