Wednesday, 29 June 2011

US Coast Guard in Sierra Leone...

While I was taking the ferry over to Lungi last week I noticed a ship pretty far out of its own territorial waters. It was the US Coast Guard Cutter Forward, docked along the port from the Africa Mercy. I'm not sure what mission she is on, but I was certainly excited to see a US Coast Guard vessel in real life since I've only ever seen them in the movies or on documentaries. I think these cutters, although rather old, are some of the prettiest ships afloat.

US Coast Guard Cutter Forward (WMEC 911)

Sunday, 26 June 2011

Bye-Bye Ben!

This past Thursday my friend and cabinmate for the last two-years, Ben Calvert, departed. Ben served in the Academy as a High School Teacher and PE Specialist and did an amazing job in all that he did. It was sad to see him go but I am excited for all that God has in store for him and his future wife Hannah! (Photo: Ben removes his name tag off the door of cabin 4330.)

I had to do some purser business at the airport so I accompanied Ben all the way across the river on the ferry. Here we are as we pass the AFM.

Saturday, 25 June 2011

Quiz Night!

The last two Tuesdays have seen a new tradition emerge on the Africa Mercy - Quiz Night! Teams of four compete in a general knowledge-based quiz on topics such as Science, Name the Movie, Name the City, Music, as well as a round entitled "What part of the AFM is this photo from?" and many others.

It's really fun and competitive too, as teams battle each other in some pretty impressive costumes. I did not take part in the first Quiz Night, but last week a group of us formed a team, the Mercy Parsnips, and came in a respectable second that night.

As you can see, this was a popular event!

The Facebooks definitely had the most innovative, impressive outfit!

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

4 Nations... 5 Blood Donations!

This past Sunday I got a message on my pager - "1734". I knew who it was without having to check. It was the lab, and they needed my blood. A patient scheduled for surgery the next day had a rather low haemoglobin count of 7.3, and it can be risky performing surgery on someone with such a low count.

My one unit (450 mls) flowed out in four minutes and, after the customary photo of me holding my blood, was taken to the patient. And after the unit of my blood, his haemoglobin count jumped up nearly three points to 10.2 - much healthier!

It's always a privilege and so fulfilling - especially as a non-medical person - to be able to donate blood and serve the Hospital in this way. This was my 5th blood donation on the Africa Mercy. I donated twice in Liberia in 2008, once in Benin (2009), once in Togo (2010) and once now in Sierra Leone! Here's to many more blood donations into the future!

With my unit of O-Pos blood.

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Have you seen a smaller bottle of Coke?

I was browsing through one of the supermarkets here in Freetown and came across this bottle of Coke.

It's glass and holds 200 mls of Coca-Cola, and is manufactured in the UK. I've never seen such a miniature bottle of Coke!

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Scotland The Brave!

This last Friday was my cabinmate Ben's final game of poker (we have a group that meet every Friday for a friendly game) and, being from Scotland, he decided on the dress-up theme of Scotland for the tournament. It was good fun as many of us wore "kilts" and donned face paint in the blue and white of Saint Andrew's Cross. I decided to paint my face for my good friend.

I thought about going for the "Braveheart" look, but decided the flag was easier.

Ben wore his Scotland rugby jersey and his large Scottish flag draped over his shoulders.

Full circle...

It is a season of farewells here on the Mercy Ship and this last week many of my closest friends departed. These were friendships forged back in Gateway of June-July 2009 and from my initial time back on the ship in September 2009. There are too many to name, but if you are one of those who have left in the last week - or more - know that you are loved and missed! The photo here is of me with Amy and Sam - who head home to Chicago.

With Estelle, Danae and Christina - three of my Gateway sisters who left.

This time next week it'll be just the two in uniforms left. Sam left this last Thursday and Ben leaves this coming Thursday. Tim and I remain.

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Global Day of Prayer...

It was the Global Day of Prayer - 12th June 2011 - yesterday. And because of this we held a special International service onboard last night. The Global Day of Prayer originated in Cape Town, South Africa, and therefore the South African crew had the honour of opening the service. We went up front with our flags and vuvuzelas and showed our nation's spirit by singing a couple of worship songs in isiXhosa, Zulu and English, and praying in Afrikaans! South Africa is indeed a diverse country with eleven official languages! The photo here is of the SA crew up front - I'm in the back row in the green SA Cricket shirt.

Each continent then had the opportunity to go and do a song item and prayer in their native language. It was so special to see and hear crew from each of the different continents praising God and praying in their own tongues. And yet again, it underlined to me how awesome it is to serve God in such a multicultural, international environment!

Some of the SA crew in Town Square.

Yeah for patriotic SA crew members serving with Mercy Ships!

Saturday, 11 June 2011

Freetown scenes...

It was a ship's holiday on Friday - which means we're having a lovely long weekend. And so we went for a walk through the market and into downtown Freetown yesterday. It was lovely to get out and about and see some more of Freetown's culture, buildings and scenery. Here are some photos from our walk - starting with the one at left of me with a group of happy, friendly children!

This is the Clock Tower - pretty-much in the centre of the market.

An impressive cannon near Government Wharf.

A beautiful church also near Government Wharf.

I couldn't believe it when we came across a really well-preserved English Post Box!

Lovely old architecture.

And on one of the walls outside Freetown's port a new mural is slowly appearing - the Africa Mercy!

Thursday, 9 June 2011

Sierra Leone Driver's Licence...

Here in Sierra Leone ship drivers have two options if they want to be able to drive a Mercy Ships vehicle (or any vehicle) legally.
  • Option 1: They can either apply for an International Driver's Licence and carry that with their own driver's licence from their home nation.
  • Option 2: Apply for a local Sierra Leonean driver's licence!
Since I already have an International Driver's Licence that I got through the AA (Automobile Association) of South Africa when we were in Durban, I can drive legally without having to get the local one. But come on, how often do you have the opportunity to own a driver's licence issued by another country? So a group of us went to the Sierra Leone Road Transport Authority and had our new licences issued earlier today.

It's pretty handy because with this licence (valid for five years) I am able to drive in any of the 15 ECOWAS (Economic Community of West African States) countries! Just another interesting day serving on the Mercy Ship!

Here I am with my new Sierra Leone Licence.

Sunday, 5 June 2011

Sugar Loaf Mountain...

Yesterday a group of us hiked up one of the highest mountains in the vicinity of Freetown, Sugar Loaf Mountain. It was a rather challenging hike, especially since the rain that fell overnight made the rocks quite slippery. Many of us ended up sliding on our backsides for a while! But despite that, it was really BEAUTIFUL! And it was such a blessing to get off the ship and do some solid exercise and make some new friends too!

Looking down towards Freetown and Aberdeen - as we drive to the mountain.

Big houses in the centre of the peninsula.

Heading up the slopes of the mountain.

Spot the stick insect!

Scenic view in the direction of Freetown.

Looking out towards Bureh and Kent Beach...

... And Banana Island in the distance.

Relaxing on the rocks.

Heading back down the mountain.

Lush tropical vegetation.

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Car wreck...

We were driving along the busy Freetown streets last weekend and came across what looked like a fatal accident. I mean, a car is speeding along a bridge, is clipped by another vehicle, goes into a spin and careers through the safety barriers, over the edge of the bridge. (That's what we were told had happened.)

Look at the car. Look at the devastation wrought to the building. It must be fatal. And yet praise God we were told that the driver and his two passengers escaped with only minor injuries, and there was no one in the building. Now for me, that is definitely a miracle!

At first glance, I struggled to see the car amongst the wreckage!

Ah, there it is!