28 November 2012

Very few words Wednesday

We had the delightful pleasure of going to a nearby playground this past Saturday.  We'll let the pictures speak for themselves....10,0000+ words worth. (and definitely part of our 10,000 reasons that our souls are finding to bless the Lord!)

Thankful for the GRASS (it's kind of rare here in Conakry).  Thankful for the swings and slides (all the different versions of concrete slides!) and things to climb on.  Thankful for snacks and friends and a fun way to spend a Saturday morning.

Surely there will be more to come!

23 November 2012

This time last week...

This time last week we were sitting/playing/swimming/resting at the beach!  The ship has a holiday every 6 weeks - so we end up being blessed with a 3 day weekend quite often! 

We had the wonderful privilege and fabulous experience of going to "The Island" with some friends.  It actually ended up that the vast majority of the 2 boatloads of people were from our Gateway...and they just happen to be some of our favorite friends on the ship :)(non-gateway ship friends are cool, too...).

Mercy Ships has made arrangements with....hmmm....I'm not sure whether to say a "Boat Business" or "some guys with some boats" or something different altogether - regardless of what the right words are, Mercy Ships has made arrangements for boats to come right here to the dock, pick us up, take us to the island, drop us off and then bring us right back here to the ship at the end of the day. It's SUPER convenient...and the Cash's are super fond of super convenient sometimes.  It costs 50,000 francs for the adults (about $7) and is FREE for kids.  That was one of the best $14 we've spent yet...

So we loaded up into boats around 9:30 and headed to Roume Island.  Eli and Caroline weren't too sure about the boats...I think they had something more like "Ms. Jean's pontoon from Lake Harding" in mind.  But, much to their credit, they stayed calm ... a bit pensive...but calm and we all enjoyed the 45ish minute ride to the Island. 

It was fun getting a different view of the Africa Mercy (that's it in the background of the picture below...)

Emma's face cracks me up!  That's pretty much the face she had the whole ride...

The "other" boat.  Ours looked very smiliar.   That's Mr. Dave & Mr. Nick in the front row, 

See?! Same Emma face. 

Some houses that we passed as we were getting close to our destination.  Emma said "that's the Wells' house." (the one on the right)  Chad & Hollie, do you own property in Guinea that we don't know about??
 So we got to the Island and got out of boats right into the water...(not sure what I was expecting...but I hadn't thought of that possibility)(my flip flop got stuck in the mud and I kind of thought it was gone forever....but my foot managed to find it....)(I was thankful...those flip flops are what I wear about 98% of the time).  We eventually found "our spot" and settled in for a delightful few hours of running and playing and swimming and splashing and building and frisbee throwing. 

We had a picnic lunch and Nick even played some football (soccer) on the beach with some local guys. We could have shopped right there on the beach if we had wanted to - some guys brought out some fabric and all sorts of beautiful jewelry. Around 3:30 we loaded back into the boats and headed back to the Africa Mercy. Emma promptly fell asleep. 

Yup, she slept just like this.

Home sweet Home.
We got back to the Africa Mercy to find that the tide had gone out - so instead of stepping from the boat directly to the dock, we had to climb up a ladder...which is quite interesting with a 2 year old and a few bags of stuff.  I started out with Emma on my back...but quickly (wisely?) realized that wasn't the best idea and someone ended up handing her up to me (I'm thankful for whoever was holding me as I reached down to pull her up!).  Somewhere in that process my flip flop managed to fall into the water....thought it was definitely gone for good (again) - but a nice African fella managed to fish it out for me.  Caroline's flip flop also fell into the water...it was fished out, too.  (lesson learned:  Cash girls do not need to wear flip flops on future adventures of this nature...)

Favorite parts of the day/things we're most thankful for:
  • Seeing the kids RUNNING on the beach.  There's something more special than ever about wide open spaces.
  • The chance to "get away"...to be off ship...to have a change of scenery and a change of pace in a peaceful and beautiful part of God's creation.
  • No sunburns...
One of the other ladies that went with us took some really incredible pictures - they really capture the beauty of Africa (sadly the world doesn't always associate the word "beauty" with the word "Africa").  Here's a link to her blog post about the island if you're interested Reka's blog - more pictures!

Our God gives such good gifts...our trip to the Island was certainly one of them! 

