I've tried several times to add some pictures to this post, but apparently it's not going to happen today, so I'm posting what I have to say and hopefully in the next couple days I can add more pics.
I can't believe I've been in Liberia for two weeks already! In some ways it feels like it's been months and in other ways, it seems like I just got here yesterday. It's funny how you feel so new and confused about ship-life, and then within a few days you're the one showing your new cabin-mates around. It feels a little like being in a time warp here on the ship because we're not only removed from home, but we're also somewhat removed from the people of Monrovia, living just off the dock. Compared to home, it would seem that coming here to serve is definitely "roughing it". When you go out in the community, though, it's painfully apparent that we on the ship are still living like royalty! It's a bit difficult to justify both perspectives and figure out where you fit or exactly what your purpose is. There's no way that we on the Africa Mercy can even make a dent in the struggles of this country. It's obvious that all we can do is try to share God's love with those that we come in contact with and then let Him do the rest! To be honest, it's so devastating that I'm glad it's ultimately His job and not mine because I would probably give up and not try.
Surgeries have gone well this week and I'm starting to get the hang of working in the ward. I still have a way to go, but it gets easier every time you go to work. It's a foreign experience to have one of the biggest challenges be communication. We have translators that are very helpful, but not all of the patients and translators even understand each other. We have one lady in the ward who only speaks Mandingo and there are no translators that do, so she just smiles and follows along with the rudimentary sign language we try to use. How incredibly intimidating and scary it would be to be in such a strange place, having surgery, feeling pain, and not be able to speak with those that are caring for you. One of the ladies that came to the ship earlier this week had never left her village, never ridden in a car, never slept in a bed, never walked up stairs, and didn't believe her granddaughter that there was actually something as ridiculous as a floating building! Almost all of the patients have to have lessons on how to use a toilet and be reminded that they're to flush. It's a concept most of them have never encountered.
Life on the ship is going well, too. It's fun getting to know people from all over the world. I love hearing different accents and expressions. Sometimes the expressions that different people use can be quite entertaining because what may be a comman phrase in one country may be pretty crude in another. I hear about bits all the time. My roommate, Shonagh, is from Scotland. She fell up the stairs a few days ago and bruised her knees. She called them her rude bits. She also gets bits (stones) in her shoes. When she got a sunburn she had to put sunsreen on her red bits the next time she went out. It's fun learning from each other, both phrases, nursing practices, and perspectives on life.
The Anastasis sailed away today, on her way to India to be scapped. It's a pretty sad day for a lot of people that lived on her for many years. I never lived on the ANA, but even so, it looks a bit sad when you look out the window. Before, when you looked out the port side windows you saw a beautiful old cruise liner. Now the dock almost seems off balance, only seeing a ship on one side. Even though it's sad in some ways, the new ship is a blessing in the fact that the capacity of the hospital has nearly doubled! The opportunity to be able to reach that many more people is defnitely a good thing!