30 November 2015

News: Country Next

We received some news recently...thought you might be interested in it as well.  We're glad you'll be going with us to Benin in August. 

"After careful consideration, the Executive Committee of the Mercy Ships International Board has approved the deployment of the Africa Mercy to the nation of Benin for the August 2016 – June 2017 field service.

The Africa Mercy was previously scheduled to dock in Benin in 2014, but had to redeploy due to the Ebola outbreak in the region of West Africa.  Following the past two years of service in Madagascar, the decision to return to West Africa was taken with great care and deliberation even though Benin was not affected.  During the past several months a number of West African countries have been declared Ebola free.  In the coming months, Mercy Ships will continue to carefully monitor these encouraging developments, study and make the necessary preparations for this field service.

Benin is considered one of the most stable and safest countries in the region, with a history of peaceful transitions between governments through democratic elections, and a progressive government striving to modernise the country and eradicate poverty.

Despite the stability of both the country and its economic growth, it is still considered one of the poorest nations in the world, ranking at 165 out of 187 countries according to the United Nations Human Development Index in 2013. Benin welcomes support to improve the country’s health system.

Donovan Palmer, Group Managing Director for Mercy Ships, reports, “Since our last visit to Benin, the Mercy Ships programmatic model has expanded.  Capacity-building projects are now possible on a scale which did not exist previously.  Coupled with the opportunity to build on projects from the past, we believe Mercy Ships efforts have the potential to catalyze change in Benin in ways not possible before now.”

the AFM in Cotonou, Benin 2009
The Africa Mercy last visited Benin in 2009.  Previous to that time, Mercy Ships have also docked in Cotonou in 2004, 2001, and first served in the nation in 1997."

We're excited about going to Benin in August (though, to be really honest, we'd be excited no matter what country was announced as "next"). For now, we'll enjoy Madagascar and all that this beautifully breathtaking and heartbreaking country holds. 

Surely there will be more to come. 

16 November 2015

Return Addresses

This might possibly be the most random blog post ever....but I (dianna) think it's pretty interesting - maybe you will, too (or maybe this will just continue to confirm how very quirky I am)(though quite a while back I decided that "quirky = freedom to be who God has made me to be!")

Fun fact:  we are instructed to always shred all names and addresses before throwing things away here on the Africa Mercy.  Really it's not a bad thing to practice no matter who you are or where you live - there's always the possibility that trash may be gone through in America but it is a definite  reality that trash is gone through in Africa.  It's actually very impressive how trash is used and even stewarded here.

Another fun fact:  we LOVE getting mail. (click on that phrase for more information on this topic!)   Thanks to the kindness of so many, we end up with quite a few envelopes that need to be shredded, BUT, honestly, I don't always want to make the not-even-very-far trip down to the shredder....so I rip out the return addresses (ever so carefully). And I save them (and then I throw the envelopes away in our trash can).

2014 Christmas Cards sans the Return Addresses
Return Addresses (I tried hard to make sure no one's address was fully showing in this picture!)
the collection
I don't even know why I'm sharing all of this....I was just tearing the return addresses off the envelopes the other night and thought "This is so random...and it would be fun to share."  And I also thought "I bet no one has a clue that this is being done with their return addresses."  

I'm also sharing because I need some help - I don't really know what to do with all of the return addresses. Right now they are filling up a little basket in my desk drawer.  I keep thinking some great idea is going to pop into my head...but, alas, nothing has.  Maybe I should try to find something on pinterest (I just ventured into that world recently.  Watch out.)

Any ideas?  What can I make or how can I use these delightful bits of paper?  Because they really are gifts from God - each one represents a card, note, letter or package that some awesome individual or family sent our way.  

Thanks to each of you that have sent tangible love and care to us through the mail.  Your efforts cross the ocean and encourage our souls!! 

Surely there will be more to come. 

01 November 2015

Specialty: Ortho

The way our hospital runs is amazing.  I know my understanding of it all is rather simple - thousands of patients screened, scheduled, brought to the ship, admitted, prepped for surgery, have surgery, recover, have whatever rehab or physical therapy is needed, and then return home with changed lives - and hopefully not just physically.  It's a miraculous process that requires the love, effort and expertise of many. 
One thing that happens that helps with orchestrating it all is that certain types of surgeries happen at certain times -- for instance, during "Plastics", surgeons who specialize in burns/contractures are brought in and the majority of surgeries will be of that nature (makes sense, right?!). 

Right now Orthopedics is the speciality that is running.  Dr. Frank (in the picture above) and his wife, Kathleen, are beloved crew who come year after year, willingly sharing their gifts and talents so that people - primarily children - can walk or run or dance or play again (and some for the first time in their life!). 

Thought you might like a few glimpses into what God is doing in and through the Ortho Team.  

Here's a link to a great video that's well worth watching:

2 Quotes From Mercy Ships' Facebook Page:

"The orthopedic team recently saw 35 pediatric patients from our last field service for follow-up appointments. Many shared how well they have done since their surgeries last year, and it was wonderful to hear how many of these children are now in school, some for the first time ever. We are thrilled to see these patients doing so well."

"This week we're welcoming orthopedic patients on board the #AfricaMercy. Cyriane comes to us from a village in northern Madagascar. Though she was born with clubbed feet, she hasn't let that slow her down. Cyriane is determined to keep up with the boys in her village - but due to her condition she can't wear shoes, which makes life difficult for an active child. Because of our generous donors and incredible volunteers, this won't be the case for much longer. Soon Cyriane will receive the treatment and therapy she needs to walk and run normally. In the meantime, she can be found on a hospital ship - where she is being spoiled by nurses who paint her fingernails and playing with the new friends she's met along the way." 

Thoughts from the blog of our Chief Steward, Katie Stull (...the windows in her office overlook the gangway...)

"Today, orthopedic surgeries started and so last week I got to see parades of adorable children making their slow way down to deck 3. Give those kids a few weeks though and they will be tearing around creation on straight legs."

Thoughts from Dean Hufstedler Dean is one of our physical therapists (and the uncle of our friends, the Bullocks, who served with us our first 2 years on the ship!  We like to claim "Uncle Dean" and "Aunt Marcia", as family, too!) 

Sobering moments:

During orthopedic screening, Dr. Frank asked the father of one obviously malnourished child what she had for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The shame and helplessness showed on his face as he answered, "rice, rice, rice." Most of the world's families try to survive on less than two US dollars a day. I waste more than that every day on my wants.

While riding the 45 minutes to church this morning, I watched hundreds, maybe thousands of the 2-dollar a day folks walking, shopping, working along the route. I thought of Matthew 9:36:  When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.

I couldn't stand it if I didn't know that God loves them more than I do. Come soon, Lord Jesus. 
It is a joy and a privilege and a delight to be a part - a small part - of the miracles that are happening onboard the Africa Mercy through all things Ortho - and through every part of this vessel and her crew!

To God be the Glory.  He is so worthy.

Surely there will be more to come.