29 January 2013

The Ortho Tent (and its decorations!)

A few weeks ago our family got to participate in a simple service project.  We were able to help decorate the Ortho Tent!
"The orthopedic tent on the dock is where the children who have had orthopedic surgery to straighten their legs come and have physical therapy for several weeks or months. To liven it up, the Elementary art classes made decorations. They used hand and footprints of the staff and patients and put them on posters."  --Catherine Schwebel
It was fun to take a few minutes and hang up decorations and pray for the work that goes on in the Ortho Tent.

Even Emma was able to get in on the action.  
She's quite the hole puncher. 
A Few Flying Fish from the Fourth & Fifth Grades
(and a little alliteration)
The finished product:

The Decorators Extraordinaire!
One of my favorites:

And now (drum roll if you like)....a really cool time lapse video that shows the goings on of the Ortho Tent (aka Physical Therapy Tent) on any given morning:

It's pretty incredible to think of the work that is done within that tent each day.  Casts are being changed.  People are learning to walk...either again or for the first time.  Body parts are being strengthened...and courage is being gained in the process. Smiles and laughter are being shared.  Hope and healing are being brought to this earth through the physical therapists and their team.  

Thank you, God for the Ortho Tent and the team that works within.  Thank you for all that you are accomplishing in it and through it.  Please pour out your healing through these faithful volunteers.  Establish the work of their hands and minds.  Thank you for the patients and their families and the life that they are receiving within the tent on the dock.  Thank you that the lame are indeed walking - your Word is coming alive in the Ortho Tent.  Hallelujah!  

Surely there will be more to come!

25 January 2013

Look What God Has Done in Guinea during the first half of this Field Service

By the numbers - our stats so far in Guinea!

As of mid-January we are just over half-way through the Guinea Field Service. To give you an idea of what is going on here, here are some of the statistics so far.   Please remember that each number represents a LIFE that has been impacted...a family that has been changed forever...a work that God is doing...
Cataract surgeries - 639
"Other" eye surgeries - 60
Eye evaluations and treatments - 11,001 total services

Maxillofacial surgeries (head and neck tumors) - 225 patients
Cleft lip and palate repairs - 81 patients
Plastic and reconstructive surgeries - 18 patients
General surgeries (thyroid, hernia, etc.) - 127 patients
Fistula repairs (VVF) - 32 women

Orthopedic surgeries - 116 patients
Ponsetti clubfoot corrections - 51 patients
Hospice care for terminally ill - 22 patients
Physical therapy services - 1,428 encounters

Dental care (tooth decay, infections, extractions) - 18,495 procedures (5,027 patients)
Dental hygiene services - 387 patients
Dentures - 425 sets
Basic oral health training for students - 1,010
Basic oral health training for clinic patients - 3,943

Individual counseling sessions - 1,936
Individual HIV counseling sessions - 310

Food for Life Agricultural training - 18 participants
Leadership conferences and training for local Africans:
Church leaders - 463 participants
Community leaders - 423 participants
Government leaders - 313
We can't wait to see what the remainder of our time in Guinea looks like!
Surely there will be more to come!!!

23 January 2013

Breathing Easy - Alya's Story


Soriba sits on a stool at the end of an empty hospital bed with his arms folded across his green and blue striped shirt. His eyes are fixed on the door. He is waiting for news of Alya, his son, who has been in surgery for nearly three hours to remove a tumor from his small neck.

At only six years old, Alya suffered with a tumor that had grown to the size of a potato inside his neck. “He was a few months away from suffocating from this,” Mercy Ships surgeon Dr. Neil said.

Across the narrow hallway of the hospital ship, Alya’s skilled volunteer surgeon, Dr. Neil, works diligently with OR nurses to finish up a successful surgery. “Incredible,” he says of Alya’s tumor, which had grown around his windpipe. “He was a few months away from suffocating from this.”

In his six short years, the tumor Alya has had on his neck since birth grew from the size of a quarter to the size of a potato. But today, because of Mercy Ships, there remains only a crescent-shaped scar, made up of a couple dozen stiches, where that tumor used to be.

There is a sacred moment in the hospital wards of the Africa Mercy when a nurse tells a patient’s family member that the surgery was successful. Delivering this news is more than just giving an update – it is telling someone that their loved one’s life is forever changed. Mercy Ships ward nurse Rachel Greenland smiles as she approaches Alya’s father. “The surgery went very well,” she says. Soriba’s eyes flutter between Rachel and the translator as the message is relayed in his language, Susu.

“Everything went well. He hasn’t woken up yet, but he will soon,” Rachel says.

Soriba, Alya's father, awaits the news of his son's surgery
Sitting up a little straighter now, Soriba looks around the room. He smiles and in Susu announces to the ward, “My mind is free, my heart is happy!”

