Angie, that title's for you.
It's amazing to finally be able to say that I'm in Africa. It still doesn't seem real, but when I look out the window, I'm sure of it. The flights went well, and I'm pleased to say the jet lag has not been too bad. The time difference is only 4 hours. I'm hoping to be able to post pictures sometime soon, but it was dark when we arrived at the ship last night. When we landed, the pilot said that the Liberian government will fine people taking photos in public places. I think that has to do more with govt. and UN buildings than in public, but one of the people on the ship said that taking photos in public is also a good way to get your camera stolen, so we'll see how it goes.
There are so many things I could write about. I'll try to share some of my initial observations. The first thing was that I've always thought of Africa being mostly brown. Parts of it are. We flew over the Sahara and it was like an ocean of brown. Liberia is lush green with lots of tropical trees. It's rainy season right now, so I'm sure that makes everything more green. The hottest part of the year is our late fall and early winter. I can tell you thouth, that rainy season is still hot and very humid. For those of you familiar with Harrisonburg, the view from the plane looked much like standing on the top of the hill at EMU. You look across a very flat expanse to a range of mountains. Beautiful!
When we arrived we had more than an hour drive to the ship, which by the way, looks much larger in person than it does it pictures. I think that there is a more affluent part of town, but we sure didn't see it. Just on the drive here, you have to be amazed at how many people there are with so little. We are so rich in the U.S. The airport was an intersting experience. It was very hot and humid. Baggage claim was an experience! (the good news...7 of us were on the same flight and we all got all of our bags!) As we were going through immigration the officials were very stern , but then every one of them said, "Oh! Are you with Mercy Ships? You're our favorite group. Go on through." They didn't even ask to see our passports or anything. It's nice to feel so welcome.
One of the more amusing things I noticed was broken down vehicles. It wasn't so much the vehicles, but the flares that they used to alert on-coming vehicles. Ours are like an orange flame or sparkler. Here they pull a big clump of weeds, roots and all, from the ditch and then put several of them in the road behind the car. Not high tech, but it gets the job done just as well.
Right now I have 2 roomates, but I think we're supposed to get three more in the next few weeks. The cabin is split into 3 different smaller rooms that are partitioned off. It's a little tight, but not so bad.
Surgeries will begin in a week. The transition phase from the Anastasis to the Africa Mercy is still going on. Some departments have had more difficulty than others. That's something to continue praying about. It seems like there's a lot to be done in the next week to have the hospital fully up and running. It will be nice to soon feel a little more comfortable with where everything is on the ship and then to actually get working and taking care of patients.