Saturday, 18 August 2012

Back to Africa!

Yet again we have set sail! Again we are floating upon the majestic ocean, full of creatures waiting to be delighted in upon our sighting! (no dolphins yet!)

We are off to Conakry, Guinea, West Africa.

Guinea, formerly known as French Guinea, has a population of 10,057,975 and an area of 246,000 square kilometres (roughly the size of the UK). The capital city is Conakry, where the M/V Africa Mercy will be docked. It is a predominantly Islamic country, with Muslims representing 85% of the population. Christians and Roman Catholic make up about 10%.  The economy is largely dependent on agriculture and mineral production. It is the world’s second largest producer of bauxite. Interestingly Australia was, in 2010, the top producer of bauxite, although Guinea has a larger reserve.  Guinea also has rich deposits of diamonds and gold.
The health statistics are not so great. Age expectancy in years- Male: 49, Female: 55, Probability of dying under age 5- 14.2%, Physicians per 1,000 people: 1.
Although the statistics look and are terrible, the West Africans that I know do not live with these numbers hanging over their heads, colouring their lives.  They live and love deeply despite the statistics and they have taught me so much about loving those around me.

This morning we had a screening meeting for the day where we will meet most of our patients for the next 10 months that we are docked in Conakry. I am again privileged to be the Team Leader, along with my friend Hannah, at the History station, where we will lead a team of 18 nurses and 18 translators to explore the medical and surgical history of every patient that comes as a surgical candidate to screening day. It is a truly amazing day to be a part of. We are able to see the patients that will be able to have a life-changing surgery and give them hope for their future.

We would love you to join with us in praying for the day, for calm people waiting in long lines, for wisdom for so many decisions being made, for fine weather (it's the middle of rainy season where it rains every day!) and for God's strength and energy to fill us as we work long hours in an exhausting, busy area.

Although I only took 3 weeks of holidays off ship, we have been away from Africa for 2 months and docked in Tenerife with access to everything one would need (even if everything is written in Spanish which I can't read). My job has been updating and writing hospital policies. It has had it’s moments of monotony but I certainly can't complain with the flexibility I've been given in which to do the work. After the screening meeting this morning though, I am itching to be back in Africa, the continent I love so deeply, and to immerse myself once again in nursing and caring for those that need a little love.
What exciting things will God do in and though me in these next 10 months in Guinea? I am excited to find out! In the meantime I will sit back and watch for dolphins, gaze out upon the open ocean, watch the sunlight glittering over the water, with my computer sitting on my lap updating a policy on Paediatric Medication Administration!

Friday, 3 August 2012

His Plans

I have been back on the ship, currently docked in Tenerife, Canary Islands, for one week now. The crew numbers have been small, but I have loved every minute of my time with my few precious friends here.
Tonight as I lie in bed, waiting to fall asleep, reflecting on the last few weeks of my life, I am overwhelmed with thankfulness. I have been blessed beyond measure! God took me on this holiday and had unending blessings waiting around every corner for me. For me... Who am I to deserve such abundance? But God is teaching me that His love is HUGE and He wants me (and you) to know it.
So I open my heart and my arms wide and say, Yes! I want to receive all that You have for me. Whatever it is in this new season of life, the beginning of a new field service, I am ready to live in the plan that You have for me. I am finally ready to float in Your ocean of grace and let Your plan override any plans I have made. For Your plans are better than mine, Your thoughts higher than mine. I have walked these last few weeks in the plan You had and I have been so abundantly blessed. What else do You have for me? I don't know what it is, but I'm excited to walk with You through it because I know it'll be better than great.

One day left in London

During my last day and a half in London I stayed with my friend Harriet, at her sister’s house, along with their dog, Bobbie.

Now, I’m not really a dog person, and generally try to avoid them because, let’s face it- they smell and they leave hair everywhere!  But there is something so lovely about being able to walk through the park with a dog running beside you, full of life, enthusiasm and energy.  I enjoyed our walk through the park immensely, with Bobbie running circles around us.  He found a tennis ball in the grass and played games with me as I threw it time and time again for him, laughing as I watched him jump in the air the catch the ball in his mouth.  Something so simple like this, so normal for some people, brought such joy to me! Just a dog, a ball, green grass, some sunshine and a friend.

We walked to Clapham Junction and met up with more friends, Karin and Tim, for lunch for Karin’s birthday.  While Harriet took Bobbie home for a nap, we organized birthday cake for Karin!
One of my favourite things to do is take timer photos- during this particular one Ruth had a blueberry drop down her shirt, which then somehow caused Karin to angle her cake plate and slip, off it came onto my dress!

In the evening we met up with a few more friends, enjoyed a lovely light dinner and then headed to the theatre to watch The Wizard Of Oz musical!!!  What a great way to end my time in London!

 After a very early morning, cab ride, train ride, plane and car pick-up, I arrived back in Zurich at Annette’s house for my final day of holidays.  Noel and Melinda had joined Annette at her apartment and together we had a leisurely breakfast, then headed out to the Rhine river for a swim or rather, ride, down the fast flowing, freezing cold river.
We had another great Swiss meal at dinner- cheese fondue and catch up with another wonderful Mercy Ships nurse from 2011. But all too soon it was bed time as I had another early morning flight back to the ship in Tenerife.  Three small flights later and a couple of naps, I arrived into Tenerife.  I was picked up from the airport and after a trip to the supermarket, we arrived at the ship, just in time for a fire drill.  Haha.  Yep, I’m home.

Thursday, 2 August 2012

Frolicking with a Frisbee

For the last few years I have been lucky enough to be able to catch up with a group of Mercy Shippers, most of whom I met in 2009 during Benin field service.  Since 2009 I have been to two of their weddings (July 2010 and August 2011) and this year I just happened to be in the right country at the right time and those who could, gathered together for one day in London city.
13 of us met up in M&M world (seems to be becoming a tradition) in Leicester Square and walked around London together, joining the streams of tourists, pouring through the streets and down to the riverbanks where cafes and restaurants line the Thames.  We held to another tradition of a game or two of ultimate frisbee in the park (something I’ve never really tried being good at- so I watch!).

eating a small snack outside Buckingham Palace

We ate together, all squashed onto one table (Mercy Ships style), had drinks, battled the London crowds, took photos with the Wenlocks (Olympic mascots) and generally had a great time.

Ending all too soon, we had goodbyes to say and parted ways, some heading to the ship and others back to their own homes.

The following day Sarah and I set off on our last adventure together (for this trip).  We drove to visit our friend Corrie, an Aussie, living in Kent.  It was so lovely seeing her and hearing and seeing her excitement to see us!
We walked to the park and had a picnic and then shared a treat that was known to be Corrie’s (and another friend, Shawna’s) favourite naughty snack- Oreos dipped in Nutella.

The sweet visit was really over too soon, but I had another journey to make, back to London.

Love and Laughter

My friends Stuart and Frances were married in a beautiful church in Wallington, London.

Quite a good sized group of Mercy Shippers were able to make it to celebrate their exciting day.  It was a special time to join with them as their ship family, amongst their friends and family from home.

What a great time we had together, laughing and loving.


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