Surely there will be more to come!

18 November 2012

Phrases you don't hear everyday...

Had you been sitting in our cabin on Wednesday afternoon, you would have heard the following:
  • “I’m not giving my foot away.”
  • “I’ve got a leg and I know how to use it.”
  • “Eli, can I hold your leg?”
  • “This piece of plaster looks like a meteorite.”
Eli and Caroline (and the rest of the 1st-3rd graders!) got to go on another field trip!  This time they actually got off the ship...barely :).  They were able to visit the Physio/Rehab tent down on the dock.  Our good friend, Mr. Nick Veltjens, is the Rehab Team Leader.  He did a fantastic job of explaining what he and his team do every day.

Here are pictures, quotes and thoughts from their field trip!  (All the captions are quotes from Caroline)

"The tent is on the dock. It’s a pretty big tent. When you’re inside it still feels like a tent – a really big tent with air conditioning. It’s 2 rooms." -Caroline
"The patients go to this tent if their bones need to be straightened up. Mr. Nick Veltjens puts casts on people so that their legs can heal and get straight. He does arms and stuff, too." - Eli
"Mr. Nick was directing us -- telling us how to straighten a patient's leg so that they can walk normally again.  I was holding the leg and Isabella was the surgeon.  Mr. Nick doesn't do the surgeries.  Mr. Nick does the casting after the surgeries."
"Jacob is the surgeon cutting through the bone.  I'm just watching.  Everyone else is holding the leg...not a real leg....if it was a real leg there would be someone laying on the bed attached to it."
"Jacob is casting Eli's leg. First you have these little scarf things that you put on the leg and foot.  Then you get this roll and dip it in water and bring it all the way to the bottom for a few seconds.  It will get loose...then you start wrapping it around the leg.  Then you put more layers - of hard stuff.  Soft layer...then hard hard hard layers - 3 of them."

"Eli has his cast on!"

"Mr. Nick is teaching Eli how to use crutches."
"I'm watching Mr. Nick teach Eli how to use his crutches."
"My class and Eli's class and the 3rd grade with Flat Stanleys and Flat Stellas.  I liked wearing the uniforms.  They kept our clothes from getting dirty with plaster."
Another successful field trip!!  (and a fun way to tell you about the Physio/Rehab Tent!)  Eli got to keep his cast as a souvenier (the source of the quotes at the beginning of this post).  Not sure what we'll do with it now...but we've got it. 

Other fun fact: Mr. Nick Veltjens is one of the best in the world at what he does (no joke!).  He leads conferences and trainings and is often asked to teach on the Ponsetti Casting method AND he's a super fun, God-honoring guy!  He may be the king of coming up with impromptu games - his ability to come up with games on the spot was quite the lifesaver for a lot of people throughout our Gateway and Field Service!  We're so very thankful for the way he invests in our family - and specifically in our children.  Mercy Ships (and the Cash Family!) is blessed to have him as a crew member!! 

Alternate post titles:
  • Eli didn't really break his leg.
  • The kids are super cute in scrubs!!!
  • Flat Stanley & Flat Stella (and grades 1-3) go to Rehab
  • Field Trip to the Physio Tent
  • Do these kids ever do school work? Seems like they are always going on Field Trips...
Surely there will be more to come.

10 November 2012

Meet Memouna (and her smile)

This is from Catherine Murphy's Amazing Blog.  Catherine is one of the writers here on the Africa Mercy...she has a lovely way with words and does a tremendous job of honoring God with her writing.  We are certainly blessed by her willingness to share her heart and giftings through her writing.  Thought you would enjoy hearing her thoughts and her story about Memouna. 


