Tuesday, June 29, 2010

ITV Tyne Series: Part 5

Enjoy the last clip of the five part series filmed by ITV last year when the ship was docked in Benin.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Yovo African

I worked with the eye team again today. I kind of love it. Today Cyrille, one of the day volunteers on the eye team and I had a conversation that made me smile. It went like this:

"Estelle, please where are you from?"

"South Africa"

"No, please where are you from?"

"South Africa."

"Really? But you are a *yovo."

"Yes, I am."

"South Africa and ...?"

"Just South Africa."

"Oh! I did not know that there were yovo's in South Africa! You are a yovo African! Congratulations!"

Apparently this is quite an achievement. Or at least a novelity here in Togo. :)

*Yovo is the term locals here use to refer to a white person.

ITV Tyne Series: Part 4

I posted a link to this episode in a previous post entitled Don't Worry. Be happy. If you did not have a look at the video then you can check it out here. This episode features the dental clinic in Benin, amongst other things. Click here to view part 4.

Friday, June 25, 2010

ITV Tyne Series: Part 3

This episode features another family from England and Dr Tony Giles, a surgeon who regulary serves with Mercy Ships. Click here to view part 3.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

ITV Tyne Series: Part 2

Check out part 2 of the ITV series. This episode features a family from England who have served with Mercy Ships for many years now.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

ITV Tyne Series: Part 1

Take a look at part 1 of a five part series filmed by ITV in Benin last year.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Eye team

So I got myself a minor job for the summer. I will be working with the eye team on Mondays and Wednesdays for the next few weeks. Today was my first day on the job.

We start the morning at 6:45 am when we head to the hospitality centre. During the morning the patients are seen by the opthalmic and eye tech specialists. If we are able to help them they are given a date for surgery. After lunch the patients who are seen do not necessarily need surgery; many of these patients need glasses to improve their vision. They are given an eye exam and then the appropriate glasses.

Here are some pictures of the eye team taken by our Communications Department earlier this year.

Hundreds of people stand in line on the eye screening day in February

At the hospitality centre where patients are given a date for surgery

Waiting in the hospital on the day of surgery

In the operating room

A successful operation!
To see what a day at the eye clinic looked like in Benin click here.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Don't worry. Be happy.

It's the summer break. The kids are having fun...and so is their teacher! But even though there is no school, Miss Estelle is still learning.

Lesson #1:

My life is comfortable. It is easy. I have a family who love me. I have good friends. I have everything I need and more. But I still want more. Somehow I think it will make my life more comfortable. More easy. And then I worry when I don't get it. And then I get impatient. Last night I started reading Francis Chan's Crazy Love. His words spoke to me:

"Worry implies that we don't quite trust that God is big enough, powerful enough, or loving enough to take care of what's happening in our lives.

Stress says that the things we are involved in are important enough to merit our impatience, our lack of grace toward others, or our tight grip of control.

Basically, these two behaviours communicate that the it's okay to sin and not trust God because the stuff in my life is somehow exceptional. Both worry and stress reek of arrogance. They declare our tendency to forget that we've been forgiven, that our lives here are brief, that we are headed to a place where we won't be lonely, afraid, or hurt ever again, and in the context of God's strength, our problems are small, indeed."

Lesson #2:

I found this five-minute clip filmed by ITV Tyne Tees last year when the AFM was docked in Benin. I look at the patients and their families who come to our ship. Their lives are a complete contrast to mine. Their life is not comfortable. It is not easy. Some of them have been abandoned by their family and friends. Many of them have very little. But they smile through the struggle. And they are grateful for what they have.

Lesson #3:

This afternoon I was having a chat with my friend Kelly who visited a local church. She was telling me how the pastor was sharing that God had called him to live in this place (a village we call the fishing village). Sometimes he wishes for rain in the desert but he is at peace because this is where God has placed him. