Monday, 9 May 2016

Mourning has begun

The biggest month of the year is well and truly upon us. May ends the surgeries on the ship for the outreach, the hospital closes down, school ends for the year and the grade 12 class finish school forever and the majority of the hospital crew disembark often traveling places on their way home. Some head home early before preparing to come back to the ship for the following outreach.
For the last few years I have felt immense sadness behind this month of goodbyes, knowing that in all likeliness I will never see these patients again that I have spent months caring and praying for or the day crew who have been my voice, another set of my hands and cultural teachers for the past 2 years.
When it comes to saying goodbye to nurses and crewmates, in the last years I have hidden behind the saying, “see you when you come next time!” knowing that many of them will most likely not be back, but for a good many I have seen and worked with again. So this time around, it feels so much harder. There is nothing to hide behind, except to know that for the ones where friendship runs deep, I will try my hardest to visit and keep up with them despite our different geographical locations.

D ward team
Here is the timeline of coming events:

11 May- The Advance Team leave for Benin to prepare the way for the next outreach. My first goodbye in May, to a beloved roommate.

20 May- The last day for surgeries for the Mada2 outreach and the HOPE Centre closes and all remaining patients needing care are transferred to the hospital on board. More goodbyes to good friends.

26 May- Last day of school for the academy and the grade 12 class graduate! More goodbyes to good friends.

27 May- The AFM hospital closes its doors to patients and we send everyone out, whether they have healed or not. Sometimes we have to transfer them to the local hospital but often we just send them home with an estimated number of dressing supplies, hoping and praying it’ll be enough.
-     The day crew Thank You event is also held on board where all 200 of our day crew come together with us and we celebrate them for the hard work they have done. We also say goodbyes to most of them.

28 May- There is a mass exodus of crew, mostly hospital staff. We stand on the dock for a 06:30am departure, overwhelmed with the sheer number of people getting on the buses leaving. Friends left behind usually say to me that day, “How have you done this so many times?” and it’s hard to answer because each times a piece of your heart breaks off. Then I usually walk back up the gangway with a guarded heart, pushing the emotions back deep inside, hoping I don’t fall apart.

Then we have one week to clean, pack up and tie down the hospital before saying more goodbyes to friends leaving and friend staying behind and to the country of Madagascar before we sail away. At that point I don’t even know what to do with the heavy feeling in my heart, tears just aren’t enough. I already had one good sobbing session out of the blue on my own last week. I have a feeling there are a few more to come.

So, will you stand and pray with us for all these things?

Pray for the next two weeks of surgeries, that the cases would be uncomplicated and patients will heal quickly.
Pray for the patients who have been with us for months that their wounds would heal before the hospital closes.
Pray for the day crew that they would find new jobs quickly.
Pray for the crew leaving that they would walk away from the ship with full hearts and that they would know God walking with them as they leave and process all they have seen and been a part of.
Pray for the emotional, mental and physical strength of the crew who are packing up, readying the ship to sail.
Pray for me, as I prepare to leave this beautiful country, the Malagasy people and say goodbye to a ship community that has shaped me these past 6 years. Pray for the strength of my heart.

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