Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The last three days...

The last few days have been rather busy--each day is a new adventure!

*woke up late (8am) and went to Ward Church in B ward. There were a ton of crew members there and about 10 patients. I stood in the back and clapped along with the African praise songs all sung in French. After about 30 minutes of worship 12 ladies from the ward next door came in and their gorgeous dresses suddenly brightened the room! These women are VVF patients who have undergone a repair/reconstruction surgery and about 10 days of post-op care. They each receive a new dress and are then able to go home dry... sometimes it's the first time in 20 years!

*caught the Mercy Ships shuttle to the Seaman's Club just outside the port. Simon and Liza-- a sweet couple from the UK, Frances--another older lady from the UK, Ruth--a single young woman from NZ, and my new roommate from Ohio, Julie also came along. Simon ordered for us and after about 45 minutes the food showed up! My first real African meal! It was a marinated beef kabob, rice, and a slightly spicy tomato-ey sauce to go over the rice. Amazing food and I was so hungry!

*the group decided to go to the craft fair I'd been to the day before and it was fun to see all the stalls again.

*Got back to the ship in time for dinner, then started watching the 5 hour Pride&Prejudice with Abi. :-)

*we made a ton of cabins up. One of the crew families lent us their 12 year-old daughter to us for the week and so Grace helped me clean the hospitality pantry in the afternoon. The floor was absolutely atrocious because of the galley staff who tromp through there at least 50 times a day, so Kathy asked me to scrub the floor. I felt a little like I was swabbing the deck. :-) And I woke up sore this morning from it!

*lunch was leftovers from Friday's dinner. Spaghetti and canned peas. Reheated. Not at all what I wanted. Not at all tasty. I was sitting at a small table near one of the portholes and I almost started to cry. I was tired of doing cabins by myself because some of the girls are a bit exclusive, frustrated with the lack of initiative, damp from the scrubbing water splashing all over me... and then the food. Then I remembered that I had a plate of leftovers from the Vision Trip luncheon up in the hospitality fridge... and there was a Mountain Dew in my room I'd bought when the shipping container arrived last week. So, up to the crew galley for the microwave, and out to deck 8 to sit in peace and eat.

*spent the rest of the afternoon on the pantry floor and then tackled the monstrous pile of ironing to be done.

*dinner was pretty good. I sat down at a table by myself and soon Kathy joined me. Then the ship academy principle came over and joined us as well. Both of them made me laugh! Kathy and I then sat there in the dining room and talked for 2.5 hours! Totally unplanned and totally what both of us needed. She told me about her days "B.M.S" (before Mercy Ships) and some of her experiences aboard the Caribbean Mercy and the Anastasis.

*as soon as I got to work I volunteered to make up a bed in a cabin up on deck 7. These are the original 1950s cabins from when the ship was a rail ferry and the cabins are used mainly by engineers and deck hands. They've been renovated, but the bathrooms still look like they're 60 years old. Think speckled tile and orange porcelain sink. I went in to make the bed and do a quick vacuum... take a look at the bathroom and realize it was never cleaned after the last occupant. Back down to deck 5 to get cleaning supplies, up to deck 6 to get rags from the laundry room, then start to tackle the tile grout... realize after 45 minutes it's a hopeless cause and the softscrub I was using contains bleach... :P

*The Swiss Mercy Ships office director came last week with the Vision Trip and he's stayed on to do a videography project. He's been taking 360* pictures of many different places on the ship for use on the new Swiss Mercy Ships site. (Think Google Maps street view. You can use your mouse to scroll all the way around, then click farther down the road, you jump to there and you can do another 360* there). He'd come into the Hospitality office yesterday in search of a new pillowcase or towel or something and started telling us about the project. We all admitted that it would be nice to have a shot of a 6-berth cabin--the youtube video tour only shows a 4-berth cabin--with a porthole and sitting area. It kind of disheartens crew when they expect something like that and end up on deck 4 in a 10-berth cabin. He thought that was a great idea and so we shot the picture this afternoon. I was one of the "warm bodies" he used and it was quite an experience to stay still throughout all of the photographs. If you move between shots, the computer has a hard time stitching them together and you end up with a blurry mess for the photoshop guy to deal with. That was a fun time of laughs and joking about jump-starting our Hollywood careers! The "virtual ship" should be online in August, I'll keep you posted.

*I spent the entire afternoon with a wonderful friend... a full-metal Husqvarna sewing machine. There was a huge pile of sheets/pillowcases/towels/duvet covers that needed small holes repaired or seams re-sewn... and Kathy didn't have the time to do it. I volunteered and she gladly acquiesced the entire big blue plastic IKEA bag of mending to me. After deciphering the Dutch operating manual in an effort to figure out what knob controlled the stitch length and zigzag/straight stitch I had a happy afternoon.

*Tuesday nights are African food. Or as African as you can get when you make food for 400 crew, 200 day volunteers, and 50 patients. My salad and Nutella sandwich was great. :) I'm reading Pride & Prejudice and I spent a lovely mealtime with Mr. Bingley, Mr. Darcy, and Elizabeth Bennett.

*The Crew Services department showed Louie Giglio's "Indescribable" tonight. Wow... He mentioned a letter he received from Joe Tanner, an astronaut who's serviced the Hubble Space Telescope--Mr. Tanner's been out to the ALERT campus before as a quest speaker and I had a chuckle when Louie mentioned his name. :-)

So yeah... the "honeymoon period" is over. I still love it here, though. After talking with Kathy last night I realized there is NO WAY I can go back to the States and work in a PT clinic 9-5 after graduate school. I would die in that environment. Who knows where God is leading, but all I know is that He's got some amazing plans for me up His sleeve--just the day to day in Hospitality is sometimes hard.

Please pray for Togo. There's been some unrest here today--nothing out of the ordinary so BBC probably has not picked it up--but it's put a kink into the plans for the field eye team and dental clinic. Everyone was restricted to the ship and for quite a while today, IT shut down the ship's internet. (Mainly to keep people from Facebooking, "Tweeting," and blogging any specifics about the situation and who might still be off-ship and unaccounted for yet.) I am amazed at the Captain and Chief Security Officer's handling of the situation and trust that all will be back to normal within a few days. At this point there are riots all around Lome and they're unlike the normal demonstrations that ALWAYS happen. We're totally safe here in port, and the great thing about being on a ship is that we can just sail away if worse comes to worse. We're on good terms with the embassy and the Togolese government, so we're pretty safe. But it's hard when the day volunteers may not be able to get home, we're restricted the the ship proper and the accompanying pier, and all of the Mercy Teams and field medical teams can't do their jobs. That's all I can say right now, but I'll keep you updated as much as I'm allowed to.

*scrubbing tile showers IS making a dent in poverty and oppression... somehow. I AM changing a life... somehow.*


  1. love all your info. You're working hard for the Lord! I'm sure it is hard to stay focused. I'm glad you take some time to yourself to eat, watch the sun set, rest, & reflect. Oh, & of course hang some with my Jenny & Abi. Praying for you.
    Ms Becky

  2. I still can't believe that you're an ocean away!!! I'm praying for you, Katie, and I'm so proud of you! It's awesome to see where God is leading you. Your day sounds so hectic, but for sure you are doing valuable work, even in the tedium. Keep it up, be safe, and don't overdose on Jane Austen (lol). Love you!

    Mary Walker