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Thursday, February 26, 2009


Last Tuesday, Tim and Sharon were part of an awards ceremony presented by our founder, Don Stephens. Tim received his Long Service Recognition Award for nearly 23 years of service in Mercy Ships, having joined Mercy Ships in 1986 starting as an Able Seaman! He received a print of a picture that was commissioned for Mercy Ships. Sharon received her 5 year service Anchor Award, having joined Mercy Ships in 2001 as a Technical Administrator (Tim's secretary!). She received a silver anchor that can be placed on a necklace. It was great to see so many receiving awards and see how much experience we have on board.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009


(Screening in the North) On our arrival, as soon as the crew had been cleared by customs it wasn't long before we had a small team taking a long journey and heading up to the North of Benin in Parakou for a smaller screening week. During that time we had 115 that were seen by a doctor and 65 were scheduled for surgery on the ship. A further 18 were referred for speciality screening. (screening at Cotonou) The following week was the big one! The nurses and doctors did an amazing job of making things run smoothly. Eye patients were sifted out and refered to the field eye clinic sites which helped reduce the flow of people and meant they didn't have to wait in line for ever only to be told to go somewhere else. Here's a run down on facts and figures for those who like that:

2550 came for screening (and that's not including the family members that came along to help them on their way). 765 were seen by a doctor 443 were scheduled for surgery 267 were refered to the ship for speciality screening 600 were refered to our field eye clinic (Dr Straus is going to be busy!) 330 passed through the prayer stations. This is for those we can not help and crew counselors will meet with them for prayer and sharing etc. As a result 42 decided to follow Jesus-Hallelujah!

We also had a screening with the Government Social Services where out of the 108 that came, 25 were scheduled for surgery, 15 refered for speciality screening and 5 to the eye clinic. A TOTAL OF 513 patients are scheduled for surgery! Click below to see a video of the screening day in Cotonou.

We continue to pray that many were touched by the hand of God that day, whether it was through compassion from a crew members hug or tears or a cup of water, our kids playing with their kids or an appointment card, being listened to by a doctor or a counselor-God was there during those days and he continues to be there throughout our lives, we just have to choose him.
We like this picture as it sums up screening days for many because here you see somebody who is conscious of his tumour as he tries to cover it up with his coat, yet he has a smile because he has an appointment card for surgery!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Hospital Open Evening

Last Friday the hospital on deck 3 had an open evening so all of the crew could get to see what they get up to on the medical side. It was really interesting and we actually spent a whole 2 hours down there looking at all the equipment etc. Kids could operate on a monkey, adults could get their eyes, bloodpressure and sugars checked, even try out the mobile ultra sound machine. We visited the sterilisation room, saw false eyes, went through the body maze, tried out our senses (yes we still have got some!) and guessed how many pills were in the jar in the pharmacy.
Click play to hear about the sterilization room.
(The ward ready and waiting for patients to arrive on the 23rd Feb 09)
(Intensive Care Unit)
(When lost in translation, pictures always help!)
(Hmmm, what is a toilet? Not all African's have encountered toilets and it can lead to some very inventive uses!)
(Standing room only, our very own African toilet)
((Blood Lab)
Tim tried his hand at suturing (stitches!), Nathanael chased bubbles and popped balloons and Sharon got her blood sugar checked (ouch!).
(Tim trying out his suturing technique)
(Sharon checking out the monkey eye operation performed by a, um, donkey ?!) (Nathanael chasing bubbles)

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Screening Day 1

people were seen today!
Each most probably had a family member with them so that means around 4000 were seen today!!
More tomorrow!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Liberia Achievements

Sorry it's taken us a while to post what was achieved in Liberia. On February 6, 2008 the Africa Mercy arrived in Liberia for a 10 month outreach. During that time Mercy Ships offered free specialized curative surgeries, health care infrastructure developmental assistance, and community based preventive healthcare programs benefiting thousands of individuals and many communities throughout Liberia. Here is a summary of what God did during that time:
CURATIVE SURGICAL INTERVENTION Mercy Vision (Ophthalmic Surgery)
17,610 patients received diagnosis & management of eye disease 1,638 patients received 1,659 eye surgical procedures. 8 eye health workers trained to perform eye exams and visual acuity. 2 local surgeons received ophthalmic training. 10695 Sunglasses & 5233 Readers distributed 8 Eye workers trained
Outlook of Hope (Reconstructive Surgery) 1058 Reconstructive surgeries 122 cleft lip and/or palate repairs 251 hernia repairs Mercy Ships doctors also held a 2 day conference on anaesthesia at JFK Medical Center

Hope Reborn (Vesico-Vaginal Fistula (VVF) Surgery) Approximately 2 million women worldwide suffer incontinence due to vesico-vaginal fistulas (VVF) resulting from child birth injuries. 63 women received 81 free fistula repair surgeries. All patients received a voucher for a free C-section at ELWA Hospital and a new dress! 41 other urogynecology surgeries 3 obstetric nurses trained for 2 weeks in VVF care. 4 VVF surgeons trained in VVF surgery techniques. - Orthopaedic Surgery Providing corrective surgical interventions focused on neglected or mismanaged orthopaedic trauma, childhood musculoskeletal conditions like club feet, and some joint disease.

198 orthopaedic surgeries provided for 159 patients 159 patients were cared for, 39 patients had additional procedures. Liberia Smiles (Dental Clinic) 4,994 patients received 11,081 procedures 717 patients received dental prophylaxis. 4,839 clients while in the waiting room and 663 students received lessons in oral health. 15 teachers received Dental Health Education. 3 trained as Dental Assistant/Sterilizer. Monrovia Prison Staff and Prisoners treated for 2 days.

Palliative Care The issue of death is not one that most Africans regularly talk about. Those who have sought our assistance and we are not able to assist surgically, we have referred to our Palliative Care team. The team made regular visits to the homes of the patients in and around Greater Monrovia. They taught basic health care to all their patients and families and for the five patients requiring wound care, they provided appropriate training. In cooperation with our mental health team and at their conferences, the team shared on compassionate care for the dying. 33 patients cared for 5 family members trained Counselors Counselors provided prayer, counsel, and comfort to thousands of our patients, those in the wards on the ship, at the dental clinic & field eye clinics and for the pre and post operative patients on the dockside. They were available to our patients 24/7. Weekly Sunday morning services were held for the patients on the ward along with various Bible studies. They provided our patients with spiritual and emotional support. HEALTH CARE INFRASTRUCTURE DEVELOPMENT

Tenegar Medical Clinic Restoration Project At the request of the President of Liberia, Mercy Ships construction supervisors lead local residents in the restoration of one building and construction of the actual clinic building on the original footprint. In addition, Mercy Ships partnered with Living Water International for a deep water well. Her Excellency Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf came to the community for the official dedication on November 21st. The Ministry of Health & Social Welfare will be staffing and operating this medical clinic.

lick on the video to see the dedication of this building with the Tide of Mercy (HIV/AIDS Training) Using a three phase approach, 74 participants from 13 churches underwent intensive training over 6 days. Newly trained members are now at work in their communities. As churches were trained together, our hope is that they continue to work together in conducting ongoing HIV/AIDS awareness, training and care. 431 attended 2 three day conferences on HIV/AIDS Restoring Hope to Survivors (Mental Illness & Trauma) At the request of the Minister of Health & Social Welfare of Liberia, Mercy Ships recuited highly skilled personnel who trained church leaders and health care workers on issues of mental illness and trauma. 102 church leaders, 50 health care workers representing all 15 counties, and 60 health care workers received training in mental health. Biomedical Technician Training 6 people from 5 hospitals in Liberia received intensive training in biomedical skills. Electricity, electronics and medical equipment, basics of information technology were also added to the curriculum, including computer classes, internet searches for manuals and spare parts, plus about text editors and data tables. Each participant helped to repair and order spare parts for the machines in their hospital. Maintenance and repair, installation of new devices was also experienced. Workshops were held for university students to raise their awareness and to promote biomedical technology as a career choice. JFK Medical Center – 3rd Floor Consultation in regards to the -renovation of 2 wards at JFK in partnership with Balcraig Foundation. Mercy Ships monitored the progress of the project for the renovation and served as a link between JFK Medical Center and Balcraig Foundation.

