Sunday, April 28, 2013

Africa Mercy Update 7: One Nurse's Journey

This is a running post about my friend's journey to Africa and work as a nurse on the Africa Mercy. The below email was sent late today. I enjoyed learning more about the area in this post.  

Click here to learn more about the nurses and doctors on the Africa Mercy. 

28 Apr 2013

I can't believe I've been on the ship for more than five weeks already.
Time is going so fast...I must be having fun!  The first three weeks were spent on the ward, and the last two have been spent as an admissions nurse.  The job is not complicated, mostly paperwork and blood draws, but it is part of the overall process of bringing surgery to the people of Guinea.  The people are so grateful for what we provide; it makes my job a joy.  We only have three more weeks of surgery in Guinea, and then it will be time to pack up the ship and sail away.  That will be an interesting process...but sad, too, to leave these folks.  But, I'm sure we'll return before too many years.

Mercy Ships arranges various activities for the crew, all kinds of activities, ranging from sporting contests to cultural expeditions.
Yesterday I went with a group to tour the local mosque.  It is the second largest mosque in West Africa, and very beautiful inside (the outside has gotten a bit shabby, needing paint, but the inside is in good repair).  The first president of Guinea made a pilgrimage to Mecca in the 1980's, and saw that there were no trees along the road.  He arranged with the king of Saudi Arabia to import and plant a bunch of trees from Guinea, where they thrived and gave shade to pilgrims.  The king then returned the favor by building this mosque for Guinea.  It holds 10,000 men at prayer on the main floor and 2500 women in the balcony.  Friday is their holy day, but we were there on Saturday, and our visit was timed between official prayer times, so apart from the men giving us the tour and the cleaning lady who was sleeping on the floor, there weren't many people inside.  Our hosts were so very gracious, describing their rituals and showing us all around.  They said that they pray for Mercy Ships every day there in the mosque.  How wonderful, to be continually blessed in such a way!

Age has its advantages.  Muslim men do not touch women who are not relatives as a rule.  Our leader instructed us that the men in our group should greet every man that we met, but the women should hang back and not offer to shake hands.  We did that. Several men met our group when we arrived, and all the men had a spot of tea while the women watched.

But, my white hair earns me lots of respect around here.  I was approached by a high mucky-muck fellow--I think he was supervisor of all the mosques in the region--and offered a greeting and a handshake.  The men who were leading our tour all shook my hand, talked to me, and wanted pictures taken with me.  I felt pretty special!

Did you know that barracuda is quite tasty?  Delicious.

Next week is likely to be pretty busy.  One of our three nurses in admissions went home this weekend.  Well, she attempted to go home.  The flight got cancelled for mechanical problems.  There aren't any backup planes lying around here, so they had to cancel the flight and reschedule for early tomorrow morning...hopefully, they've been able to fix the plane.  We will be getting another nurse next week, but of course, we'll need to orient her before she can be productive.  I guess I'm not the new hand any quickly our status changes!

More another day.  Blessings to you.


  1. Thanks for keeping us posted, Sharon. God bless, Maria at Delight Directed Living

  2. I am so glad Marilyn has been willing to share her experience. Only a rare few ever get to do this!!


"Stay" is a charming word in a friend's vocabulary
(A.B. Alcott). Stay and visit awhile. Your comments mean a lot to me.