Monday, 30 January 2012

Togo Update...

Well, we are already on the cusp of February and I have not had much chance to keep my blog updated. So, I will give you a run-down on the events that have characterised my life on the AFM since I last blogged some three weeks ago.

Being back in Togo is just like being home. It is such a change from Sierra Leone and it is lovely to be in a nation where everyone remembers who you are and why you are here. I have gone to the market several times and have enjoyed interacting with the street vendors, and have also enjoyed the relaxed atmosphere on the streets – certainly when compared with Freetown’s crowded roads!

This last weekend I went to the Maison Bethany Orphanage, one of the Mercy Ministries I was involved with back in 2010. It was fantastic to be back and to see the children who still remember me! It’s amazing that a bond can be forged across cultural and language lines. We did the story of Joseph and his colourful cloak, and then did a craft where the children decorated a cut-out of Joseph with felt and fabric. After the activity we played games inside while it rained outside, and then once the rain had eased I played soccer with the boys in the garden. It was great to be back!

And then moving to the primary reason we are here: The Hospital. We have had a large influx of medical volunteers over the last two weeks and are preparing to open the Hospital in the next week or so. Tonight is the Hospital Open House – where non-medical crew can experience a taste of what it is like to work in the Hospital – and then on Wednesday we have our main screening event at the national stadium in Lome. This is where we screen for potential patients. We expect several thousand people to turn up, and we will not be able to help them all. But we do pray that everyone who is there on Wednesday – whether we can help them or not – would have a Divine appointment to receive a taste of healing in their lives. Be it spiritually or physically, we pray that God’s will would be done! Your prayers for this event and all that needs to happen that day would be most appreciated!

So that is what has been happening here on the AFM in Togo. I don’t have any other work-related news from my side, other than life in the Purser’s office continues at a brisk pace, and I am very much looking forward to my break back in Cape Town in February and March. It would have been almost 11 months since I was last home – the longest stint away from Cape Town that I have had since joining Mercy Ships in November 2007.

On a personal note, I do have an exciting announcement to make, but it deserves its own post. Stay tuned for that!

Sunday, 8 January 2012

Arrival in Togo! (# 2)

This is the second time in the last two years that I have sailed into Lomé, Togo. The previous time was after a sail of over ten days. This time the sail was only ten hours! And by 18h00 this past Thursday the Africa Mercy was securely tied to our familiar berth in the Port of Lomé.

I am happy to be back in a country that I know so well - but I am much more excited about all the additional people that we can now reach. Some people may have been left two years ago still needing a slice of healing in their lives. They may have felt despair and neglect. But God is faithful and has brought us back to Togo, and we are here to continue the work that was started in 2010. I'm excited to see what's in store this Field Service - are you?

Here are some more photos from our arrival.

We felt very blessed to be given a naval escort into the harbour!

Pilot swings close to the Africa Mercy.

The pilot clambers aboard.

Approaching the Port.

With Candace as we sail towards Togo.

A new harbour tug.

Ships in the port - it is far less busy than Tema.

Heading towards our dock - on the left of picture.

Another older tug stands-by.

Saturday, 7 January 2012

Departing Tema...

It was still early in the morning this past Thursday when the Africa Mercy headed out of the Port of Tema bound for Lome, Togo. Ghana has been good to us and being here has afforded many crew members the opportunity to explore the country. While I didn't spend a night off the ship, I was still able to relax in some pretty awesome surroundings. Thank you Ghana!

Sun rises over the Port of Tema as a tug stands-by.

Pilot boat waits in the harbour.

Mooring lines are cast off.

Heading out towards the sea.

Clearing the main breakwater.

Pilot departs.

And heads back to the shelter of the harbour.

Little fishing canoes approaching.

Rice-sack sails - very innovative here in West Africa!