End of Madadgascar I Newsletter - June / July 2015
We never thought we would make it to Madagascar – nor that we would call it home for 8 months. Not only did we live here for this time, but our ship is coming back for a 2nd Field Service. And so are we – we have signed up for another year of service with Mercy Ships. So in August, we will be returning to Tamatave until Mid 2016. It is an exciting and somewhat daunting prospect. However, we are confident that this is God’s plan for us for the next year.
Since January, Tammy has continued as the Supply Manager. This has been a fun role leading an awesome multinational team onboard – with crew from Slovakia, Holland, Liberia, Togo, England, Dominican Republic and Madagascar. The Supply Department was only officially created in August so it has been a challenging year to set up procedures that will hopefully work onboard this ship and the next. Whilst the extra work has meant that she has not spent as much time with patients, she has been able to get to know her 4 Malagasy Day crew really well.
|Mampho - swimming champ!|
In addition, Tammy has been teaching swimming lessons. It was an exciting morning in May when Mampho from South Africa and Chris from Liberia swam a whole length of the ship pool. In some respects, life changing – especially as these women worked for several months to overcome their fears.
Mick continued to work as Third Engineer – General but took on several extra responsibilities this yearas he got on top of his core work load of sewage, oily waste, sludge, incinerator, life boats and pumps. One of these was the Engineering Training Officer which was an additional job but next year will be a full time position which he will move into. In this role he trained cadets from Norway and Canada as well as overseeing the training of the African engine hands and ratings. He also took on the responsibility for much of the Main Engine maintenance and training of new officers in the operation of the main machinery. The culmination of this was a very routine passage from Tamatave to Durban. Like any job there have been times of frustration and annoyance but these have been far outweighed by the positives throughout the year. He has received approval to go to the UK in September to study for his Second Engineer’s license and is finalizing his plans with the college.
|Dunne and Forrest families off on a ride|
Patient Story: Zakael – What a difference a week makes !
Zakael grins from ear to ear. On a very hot summer day in Madagascar, the seven-year-old wears his shirt open, revealing a small surgical scar just above his left collarbone. He wears the scar proudly . . . a symbol of where he has been and where he is going.
“I want to be a soldier, just like my grandfather,” declares Zakael. “I want to run fast. Now that I’m healed, I will be able to do this!”
One could say that this is not the same boy that set foot on the Africa Mercy a week earlier . . . and one would be right. A week earlier, Zakael’s shirt was buttoned to the top in an attempt to hide a tennis ball-sized cyst that had been slowly growing since birth. A week earlier, Zakael wasn’t smiling. In fact, his gaze was sullen and withdrawn. A week earlier, he wasn’t sure anyone could remove the cyst that stood in the way of his dreams.
What a difference a week makes!
In one short week, the path of Zakael’s life was changed. But the path to reach that transformation was not a short one. Soon after Zakael’s birth, his father, Zahael, noticed a bump at the base of his son’s neck. In the western world, this would have been treated immediately. But for the poorest of the poor, like Zakael’s family, adequate healthcare is not easily accessible. Zahael was desperate to have the bump removed, but he could not afford the costly surgery his son needed. With each passing year, the cyst grew, and hope faded a little more.
Then Zahael heard that Mercy Ships was sending one of its hospital ships to Madagascar! Armed with state-of-the-art medical equipment and healthcare professionals, including specialized surgeons, from around the world – the Africa Mercy offered Zakael his last hope for healing.
But a couple of challenges still had to be confronted. The trip from their village in Mampikony to the ship was a two-day journey by vehicle, and it would cost more money than Zahael had. At the same time, people in their community tried to frighten Zahael by telling him that the “foreigners would harm Zakael” and that “they would never be seen or heard from again.” However, Zahael ignored them and set his sights on the hospital ship and the only hope for healing for his son.
“I don’t trust anything else apart from God,” shared Zahael confidently. “I said to myself, ‘Jesus is with us! He will be with us to go there and to return home.’”
Holding onto that trust, Zahael sold the family’s last remaining treasures – a goose and a chicken. It was just enough to cover the cost of transportation to the ship. But it was a wonderful investment . . . it purchased a new life for Zakael.
After the successful surgery, they prepared to depart the ship. Zahael watched his son – grinning, no longer ashamed, ready to step into his new life – and he knew that the last week had made all the difference in his son’s future.
“God guided us! I kept in mind that we will be here, and my son will be healed. Those people who did not trust are not healed. We are healed!” Zahael said.
Update on the boys:
|Dressed as Rangers for Jabulani Day in Cape Town|
Jack is due to start Grade 8 and about to turn 14. He continues to do well at school onboard – especially in Science.
Mark is due to start Grade 5 and is about to turn 11. He is our busiest and most sensitive soul who is really starting to become more comfortable with who he is. Mark has thoroughly enjoyed more access to animals of all kinds in Madagascar – especially the Lemurs. We hope to go to resort in August to do a night Lemur walk.
Harry has just turned 8 – (I know!!) and he is about to start Grade 3. He remains incredibly social. Two of his best friends are leaving shortly – but a new boy from Austria has arrived. He continues to excel in his role of meeting and greeting everyone onboard.
Thank you for supporting us this field service - through finances, prayer and emails. The last 6 months have been extremely busy but especially rewarding. We have been blessed with a wonderful time in Australia – seeing family and friends. Please keep reading our blog and follow Mercy Ships Australia on Facebook.
Mick, Tammy, Jack, Mark and Harry