Another patient chimes in from a bed nearby, lifting his head to get a better view, as he says, “Let God bring these kinds of people every year in this country!”

“Amen!” says Soriba.

What had been hushed mumbles quickly turns to chatter from the surrounding patients and caregivers. “May God help them to bring healing for other illnesses we have here,” says a woman in the bed behind Soriba.

Soriba turns and holds up his hands, adding, “Amen. May there be healing for all.”

Four days later, a squirmy Alya sits on his knees at the end of his hospital bed, pulling on his father’s shirt. He is no longer the little boy who can’t catch his breath. He is no longer exhausted from his hindered breathing.

Alya proudly wears a red star sticker on the middle of his forehead and a huge smile on his face. Next to him, his father eyes the door – this time for a different reason. Today, Alya finally gets to go home, and they are anxious to leave.

“Without this opportunity, we don’t have the means for surgery,” Soriba says. “Now I am happy; may you come every year.”

Written by Catherine Murphy; Edited by Nancy Predaina
Photos by Paul Millgate and Bright Effowe
Hallellujah for life change! Praise the Lord for this 6 year old boy who will LIVE!  It's hard not to associate him with another sweet six year old named Caroline that I know. 
Thank you God, that Alya can breathe - and with his breath he can join in with creation and praise You.  Thank you for saving his life...may He fall deeply in love with you and honor you all the days of his life...may He know you as Healer and Provider and Savior and Lord...may he know you as Friend and Father and Helper. We are so grateful for the life that is ahead of this precious son and this beautiful family.   
Surely there will be more to come!!!

21 January 2013

Free Book Download for You!! Happy Monday!

 For any of you who may be interested, Mercy Ships has made a downloadable version of the book "Ships of Mercy" available for free.  In this book Don Stephens, Founder of Mercy Ships, tells the incredible ongoing story of 35-years of service to some of the world's forgotten poor. 

"From the uncertain beginnings of the first Mercy Ships the Anastasis who sailed to four continents to the Africa Mercy serving in West Africa it is an expiring story of bringing the good news to the least of all."
The link that follows will take you to the site where you can download a copy. Click here.
Feel free to share this with anyone who may be interested! 

12 January 2013

The Crew Galley!

Wrote this on Saturday...not sure how it managed to not get posted...oh well, it's not time sensitive material, so here ya go:

In an attempt to continue on with our "tour of the ship" - we thought it would be fun for you all to see the Crew Galley (especially since we've spent quite a bit of time in there this morning making muffins, granola and french fries).
The Crew Galley!
Since we don't have full blown kitchens in our cabins, the crew has access to "the crew galley" on Deck 6.  It's not the galley where all the cooking is done for the ship....but a much smaller kitchen with all sorts of gadgets and pretty much all that you need to cook.
The vast collection of cooling racks, muffin tins, mixing bowls, etc. 

pots, pans, cookie sheets, etc. 
One of the most dangerous places on the ship:  the knife drawer! 
Sometimes it takes a bit of digging to find what you're looking for (gotta dig carefully in the knife drawer)...and sometimes I wonder why there are so many of a certain item (like cutting boards...there are dozens of cutting boards!!  I guess they go with all the knives in the knife drawer)...but really it's a well-stocked, very useful room on the ship! (people who are more particular about their kitchen tools may disagree with me....).

There are multiple ovens and sinks, some refrigerators and a freezer, a microwave, some mixers (including 2 Kitchen Aids!), a bread machine and other things that I don't know how to use (and thus far have had no need to know how to use them!) (I've never actually used the Kitchen Aids...I just know some people really like them and would appreciate knowing they are here!)

Emma and her cuteness helping to make cookies a few weeks ago.

We like the bigness of the sinks. 
One of the perks of "cooking in community" is that people are often willing to let you sample their fare.  We've gotten to eat some incredible cookies, popcorn, banana chips, guacamole, scones and random other things  - all because we happened to be in the right place at the right time (just this morning we got a stack of waffles that some friends made and had leftover...waffles for lunch make the Cash Crew quite happy).

Other fun facts about the Crew Galley:
  • the oven temperatures are in Celsius...thankfully, there's a handy chart for conversions (I haven't taken it upon myself to memorize the formula for converting fahrenheit to celsius...)
  • you're not allowed to leave the crew galley if the oven/stove is on...it's kind of fun to have an excuse to sit and read while something is baking...or it's a fun change of scenery for homework to get done if we're making an after school snack (but it's slightly inconvenient if you've forgotten something and need to go back to the cabin and get it)
  • it's pretty loud in there! 
  • the Crew Galley doubles as the "Science Lab" for the Academy.
So there ya go...a glimpse into our kitchen.  Any requests for what you'd like to see next??  

