Where to begin? I returned the M/V Africa Mercy (AFM) 7 days ago and it’s almost like I never left, except a few things have changed. Most noticeable; there are new curtains in the dining room and a huge change in crew members.
My first day back in the ward for doctors rounds was Tuesday. I was met with a big hug and grin from Dr Gary Parker, the Chief Medical Officer and Maxillofacial surgeon. I stood back on ward rounds that day (there were enough people standing around the tiny space; a second maxfax surgeon, local maxfax surgeon, medical student, pharmacist, two physicians, day crew translator and acting maxfax team leader). Instead of focusing on what the day’s plans were for each patient, I watched the patient’s faces as the team made their way around the ward, stopping to greet each patient, shake their hand, ask them how they were and make a plan for the day. There were smiles and praise hands and head bows in thanks and for some reason it’s all those simples gestures that are unspoken that make me choke up the most. There is just so much beauty in serving others and seeing them blessed.
The following day I was in the ward when the Hospital Chaplaincy team came and did devotions with the patients. They share a little word of encouragement and sing a couple of songs. The 26yo serious man from bed 1 who I was yet to see smile, was up and dancing to the singing and drums, a slight smile tugging at the corners of his mouth, head wrapped in bandage from his surgery four days prior.
I hope in the coming months I’ll have hundreds of big and small stories to write here. At the moment I’m in transition. Transition back into the world of maxillofacial surgeries and leading a team of ward nurses as best I can. Transition back into a ship community I left 18 months ago which has changed significantly. Transition into the country of Cameroon and learning about her people. Transition into speaking French and trying not to say Malagasy phrases instead!
While it’s early days to have photos of patients I have already met, I’ll leave you with some photos of previous transformations this outreach.
This baby, Paul, got fattened up and had his first surgery.
This mama's life has been forever changed.
And now just a few of the new place I live.
Above right is the ship Captain- an Aussie.
Below you can see Harmattan is in full swing, which blows sand from the Sahara Desert into the sky of West Africa.
The AFM dock space.
A happy Deb, back at work in the hospital she loves the most. I'm missing family and friends from home, but glad to be back in the place God has called me.
Thanks for joining me on this journey.