“She is shy and probably too overwhelmed,” I told one of my co-workers. “I’m just going to back of and find another patient who would be willing to talk.”  But slowly, Memouna changed, and she was no longer quiet and timid. Memouna became the 13-year-old kid she really is. And in the process decided that – hey – the talky blonde lady with the clip board isn’t all that bad. =)
And she stole my heart. Read below and she’ll steal yours, too.  All photos from this post are courtesy of Deb Bell and Mercy Ships.
Go down two flights of stairs on the Africa Mercy and you’ll find you’ve stepped out of a ship and into a busy buzzing hospital. On the wards you’ll find kids playing, patients visiting, and plenty of African music. Listen and you’ll hear conversations in English echoed by translators in French or one of Guinea’s three local languages – the chatter abounds like white noise.
One would expect that a 13-year-old girl would be among the chattiest, but not Memouna.
Memouna’s pronounced facial tumor began above her left eyebrow, spilling down her face to the corner her mouth, displacing her left eye. This tumor, a neurofibroma Memouna has had since birth, left her looking like one side of her face was sliding off, like Dali’s famous melting clock in a desert. From behind the curtain of her deformity, Memouna saw the world with her good right eye. And to her despair, the world saw Memouna.
For 13 years she was taunted for her appearance. Moreover, superstitions run deep in West African culture and physical deformities are believed to be the sinister mark of someone cursed. Memouna was not only teased by peers; she was dismissed as something less than human. From the drooping facial tumor came the source of a broken spirit.
“She was not happy because in Africa people stay away from her. She would cry because she did not understand why no one liked her,” said Memouna’s 17-year-old sister Aminata, the oldest of her nine siblings.
On Wednesday September 26, 2012, Mercy Ships surgeons removed Memouna’s tumor. After her operation, even under layers of bandages, the transformation was profound. Memouna’s profile no longer appeared rough and misshapen; her face had been physically lifted from the weight of the tumor. Nurses hoped her spirits would follow, but countering years of social isolation is a much more invasive procedure.
In the days after her surgery, quiet Memouna said nothing while her father and sister took turns staying at the hospital and speaking on her behalf. “I’m sorry, maybe she will talk another day,” her sister would say.
“It was a long time before I realized she spoke. She was so silent that I didn’t think she could,” said Lynne White, a Mercy Ships ward nurse. “But I can understand it, she went from spending her life keeping to herself with no friends and then she came here and was overwhelmed by the attention.”
On a night about a week after her surgery, Lynne came into the ward to find Memouna listening to headphones, nodding her head to music and mouthing the words. For the first time, Memouna seemed…happy.
“I couldn’t believe it, so I did whatever I could to try to get a laugh out of her – I started dancing!” Lynne said. “Memouna, oh she just laughed and laughed. It was wonderful.”
Two weeks later Memouna arrived on the dock with her father for a check-up. She kept to herself, waiting on the benches when she was spotted. “Is that my Memouna!?” Lynne said. At her name, Memouna glanced around to find Lynne not walking, but dancing over to her. “It’s you, you’re here!” Lynne cheered, waving her arms in the air.
Memouna clapped her hands and covered her mouth, trying, and failing, to hold back her giggles.
Now, even though she does not give up her laughs easily, we can see the real Memouna. In those moments, there is a cute teenager in a pink sweatshirt and orange nail polish where a timid, downcast child used to be.
With the removal of Memouna’s tumor comes the chance for physical and spiritual healing.
Hallelujah!  Thank you God, for the work you are doing in Memouna. Thank you for giving Catherine the words to share her story. 
Surely there will be more to come. 

09 November 2012

The Bridge - Especially for Grandaddy!

The kids got to visit the bridge back in August during our sail from Tenerife to Guinea....they got to go again this past Wednesday with their Flat Stanleys and Flat Stellas.  There have been field trips galore around here!! Did we mention that they got to go to the US Embassy - aka "Candyland" - week before last?  We never got the full story out of them...but they had fun in the Landrovers and each brought home a bag of candy (which I can honestly say I haven't eaten a SINGLE piece of)(I had plenty of candy of my own from the 2 packages that we received...)

Here are a few pictures (most were taken by Caroline) and the kids' reports from their field trip to the Bridge: 

Grades 1-3
 Caroline's Report:  "There were lots of buttons.  There’s a window in the floor. You can look through it and see how close you are to the dock.  There are phones & computers you can use if there’s an emergency – especially on the sail.  Mr. Charles Davies gave us the tour.  It was pretty quiet…but sometimes there were noises like “nrerrhhgh” and “woooooo."  I liked that it was quieter than the engine room.  They do a lot of neat and important things in the Bridge...but not alot when we aren't sailing...but some.  That chair is big.  I wonder if Captain Tim ever sits in it...like maybe just sits in it for fun?  to read?  or eat a snack?  I would sit in it and watch a movie if I could."    

