As most of you know about our amazing medical surgeries that we are able to offer to the people. These are truly life changing surgeries. I have seen eye surgeries on the Caribbean Mercy and a hip replacement surgery in San Pedro Sula performed by our ortho team. Though, this was the first chance to see a head tumor removal. Jonas had a large tumor of his right parotid gland that had grown externally and internally. The surgeon, Dr. Thermon, and staff explained some of the procedures so I understood what was happening. I was able to stand right behind the surgeon and looked over his shoulder (I’m the one in the back of the photo). The nerve that controls movement on that side of the face was intertwined with the tumor; it was more complicated than originally planned. Before cutting anything, they had to ensure that it was not the nerve. The surgery was over 3 ½ hours, but it was completely successful.
One of our local partners is the church and ministry of Living Bread Ministries. I have been attending their church since I arrived in June. Some of their members including one of their elders are serving with us. They are also involved in planting churches. They asked if we could take the Mobile Eye Team to a community where they have planted a church and they would be our host. The partnership went well – the provided the venue, the people to help and the advertising to the community and we came alongside them. One of the pastors shared with the people and asked them at the end, ‘How many want to get to know Jesus better?’ Their people were there to pray with all those who responded. The very first patient that Dr. Glenn looked at had cataracts and she is already scheduled for surgery to give her back her sight.
Our heart is for the poor of the poor and the forgotten poor. We have found them at the government psychiatric hospital about an hour and half from the ship. I joined one of our groups as every other Saturday we go there. We have been able to help to make a connection with a pastors training program and this hospital and so together we go into the hospital. The administrator determines which ward we go to and so they are ready for us. I found it hard to connect with them as sometimes they are just not there and other times you have a connection. One of the pastors sings and shared a short message and then the patients are welcome to go to one of the stations – ladies to have their nails done and lotion on their hands, football outside, games inside, prayer station, and for this time Mario made balloon animals for all who wanted one. After serving juice and cookies, I was talking with one of the staff members who shared his thanks that we come and he notices the difference in the patients. Helping to bring light, the gospel and love to those there.
I have a Google regular search for Ghana and I read about the Flying Eye Hospital coming to Ghana and they were going to be at the main airport. I wrote to inquire if we could visit. They also heard we were there and wanted to visit, so we hosted them on board the Anastasis on Tuesday. Then, we went on Friday to the airport and had a tour of their plane. They are focusing on going to developing nations and training the eye professionals in the area – they do some surgeries, but mainly it is training. Whereas, Mercy Ships we are doing 15-20 eye surgeries a day – seeing those who were blind can see again – plus we do training if there are eye professional in the area – in some countries, they just do not exist.
Our meeting on the 17th of August with the President of Liberia, Madam Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf. I am at the far left of the photo. She graciously welcomed us; we presented a report on the accomplishments in her nations during the two past visits by the m/v Anastasis and our proposed activities for ’07. She reviewed them and then she asked how she and her government could help make that possible. The Minister of Health then spoke of the protocol – our official welcome and the arrangements and agreements between Liberia and Mercy Ships.
Some members of a local Baptist church wanted to do something in their community to help address the medical care needs of the people. They purchased a land and are working on the drawings and thus we are planning to come alongside them with the constructions and equipping of a medical clinic for their community. We are pictured in the rain going over the plans and reviewing the goals and expectations of those involved.
One of the projects for ’07 for our Community Development Services crew is to come alongside Open Bible Church in the construction of a two level school building. I met with the school director and they have made progress already, though when we arrive we can contribute to the completion of the school. During the long civil war in Liberia, most schools were closed and thus we have a generation now that missed out on 14 years of schooling. The building will be used by both children and adult students. Each of their days will start out with a time of devotions, worship and/or prayer.
Our fellow Mercy Ships crew/staff who are in England with the Africa Mercy gave us an offering in £ for local Bibles which I converted into cedis = 5,019,200. I was able to purchase locally 120 Bibles and 3 children’s Bible lessons packets. The local languages are Twi-Asanti, Ga, Ewe, Twi-Akuapem and English. We will share these with locals who we have established relationships with – some are patients and others are at the various sites.
We have partnered together with Alcoa and Ghana Health Services to construct and equip and youth health centre in Ashaiman. This is one of the communities we have targeted for our services. After review of our proposal, Alcoa has donated the funds for the building and Ghana Health Services has the property and will staff and operate the health centre. We all came together last week on board the m/v Anastasis.
Have you ever arrived in a city,state,country,continent and came out of the airport and wondered what if there is no one there to meet me? I have had the concern and I have had that situation that no one was there. The airport here in Ghana is about an hour drive from the ship – depending on traffic. Since arriving here myself in June, I am average 2-3 trips to the airport each week to pick up new crew/guest or to drop off friends as they head home or elsewhere. Thankfully the motorway is good between here and the airport. The picture is of Marleene who just arrived last night – her first time in Africa!!!