It really is hard to believe that I have been on board the Africa Mercy (AFM) for six months now! Sailing through the Atlantic Ocean (from Gran Canaria to Cameroon) was an incredible experience. The Mercy Ships Academy school year began on the third day of the sail so it was a busy time but there was also lots of opportunity to rest and spend time with the Lord – I formed a habit of hanging my hammock up on one of the decks and staring out at the endless ocean before me. Occasionally the captain would give an announcement throughout the ship to let the crew know that we had dolphin or whale visitors – my solitude was quickly gone as people rushed onto the decks but it was definitely worth it!
Once we docked in the port town of Douala, the ship became a flurry of busyness as the crew set about preparing to transform the ship back into a fully-functioning floating hospital. Within only a few weeks, the hospital was open to its first Cameroonian patients (who had been screened in advance by the Mercy Ships Advance Team alongside their Cameroonian medical counterparts).
I have to admit that no amount of video footage could have prepared me for the reality of coming face to face with these patients. It is an incredibly humbling experience to live out life on a day to day basis alongside people who have such extreme physical challenges, especially seeing the level of poverty within which these challenges are faced. Despite this though, they show such a determination and resilience – by the time they arrive at the dock to first embark on the ship, they have already endured so much.
It is within this context that I can say with sincerity how thankful I am for your continued prayers and support as my home church.