Some of you are probably quite puzzled by what we are currently doing at Mercy Ships right now.
Some people think we are currently in Africa so I wanted to clarify some things.
We arrived on the Africa Mercy ship in the Canary Islands on October 10 and we are docked here until hopefully January 28, when we will finally get to sail to Senegal.
The Africa Mercy has not been in Senegal for field service since they left in March-April 2020 due to COVID.
However that doesn't mean that there isn't lots of things going on at the very moment. There is a team called the Country Engagement team present in Senegal right now, who are locating all those patients who had surgeries scheduled during the 2020 field service. This team includes doctors, nurses and others who are currently preparing things in Senegal before the ship arrives at the end of January.
We hope to continue the field service surgeries in mid-late February.
This year we are doing things a bit different just like everyone else in the world. Normally, the dock set up takes 24 days while the medical team performs patient selections for those who are eligible for surgery. However this time, the patients are already selected and waiting, so this means that the dock set up has to be done more quickly in order to meet timeline requirements. The dock set up needs to be done in 12-14 days and Ryan is playing a large role in making that happen. Pray for us!
Also, the original timeline was to have the Global Mercy ship ready to join the Africa Mercy in Senegal around mid-March but we are unsure whether this will be a much later timeline due to unforeseen construction, that still needs to be done on the Global.
Everyone is super excited to be finally returning to Senegal after such a long absence from field service. The people of Senegal have been very excited as well, according to the Country Engagement team because they weren't sure if the Africa Mercy would be able to fulfil their promise of returning due to COVID.
We are counting down the weeks and plan to go into a bit of a lockdown for 10 days prior to sailing for Senegal to protect the Senegalese people from COVID when we arrive.
So in the meantime what does the crew have to do?
-re-order any supplies that have now expired since 2020
-clean the ship and get the equipment prepared for field service
-arrange staffing. The purser has had to arrange immigration requirements for crew coming from over 49 different countries over the past 18 months. I don't think I can even name the 49 different countries. I tried and was only able to list half of them.
-Get the tents ready for the shelters on the dock in Senegal
Ryan had a wonderful transportation team of 2 people but unfortunately he is down to one. His previous crew member, had a prior commitment and was unable to stay longer on the ship. Ryan has been learning all the different computer software programs for his position and trying to implement an updated system with less spreadsheets and more modern technology in order to maintain and use the vehicles well.
Unfortunately due to a communication error, the vehicles were unregistered in Senegal instead of just put on hold so when we do return to Senegal, it will take a little more time to re-register the vehicles instead of just unpausing the hold placed on them.
Also, Spain decided that the Toyota Land Cruisers did not pass emission standards so we are unable to use the Land cruisers currently in Tenerife. We are not even permitted to drive them the 1km to the warehouse. Instead, they had to be loaded onto a semi trailer and moved to the warehouse from the ship. So currently, we have shuttle buses that take crew into the nearest villages within a 15 km radius (immigration only allows the crew to be within a 15 km radius of the ship) so the crew are able to do some grocery shopping and go check out the beach and local restaurants.
It is nice to be able to get off the ship and check out the local tourist attractions and explore the desert, beach and spend time with other crew members building community. We have had some bonding moments over waiting hours for the shuttle bus to arrive.
Another development happening is the opening of the Academy on the Global Mercy in January 2022. It is a brand new school along with the brand new ship. Unfortunately some of our Africa Mercy teachers will move to the Global Mercy in January to teach those students there. We are very sad to see them all go but we look forward to the reunion of the two ships and temporarily one Academy again when the Africa Mercy goes for major renovations in June 2022. The motto for the Academy this year was "We can do hard things" and boy has it been a hard or difficult year with many transitions and challenges, not just for us but for everyone around the world. We can take hope in this time because it draws us closer to Jesus. Who brings the world Hope and Healing!
And so we continue on, prayerfully asking God what to do with each step along the way and asking for some miracles.
The miracle itself is having people from 49 + cultures and languages able to get along with each other and work side by side, towards a common goal. And we take delight in seeing what God is doing and what He will do in the future.
We are thankful for the blessing of unique skills, talents and experiences that God has designed in each person that He has brought to the ship!
Pray that we stay Covid Free!
Pray for Ryan and his team as they set up the dockside setup and tents upon arrival in Dakar
Pray that we have enough crew and resources to keep our promises!
Pray for encouragement on those discouraging days when everything seems to go wrong!
Pray that we see the joy that each day brings!
Now Go and Be Intentional!