|The ship is down there somewhere!|
Summer vacation is over and we are back onboard. We rejoined in Las Palmas, Gran Canaria just as the ship was finishing the shipyard maintenance period. Personally I felt a little guilty leaving during shipyard, however I knew from experience that the family and I needed a break from the ship and a vacation to re-charge our batteries. We had a great holiday in Europe and have come back refreshed and positive. It has also been fantastic to witness all the other returning crew so upbeat as well.
For me (Mick), work does not change much. I was back rebuilding a sewage transfer pump last Friday night and have a backlog of maintenance work orders to complete. There are still systems to operate and maintain whether we are berthed in Africa or the Canary Islands.
For the boys, the new school year has commenced. Jack is now in grade 7, Mark in grade 4 and Harry in grade 2. Jack turned 13 two weeks ago and Mark turned 10 this week so we have had a couple of parties and a trip to Siam Park. Tammy is also starting a new job as the Transitions Co-ordinator, helping families and individuals transition onto and off the ship.
Sailing was originally planned for Friday 15 August. As such, we had completed all our annual shopping for clothes, presents, toiletries and a few treats we can’t easily buy in Africa. Now we just need to be intentional about our spending and stick to our budget whilst enjoying the Canary Islands a little more. Last week Mick did a couple of awesome bike rides into the hills behind Santa Cruz and then we all rode to a local beach for a swim – good cost conscious activities when on a budget!
At times like this, it is really easy to get focussed on what we have no control over. And there is a certain level of stress that goes with delays and uncertainty. As we have prayed over this, two verses continue to come to mind:
"We can make our plans,
but the Lord determines our steps" - Proverbs 16:9
"Be still and know, that I am God" Psalm 46:10
As we wait patiently to find out the way ahead, please pray for the four Countries affected by Ebola, for clear direction for the AFRICA MERCY and for peace in this time of transition.
The official Mercy Ships press release on our current delay is as follows:
"Collateral hardship from the Ebola epidemic now includes a delay for Mercy Ships, which operates the world’s largest civilian hospital ship in ports on the West Coast of Africa. Already with one cancelled deployment to Guinea, where Ebola first broke out last December, the Mercy Ship now waits in the water with crew and staff, pending an end-of-August decision on field service in Benin.
The Mercy Ship was due to sail for the port of Cotonou, Benin, for its 10-month field service last week but has delayed that sail pending further assessment due to the virulence of the outbreak in neighboring Nigeria. Earlier, in April, Mercy Ships made the difficult decision to cancel the hospital ship’s planned deployment to Guinea, where the Ebola outbreak began last December.
Currently docked in the Canary Islands, following the vessel’s annual maintenance phase, the 16,500-ton Mercy Ship is designed to deploy specialized surgical expertise and educational support. It is unequipped to treat viral epidemics, according to the charity’s president and founder Don Stephens.
“Multi-bed wards and limited isolation facilities, close proximity to crew accommodation and dining for families and children are but a few restraints,” Stephens said. “We also hire 200 day crew in each port as part of our training and capacity building for Africa.”
Stephens said the organization is closely monitoring the situation on the whole of the African continent.
“Africa is and remains our priority, but crew safety drives every decision,” he emphasized. “We request prayer as we consider all options to manage the risk, including deployment to other unaffected nations.” This ship’s crew of 400 represents 40 nations, with up to 60 children onboard at any time.
Following the US Center for Disease Control recommendations, Mercy Ships has banned crew travel to Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia and Nigeria. Likewise, crew guests and day crew may not board the Mercy Ship for at least 21 days after they have visited one of the four affected countries.
“Mercy Ships has many, many friends in West Africa,” Stephens said. “In the meantime, our prayers go out to all those affected by this terrible epidemic, especially those in Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea, and Nigeria.”
Docking in an African port, the ship brings high-tech equipment, state-of-the-art facilities, highly skilled doctors, free specialized surgeries, healthcare training including instrument sterilization and disease prevention, agricultural training and more. Mercy Ships provides many types of surgeries: maxillofacial, plastic reconstructive, orthopaedic, and general. The organization also offers dental care and eye care, and it works alongside local government and healthcare providers to improve local healthcare delivery systems.
Since the first arrival of a Mercy Ship in 1991 to Togo, 23 of the 35 years of Mercy Ships service have been focused in Africa. For more information go to www.mercyships.org."
|The view further up the valley on Tenerife|