Friday, 31 May 2013

Drying spectacle cases...

As a direct result of the big storm that rolled through Zithulele (alluded to in the previous post), our Eye Team store-room suffered some major water damage. We had to dry hundreds of spectacle cases on the grass outside. It was quite a strange and colourful sight!

Boxes and cases drying in the warm sunshine.

Thursday, 30 May 2013

Wet Wet Wet...

No, this post is not about the Scottish band known by the same name. It is about the severe weather that welcomed us to Zithulele just a few days after we arrived in mid-April. We were house-sitting for the hospital superintendent and his family when a huge storm dumped 278 mm of rain in 24 hours. Their house is a thatch-roof and leaked quite a bit. We snapped these photos during the deluge. It was crazy!

The water came through the thick walls in the bedroom.
 And the strong winds blew the trampoline down.
A number of small trees were also blown down.
 Water was everywhere!

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

AFM as seen on Google Earth...

I was browsing through my good friend Olly's blog yesterday and noticed that he'd found the Africa Mercy on Google Earth. I just had to re-share it! The photo was taken when the ship was in Togo on the 18th May 2012. In fact, the day that the image was captured was a ship's holiday and Candace and I went to the market with some good friends. We had a lovely walk and a burger at KFG. Good times!

 There she is!
And, if you were in South Africa during the shipyard phase of 2010 - 2011, you will remember Appelsbosch... Well, here it is, and look at all those white Land Rovers parked between the buildings!

Monday, 27 May 2013

Zithulele Sunset...

Sunsets in West Africa, viewed from Deck 8 of the Africa Mercy, were always my favourite. But sunsets here at Zithulele can be pretty spectacular too!

Don't we serve such an amazing God?!

Friday, 24 May 2013

Patient Transportation...

Every second Friday is cataract surgery day here at the Mercy Vision Zithulele Eye Care Project. At first I didn't know what role I would have on this day, but since I am the only driver on the team who isn't also a health care professional, I have slotted into the patient transportation role. Some people call me the ambulance driver, but I prefer patient transportation. After all, I did once have to push a lady in a wheelchair!

I get the privilege of picking up our patients from the community centre prior to their surgeries, driving them to the eye surgery, and then taking them back to the community centre after surgery. It can sometimes be challenging getting the patients into the Land Rover, but we manage fine, and if anything it's awesome to think that by tomorrow they will be able to see clearly enough to get themselves - unassisted - into a vehicle! It's a blessing being able to see - and serve - the patients at each stage of their journey to regaining their sight!

I think one thing that I find so amazing about cataract removal is just how closely it mirrors a person's spiritual condition. We are spiritually blinded by our sin until Jesus comes and gives us back our sight. In the same way, a person's vision is clouded by the cataract that blinds and distorts their vision. Once the cataract is removed, they are able to see things clearer again. It's quite a powerful metaphor!

At the community centre to pick up a patient.
Patients waiting at the community centre.
Helping a patient out of the Land Rover prior to her surgery.
 Leading a patient back to the vehicle.
A very happy cataract patient!

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Mercy Goats...

One of the common sights around Zithulele Mission Hospital are the little goats that wander the grounds, grazing as they go. Despite the countless droppings that tell of their travels, they really are quite cute. They decided to pay a visit to the Eye Clinic this afternoon - but not because of eye complaints. They must have noticed that the grass on our front lawn was getting a little too long and needed a bit of a trim. :-)

 Some of our Mercy Goats - very much a daily part of life in Zithulele.
 Another pair ensuring the lawn is well-maintained for our arriving cataract patients this week.
Goats were even a part of my Land Rover photo shoot a few weeks ago.

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Zithulele from above...

This is a view of Zithulele Mission Hospital as seen from the air. It was taken several years ago, and so a few of the newer buildings are not there. The X on the picture is where the eye surgery and our accommodation are located now. We have a beautiful view of rolling hills and a deep blue ocean!

Thanks to the Hospital Superintendent, Ben Gaunt, for this photo.

Monday, 13 May 2013

Land Rover story...

One of my responsibilities here at Zithulele is to ensure our two Land Rovers are maintained in good running order. This includes regular fluid checks, a vehicle distance record sheet, and ensuring that they are stocked with necessary spare parts and supplies. A few days ago I wrote a little piece on the importance of these vehicles. I hope you enjoy it!

The Mercy Vision Zithulele Eye Care Project is based at Zithulele Mission Hospital in the Eastern Cape province of South Africa. This project partners with Mercy Ships Southern Africa, the Jabulani Rural Health Foundation, and the Eastern Cape Department of Health in bringing cataract surgeries and high-quality eye care to this region.

Key to ensuring that this successful operation continues are the two Land Rover Defenders used by the team. Tarzan and Jane, as they are affectionately called, are able to reach places inaccessible to normal vehicles. This includes rural healthcare clinics where eye tests and screening are undertaken by the Mercy Vision team. Cataract surgeries are scheduled at the Zithulele Mission Hospital and appointment cards are handed out.

Without the Land Rover Defenders, the team would not be able to successfully continue their work of ensuring that eye problems become history.

© 2013 Murray Tristan Crawford

Monday, 6 May 2013

Eating wild honey...

Candace and I went to the church service last night. It was lovely to meet some new people and enjoy fellowship with believers. They're following the book of Luke in this series, and the message focused on John the Baptist's mission in Luke 3: 1 - 17.

What struck me was just how content John the Baptist was. He was out in the wilderness, eating locusts and wild honey, and following God's call on his life. And yet despite the challenges of his lifestyle choice, he was totally committed to his mission.

I wonder how I would fare in a similar situation. Sure I like eating honey, but I'm sure that would come with a lot of bee stings! And don't even get me started on the locusts! Anyway, this message was a huge encouragement to keep a positive attitude and be content in whatever circumstance. Definitely a good reminder for any situation in life!

Sunday, 5 May 2013

Zithulele Accommodation...

Since coming to Zithulele, as I've mentioned in a previous post, we've had to move around a fair bit. Well, we are finally in our new little space, and Candace has posted a visual tour if you want to see our new home. Click over to her blog here and enjoy! As you can see, it's going to take some time and adjustment to settle here. Please keep us in your prayers!

Saturday, 4 May 2013

Fresh perspective...

We had the surgical outreach here at Zithulele this past February. We did over fifty cataract surgeries in a week, and the patients who were scheduled had to stay two nights in the community centre. We provided mattresses to ensure that the patients and their caregivers were comfortable for the duration of their stay. The mattresses are the focus of this snippet from Zithulele.

Mohau (our optometrist), Candace and I went to Ngcwanguba Store, the local general dealer some twenty kilometres away, to collect the mattresses several days before the surgeries began. We managed to fit 23 mattresses in and on top of the Land Rover.

Upon arrival at the hospital, however, we discovered that we'd lost seven of the mattresses. We'd secured them on top but they must have worked loose on the curvy roads of the rural Eastern Cape. Mohau and I clambered back into the Land Rover and retraced our steps. But there was no sign of our mattresses. We were utterly gutted. What would our patients and caregivers do?

However, let's shift the perspective. Imagine that for the past few years you've been having to sleep on a hard concrete floor. You've never owned your own mattress. You've been praying for a miracle - perhaps even a new mattress. Suddenly, you see a brand-new mattress lying by the side of the road in front of your hut. You're overjoyed! God has come through for you!

We had more than enough mattresses for our patients and caregivers, so it all worked out in the end. And perhaps someone is being blessed by a new mattress today. My point is that it certainly helps to view an issue from a fresh perspective!