Where does the time go? Life is busy here and we realise that it has been too long since we last posted and in just over three weeks the ship leaves Guinea! Around February and March is apparently the time in the field service where many people feel quite tired – several months have gone by and there are still several more to go. Although, we weren’t here at the start of the field service in August, we were busy until we left the UK in September to head to the States for five weeks training, arriving in Guinea for field practice in October and finally arriving on the ship in November and it is true, we had times earlier this year when we have felt really tired. We were also not able to get out and about as much during this time as we’ve been hampered by an injury to Lynne’s knee which has made getting around difficult. We are so thankful that we have access to a Crew Physician, Rehab team and Radiology Team here on the ship. An MRI has confirmed a torn meniscus (with a bit sticking out!) and Baker’s Cyst so we have just organised slightly earlier flights home in June to see a Consultant with a view to having an arthroscopy. Despite these things, we have continued to so enjoy being here doing the jobs we have, serving with fellow crew members and meeting the nationals and the tiredness and knee pain (thanks to a steroid injection) are receding.
Palm branches for Palm Sunday
Garden of Gethsamane presentation
Easter is a very special time to be on the ship. Holy Week starts on Palm Sunday and we had palm branches brought down from up country to put round the boundaries of our dock space and on Deck 8 at the top of the ship and a service in the evening.
During the week there were various events and services. The Youth’s ‘Presentation in the Garden of Gethsemane’ on Maundy Thursday was particularly beautiful, reflective and atmospheric, as was the Good Friday ‘Tenebrae’ service. Tenebrae is Latin for ‘darkness’ and the service is characterized by the gradual extinguishing of candles (battery operated ones for the ship!) until the room is in darkness at the end.
Back to Roume
Easter Saturday we took the opportunity visit Roume Island again – probably for the last time. We have really enjoyed the peace and beauty of Roume and enjoyed going with friends and making new ones.
There was an Easter Sunrise service, an Easter Celebration Service then a feast at lunchtime not dissimilar to Christmas. So grateful to all the crew who put so much time and effort into planning and organising this week, including Chaplaincy, Food Service and Crew Service as well as other crew who use their creative and craft skills to make the ship look amazing.
Easter Sunrise service
Easter Sunrise service
We continue to be amazed and humbled at the work Mercy Ships does. Tomorrow is the start of the final week of surgeries and the hospital will stay open for one more week after that. The second round of Plastic surgeries has finished and a six week stint of Women’s Health surgeries (childbirth injuries and gynaecological) has also finished. Medical Capacity Building where nationals are trained in many different medical areas continues pretty much all field service long in different parts of the country but has also now finished. The final week of surgeries bring General Surgery (hernias and lipomas) and Maxillo Facial cleft lips. Stuart and Mike, another carpenter, have also been capacity building by training the local day crew, in twos, in some basic carpentry skills.
Two of the Carpentry trainees
So, what is a typical week like. We were ‘warned’ before we arrived at the ship that is is very easy to develop ‘FIMO’ (Fear Of Missing Out’) and we fairly quickly realised what that meant but we have still managed to fill our week! Hmm!
We both generally work an 8.00 am to 5.00 pm working day which just whizzes by and our evenings have started to fill up – Stuart and Matthew also do ‘On-Call’ and Matthew has ‘Night Patrol’ to fit into all this. We usually have dinner around 6 pm. On Mondays Stuart goes to a book study group from 7.00 pm to 8.30 pm, Lynne started a small group but hasn’t been due to needing to rest, ice, etc her knee. At 7.00 pm on Tuesday evenings we usually go to a ‘Music Get-Together’ to play and sing with a group of others, and on
Our OnBoarding family
alternate Tuesdays at 8.00 pm we meet up with our OnBoarding group (those that we did our training with in the US and Guinea field practice) to hear how we are getting on and encourage and pray for each other. On Wednesday evenings from 6.00 pm to 7.00 pm there is a ‘Medical In-Service’ which is when one of the surgeons will give a presentation about their specialty or another area of experience. It is fascinating, awe inspiring, at times somewhat incomprehensible to us non-medics and we have heard about facial tumours, thyroid surgery and goiters, obstructed labour, paediatric brain surgery, in-flight CPR, treatment of sacrococcygeal teratomas (what?!), ponsetti – we have learned so much! For the medical crew, attendance at these, depending which country they are from counts toward their continuing professional development.
Deck Team on Ice Cream duty
Local church we’ve attended recently
Thursday evenings there is a Community Gathering from 7.30 pm to 8.30 pm followed by ice cream.Mercy Shippers seem to love their ice cream! Fridays sometimes see us going out or Stuart going out with some of the men but has been on-call quite a few Fridays.
Saturday we might go out for the day or sometimes there is a film or just for part of the day,other event in the evening and Sunday varies – we have been to the Hope Centre service several times, we have recently been going to a local church or we may rest and catch up with things as in the evening is Church on the ship, followed by Brits tea in one of the family cabins. There are always other ad hoc events going on too.
‘All British’ goodbye breakfast to Judith
Bye to Lee at Guinea Gardens
We have made many new friends since arriving here. Many have come and gone and those goodbyes can be tough but we are thankful for them all – we would rather have had them even for short while. Goodbyes are also a good excuse to eat out .
Obama where we enjoy going to eat.
Hey! That’s our berth!
Getting ready to move again
As the field service draws to a close, the ship had to move out of our berth to allow the berth to be dredged. After two cancellations we moved one day; then moved another 20m later that day; we stayed there for two days – no make that another day
Masks on for another move
Followed by a long night
– next to a ship unloading dusty stuff; then time to move back – oh wait, we’ll move once, and then again that day at 10pm! It was a long night for the Deck crew as the Day Crew needed driving home when they’d finished. Amazing how many football games are being played on the roads at 2am!!
As we start to pack up the outlook changes again and yesterday we watch the resident T-Rex (Terex) move two containers into place ready for the pack up team to begin their work.
Getting the pack up containers in position
Love this view of the islands and the sunset
Father and Son at work
As we finish this field service and look back over the last year, we are thankful to God for His goodness and faithfulness. We thank Him for all of our friends we’ve met on this ship, the work of this ship and our family and friends back home supporting us. In just over five weeks time we will be home for six weeks and Matthew will be following us a couple of weeks later as originally planned; we will return to the ship in August in time for the sail to Senegal and the next field service.
‘The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, His mercies never come to an end. They are new every morning, great is Your faithfulness.’ Lamentations 3:22-23