Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Cholera! What's that?

If you haven't heard yet, there is a Cholera outbreak in Guinea as well as Sierra Leon. I had hear about the outbreak in Freetown earlier this summer and was sad because I am familiar with the living conditions in Sierra Leon and new it would be a long battle to fight. Upon arriving in Conakry last week it was passed on to us that the condition is almost as bad her in Guinea. This article has been circulating around my Facebook news-feed so I thought I would pass it along to you.This really isn't any major problem for us on the ship; yes they do have to process our water to an extra level and we do have to double check to make sure that our local food is being treated properly, but the real problem is for the people living out in the country and the people that will be coming onto the ship for surgeries in the near future. As far as crew is concerned we just have to make sure to drink water from the ship or from a reliable source and be extremely cautious about what we eat off ship. Simple hand sanitizer and properly cleaning your shoes will prevent us from having any major issues.

Cholera Epidemic Envelopes Coastal Slums in West Africa

Key Facts

  • Cholera is an acute diarrhoeal disease that can kill within hours if left untreated.
  • There are an estimated 3-5 million cholera cases and 100,000-120,000 deaths due to cholera every year.
  • Up to 80% of cases can be successfully treated with oral rehydration salts.
  • Effective control measures rely on prevention, preparedness and response.
  • Provision of safe water and sanitation is critical in reducing the impact of cholera and other waterborne diseases.
  • Oral cholera vaccines are considered an additional means to control cholera, but should not replace conventional control measures.
This coming Monday, September 3rd, we will have our general surgical screening. There could easily be 4-5,000 people show up with different conditions needing medical help. Please keep us in your prayers as we get ready for the day and as we are managing so many people in one day. We will leave the ship at 5:30 AM (about midnight Sunday for people at home) and will probably be gone for a full twelve hours. Please pray for energy and strength of all of our workers and that the right people will come to the screening so that we can schedule surgeries to do the next 10 months that we are in Guinea.

Finally, I have posted a link to a video. It was shown to us Sunday night at the end of our service as we began to know more about Guinea. The people of Guinea haven't been through any major civil war but they have endoured a lot over the last century. Please keep them in your prayers as a majority of them are Muslim.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Wordless Wednesday 22082012

Today I'm starting something new. Every Wednesday I'll have a post of just pictures. This weeks pictures are courtesy of Sarah Paris who took pictures for me while I was cooking lunch.



Tuesday, August 21, 2012


In attempt to continue my weekly Tuesday update I have chosen to pass along the findings of a friend, Michelle Murrey. She was in our group for training in Texas and will be with Mercy Ships for two years as one of the ship photographers. We will be arriving in Conakry, Guinea tomorrow morning and we are really excited to see what's in store for the next 10 months. The sail has be very smooth with rocking only being a small issue over the last two days as we turned in direction towards Guinea. Next update I hope to share some excerpts from a few books that I have been reading recently. The Lord has really shown me a lot over the last few weeks and I can't wait to see how my life will change as I continue to grow and serve Him better.

Things not previously considered in daily life:

  1. Keep both feet planted on the ground at all times while seated to prevent chair from rolling across the floor
  2. Place locks, bungee cords and duct table on all drawers and cabinets every time you close them to secure contents
  3. When walking through crowded room, calculate upcoming tilt of ship to anticipate the path of those around you to avoid a collision 
  4. Rice really can be prepared in more ways than previously considered
  5. Prayer is a essential tool of survival
  6. Forgiveness is key to happiness 
  7. The day might include encounters with Presidents, Prime Ministers and other dignitaries. Be prepared to take photos from the top of the ship or the dock or inside the cafe, depending on who shows up, if it rains, and how long the event lasts. In case of emergencies, bring a raincoat, extra batteries and comfy shoes.
  8. Never underestimate the wisdom of a six-year-old or the joy found in the sound of giggles from a two-year-old
  9. Solid, stable ground will feel "abnormal" after days of rocking from side to side
  10. God is keeper of details and full of surprises

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Bon Voyage

Just to let everybody know, we have left Tenerife and are on our way to Conakry, Guinea. If you would like to follow our journey you should be able to find us on this map

