Keith R. Brinkman
May 8, 2011
Greetings from Sierra Leone, known as Salone in the local language.
Attending the Ward Service on Deck 3 in the Hospital of the Africa Mercy with the patients is a highlight of my week. My dear friend Clementine Tengue from Ghana/Togo has the privilege of organizing the weekly service. The service is for the patients and the caregivers (most patients aged 15 years or younger have someone who stays with them in the hospital). As the Hospital has four separate wards, one ward is selected and patients are given the option to come to the service or to stay in their ward. An invitation is extended to us as the general crew to attend, but limited to 20 crew members due to the limited space. Most of the patients I visit do attend, though I have some who have preferred to stay in their bed and so I will stay and visit with them.
A typical ward service: Clementine does the welcome and shares that Mercy Ships is not a church or denomination or a religion and that all are welcome. Our gathering together is a time to talk with Papa God and to tell him ‘tenki’ (‘thank you’ in the local language of Krio). Our dayvolunteers (local people we hire to assist us in various areas on board the ship – especially with translation) lead in praise and worship using the African drums – one song flows right into the next and usually in a couple languages. This morning I knew about half of the songs and for the others I just clapped along or did the hand motions. Some of the patients ‘shake their body’ even the orthopaedic kids with both legs casted try and shake their upper body. Following the time of singing, a crew member shares a short message/word of encouragement/verses from God’s Word – Old & New Testament. One of the dayvolunteers translates the message into the language of Krio which most in Sierra Leone understand (when we had patients from Guinea someone would translate into their language as a small group). In all the service lasts about only one hour, this may be the shortest service in this country as many times local churches have services from 2 to 4 hours long.
On Sundays afternoons, I usually meet the patients up on Deck 7 where we can sit on an open deck and feel the fresh air. Sometimes we will talk about the message that morning – what we learned and heard. Today, Liz shared the message from some verses from King David from the Old Testament, an encouragement of God’s love for us and also how we are Ambassadors for Jesus Christ. In this nation, which has a majority of Muslim people, the people seem to get along – the Muslims, Christians, and those who believe in African traditional religions. This is unlike what happens in the areas in North Africa and elsewhere on this continent. The people of the country know that Mercy Ships is Christian organization and that we are here to serve everyone without regards to religion, gender, or age. This is going to be a great field service.
More Facts for Sierra Leone: ▫ Independence Day April 27, 1961 – we just celebrated their 50th * President – Ernest Bai Koroma – who we hope will visit us this month; flag (see in the photo) has three equal horizontal bands of green (for agriculture, mountains and natural resources), white (unity & justice) and blue (the sea and the natural harbor of Freetown).
Prayer Requests: ** Health of the Crew – there has been a lot of sickness here on board and it is affecting us greatly (I have been healthy) ** Health for our patients coming for surgery, their surgery and their recovery time afterwards
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org www.KeithBrinkman.com
Mail: Keith R. Brinkman, Mercy Ships, P.O. Box 2020, Lindale, TX 75771 USA
Schedule: Sierra Leone Field Service February 27 – December 8, 2011