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, March 1, 2008

Hodge Podge

I found this website this morning and thought you might interested in seeing the stark contract to what Monrovia was like before the war and after.

Click HERE to see what the luxurious Hotel Ducor was like in the 70's compared to now.

Yesterday I was able to follow up on Alica. She is the 15-year old girl who had gotten an infection in her bottom jaw which compromised its growth and had taken away her ability to open her mouth.

When I first met here, she was extremely frighted over all the new things she was seeing as she entered the ward. Now, when I look into her eyes, I can see a glimmer of the real Alica.

She has been going for walks, but is giving the doctors a bit of trouble when it comes to exercising her mouth. She enjoys playing with the building blocks on the ward and wastes no time in extending her hand to me when I walk in the ward.

I was in the OR filming video and taking stills during her surgery. I have on photo just before they bandage her chin and every time I look at it I say, "Look at her chin. She had a beautiful chin. She HAS a chin!!!" I can't wait for her to see it.

When I was walking out from my visit with Alica, I stopped by a bed where a mother lay sleeping next to her bundled up 7-week old baby boy. He had just had a life changing surgery to repair a cleft lip and pallet. As I watched him sleep I was so thankful that this little one would never know the trauma of life with this deformity. There was also a possibility he would not get enough nutrition to grow and thrive.

Eyes, remember when I spoke about God "seeing" when he created in Genesis? There are a lot of people walking off the ship on a daily basis with their site restored. Dr. Glenn Strauss is astonishing. He performs cataract surgery on 20 patients a day!

Every morning people show up on the dock for their surgery. There are four off-site eye clinics running every week where patients are evaluated and scheduled for surgery.

When they walk off the ship, they can see. For many this is the first time they have been able to see in years.

The smile says it all!!

On Monday there will be the first VVF screening for this outreach. VVF stands for vesicovaginal fistula. This is a devastating injury created by an unrelieved obstructed labor and affects women living in impovrished countries. It is a problem throughout Africa.

As a result of their injuries, women with VVF leak urine, and sometimes feces, causing family, friends and entire communities to reject them. Most are relegated to the edges of society and isolated from people all together.

When the women arrive, they are a walking shadow. The surgeons can bring them back into the sunlight with a surgery that will restore their humanity. It is not a simple surgery, but the change in the women when they have come through the healing process, both physical and emotional, is dramatic.

When the women are healed they are all given a new dress. This has tremendous meaning for them. It is the start of a new life for them. Before they leave the ship, they sing and dance up and down the hallway of the hospital. Their demeanor is completely changed.

While I will not be here to witness this change in these lives, I look forward to hearing stories and seeing the photos of the women I will see on Monday.

With the difficulty of this past week, I did not want to leave you all thinking that the m/v Africa Mercy is not a happy place. Yes, there is sorrow at times, but the life changing services provided to the people of Liberia during this outreach is tremendous.

Lives are being changed here, and my life has been changed also.