Friday, 7 June 2013

An End

When Steph and I returned from Masanga to the Africa Mercy, the ORs had just closed and the hospital wards were only open for one more week. I happily worked day shifts that week and watched as we discharged and said goodbye to every single patient.
One of the last nights before most patients left, we had a ridiculous, but very fun, party in the ward where, at her own suggestion, one of the patient’s caregivers decided to have a pretend wedding to one of our day workers. We all dressed up for the occasion and had a hilariously fun time pretending.

Just like we do for our crew member friends when they leave, we also stood on the dock to say goodbye to two of our beloved patients. They have been with us for a longer period of time than many of the nurses who came to serve on the wards where they were being cared for. There were truly special goodbyes and prayers said that week.

Then on Friday we had a Thank You party for our day workers, who have so lovingly worked alongside us for the last 10 months. It was a bitter sweet time of celebrating what we have accomplished together, that we could never achieve without them, but also saying farewell before we left.

My D ward team

The last week in Guinea was spent cleaning, packing and tying down what was left of the hospital. We made our last trips to our favourite parts of town and restaurants and for some, prepared to leave Africa for the last time. It also held a lot of sad goodbyes to precious friends.

And then we pushed off from the dock and began to sail. (This is where anyone who has sailed, erupts in squeals of excitement! The excitement of sailing for me is probably 5 out of 5!) I love staring at the blue ocean. I love to watch the open skies, blue and stretching for as far as you can see. I love the golden sunlight on the water. I love watching flying fish. I love the anticipation of seeing wildlife and screaming in excitement when dolphins come and swim with us at the bow. I love hanging over the railing and feeling the wind in my hair. I love looking overboard and waiting and then seeing the unexpected, like four turtles in the water. I love sitting on the bow singing praise songs, while staring out at nothing but sea. I love the brilliantly lit starry skies. I love the time with friends and community that is built through this common experience. And I love that I got splashed and soaked with sea water while standing on the bow. All these things and more makes sailing so exciting to me.

Photo credit: Ruben Plomp

Photo credit: Ruben Plomp

Photo credit: Ruben Plomp

And now it’s over. We arrived in Las Palmas, Gran Canaria yesterday afternoon and last night we hit the streets and marveled over the cleanliness of the streets, how fast the cars were driving, that there was green grass and flowers in the trees, how big the supermarkets are and the fresh produce they were selling, how many white people there were walking around and how we would never be able to spot our Mercy Ships friends now that we blended into the crowd. We sat down to enjoy the gorgeous view of the beach and admire the Spanish buildings, while drinking Sangria and eating fresh cheese and garlic bread. It’s such a stark contrast to the world we have been living in and sort of hard to wrap your mind around.

There are many more goodbyes to be said. Ones that will be some of the hardest of my life to this point and I’m not looking forward to them at all. But for now I will continue to soak in the presence of my friends and enjoy them, for this time shall very soon come to an end.

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