Sunday, 4 December 2011


Jeepers creepers! It’s almost time to come home! I can’t quite capture my thoughts right now – something that  covers the incredible goodness of God that leaves me in awe – and the pain my heart feels as I reflect on the brokenness of this nation. Whilst we’ve done a bit to spread some love and transform some lives, it’s a drop in the ocean compared to the need. I am reminded once again that poverty comes in many forms… and I’m not even so sure if this nation is so badly off. Of course there’s a MASSIVE injustice when it comes to material stuff and you only have to step foot on the streets of Freetown to be aware of that but in amongst it all, there are people who know each other – I mean, really know each other. There’s people who lay their lives down for each other, who share what little they have with each other. There’s community, there’s time and space to just be. There’s a whirl that doesn’t include ridiculous Christmas consumerism and there’s a beauty – a very pure beauty in living for each day. As I reflect on the whopping 1242 eye surgeries, 516 max- facial surgeries, 159 Plastic surgeries, 728 General surgeries, not to mention the 34,251 Dental procedures all done through Mercy Ships whilst in Sierra Leone this year, I am in awe of a God who pours out His love so generously and am so thankful to have been part of it.

One of the things that frustrates me about my job is that it involves far too much staring at a computer and not enough getting to know the nurses and the patients. That’s ok… but just as I was pondering on that the last couple of weeks, in a way that only God can do – He whispered some love into my heart. Last week I came across news of a patient who I had cared for on the ship in 2004. She had come to us for skin grafting because her legs and buttocks had been cut off during the war. I can remember her so well – the story wasn’t one to forget – but I remember too her very precious baby who she still somehow managed to strap to her back African style even whilst balancing on her crutches. This little cutie is 8 years old now! I would love to have somehow crossed paths with her face to face but just hearing that she had been back to the ship for further surgery a few months ago and was doing well made me smile. It’s things like this that go pull pull in my heart (I love how the Krio language somehow puts it so much better than English. In fact there are many words that make me smile intermingled within the majority of conversations I don’t understand like, ‘fine fine cap’ (crown) and ‘glady glady’ (happy). Many of our patients tell us they are glady glady!

I also stumbled across a lady the other day who had surgery on the ship in 2001 to repair a fistula that had formed during prolonged labour. This happens far more often than you want to know in places where health care isn’t quickly available. For some poor mums who are having problems during delivery and need a c-section which simply isn’t available, the baby sits in the birth canal and usually dies after a few days – meanwhile the pressure inside breaks down the tissues around the bladder and allows urine to leak freely. These ladies have no choice but to carry around the stench of urine and are often rejected by their husbands and families and have to face the loss of their child and dignity alone. Her surgery was successful and she had fought her way back from rejection to the point of delivering her first live child since her surgery! She was in a local hospital I was visiting last week which was set up by Mercy Ships a few years ago to provide free maternity care. Goes pull pull on your heart, huh?

So it’s goodbye to Sierra Leone for now. We finished our last surgery on November 17th and since then we have been busy discharging our patients home and scrubbing the decks and tying everything down ready for the ship to sail to Ghana. I’ll be home from December 9th for 3 weeks and then join the ship in Ghana on January 2nd before sailing to Togo where we’ll be setting up our floating Hospital once again for the next 6 months. Looking forward to coming home… and hope to see many of you there. OK, a de go naw  (I’m going now!), KWW