I’m a week into this adventure and to be completely honest, it has been a bit challenging. My first couple of days onboard the Africa Mercy weren’t particularly the best days of my life. It’s a whole new world here and there has been a lot to take in and adjust to very quickly. Since Wednesday, every day has been a little better than the one before. I’m meeting lots of new friends and doing all I can to be involved with the African people.
Monday I had a beautiful, unexpected moment. Coming here I had all these expectations of what I thought it would be like. For 7 years now I’ve had a picture in my mind of how I imagined my life would be here on the Africa Mercy. However, after finally getting here, to my surprise, it is a lot different than I have always imagined it being. Luckily, my friend Becca has been preparing me for what to expect, but even still a lot of it you just have to see for yourself to understand. With everything being so different than I imagined, I was a bit discouraged after arriving. I immediately started to question whether or not I made the right decision by coming here. Thankfully, on Monday I had my moment of confirmation that I absolutely made the right decision. Gillian and I were wondering around the ship trying to figure everything out. At the time we were unaware of the awesomeness that takes place on Deck 7 every day. So we open the door to walk out on the deck and there we are greeted by all of the patients, children and adults, outside on the deck, playing and enjoying the fresh air. I froze right there for just a minute. I looked around and saw all of those faces and I was quickly reminded why I’m here. It also finally hit me that I have FINALLY, after 7 years of waiting, made it to the Africa Mercy! It was one of the most beautiful sites I have ever seen in my life! So many emotions and so much confirmation came to me in that moment. Tear of absolute joy filled my eyes. I am really here! I am finally a part of this incredible, selfless organization, providing hope and healing to such broken and hopeless people. I’m here!! 🙂
My 8-3 job here is taking care of the new crew members that arrive. I set up their rooms, meet them when they walk onto the ship, give them tours and make sure they have everything they need to be successful and happy while onboard the Africa Mercy. It’s not exactly the job I envisioned myself having while preparing to come here, but I’m completely trusting in the fact that I’m exactly where they Lord wants me to be. My dad keeps telling me one thing and although it makes me laugh a bit, it’s very true; “If you can’t open the door to the car, you will never be able to drive the car.” That statement and trusting in the Lord is what is keeping me encouraged to do this job with a smile and the best I can.
During my free time I have been finding every opportunity possible to be involved with the patients in our hospital and the people of Conakry. I have joined the ‘adopt a patient’ program. I have been added to the list to observe surgeries by actually being in the OR. I have become a volunteer to work with the woman at the Women’s Prison. I have become a volunteer to work at the Baby Rescue Center. At 2:30 every day, I go out to Deck 7 and spend time with all the patients that are able to go outside. I take a few minutes whenever I can to go out on the dock and spend time with the people waiting under the tent for their follow up appointments. I have also taken time to simply walk around town to be a part of the Guinea culture.
Saturday morning I went to the Women’s Prison for the first time. I expected it to be very small, dirty and smelly. I expected the women to be mean and a bit nasty. To my surprise it wasn’t anything like I expected it to be. Of course it wasn’t the most beautiful place I’ve ever seen, but it’s livable. The second I walked into the door, every woman shook my hand and told me good morning. As I walked past their living area and into their activity room, I was immediately welcomed with singing and dancing. For about an hour, I was in this room with all these women prisoners, singing and dancing. Since they speak French, I have no idea what we were singing, but nonetheless, I loved every second of it. I didn’t know their language, I didn’t know their songs, I didn’t know their dances, but they grabbed my hands and made me a part of it all anyways. It was so amazing! We also worked with some of these women on their English which I found to be a very challenging thing to do since I can’t speak their language. We also work with them on different crafts because we are trying to teach them things they can market once they are finally out of prison. This time with them I also loved! Sitting around on the ground, talking and laughing with them was such a great moment. For whatever reason, they LOVE my hair and continually asked me to cut it off and give it to them so they can put it on their head. One woman actually told me that if I don’t cut it off for her then she isn’t going to let me leave so I will also become a prisoner. Ha! It was very amusing to say the least. I’m so excited to be able to continue to work with these ladies throughout my time here. They need people to come in and love them and that is something I am very happy to do! There are of course quite depressing stories that come along with each woman there. I won’t go into their stories, but I will say that these women need all the prayers we can say for them. Some of these women have been in prison for years and have yet to go before the judge for their trial. Years into their prison time and they still have no idea how long they will be in there. Also, in the prisons here, if you are pregnant when you go into prison, your child also becomes a prisoner. There is a beautiful, sweet little 3 year old boy who has been a prisoner his whole life because his mother was pregnant with him when she entered prison. It’s so heartbreaking for me to think that this precious 3 year old has never seen outside of those walls his whole life. What’s even worse is he is not allowed to sleep with his mother. He sleeps in another building where the guards look after him and so we can only imagine what this little boy has been through or what he will go through in the future. Unfortunately, I do not have any pictures to show you because we are not allowed to have our cameras in the prison.
Saturday evening I went to the Baby Rescue Center. I fell in love the second I drove in the gate. My job at the center is to love on babies. I feed them, change them, play with them, dress them and love them! I do have pictures to share with you:
We were blowing bubbles for the kids and, David, the little guy to the right LOVED it!
I was having a tickle fest with this little one
This little guy is only a week old 🙂
These two little boys have Cerebral Palsy and because of that they were abandoned by their families.
All of these precious babies have been left or abandoned by their families. They have been found in the streets, in the trash and other unimaginable places. Being able to play a part in helping to restore these babies is something I am so happy to do. Loving them is so easy so it’s so hard for me to understand how anyone could not want them.
This is all I have time to write about today. Hopefully, I will be able to write again soon.
I miss you all dearly!