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AFM

Monday, August 21, 2017

Sailing, Sailing.....Ahoy Land

The Africa Mercy has safely arrived in Douala, Cameroon!!

The voyage from Las, Palmas, Spain to Cameroon was wonderful. Thank you all for your prayers for good weather and smooth sails. I was able to find my sea legs after two days and didn't take any sea sickness medications after that. After a few nights the gentle back and forth of the ship rocked me straight to sleep haha! Worship on the bow, sighting dolphins, whales and flying fish were all highlights. I had a couple surreal moments where I thought to myself am I actually doing this?!? After only coming to ship when it has been docked it was so cool to see that the ship can be in the open waters and how many hands make it all happen.

One of the two tug boats that helped to guide the Africa Mercy out of the port.

Goodbye Las Palmas, Spain


Last sighting of land before we hit open waters. 




Worship on the bow. One of everyone's favorite parts of the sail!
Photo Credit: Mercy Ships
With limited internet and nowhere to go this voyage definitely forced me to slow down and gave me time to spend with friends and catch up on reading, sleeping and watching movies. Most importantly, the sail gave myself and the hospital leadership time for team bonding, spiritual, mental and logistical preparation. It was a joy once again to experience how everybody works together and supports each other along the way. We have an absolutely amazing team for Cameroon and I'm honored to play a small part!!




As fun as the sail was after about a week on the open waters everybody was ready to just get to Cameroon. I'm forever learning that patience and God's timing are all keys to life. The celebration of finally arriving into the port did not disappoint. The anticipation and excitement finally came to pass when we saw land for the first time and pulled into our new dock space. Per usual there was lots of singing and dancing involved in this celebration. Waiting for us on the dock were government officials and volunteers from Mercy Ships that have already been in Cameroon for almost five months working to prepare for the ships arrival. Those volunteers have an absolutely massive job that involves constant communication between the government, minister of health and leadership on the Africa Mercy. They do all of the legal documents, visas, port logistics, safety measures, managing off site renovations and so many more behind the scenes tasks that make it possible for the Africa Mercy to be in Cameroon.


Photo credit for the following photos: Mercy Ships



Africa Mercy making its way into the new dock space.

Lots of excitement on the ship as we arrived. Hands and flags were waving strong! 


Singing and dancing on the dock to welcome the ship.

So now that we have arrived in Cameroon what do we do? The real fun begins. In the coming weeks over 200 daycrew will be introduced to the ship, oriented and prepared to work with us. If you don't remember daycrew are local people hired by Mercy Ships to help with translation, and various jobs around the ship. We couldn't do what we do without them. Nurses will also be arriving in the next week to help unpack and clean the hospital to get it ready for patients. We will do lots of orientation and education with new nurses as well. On August 24th the screening team will start seeing patients and collaborating with surgeons to decide which patients can get surgery. The hospital will officially open on September 4th with the first surgery on September 5th. There is a lot of work ahead but it truly is an exciting time to be on ship.

If you are praying please keep the following specific things on your mind:
1. Pray for the daycrew and new nurses. That they would feel apart of our community, get adjusted quickly, feel supported and be ready to work.

2. The screening team as they get ready to see thousands of potential patients. Some they will have to say no to. Pray for wisdom, strength, love and grace.

3. For our off ship sites like the Hope Center (place patients stay before and after surgery), OBF clinic, Ponseti clinic, dental and eye teams. That they would get setup quickly and the programs would run smoothly.

4. For no sickness and extra strength for myself and the rest of the crew.

I truly can not thank you enough for your prayers and support up until this time. Keep praying. I am confident that God has great things in store for the country of Cameroon and every crew member and patient that walks up the gangway.

Andddd if you have made it this far congratulations lol!! Your reward is a video of a dolphin sighting and more photos!!

video  

Another highlight was crossing the equator and the center of the world at 0 degrees latitude and 0 degrees longitude. A very rare thing in maritime circles apparently. The captain hosted a full ceremony explaining maritime traditions and giving us the new status of Diamond Shellback. Lots of fun! 


We went outside as we passed the center of the world to see if there was an actual line ;)













Although I am currently serving with Mercy Ships, everything communicated here strictly reflects my personal opinions and is neither reviewed nor endorsed by Mercy Ships. Opinions, conclusions and other information expressed here do not necessarily reflect the views of Mercy Ships. 




Thursday, August 3, 2017

Safe and Sound!

Hello Everybody,

Just a quick update to let you know that I have arrived in Las Palmas, Spain and that all flights and travel went very smoothly! Thank you for your prayers for safety!

So far I have unpacked, saw many familiar faces and explored a very small part of this beautiful island. Las Palmas is known as the "Bahamas of Europe" and it definitely has that feel to it. Lots of families and people on vacation. They have a boardwalk that is right near the beach packed full of restaurants and all sorts of shops. Kinda feels like the boardwalk's in Jersey with a European flare haha.

It has been great being back on the ship and having people say welcome back or glad to see you *cue Cheers theme song* It most definitely feels familiar and just plain nice to be back :)

The hospital may have closed in June but the work has certainly continued around this ship. So much mechanical, painting of the hull and overall maintenance which I won't even pretend like I really know about has been happening and it is incredible! Truly amazing to think about how many hands, heads and hearts it takes to run this ship all year around. Each one working together and doing their job makes this ship run like a well oiled machine and I'm humbled to play a small part in it all.

As we make our way to Cameroon I will have very limited wifi so this will be my last update until we get there. As we make the twelve day journey towards Cameroon please pray for....

1. A safe and calm sail
2. Minimal sea sickness
3. Restful time to prepare for the patients, and day crew that we will be meeting
4. Good team bonding and dynamics
5. Smooth start up of the hospital and programs when we arrive in Cameroon

Thank you for all of your prayers, support and encouragement!

Beaches near the boardwalk


After a dip in the ocean!





Because the ship is currently docked in a place where all different kinds of ships are getting repairs done we have to wear hard hats and close toed shoes when we walk through the port. It is basically like walking through a construction site. 


Some of the other ships and sites around us.



Goodnight port!