13 January 2012

Life After Mercy Ships

A lot has happened since last summer not the least of which is that I am now sitting at a computer in Germany thinking about buying beds and painting :)
Last year, Marcel and I began to think about what comes next and really felt that God was leading us to leave Mercy Ships and see what he had for us in Germany. Although it was not an easy decision, Marcel had job interviews in October and was able to find a great job in the city of Munich in southern Germany. Not only is this a great international city, but also close to the Mercy Ships office in Kaufbeuren and friends in Munich.

Last week we were able to find an apartment just outside of Munich (Unterschleissheim) which is still only about 20 minutes from Marcel's work and has all the things we were looking for . . . 'wood' floors, a balcony, room in the kitchen for a larger frig/freezer and a table, a bathroom with a connection for a washing machine in the future . . . We have signed the contact and are waiting now for the renter to countersign. If all goes well, we should have the key by the 20th and move in that weekend. This is a real answer to prayer as we had heard that it could take months to find a good place and I am really looking to unpacking and not having to pack it up again in a few months. We are currently living in a small apartment owned by Mercy Ships which has been a great blessing in getting started here, but not quiet our own and it is hard to know what to unpack when we were unsure of how long we would be here.

Anyhow, some pictures taken with my phone yesterday - not the best, but give an idea of the space - kitchen, bedroom, living room, balcony, bathroom and small entrance way with closet. If you can imagine, the kitchen, living room and balcony are all along the front of the apartment and then the bathroom, entrance way and bedroom run along the back. The balcony 'pushed' the bedroom back a little from the front 'wall' and the entrance way and bathroom 'push' the living room and kitchen to the front.

living room
turn around from the bathroom and there is the closet and front door - the door all the way across is to the bedroom

24 July 2011

Changing Lives Through Agriculture

Although the focus and strength of Mercy Ships is the medical that it can provide in West Africa, we also have an agricultural programs that is changing lives in other ways. The stories that come from this agricultural training every year are amazing. Teaching wise farming techniques and God's charge to man to be good stewards of the land is literally reaping harvest in countries (and lives) that have been barren for a long time. This is just one story from here in Sierra Leone written by the Communications Department.

Bambay is an extraordinary individual, whose life’s goal is “not to be a beggar.” This reflects the reality of life in Sierra Leone after their brutally violent ten-year civil war. The conflict devastated the people and left the country in shambles and poverty.

During the war, Bambay, his mother, and two younger siblings fled from their village and hid in the bush for a month. When they ran out of food,
Bambay went back to his village to find something – anything – they could eat. He planned to return to his family that day, but it was late. So, he accepted an invitation to stay until the next morning. It was a disastrous decision.

During the night, the village was attacked by rebel soldiers. “You voted
for this president!” they shouted. Bambay tried to explain that he was only 15 and couldn’t vote for anyone. But they wouldn’t listen. They chopped off both his hands and left him for dead . . . along with the other villagers who had been mutilated.

Later that day, he was found by a roving seller of goods and taken to a nun at a nearby church. She took him to a hospital and then nursed him back to health. While Bambay was in her care, she asked him what he’d do if he ever found the man who cut off his hands. “I would kill
him!” said Bambay.

The nun began to plant the seeds of forgiveness into Bambay’s thinking. She told him how important it was for his future to relinquish the hate and anger that fueled his unforgiveness.

The nun also did what she could to prepare the young man for life on his own. She
arranged a surgery that would split the hacked ends of both hands, allowing him to grasp things.

One day Bambay was out with his friends when he saw “Sewer Poison,” the nickname given to the man who had cut off his hands. He went after him and caught him, but couldn’t bring himself to kill the man. The seeds of
forgiveness had been well-planted. His friends offered to kill the man for him, but Bambay wouldn’t allow it. The man pleaded for his life, and Bambay forgave him.

That forgiveness enabled Bambay to move on with his own life. He eventually met and married Mary, and today they have a seven-
month-old baby daughter, Ann.

Today, Bambay is a trainee in the Food for Life Program that was started in Benin by Mercy Ships and Bethesda, another non-governmental organization. The goal of the program is to train people in organic farming methods and in leadership principles. These trainees will, in turn, teach others in their communities. In this way, the program is duplicating easily in Sierra Leone. It has the potential of transforming food-growing in the country, as it improves the financial status of those involved.

The Food for Life program is also partnering with City of Rest
Rehabilitation Center’s Agriculture Therapy and Skills Training program.

Bambay wants to be involved in using the program’s biblical concepts to help rehabilitate the mentally ill, as well as drug and alcohol
addicts Bambay is, indeed, a remarkable man who is achieving much, much more than his goal to “not to be a beggar.”

Story by Elaine B. Winn

Edited by Nancy Predaina

Photos by Tom Bradley and Ken Winebark

04 July 2011

Creative Ideas to Help Patients

Another story from the Communications Department about some of the great ideas that arise from necessity.

“NECESSITY IS THE MOTHER OF INVENTION,” so the old adage goes. Nowhere is it more apparent than in the physiotherapy department onboard the Africa Mercy. When patients’ legs are put in casts, they can’t wear shoes – but they can’t go barefoot, either. The Rehabilitation Team has found a suitable, inexpensive, and easily available way to give each patient the foot protection needed during their recovery. The answer is . . . tire shoes.

Anama Latta, a day-worker in physiotherapy, is responsible for producing shoes from tires in various sizes to accommodate patients. He gathers old tires from motorbikes and begins by removing the wire inside with a knife.
Then he measures for sizes – 10” for large, 6” for medium, and 4”| for small. Using a box cutter, he cuts incisions to mark where he will use the scissors to cut through. Next, he cuts three holes on each side. Then proper lengths of polypropalene ribbon are used to tie the shoes on.

Anama says the tire shoes are stronger than other footgear they might use, and they provide more protection on the sides of the foot. “When I was a child in Togo, I used to wear shoes like these to go to my Daddy’s farm,” said Anama. “They protect better than flip-flops, and the cast doesn’t get wet.”

Tire shoes last longer than ordinary shoes, and patients can walk easily in them. Anama says he enjoys making the tire shoes. “This is the way I can help them (the patients and the Rehabilitation Team), and I’m happy to make them.”

Story by Elaine B. Winn
Edited by Nancy Predaina

Photos by Liz Cantu