It is high time for another update and Matthew has put us to shame by publishing two since our last one!! See Matthew's blog They say that time on the Africa Mercy takes on a different dimension - and that seems to be true! Or it could be our age!
It is now February, Christmas has been and gone - but we had a great time. A very different Christmas although we still managed our Little family Christmas Eve tradition of reading 'The Night before Christmas' but this year over Skype. We are very grateful for the good internet on board and also managed a family Skype the Sunday before Christmas with our girls, Lynne's mum, sister and her two children; on Christmas Day we joined with our church congregation for a carol and prayer; and later that day with Hannah and her Christmas day hosts - friends from church.
We took advantage of the long ship holiday weekend between Christmas and New Year and took a three day trip up country to Kindia with our friends who we did OnBoarding in Texas and field practice in Guinea with - Jennifer, Ian and Merryl. It was good to get out of the noise, busyness and dust of Conakry and see green vegetation and hear the birds and insects (outside not inside the hotel). We were reminded of how noisy the ship is! You may have seen some photos that we posted on Instagram and Facebook but we visited some beautiful waterfalls and were fortunate to have a tour of the Mercy Ships Agricultural Centre where nationals are trained in sustainable farming methods - absolutely fascinating. We had a brilliant driver in Abdulay who took good care of us, took the potholed tracks in his stride and also acted as our interpreter.
|Bride's Veil Falls|
At the Agricultural Centre
Still not good at selfies!!
Or positioning photos!
Mushroom farming on the left
Aquaponics under construction on the right
|Pool at Kissili Falls|
|Time for lunch before heading back|
Spent some time swimming until something was spotted moving in the water at which point we got out quick - it was a bra!!
So, what is a typical day .... or week?
We both work 'business' hours of 8.00 am to 5.00 pm Monday to Friday, although Stuart has now been put on the 'On Call' rota for the Deck Department. He could be called out for anything at anytime on the 24 hours he is on call - but hasn't as yet so we can't tell you what that entails. Although Matthew has been for a while and he was putting out rubbish on Christmas Day!
We normally go to breakfast 7.15 am to 7.30 am and then Stuart goes off for Deck Devotions.
Lynne's day as Ward Administrative Assistant is a bit like going to the airport - 'hurry up and wait' followed by 'hurry up and wait', etc! The day involves checking which patients are on the ward, keeping the statistics and database up to date, finding out which patients are being discharged (only after Doctor's rounds are finished), making their Outpatients appointments, organising discharge photos (all patients being discharged are offered a 'souvenir' photo of themselves and fellow patients, nurses and anyone else they want in the picture to take home. These are precious items and we heard of a patient who had been treated on a previous field service, kept his photo showing it to crew when coming for follow up surgery some years later when the ship returned.) Some patients go home but some live too far away to get back to their Outpatients or Rehab appointments and so need booking in at the Hope Centre (which is the the Mercy Ships 'hotel' type accommodation off ship.) Then it's finding out which patients are being admitted for surgery the following day (when screening is finished!), which beds they will be in and if any patients are changing beds.
There are three wards, with another 10 bedded ward available if needed. Two of the wards have 20 beds, and the third ward has 15 beds plus two ICU beds and two Isolation beds. The wards are very busy, and usually noisy, places, particularly in the morning when Hospital Chaplaincy visit each of the three wards to speak, sing and pray with the patients, Doctors are doing their rounds, patients and caregivers are having breakfast and getting up for the day. Caregivers, who are needed for all patients under 18, sleep under the patient's bed on a mattress. Spaces between the beds are about 18". Wards are mixed - male and female, adults and children but they are such friendly places with crew and patients look after, and looking out, for each.
Lunchtime is 12 noon to 1.00pm - but we rarely manage the hour. After lunch, nurse allocations need doing in time for shift change at 2.00pm; patients meals are ordered for the next day (which is slightly more complicated than imagined depending on the type of surgery, when the surgery is, how many caregivers, etc; also for meal purposes children over 12 are adults!); patient visiting lists are needed for each ward and the gangway for the Gurka guards; more statistics; scanning charts for discharged patients (currently more are discharged than scanned each day!). All this fits around random jobs, queries and phone calls.
We normally have dinner about 6pm and try to get on deck to watch the sunset. Have to be quick though as it happens surprisingly quickly!
We are loving our time on board here but don't want to bombard you with too much information at once, so Stuart will share a typical day with you in the next blog (which will be more timely than this one!) and we will share a non-working typical(ish) week another time.
In the meantime these three photos show some of the impact Mercy Ships has had during 2018.
Although only about 400 crew serve on board at any one time most are short term and this photo shows just how many serve during a year and from so many different countries! It's great living in a multi-national community! Interesting, fun, challenging and sometimes just confusing!!