Surely there will be more to come!  

11 January 2013

Lots o' Links

If you ever feel like reading other people's stories, experiences, thoughts, etc.  here's a website that will give you links to LOTS of Mercy Ships Crew Blogs (some past crew - most present). I enjoy reading them from time to time...thought you might, too. 


This isn't an exhaustive list - but still gives an easy way to link up with lots of different people's blogs. 

Surely there will be more to come (and this link gives you access to lots "more"!)

06 January 2013

Field trip to the Dental Clinic!

One of the Cash Family goals of the Christmas break (not that we had many...or really any officially)...So, restart:  one of the Cash Family unofficial goals of the Christmas break (and life in general) was to not have too much screen time (screen time being just that - time spent in front of a screen). 

So as part of our campaign against screen time and boredom, another mom and I decided to "make a plan" ('cause making a plan can be quite helpful).  Part of our plan included a "home school style" field trip to the off ship Dental Clinic (it's quite convenient that the other mom in this scenario just happens to be the wife of the Chief Dental Officer of the Africa Mercy). 

Wednesday morning Gretchen and I, and the 6 kids that call one of us "mom", trekked off of the ship, down the street (easier said than actually done) and to the dental clinic.  The walk was pleasant - though intense at times (getting through the port and around the traffic circle has its challenges!).  We were asked many times just how many of the kids were ours -- good thing Gretchen can understand/speak some French!  She would point to her's and say "one, two, three are mine" and then point to mine and say "one, two, three are her's."  So, yes, all of them are ours...

We made it to the Dental Clinic and were given a fun and fabulous tour.  It was amazing - it kind of smelled JUST like every other dentist office I've ever been in (but not quite).

The waiting room (it even has a tv in the front corner) - sometimes people wait ALL day to be seen  (and that's after having stood in a screening line for a while at some time in the not too distant past)
Dr. Mark let all the kids try on his "special glasses"
Mrs. Gretchen read a story about teeth while we waited 
The main room of the clinic.  Lots of hope and healing going on in this place!!

Our Gateway Friend, Dr. Dave, working on a patient!
Dr. Mark explaining the sterilization process to the kids.  That's our friend Roses in the background!
The lovely Roseann & the reception area
Caleb & Emma working on the age appropriate packets Gretchen brought (she is a  former homeschooling mom and a rock star of a preparer!)
Caroline watching as Dr. Mark fills a patient's cavity.  Mrs. Gretchen was such a good "explainer" of all that was going on!

Eli talking to one of the day workers.
Caleb receiving all kinds of words of wisdom from one of the day workers
And just what every good field trip has - a chance to sweep (sorry it's a little blurry...). 
It was really wonderful to get to see our dentists (and the rest of the dental team) in action - they are doing life changing work on a daily basis.  It was fun to be on site and be able to pray for them and their patients - and to have a visual to go with our prayers in the future.

Here's a link to a beautiful blog post by Dr. Bullock: The Dental Clinic

Will you join us in praying for the Dental Team of Mercy Ships?  They are being the hands of Jesus in the mouths and lives of hundreds and hundreds of people. God, will you have your way in the Dental Team?  Please increase their efforts and their energy.  Bless their interactions with patients and day workers and crew mates.  Please work miracles through these faithful servants...may You be on display in the Dental Clinic day after day.  

Surely there will be more to come!

05 January 2013

A Prayer Request from Nick

In February, I will be leading a 13-member Team from Mercy Ships to a remote village near Guéckédou - deep in the interior of Guinea. We will provide 4 days of on-site dental care for the community and promote our surgical screening day, which we will hold on our final full day in the village. Our hope is that by providing free dental care to many suffering from relatively minor dental ailments, their successful treatment and relief will cause them to bring out of hiding those most drastic cases where maxo-facial surgery is needed to correct a life-threatening problem. We will then screen these "worse-case-scenario" patients for potential surgeries back here aboard the ship later in the spring.

It's a two-day trip into Guéckédou, one-way. Once we arrive, we will set up a Team Compound made up of our team camping and cooking area, our patient screening area, our dental procedures tent, and a security perimeter. We have partnered with local church pastors in the region who will be our hosts, as well as a long-time dental missionary group to Guinea who will serve as our guides on this expedition.

There is a tremendous amount of logistical planning to be done over the next two months in preparation for this expedition, from transportation to security, to food & equipment & supplies, to advertising our coming to the surrounding region and more.

I am super-excited about this trip!, but I also feel the weight of what we are going to do: to seek out the dying and to restore hope to them in Jesus' Name.

I humbly ask you to join me in prayer for God's provision, protection, a successful expedition, and that God truly would bring out those who most desperately need help. I am deeply grateful for your partnership & support!