Tuesday, February 23, 2010


Today I went and helped with a screening day. I worked at the gate as a pre-screener to sort out who would be a possible candidate for a surgery on the ship. When we arrived there was already a long line of people ready to be seen. With the ship only being here for six months and with two of our operating rooms out of commission for this outreach, we had to be pretty specific in what we were looking for. I saw tons of men with hernias, and even babies, which we all had to turn away. So many goiters which we also were not able to help. Many people showed up with abdominal pain or headaches or medical problems which we also had to turn away because they were not surgical candidates. I saw some babies with cleft palates and I heard one today had a cleft lip which we were able to schedule surgeries for. I looked up at one man and let him go right in. All I could see was the top part of a very large tumor which was pushing his nose up and the side of his face. The rest of his face was covered by a scarf. I heard they scheduled him for surgery on Monday already. Children with bowed legs or orthopedic issues were also able to be seen today. Some people with burn contractures which can hopefully be released. So many beautiful people! It breaks my heart every time I have to say no to a patient. There is only so much that can be done physically in such a short period of time. I can only pray for the ones which were unable to be seen, that God will make a way for them to find healing.

Monday, February 22, 2010


Today we got to orient the translators and day workers to the ward. I can't wait to get to know them all! They seem like a fun group of people. For the next two days I get to help out with the screening. The government won't let us have a large gathering of people because the elections are coming up and they are concerned about riots, so screening is done differently this time. We are having screenings a few days a week through April. There have been a few hundred people a day at the screenings so far which has been great. I'm really excited to go because I can just remember the screening day from Liberia and what an impact it had on my life and my view of human suffering. Tomorrow I will work at the gate and on Wednesday I will help with crowd control.

This past weekend, seventeen of us took a trip to Kpalime. It's a town about two and a half hours north of here. We all squeezed into a bus, a 15 passenger van, for the trip. The first day some of us went to some waterfalls and on Sunday we hiked to the tallest point in Togo, Mount Agou. It's only 3235 feet, 986 meters, but it was a good workout with gallons of sweat! It was a much needed trip to get off the ship before surgeries and life picks up this week.

Friday, February 19, 2010


I never knew I could sweat this much! Ok, I did know, but it's been awhile since I have been in Africa. Last night the Minister of Health visited the ship and many medical professionals in the area. I was in one of the wards to answer questions. It's great to see the wards finally set up and ready for patients. Next week we will be starting surgeries! I can't wait! Here are some pics from around the ward. The first pic is the ICU...
These last two pics are one of the bathrooms in the ward. Yes, people will try to wash their clothes in the toilet and many have not used a toilet before. They are used to the squattie potties. We do have one. I'll have to get a picture of it to show you.
Even though we haven't had patients yet, we have been busy. Some tents are to be set up on the dock for admissions and other things. We nurses spent the day painting the boards to go under the tents...

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Getting the ward ready

We have begun! Everything that had been tied down for the sail is now getting untied and everything shoved away in boxes in corners so it wouldn't get broken in the sail is now getting unpacked and ready to go! This excites me!!! All the wards and operating rooms, and every piece of floor in the hospital is needing to be mopped, stripped, scrubbed, scrubbed, scrubbed, scrubbed, scraped, vacuumed, mopped, mopped, sealed and waxed and waxed. All the walls and counters and cupboards and ceilings (like in the picture), are all getting cleaned with bleach also. Lots of hard work but great nurses to work with to get it done.
Today I got off the ship and walked for about 45 minutes towards the city. Never made it the whole way. I guess it's further than we think! It was just great to get off the ship and start to see some of Togo. Beautiful people. More exploring this weekend! I also learned that I do not know a lick of french and I learned that the Togolese guards at the gate WILL keep us safe. I always feel safe on the ship with the Gerkas, but you never know what it will be like when we get to a port. Living in a port always comes with its share of interesting people.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010


The Africa Mercy has landed!!! We have arrived in Togo on schedule. We aren't allowed off the ship yet but we are docked and tied up and the gangway is down. It was a really smooth ride into the port. Saw lots of fishing boats with their nets and a very large turtle! (I will post pictures later today.) We were greeted on the dock by many people and a band. It is such an amazing experience to pull into a dock and know that you were called here for such a time as this. The port authorities have used shipping crates to form walls so we will be safe walking around our part of the dock. If you look out one side of the ship, it is the port. Lots of large ships and containers and on the other side of the ship is farmland and the beach not too far away. I love West Africa and even though the second you step outside you are drenched in sweat, you get used to it pretty quick knowing that this is just the way it is and you better embrace it or it will drive you crazy. It is so great to see dry land!!!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Sailing, sailing, sailing...

We have been sailing now for six days. Four days left before we reach Togo. I can't wait. I can tell we are getting closer. It started about two days ago. I stepped outside and the humidity hit pretty strong. Here's to six months of sweating! The seas have finally calmed down. No more major rocking and falling out of chairs. It's nice and smooth with just a gentle rocking motion. Not as many green faces around anymore. For the past week I have had orientation to the ship and ward. Lots of good videos and teachings. It really has been a confirmation to me as to why I am here and why Mercy Ships does what it does. I really feel like God is preparing us for what Togo will bring. Even just in the sail and how crazy it started out. It's been great to see God's hand in the lectures and videos and just in preparing me for what the next six months will bring. We can't set up the wards or OR yet because everything is tied down for the sail. We have the evenings off so it's been a great time to get to know other people on here. The other night a bunch of us played sardines throughout the ship and every night seems to end with a card game. It's pretty amazing to be out in the middle of the ocean with no one else around. We have seen quite a few whales, dolphins and tons of flying fish. The sea is so blue. The sunsets...amazing...
For some reason it's not letting me post pics! I'll keep trying...

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Rocking and Rolling

I just wanted to make a quick note that I changed the address as to where to send mail to me. It's all the same except it is to Lindale, TX instead. Anything sent to the Garden Valley box will still make it to me, but please change it for any further mail. Thanks!
The sail has been super amusing. The first day I felt pretty sick because I didn't take my motion sickness medication soon enough but it has kicked in and I'm feeling better now. We are rolling quite a bit though. Just about fell out of my chair a few times, ok, more than a few and I have forgotten how to walk a straight line. We have a wonderful captain though so he's making it as smooth as he can for us. Please pray for everyone on here. Many people are struggling with the motion sickness part of it but everyone seems to be in good spirits about it though. I find that if I am outside life is great so I've been eating outside too which is a chore in itself.
Saw dolphins yesterday and today saw whales and more dolphins. I will have to post pics later since I'm not on my computer and I need to get outside. Starting to feel queezy looking at this computer screen.
Thank you for all your prayers!
Someone just put on the Beach Boys... surfing USA. Nice...