I saw today that we only have 120 days of the Benin field service remaining. Wow, time goes fast. Hammattan has continued, including the generally dry weather with only one massive thunderstorm one night. There was so much water that the roofs of the tents on the dock (outpatients and physiotherapy) collapsed under the weight of water. After a lull over Christmas the hospital is back in full swing. The eye program has started and is achieving great things. I was told that the national average number of cataract surgeries for Benin is 80. We have done over 160 already this month.
Tammy started working in Communications and has found a niche with the creative crew. She gets to organise them - which is no mean feat! It has been fascinating to learn how the marketing arm of the charity works and what are the drivers. There are some incredibly talented individuals working there and an awesome boss - so it's been a great start so far. She gets to practise her French with the day crew, Emeline, who sits beside her and is signed up for the onboard tutoring to keep it going. Bonne courage!
|The lovely card Tammy received for teaching swimming, signed by all the kids.|
Mick has continued to be very busy but the work load is easing a bit with almost full manning albeit a little in-experienced which means he spends a lot of his day answering questions. February manning looks good but another “train-smash” of shortages is looming in March. During the month we successfully bunkered another 210,000 litres of fuel. Mick dived just once. The visibility was “fine” at 2 metres until the ship ahead of us started its main engine in order to move forward 300 metres and the visibility went to 15 cm. We conducted propulsion test with a couple of hiccups – Main Engine 1 would not clutch in normally and had to be clutched in locally. Mick is still trying to solve this. He has had several other challenging tasks including repairing a governor, fitting and setting up 2 generator governors and overseeing the replacement of a partially wiped camshaft bearing and replacement of a camshaft segment. This required purchasing some liquid nitrogen from Togo to shrink fit the new bearings (- 195 degrees C).
Mick has started intensive French classes at Institute Français 3 evenings a week which is taxing after a full day’s work but satisfying.
School has started with a bang in early January. Almost immediately the workload came on but all seem to be settled in to the alternate school year now. We are thrilled that Jack and Mark are growing in their independence, with regard to academics. Harry took longer to settle in but is on track now. He had two weeks of afternoon swimming school with Tammy as his teacher and they are still on speaking terms. 😬 Quite seriously, it was a great end to each day and all the kids really improved.
|The recently opened Italian gelato cafe is very popular with our boys & their friends|
February is often a tumultuous month onboard as crew members have to indicate what their plans are for the next field service in Cameroon in August. We are still working out whether we should stay beyond December 2017. We have seen in our time onboard, that God calling us here, does not mean that it will be easy. More so, the challenges are the means by which He draws us close to Him to lean on His strength and rely on His guidance. Hence our request for prayer. Our support base has grown and we are no longer relying on our own savings to pay our onboard living costs only for our holidays - this seemed such an insurmountable obstacle when we began our service. Yet He has provided.
Thank you for your support - That was January