Trinity Dental Clinic Provided supervision for the construction of a 125 m2 dental clinic connected with ELWA Hospital Mercy Ships provided site management for the construction of an addition to ELWA Hospital for a dental clinic. The clinic will be used to provide dental services and be a training facility for local dental professionals. Administrative Training with Ministry of Health & Social Welfare Mercy Ships was approached by the Ministry of Health & Social Welfare in Monrovia, Liberia with a request for training of Administrative staff employed at the Ministry. It was designed with 3 very specific goals and objectives in mind: To provide for the Participants to improve their skills and gain new skills; to personally develop themselves (character, attitudes, confidence) and the ability to become “change agents” and to use what they had learned to train others within their departments and the Ministry as a whole. 6 received training. Church Leaders’ Conferences 750 pastors attend Unity & Partnership in Ministry conferences. The Church Empowerment Team held two 3-day conferences on the subject of ‘Unity and Partnership in Ministry’. The events were planned and executed in conjunction with steering committees of local church leaders 117 attended a leaders of leaders seminar A follow up conference is to be held by a Mercy Ships partner COMMUNITY BASED PREVENTIVE HEALTH CARE Strategic Health Initiatives (Community Health Education) Community health volunteers from the Tenegar area, Royesville and Northern Royesville were trained in ways to prevent the most common illnesses in Liberia. Strategic Health Initiative places a strong emphasis on clean drinking water, adequate sanitation, treating diarrhea, basic hygiene, exclusive breastfeeding and nutrition, maternal health, and malaria prevention. Teaching also included the root cause of malaria and the value of using insecticide-treated mosquito netting. Participants were given the task to teach these topics in their own communities. 108 received training in community health issues 1546 Mosquito nets distributed Oral hygiene & Health 5502 Dental health (patients) 663 Dental health (Students) 15 Teacher trained 3 Dental assistants trained Food for Life (Agricultural Training)

Participants were trained in organic agricultural principles with a strong Biblical World View in Tenegar, Royesville and Northern Royesville areas. Taught basic agricultural knowledge and practical techniques. In Royesville, Mercy Ships has introduced the growing of new and different crops in to the garden including cabbage, okra, and the Moringa tree. In addition, two community gardens were established by the community. In Tenegar, Mercy Ships came along an existing agricultural cooperative and provided further training in organic principles. Follow up was done more extensively in the Cheesemanburg area, site of our ’07 activity 163 farmers trained in organic agriculture practices Model garden established Model chicken house built Water for Life 8 new hand dug wells completed 10 wells rehabilitated 90 household latrines Built in conjunction with the villagers, the water and sanitation project provided safe water and sanitary facilities for the communities of Tenegar and Royesville. Mercy Ships used local technicians who we trained in ’05 & ’06. Participants from the villages in the area were trained in the efficient construction and maintenance of latrines and wells. Renovations were also done to the toilet block for the school in Tenegar. MERCY MINISTRIES Over 700 volunteer crew members were involved with 9 projects.

Mercy Ships volunteers often persued additional ministry opportunities during their off duty hours; primarily evenings and weekends.

During the Liberia field service crewmembers routinely visited: Missionaries of Charity Centre for the Aged Orphans and Abandoned Children God’s Children Orphanage Victorious Faith Ministries Refuge Home Francis Gaskin Refuge Home Monrovia Central Prison Mama Cooper’s Orphanage Cheshire Home for the Handicapped. In addition and in partnership with local pastors, the Jesus Film was viewed by 30,000+ Liberians in English and in local languages.

