Back on the Africa Mercy in Senegal!
It's been a long time since I did a blogpost about our time on the Africa Mercy. I've been sending out newsletters but not blogging and I'm not sure why. Here is a little more detailed description of what we have been up to.
Below is a picture of us getting ready to go to a wedding while we were in Canada. We didn't realize how much we missed the beautiful canola fields, fresh air, friends, family and home!
Well we arrived back on the ship on Wednesday July 21! It was a long and tiring journey. It was much easier travelling this year compared to last year. The only problem we ran came across was one missing suitcase. We are still praying that it will show up.
Upon arrival, we thought that it would be a bit of an easier year. We didn't get COVID before we arrived. We didn't miss the first week of school, which by the way started in August this year instead of October! We knew what to expect this year! We thought that we would just continue on with the regularly scheduled field service, now that all the Global Mercy celebrations were over. Boy were we wrong!
Within the first 10 days of our arrival back here, we experienced winds, fire and flooding!
On Sunday July 24, there was a big rainstorm including strong winds that occurred just 30 minutes after our dockside church service had concluded. Unfortunately the wind picked up the patient canopy and it tore a hole through the side of the Pre-op tent and landed on the Outpatient tent. Thankfully no one was under the canopy or in the tents at the time. God was watching over us and no one was injured.
However the aftermath of trying to repair the tents and secure the tents to the dock, fell upon the transportation team to fix. Ryan currently has the "dream team" on his transportation team! They did an awesome job of fixing everything within a week and without disrupting any of the surgeries or any of the patient care. The Pre-op and Outpatient tents had to move into the hospital, which thankfully had extra room due to a slightly reduced surgical schedule. God is good!
Here is a picture of the dream team from Canada, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Uganda and Senegal!
Then on the morning of July 30 we had a fire in the engine room with one of the control panels. Thankfully, we did not have to abandon the ship. It could have been much worse and we are so thankful that no one was injured. We have a great emergency team who are well practiced because of those pesky weekly fire drills. We only had a couple days without power to some areas of the ship and reduced A/C for some hours. God is good!
And since this is the rainy season in Senegal and the ship is not usually here doing field service in the month of July, we got to experience how much the flooding shuts down a city without an efficient sewer or drainage infrastructure system in place and making traffic even worse than it already was. Anyone else remember the 2016 flooding in Westlock?!
As someone who grew up on the desert prairie, this type of weather is a new and completely foreign experience to me. However upon confirming with the local Senegalese day crew, this rainy season is not very popular amongst them either. I'm Canadian, so I have to compare it to something that I am familiar with, like our awful winter snowstorms, where the roads are sometimes treacherous and impassible. This rainy season makes travel for everyone so much more difficult. The day crew already have daily1-2 hour commutes to get to and from the ship and the rainy season extends those hours of travel even more. Also, imagine trying to push a cart, walk or drive a motorbike through this amount of water! We have a lot of crew coming and going from the airport, which is normally a 1 to 2 hour drive but now it is taking some, up to 6 or 7 hours!
I was feeling pretty discouraged about how this rain and crazy humidity and heat were affecting me personally, when I realized how privileged we are to just be living on the ship with air conditioning and a dry roof over our heads!
Needless to say, there was a lot of discouragement in the first couple weeks upon returning to the ship. I'm sure that the enemy wanted us to give up during those difficult times but instead,
May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ."
I have a picture below that reminds me of God's peace and reassurance. You are probably thinking that it just looks like an ordinary picture but to me it reminds me of a refreshing breeze of the Holy Spirit's presence and how our God is so great that we can trust Him with our lives and our plans.
We are halfway through our Senegal field service and currently starting to perform the thyroid surgeries. To date, we have done some general surgeries including many umbilical and inguinal hernia repairs and lipoma removals. Completed our Vesicovaginal repairs, Plastic surgeries for reconstruction-post burns, Max Fax for cleft palates, cleft lips and facial tumours and Pediatric Orthopedic surgeries. This is not a comprehensive list of all the different types of surgeries done this field service, but instead just a list of a few different kinds.
Here is a picture of Ryan with a pediatric walker.
Despite many, many set-backs, disappointments and COVID restrictions, God has a plan to lead us in showing hope and healing. God is good indeed!
I can't fully explain how awesome it has been to have the privilege to work in the Pre-op and Outpatients tents. I am learning so much about humanity, culture, patience, Wolof, French and surgical procedures that I am unfamiliar with! I love interacting with the local Day crew and nurses from all over the world. I am still in awe of how this hospital operates, from all the various health professionals from different countries to the huge wealth of professional experience from the non-medical crew. It truly is a miracle that we are able to serve and love the people of Senegal while living on a ship together.
Though the community can oftentimes be difficult to live in (with all the COVID rules, fire drills and noisy people), whenever there is a need, someone always volunteers!
We as a family, are so thankful for the support, prayer and love that has been demonstrated to us from our family, friends and community.
Please continue to pray: -the school year for the boys! Grade 8 and Grade 10 -continuation of the surgical schedule as planned -the ongoing repairs on the Global Mercy so that it is ready for the Senegal field service in February 2023 -no more COVID outbreaks!