Saturday, January 24, 2015

Hello Madagascar!

We sailed away from South Africa, around Cape of Good Hope and up the east coast of Africa towards Madagascar.  While the weather was calm, the currents were a bit rough. Many of those who have been with the ship for many years said it was the worst sail that they had ever been on with the ship. One night was particularly bad. Several items broke loose from their fastenings, despite never having moved on any of the sails in past years. The screws and bolts securing the coffee machine in the Starbucks CafĂ© snapped and the machine was thrown to the floor, causing great sadness for all the coffee addicts on the ship, who had to live with regular coffee from the dining room until we reached Madagascar.
I continued to thank the Lord for that I do not suffer from seasickness, as many others found themselves feeling so unwell that they were unable to leave their cabins. We sailed into Madagascar one beautiful morning, and soon the job of unpacking the hospital began.

I love Madagascar! The country is beautiful, and the people are so warm, welcoming, and so very polite. The water here is so clear, even in the port, and I can sit on the dock next to the ship and watch the tropical fish swimming just below me.
Sailing Away from South Africa

Sailing around the Cape of Good Hope
Sailing into Tamatave, Madagascar





Wednesday, October 15, 2014

South Africa

I enjoyed the sail to South Africa and, as always, the dolphins and Sunday evening worship on the bow were my favorite parts of the sail. The sea did get a bit rough as we got closer to Cape Town. A few times the ship was rolling as far as 21 degrees to port or starboard, and we discovered that some things were not a securely fastened as we had thought them to be. Eating meals proved to be particularly interesting as you tried to eat while your chair tried to slide away from the table with you in it, and you held on to the table while simultaneously trying to rescue your meal. I continue to be blessed with a strong stomach, and did not suffer any seasickness, though unfortunately many other crew could not say the same.

We have spent the last two weeks in Cape Town, South Africa and I have been blessed with the opportunity to do some sightseeing in the evenings and on my days off. I have gone on a small “safari” at a nearby wildlife reserve, gone cage diving with great white sharks, ridden the cable car up to Table Mountain, taken a train to Boulder’s Beach to see the penguins, taken the ferry to Robben Island, and ridden the sightseeing bus around Cape Town. Last weekend I also worked as a tour guide to the ship. Over three days we toured 4,211 people through our home, and shared with them our mission. Perhaps one day some of these people will join us as crewmembers.

Now our time in South Africa is at an end and we are setting sail for Madagascar. I am so excited to see what the Lord is going to do. Please keep myself and the rest of the crew in your prayers, as this sail is expected to be particularly rough. Please also lift up the people who we will be serving in Madagascar. Please pray that we will be able to be a strong witness for Christ in this culture and for wisdom and discernment as we interact with these people.


Friday, September 26, 2014

South Africa Bound

After many delays, mechanical an tactical the ship is on the first leg of its journey to...... MADAGASCAR!
When I arrived back on the ship we were closely monitoring the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, and realized that it was going to have a great impact not only on the people of the countries affected, but also on Mercy Ships as an organization and the way we conduct our screenings and provide care. At that time we still planned to go to Benin, but when Ebola emerged in Nigeria, everything changed. Plans for the ship were being changed on a weekly basis, and different options were being discussed. Finally, just a few days before we sailed, the final decision was made to go to Madagascar with a short stay in South Africa on the way.

During this same time period, the ship was also experiencing mechanical problems. By the time I rejoined the Africa Mercy, the ship had come out of dry dock, but the engineers quickly realized that something was wrong with our propulsion and steering. A couple of days after I arrived, we sailed from Las Palmas to Tenerife. During the sail, even the crew could feel that something was wrong. The ship shuddered and made sounds that I had not heard on my past sails. Eventually, the engineers thought that they had found the source of the problem. However, the repair could not be completed in Tenerife and we returned to Las Palmas to complete the repair. In the process, however, a second problem was discovered, one that will have to be addressed during our next shipyard phase, as it will require the ship to go back into dry dock.  Still, we were finally declared fit for sail.
Through all of this, I was so blessed to see the entire crew come together daily in prayer for our leaders and for the people of West Africa. We could see the Lord’s hand guiding us, and waited to see where he would take us. Through so much uncertainty, still there was peace. The mechanical issues delayed us by several weeks, and we realized later that if we had not been delayed we would have been in Benin, or halfway there, when Ebola was discovered just a few hundred miles across the border in Nigeria. As it was, the delay gave us time to reevaluate and change our plans. Our God is so good.
For a few weeks after I first arrived I was assigned to work in the galley, preparing food for the crew. I enjoyed seeing another part of ship life, and learned how difficult it can be to prepare meals when the ship is sailing and trying to throw food and/or cooking implements at you.­­ Soon however, I was transferred to the engineering department as they were in need of a few extra people. I have been doing odd plumbing jobs, cleaning and reassembling various components of the showers and toilets, painting, insulating, caulking, changing AC filters, etc., with the added difficulty that many of these jobs were completed while sailing. I can add a whole new set of skills to my resume now. I have actually really enjoyed this time, and it was fun to get to know the engineers better.
Setting Sail



Saturday, August 30, 2014

Canary Islands..... Again

The ship is in the Canary Islands again. While I was home the ship was in dry dock for repairs. Now it is back in the water, although some maintenance and repairs are still being completed. While the hospital is closed, I have been reassigned. I am currently working in the galley, preparing meals for the rest of the crew.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Time to Recharge

One of the hardest things about being a nurse on a floating hospital in Africa, is the distance from family. With the miracle of modern day technology, you can keep in touch with family easily enough, phone calls, email, and social media make it possible for me to know what is going on in my family almost as it happens. Missionaries of the past would laugh at my idea of the "hardship" of leaving family, when they often left home knowing they might never see their families again, and having only letters to share news of family and friends, letters which would have taken months to reach them. Still, if there is anything about my life with Mercy Ships that I struggle with, this distance from family is that one thing.
When I saw my Dad and little sister Dara waiting for me as I headed towards the baggage claim, when I hugged them, I was home.
How confusing it can be to have two homes. When I am in the States, I refer to the ship as "home" but when I am on the ship I refer to Washington as "home". I have family in both places, there are people I love in both places, a part of my heart is in both places.

I try my best to be present wherever I happen to be. To focus on the people that I am with for this time. And these weeks at my "home" in Washington State were a time to recharge.... and to meet my beautiful new niece!

Now back to my other "home" the Africa Mercy.
Enjoying the Lake Caves