17 major projects Over $11 million total value of program services to direct beneficiaries. No organizational general overhead included Over $200 thousand of spending in local businesses Extensive participation in and with local churches

Prayer and support from around the world!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Benin Screening Days

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On Thursday we start our 2 days of screening when we screen candidates for surgery etc. It is usually a very busy time!
Please pray for:
Safety - Many want to get to the front of the line so there is a lot of pushing and shoving! Wisdom - For the surgeons as they decide who needs surgeries and who we can't help. For those we can not help - There are many surgeries we just can not do and so there are many who also have to be turned away. Pray that they will see a miracle in their lives as they spend time at the prayer stations. For those we can help - That their physical & spiritual needs will be met, that they will see and meet Jesus.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

When Did Monopoly Change?

Last Saturday night some friends challenged us to a game of Monopoly. They had acquired a new "international" version and wanted to try it out. It's been ages since we played it so we thought it could be fun and what on earth could possibly have changed in a newer version.

I tell you what....INFLATION!!!

When did you suddenly get 2 million for passing go!!!!

Getting out of jail costs 500,000!!

Tax charges were 1 million

Houses and Hotels started at 1 million upwards

Then to top it all, there wasn't any money....it was all done by credit card. So our memories had to keep track of our spending.

Things have definately changed, but it didn't stop Sharon from winning!!

Thanks for a fun night friends!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

We Have Arrived

Just when we thought that everything was going ok, we had a problem!
After leaving Tenerife a day later than expected, Tim and the Deck and Engineering crew managed to catch up on their time and we entered the waters surrounding Benin around 9am on Monday morning. Great, a chance to catch our breath before picking up the pilot and sailing in to be greeted by our advance team in Benin and the arrival ceremony that lay in wait for us. At 12:45 the line handlers were called to their stations and everything was in place. But as they prepared to move there became a problem with the engine controls which meant we would only have two engines to go in rather than four. It was agreed by Tim and his Chief Engineer that this would be unsafe. This was a port that was known to be difficult to move in, even Mercy Ships has experienced trouble when the Anastasis unfortunately ended up hitting the dock during their last visit and made a BIG dent in the bow. This was something that Tim did not want to repeat!! The engineers worked hard to solve the problem but nothing was resolved so it was decided that the ship would anchor until a solution had been found. People gathered for prayer, aware that Benin is the voodoo capital of Africa....could this be a spiritual attack? The Marine Operations Department at our international base in Texas, prayed with the technical crew via a conference call. Isn't it great to have the support of so many faithful people. (Benin flag flying from the ship's mast)
Around 10:30 that night there was a loud rumble and the problem was solved.
The next morning we started heading in.
Unfortunately there wasn't the big welcome that had been planned the day before, but our advance team were their waving as hard as they could, along with a Mercy Team that will be with us for 3 weeks.
(Our advance team, all smart in african dresses...they have done a tremendous job to prepare for our visit)
The team was greeted by a crew member from Benin carrying his countries flag down the gangway. Hallelujah we are here!

Friday, February 06, 2009

We Are Sailing

The ship left Tenerife on the 31st January with Sharon's parents waving us off and our Tenerife friend, Theodore, playing is trumpet as he always does when a Mercy Ship comes in and out. It was a nice break to have a bit of normality in our lives. For those of you who wonder what Tim does when he's taking a ship out, here are few pictures of him on the bridge.
Now we are enjoying a pretty calm sail. There isn't much wildlife but there have been sightings of flying fish, dolphins and the best was some killer whales.
(Us enjoying the view from the bow in the evening)
(Dolphins playing in the surf) (Killer whale)
Now we look to our next outreach in Benin with great excitment of what God is going to do through us all there. We will be arriving on Monday afternoon with a full arrival ceremony.