All comments contained within this blog are my personal observations while serving on the M/V Africa Mercy. They are not the views or opinions of Mercy Ships or partner ministries.»

Saturday, February 23, 2008

For such a time as this.

On Wednesday Debra asked me if I wanted to try to get off the ship this weekend. I jumped at the opportunity. My time here with Mercy Ships is almost to an end and I have not been off the ship except for the two screening day related outings. I have had some of Liberia come to me, but I have yet gone to Liberia. I was desperate to go.

On Thursday afternoon she came to me and told me that all the vehicles had already been booked out for this weekend. Needless to say, I was really bummed. I began to think that the next time I actually went though Monrovia was on my way to the airport.

On Friday, after I finished my blog entry, I went to watch a movie at a crew members cabin with some newly made friends. When I returned to my office, there was a message from Debra telling me that Beatrice was due to be released from the ward tomorrow morning and since I am doing a story on her, I needed to film that.

It seemed it was a good thing a Land Rover was not available. I had to work.

I got to sleep in a bit this morning. I woke up at 8am after a very good nights sleep. That seems to elude me here. When I made my way down to the ward, Beatrice was waiting for Dr. Gary and Dr. Mark to come in and give her the thumbs up.

Before the two docs came I sat down with her and interviewed her to find out more of her story. And after Dr. Mark saw her and asked her if she wanted to go home, her answer was quiet, but determined yes.

So, I filmed her leaving the ship and will see her again on Tuesday when she returns for her check up and to have the packing in her mouth removed.

After settling in at my office, Debra came in and asked me if I still wanted to leave the ship. Unlike Beatrice, my yes was not so quiet but just as determined, YES!

A driver had not shown up for their appointed time and that meant the vehicle was free for us to sign out. We invited Victoria, another crew member, along with us and headed out to the Land Rover.

We all climbed in, got buckled up and as Debra tried to get the steering wheel lock off she discovered why the this Land Rover might still be sitting on the dock. She could not turn the key and release the wheel from "The Club"'s grip. My hopes dashed, but so did Debra.

She dashed out of the vehicle and wrangled some assistance from one of the national day workers. It took him no time to raise my hopes again into the stratosphere!! Soon, we were on our way.

The start of our jaunt into town was like a kite flying in a fickle wind. No sooner had we started off the dock and Debra mentioned a red light warning. We tried all the doors, but the light still yelled at us. Fearing we might have to turn back, Debra's words breathed new wind in my kite and fiddle with the handbrake. The warning light was silenced and we were off!

We were heading for no particular place. Debra knows that I wanted to take photos of the city and just see a bit of where I was. We only had two-hours and Monrovia traffic will take snatch most of that time away from us.

I did not care. I was off the ship and as soon as we turned from the port onto one of the main roads my camera was snapping away. Goodness, I love digital!!

We had not been out of the port for more than 10-minutes when a huge smile was brought to my face by a man standing on the side of the road. As we drove by, he saw the "Mercy Ships" logo on the side of the Land Rover and with a smile as wide as his face, he looked me straight in the eyes and raised his thumb in the air. I returned the jester and when I thought his smile could grow no larger, it did. He was beaming. What a welcome!!!

I am trying a new way of putting my photos on the blog. It is a slide show so let me tell you a bit about some of the photos you will be seeing.

The first one is of the street children. The little girl is laying down and her baby brother is sitting behind her. These two were sleeping at the bottom of the hill where the US Embassy is located. It broke my heart to see these two and I really struggled as to whether or not I wanted to list them on my blog. In the end, I wanted you to see reality for so many in Africa. I have no idea where their mother or father was. I pray they were not far, but the fact that they were sleeping on the sidewalk is not a good indication of their financial situation.

There is also a photo of an ATM. I am sure you might want to know why I have included a photo of a machine that you can literally find almost every 100 fee in America. I have included it because that is not the case here in Liberia. This is one of the first ATM's to be introduced and is really a big thing. However, if you also notice, there is nothing showing on the screen. I don't know if it is working or not.

The two women sitting in wheel chairs are receiving a blessing from the woman standing next to them. I happened to catch this shot while standing on top of a bridge just below the US Embassy. The woman giving the money has a huge smile on her face and it is not because she knew I was there taking this photo. I was about 300 yards away from them. Who in this photo received the bigger blessing?

And the last one I want to comment on is of the two little girls asleep on the stairs. About four years ago, this photo would have more than likely been of two girls who had been shot as the fled the rebels. As sad the photo is today, it would have been worse during the civil war.

An image I was not able to capture with my camera is one that will never leave my thoughts. As we were returning to the ship, we had passed some fellow crew members on the side of the road. We didn't know if they walked to this point and needed a ride, so we slowed down and asked. As Debra quickly spoke to them, I look out the driver's side of the vehicle and saw another "Mercy Ships" Land Rover parked. Just as I turned my head I saw a young man of probably 18 or 19 walking with a white cane. I saw the tip of it go under the back part of the vehicle as as my eye tiled up to his head, he walked right into the side with a thud. His reaction was of shock, but he simply took a step to the side and gingerly continued walking.

With all I had seen on that drive, it was this moment that caused me to break down in tears. It's not supposed to be this way. These people are not supposed to be living like they are. This city was a model city in the 60's and 70's. If you were to see photos of it then and now, you would be shocked.

I cannot describe it to you, but just as when I was youngster, this is where my heart still resides. Reality is not hidden to me. I know this is not the safest place in the world to be, but at the same time I know for me it is. That is because it is the Lord who placed this love in my heart and I am right where He will have me to be at this particular time.

"And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?" Esther 4:14

I just received the news that one of the edits I completed this week for the medical screening has been placed on the web for a press release. Click HERE to see it.