(This is a running post about my friend's journey as a nurse on the Africa Mercy, a hospital ship that travels up the coast of Africa)
15 Oct 2013Today was a mountaintop day.
We finally started cataract surgery yesterday, after two months of training and preparation. We've done many screenings to select patients, and we've seen quite a few people in the clinic for a more thorough eye exam. Those patients who qualified for surgery have been waiting for their big day...and for some of them, that day was yesterday.
Actually, their big day was today. After surgery, the patients have an eye patch for 24 hours. So yesterday's surgery patients came today to have their patches removed. It was the moment of truth--and what a moment it was!
The patients arrived around noon and were seated on benches facing each other. It had been raining, but now the sun was out, and it was hot even in the shade of the canopy. But the atmosphere was charged, expectant, suspenseful. One of the day crew started taking off the eye patch from the first man in line. The crowd held their collective breath. As the patch came off, the man jumped up and started shouting "Hallelujah." Someone held up some fingers for him to count...and he could. With every finger count he got correct, the crowd went wild.
Soon they were all singing and clapping and even dancing. One by one the patches came off, and the people rejoiced. We had quite a crowd--patients, caregivers, workers, kids--so it got to be a very spirited party right there on the dock. Several of our day crew were openly weeping, overcome with emotion to see the first fruits of all their labors.
Our very first patient to have cataract surgery yesterday was a little grandma with a lot of spunk. Once she could see again, there was no holding her back. She was practically running to get onto the ship for the doctor's post-surgical exam. Suddenly, she stopped dead in her tracks and her eyes got big. "The boat is so large! I had no idea it was so large. I couldn't see it yesterday when I was here."
We brought all twelve of yesterday's patients into the ship for their follow-up exam. They were all lined up in their chairs...until the singing and dancing broke out again. We did eventually get them all examined, and they went on their way rejoicing. I tell you, it was an afternoon to remember!
These people received their healing as a gift from God, and rightly so. God planted the vision of Mercy Ships, and he has brought the vision to fruition. This is such a complex project, with so many obstacles to overcome, it just wouldn't be possible if He didn't facilitate it. And to think that it is done by a bunch of volunteers, just ordinary people that God has called to come play with him. I count it such a privilege that there is a place for me here, a ringside seat to watch him work, an invitation to join him in the fun.
Blessings to you all,Marilyn
Click here to learn more about the nurses and doctors on board the Africa Mercy.