Currently, we are hosting a three day Church Leaders’ Conference here in Cotonou, Benin. The theme of the conference is Partnership in Holistic Ministry. Our main speaker is Pastor Chris from Ghana and we have over 300 church leaders in attendance. I have been assisting with registration of our participants.
At the close of our Yvonne Riddick Farewell party, we took some photos. In this photo you see (Left to Right) Agnes, Jannette, Yvonne herself, me, Andrea, Comfort and Rene (sorda cut off some). In the front is Joycee and Israel. It will be hard to see her go as we have served together at on the Caribbean Mercy, Anastasis and here on the Africa Mercy.
Last night, between 40-50 people gathered for a farewell party for Yvonne Riddick as she is leaving. I first met her in 2000 in La Union, El Salvador where she was a part of a large Crossroads Discipleship Training School. Later she returned as crew on the Caribbean Mercy. Following enjoying some refreshments, we had over an hour of people sharing memories and experiences and encouragements for Yvonne. We closed the evening all gathered around her praying for her and this transition that she is approaching.
Last Tuesday at our morning devotions, Don & Deyon Stephens (our founders) and Ken & Ann Berry (our director on board) presented about 15 length of service awards – 5 years, 10 years, 15 years and 20 years. I received my 20 year service award – which was a large framed Mercy Ships painting. My 20th anniversary with Mercy Ships actually is in September of this year.
At the West African Dinner, our fellow crew members from West Africa led the worship and of course with worship and music there is dancing. Some of the rest of us joined in but I know for me, I just don’t have the rhythm. In this photo – you see Rene on the guitar in the background, then L-R Comfort, Gina, Jannette and Esther.
For this past week, we have been hosting visitors from Switzerland and Norway on board. Last night for their final dinner, the Public Relations and Stewards departments put on the ‘West African Dinner’. We enjoyed African food, worship led by our West Africans, various prayers for West Africa (which I was able to lead), prayers for our guests and for our leaders.
On Friday evening, we had the privilege and honor to host the President of Benin on board the ship. Following the speeches in our International Lounge, he was given a tour of the hospital – in this photo you see him (tall man on the right side of the photo) visiting with some of his citizens recovering from their surgeries in the hospital wards.
From the lines outside to inside the stadium for surgical screening – over 2,500 potential patients came to the screening. My role was just inside the stadium to direct patients and others to the right direction. This photo was taken from my view at the entry – you are looking at primarily the registration tables and medical histories.
Over 5,000 people lined up for our surgical screening at the Hall des Arts here in Cotonou, Benin on February 19th and 20th. Thankfully everything was peaceful and calm – which is something we prayed for. The building in the background is the stadium here all the stations were set up.