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Getting back in the groove

Sixty-six days ago I started training in Texas for coming back to the ship. There have been many good days, some days that weren't so cheery, days where I was excited to see what God was teaching me, and there have been days where I wanted nothing else more than to get back to the galley. I've been on the ship for twelve days now and it has been amazing to be able to cook for the crew again. Turkey & Dressing, Hamburgers, Chicken Fajitas; that's just a few of the meals that I've made and can't wait to start sharing more about life in the kitchen.
Is likely you will find me in my spot on deck 6, eating breakfast in the cafe before work, sitting out on deck 7 in my hammock or walking around chatting with different people. While enjoying my hammock is new this year (gotta love Christmas presents) the others are all things that I love when living on the ship. Last night I got to hang out in reception with a good friend. Last year I spent many nights there with two friends that worked in reception. This year God has placed another great friend into that position, I love how He works these things out.
Early mornings make for grouchy people.
When we left the village we scheduled a day in Accra because of our early flight to Spain. Wednesday the 1st of August we left the hostel at something like 5:00 in the morning. We had to have things all packed up and loaded onto the but by 4:30 and checked out of our room in time to get on the bus.
 Being so excited to get moving towards the ship I woke up early early in the morning. By the time we made it to the airport and stood in line over an hour to get out baggage checked I was pretty energized. If you can imagine a kindergartner excited for the first day of school just think twenty years older. We flew from Accra, Ghana - Madrid, Spain - Gran Canaria, Canary Islands.
On a tram getting to our flight in Madrid.
While still in Texas they canceled out original flight and our travel agent was able to renegotiate a new flight schedule that included a night in a hotel before going to the ship. We landed in the islands in the evening, were able to get to the hotel, enjoy wonderful HOT showers and get some food before resting in really nice beds. Thursday I woke up early and went out on a photo walk with two friends. We walked towards the city center and found Cathedral de Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, a beautiful church, and the Casa de Colon (Columbus House) where it is said that Christopher Columbus stayed before. From there we found a nice little market that I could have stayed at for a really long time and then headed back to the hotel on the waterfront path.
Our last group picture before getting to the ship.
We got back in time to eat breakfast and have out last group devotional. Finally we packed up the bus and rode to the ferry to get to Tenerife. Our ride was a little over an hour and we got to see the Africa Mercy as we pulled into the dock. The ship was right there on the same pier so they threw our luggage in the Land Rovers and we headed to the ship. By three o'clock that afternoon I was back home walking the halls of this place that I love.

Please keep the ship and our crew in your prayers as we sail to Conakry, Guinea. We will be leaving tomorrow at some point and will be sailing for approximately 5 days. From that point the field service will unwind like a whirlwind as we set up the dock, get our new day-workers and have our first screening for patients.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012


Yesterday everybody had to be off the ship for an inclining test, pretty much a test to determine stability and center of gravity.   Because this evacuation they planned a day for us to go to a local zoo/adventure park. Not necessarily the number one thing I would choose to do, but since Mercy Ships decided to do this for us I went and enjoyed myself. While I was waking around with some friends it gave me ample opportunity to think some things over. Last night made my fifth night on the ship and I still haven't posted anything about our time in Ghana so I figured this would be a great chance to tell you a little bit about it.

My team left DFW airport on Sunday, July 15th knowing very little about what all would be happening during our time in Ghana before we got to the ship on August 2nd. We flew from Dallas to London-Heathrow and had about a 6 hour layover. Monday afternoon the 16th we left Heathrow and flew to Accra, Ghana, the capital city. After about 36 hours of travel we made it to an international hostel were we stayed the night before heading to the village we would be in for two weeks.

The bus ride was another 6 hours into the country so it ended up taking 3 full days to get to the village from the Mercy Ships headquarters in Texas. We were greeted with dinner by the ladies that cooked for us and had some time to settle in. 

The women stayed in a house near the road. There were twenty of them for one bathroom. The men, couples and families stayed in a compound close by. Each had their own room (couples, families & men) and a bathroom for each room.