The Window in the Floor (picture taken by one of the teachers...if you look carefully you can see Caroline's purple flip-flopped feet in the bottom left corner - she's holding the camera!  and Eli's Star Wars shirt is in the bottom middle...)
Flat Stanley in the Captain's Chair
Eli's Report:  We met in the cafĂ©.  Mr. Charles led us to the bridge.  First he showed us the engine controls and the rudder controls.  There are 2 ways to control the rudder.  I have no idea how to explain that.  The engines do not move the ship – the rudder does. 

He showed us the radar.  The radar tells us where the ship is and where other ships are.  Right now it's not very smart and it thinks we’re going to collide into something because we’re sitting still at the dock and other ships are moving so close around us. 

We took pictures and took turns holding onto the wheel.  Then we left."


Always good to have a Sprinkler System Alarm Panel

Flat Stanleys and Stellas all over the map!
So there ya go.  Stop #3 on the Tour de l'Africa Mercy.  Lots more stops to come! 

Other things going on:
  • We are perfecting the art of making Rice Krispies in our cabin.
  • Nick is nearly caught up on the four hundred something emails that were waiting for him after his trip back to the States
  • Eli is learning how to do multiplication and division. 
  • Caroline is at at disco party as this is being typed.
  • Emma is as beautiful as ever.  We're looking forward to seeing what God has in store for her life (and we're enjoying what He's doing in her and through her right now!)(though she's GOT to learn that screaming is not an appropriate first response if someone is frustrating her!).  She's the Cash kid who enjoys Ward Worship the most.  We are confident some seeds are being planted deeply in her heart...seeds of love for the nations and a heart for true worship.
  • We are all learning more and more about being exactly who He has made us to be...and learning more and more about doing exactly what He's called us to do.
  • Life changing surgeries and procedures are happening DAILY around here.  Seriously.  It's mind boggling the work that is being done in this place....
  • God is challenging us, stretching us, growing us....and constantly reminding us of His great Faithfulness & Love.
Surely there will be more to come.  So thankful for that. 

02 November 2012

Continuing on with the Tour

In "planning" this tour of the ship via our blog, I've had a few realizations:
1) What most of you want are pictures from our daily life here on the ship 
2) Most of the pictures that I was thinking about taking and sharing have already been taken and are available for your viewing pleasure on the Mercy Ships' website.
3) There's no need for me to recreate the wheel when it was created so beautifully the first time (and by photographers who have significantly better skills than I do.)
So,  if you  want an official tour you may be better off to click on this link or you can download the 360 tour by clicking here.   
We are still going to give you a tour  - it just may not be  "in order" and it will certainly not cover every aspect of the ship (but we will definitely share the parts of the ship that are special and significant to us!).  Thanks for letting me change course mid stream.
Having said all of that...I do want to share some pictures I came across today when I thought I would be sharing Deck 3 with you in an upcoming post!  I was trying to find pictures of the Operating Rooms, the Recovery Room, the Wards, the ICU, the Admin offices, the Sterilizing Room, the Pharmacy, the Lab, the Supply Room, Radiology, the BioMed office, the Hospital Chaplaincy, the "housekeeping" room..,cause those are all a part of Deck 3 - along with some cabins and a few other rooms that I'm sure I'm forgetting!  
The Door to one of the Operating Theaters.  There is scripture all over the place on Deck 3.  On the walls, on the doors, in the wards...it's lovely.  
A Max Fax Operation in Process

Whole lot of Sterilization Going on Here

These next few pictures are the ones that I'm most excited  about sharing with you.  They are pictures from the Wards.  These pictures are just tiny glimpses into the LIFE that is shared with the patients on board the Africa Mercy.  They have fun down there!!  Balloons, games, crafts, songs, lots of human interaction, thousands of smiles & laughs, nurses who get on the floor and play with children, crew members who come down and share a few minutes with patients...I can just see Jesus in these rooms and in the JOY that is present even in the midst of pain and suffering and recovery.  Hope and healing is happening on Deck 3.

There are probably 400 pictures similar to these that are "share-able" -- and, even if you got to see all 400, it would still just be scratching the surface of the work that God is doing on Deck 3 of this floating hospital ship. 
Surely there will be more to come.