Sunday, 28 February 2010

Travelling to Cape Town...

Friday 26th February. I woke up as I usually wake up on a day I travel: absolutely no appetite whatsoever. Not even our wonderful baker Albert's delicious breakfast treats could lure me in. I sat with friends at breakfast and while they munched, I sipped my rooibos tea with honey. That was all I could manage.

At a few minutes after 09h00 myself and a couple of other Mercy Shippers made the trip to the Togo-Ghana border. Having safely negotiated immigration and customs, we caught a taxi and drove the 200 kms from the border to Accra via Tema. It was a pretty uneventful journey - one flat tyre and numerous police and customs check-points were the main highlights.

Some six hours after leaving the ship, I finally arrived at Accra's Kotoka International Airport. After several hours waiting in the airport complex, I was safely on my way to Johannesburg via Lagos. We flew right over where the AFM is docked in Lome: although at a high altitude of 29,000 feet.

At 5h30 in the morning SA time (GMT +2) the South African Airways Boeing 747-400 touched down at O.R. Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg, and then a few hours later I was flying onwards to Cape Town. We flew over the vast farmlands of South Africa, as well as many winding rivers and large mountain ranges, before making our final approach into Cape Town International Airport. And what a view there was as we approached Cape Town. The mighty Table Mountain standing tall overlooking Table Bay Harbour and the city - welcoming a weary Capetonian home after 24 hours of travelling. I had made it home. (And Scruffy remembered me!)

Photos here are all from the flight from Jo'burg to Cape Town.

Soccer City stadium, Johannesburg, where the 2010 FIFA World Cup final will be played.

Vein-like rivers from 35,000 feet.

Farmlands in South Africa.

Table Mountain!

Landing at Cape Town.

Table Mountain from the airport.

Heading to our parking bay.

The main airport terminal at Cape Town Int'l.

Back home with Scruffy!

And my nephew Rhyenn... who's talking so much nowadays!

Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Cape Town-bound...

After nearly six months here on the Africa Mercy I am heading home for a short two-and-a-half week vacation. It's the right time to go for a holiday, as I am getting tired and need a small small break from ship life. (Which I do love, by the way.)

I make my way to Accra, Ghana, on Friday morning and from there fly with South African Airways to Johannesburg and on to Cape Town. I'll be back home in the Mother City on Saturday morning.

Not only will I see family, friends and my beloved dog Scruffy, it will also allow me to cycle the Cape Argus Pick 'n Pay Cycle Tour. This is the world's largest-timed cycling event, attracting over 35,000 cyclists, and is held each year in Cape Town. I'll be cycling this event for Mercy Ships, just as I did last year. Be sure I'll keep you posted how it goes.

For now please pray for safe travels for me this weekend. Thanks!

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Gateway Family Dinner...

This past Sunday (21st February) my Gateway family had a reunion held at the Mercy Ships team house (located a short distance from the ship). It was a great time to not only catch up with good friends, but also to see the Mercy Ships off-ship facility. And it made me so thankful that God has led me on this amazing journey with Mercy Ships.

We had a traditional English roast for dinner and then delicious apple crumble for dessert. Thanks must go to Barry and Cheryl for hosting us and preparing the meal too! It is crazy to think that I met all these wonderful people at the IOC in Texas last June. The time has gone by so quickly!

Looking down from the third level of the team house.

Some streets of Lome from the roof.

Mercy Ships Land Rovers in the road outside.

Another beautiful African sunset.

Saturday, 20 February 2010

Hospital Open House...

Having been docked in Togo for a week-and-a-half now, the Field Service is beginning to pick up a frenetic pace. This past week has been really busy, as the medical staff have begun screening potential patients at off-ship sites. We are also in the process of selecting day volunteers to work alongside us for the next six months.

Last night (Thursday, 18th February) there was a large (and very successful) Medical Reception held onboard the ship, where many local partners, NGOs, government officials and other VIPs came to hear what Mercy Ships aims to achieve in Togo. And then today the whole afternoon was spent selecting and processing the new day volunteers. In the busyness of these events, the Hospital has been gearing up to receive the first patients over the next week or so.

Today (Friday, 19th February) the Hospital held an Open House to show the general crew what happens down on the wards. There were various stations where you could learn suturing, inserting an IV, and feeding "patients" that can't feed themselves. There were also displays of the Operating Theatres, our Lab and our X-Ray and CT-scanner.

Different games were set up in some of the wards - and they were really fun. But more important than the fun aspect, most of these games held hidden messages - such as how much work and pressure nurses and other medical staff have to deal with on a daily basis. And how much we should appreciate them.

Please keep the Hospital staff in your prayers as we prepare for surgeries starting next week. Here are some more photos from the Hospital Open House.

Feeding the patients.

Inserting an IV.

Practicing suturing.

Giving oxygen to a patient.

Even some of our younger crew members got in on the act!

Treating the patients.

Listening to the patient's breathing.

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

AFM in Lome, Togo...

Here are a few photos of the AFM safely docked in Lome, Togo.

Here is our lovely dock. We have a large space especially demarcated for our use.

Our trusty Land Rovers and Nissan Patrols kept in tip-top condition by the Transportation Manager Olly and his team.

The gangway leading up to the main entrance of the ship.

At the top of the gangway is a friendly Security Guard there to welcome you. Here is Chitra. There are also three flags. The Mercy Ships flag, the Togolese flag, and the Maltese flag.

Fresh fruit and veggies!

Here in Togo we have been blessed with many fresh fruit and vegetables that our ship's chandler and food services staff have sourced locally. We have an abundance of oranges, peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers, pineapples and lettuce waiting here in Reception before being moved to the Deck 2 ship's stores.

The fruit and veggies in Reception - that's me there by the desk.

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Arrival in Togo!

After leaving Santa Cruz de Tenerife some ten days previously, the M/V Africa Mercy reached the pilot station outside the Port of Lome, Togo, shortly after 10h00 on Wednesday morning. Having taken the pilot onboard, we continued on our way and docked at approximately 10h30 in the morning.

There was a jubilant crowd on the dock who welcomed us with a brass band and singing of some of our favourite West African worship songs, including "You are the Most High God (Jehovah)". Our wonderful Advance Team were also present and had organised several VIPs and dignatories to welcome the ship in the country of Togo.

My day was spent helping out the Purser's Office with updating In-Port muster lists and covering the Reception desk. It was a very busy first day in Togo - with issuing new IDs and changing various lists. The day ended with an energetic game of Ultimate Frisbee on our lovely dock.

Mercy Ships will be docked in Togo for the next six months providing free quality health care and bringing the hope of Jesus to many people. After Togo, the plan (subject to change) is to set sail for South Africa in August 2010 for an important dry dock and generator replacement project. Here are some more photos of our arrival this morning.

Dolphins made an appearance as we neared the pilot station.

Some of the Academy had made Togo flags for the occasion.

Third Officer Eric waves to the camera as he waits for the pilot.

Excited crew members anticipate much healing in the 2010 Togo Field Service!

Our pilot boat approaches.

And prepares to drop off the pilot.

The Port of Lome welcomes the Mercy Ship!

Local fishermen practice their trade.

Members of our Advance and off-ship team wave from one of the tugboats.

Our dock awaits.

A turtle in the water off the dock!

Joan and Brenda, our wonderful Advance Team leaders.