Thursday, 28 February 2008


Goodbyes are never easy. But it is something one must get used to serving on the M/V Africa Mercy. This Friday (tomorrow) the first of my good friends here on the ship leaves to go home. Tom Drinkwater, from Canada, has been with the ship for one year. He has served with distinction in the Deck department, as a Waterman and general Deckhand. We have had some good times over the past four months – walking to Carrefour (a large store like Pick 'n Pay or Wallmart) in Tenerife and getting hopelessly lost on the way – only to discover that I had had a map from the start – or cycling to the beach at San Andres. We've had some deep conversations. He's a good guy. And I will miss him. And his wonderful Canadian sense of humour. I guess that's the one thing that is so difficult serving on the Mercy Ship. Friends come and go. People who you may never see again. Of course, with modern communications like MSN or Facebook, it is relatively easy to stay in touch. But saying goodbye is never easy. The photo above shows me, Chad Meyers, and Tom.

It was fitting that Tom and Chad, another one of my close friends here, put on a “Hoser Comedy Night” last night. It was a talent show and there were various skits that were performed. It was so good to laugh and enjoy the diverse talents of our wonderful crew. Tom has been involved in all three of the previous comedy nights on the ship. So it was a fitting farewell to him.

My good friend Marius Moe and myself adopted a little boy on the Ward this past week. Crew members are encouraged to adopt a patient for the duration of their stay. Little Roger Toe, three years old, was only staying for a week, but it was good to visit him. He had had some repairs made to his cleft lip and palate. Of course, working Reception can be a little debilitating, but I was thankful that Marius was able to visit when I couldn't get away from work. Roger left yesterday, and so Marius and I went down to visit him on the Ward. He was so full of energy – it was so awesome. We were kicking and throwing a balloon around the corridor, and it was just so special to see the joy and love in this little child's eyes. It reminds me of another Child who came many years ago and showed so much love to the entire world.

Otherwise since the screening last Monday things have been uneventful here on the Africa Mercy. I have been working quite hard. I worked three night (23h00 to 07h00) shifts in a row, had a day off, and then worked four afternoon (15h00 to 23h00) shifts in a row. I am putting in a lot of hours in as I am going on vacation this coming Monday. I'm really excited to go home and see my family and friends... and my dog Scruffy! I will only be away from the ship for nine days, but it will be good to have a break. And see my beautiful home town of Cape Town, South Africa. As well as that breathtaking mountain. I guess it's true what they say that you never really know what you've got until it's gone. I love this ship. It has become my home. But I miss Table Mountain, my family, friends, Scruffy. It will be good to recharge my batteries, cycle the Cape Argus Pick 'n Pay Cycle Tour, and return to the ship refreshed and ready for the next four (or possibly longer) months.

When I leave the ship on Monday it will prepare me in some small way for my eventual departure later this year. In a sense I will be returning to Cape Town now, my home. But strange as it may seem, when I leave Cape Town a few days later, I know that I will be returning home again – to the M/V Africa Mercy, also my home. And I will be returning to the wonderful community that loves God and makes up the crew on this the world's largest non-governmental hospital ship.

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