 We went up the hill the next morning to Good Shepard International School. That's where we would be working in the village. The school has 3 main areas Pre-Primary, Primary & High School. Each area was like a pole-barn with a tin roof. Some of the classrooms had half-walls (made from clay/mud bricks) around them and some had full walls between the classes.

There were several different project that we tackled over the many working days. Putting gutters on two of the buildings, putting concrete-brick walls around the classrooms of the pre-primary and digging a drainage trench on the hill above the high school to prevent rain from washing the poles out. At the school the other main project was back-filling  the side of a hill into some footings that had been pored for another building. These all might sound like easy tasks but they're much different when you are put into the setting of an African village. Wednesday, Thursday  Friday we worked full days. Breakfast being served from 7 to 8 and then devotionals before going up the hill to work at the school. We would work in our assigned areas till noon and go back for lunch. At 1 we would go back up the hill and work till around 5. Just in time to get showered, if the water was on, before getting some food for dinner. In the evenings we were free to do whatever we wanted. If the power was on we could sit around and play some card games or do some activities with the kids from the village. A couple times you could find several people sitting around a single computer watching a movie but it was often that we would be going to bed early because of a combination of it getting dark early and being tired from working hard all day.
Saturday a group of people wanted to go to a lake near by but since there isn't any type of tourism in the area they couldn't find transportation to get them there. It ended up being a day to get your laundry done by some local ladies or doing it yourself (by hand) witch wasn't too bad. The hard part was getting it to dry in the humidity before it got stinky again.
On Sunday we went to some different local churches. The forty of us spit up between an Evangelical church, a Roman Catholic church, and two Pentecostal churches. It was a surprise to hear them start the service with a song I learned in Sierra Leone, it was like God saying welcome back to Africa. We met back up for lunch and I started editing some of the pictures that I had taken during the whole week.
Monday morning the rain started. It had rained earlier in the week but I think it rained at some point everyday till we left. We started off the week with a review of how everybody was doing. Things that were bothering people, places that people could see God working and ways to make the week better than the first week had been. The first week wasn't horrible but there were things that were draining people of energy and the conditions where we were staying wasn't giving people the chance to recharge their energy levels. After the meeting people headed back to the site and got working on their different projects.
One of my favorite things about the second week is that since there were so many of us the leaders allowed us to start side projects where we more trained. Several of the nurses started spending a day working in the clinic, some people were able to start VBS, a few people started working on broken desks of the students and I got to work with the cooks for a few of the meals.
The remainder of the week went by with the same schedule. After eight full days out on the various work sites a tremendous amount of work was finished.

The gutters were finished on both of the buildings, the trench was dug and lined with rocks to prevent washout, many desks were fixed back to "usable" condition, the concrete walls were up and they started pouring the support columns. We were able to back-fill much more of the foundations than what we expected, great friendships were formed between the nurses and workers at the clinic.
Friday afternoon we finished at lunch time and a group of guys played football (soccer) against the school team. Saturday we were able to do laundry again and some people began packing to return to Accra. Sunday we split up again and went to different churches and had a meeting in the afternoon for the next few days of travel that we would have to get to the ship.

 Monday morning was spent finishing packing everything up, saying goodbye to the people we had met in the village and a big thank you ceremony by the kids, teachers and leaders of the school. After eating lunch we got on the bus and headed to Accra for our final leg of travel to the Africa Mercy.

Tomorrow I will start my first day of work and I am READY!!!!! Stay tuned for a post on the final leg of travel to the ship and a few more of the side stories from our time in Pai Katanga.

Friday, August 3, 2012

The Principles of Gateway

Greetings from Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Spain! The team made it safely to the ship yesterday. We will be here for two weeks as the Africa Mercy finishes her dry-dock and maintenance period. After that we will be sailing to Guinea for the next field service.

Here is a video that we made in Texas for a special project to review things we learned in Gateway. It was written, driected, recorded and edited by the 6 of us in the film. I will be posting soon about my time in Ghana but for now just sit back and enjoy the next 6 minutes of your life.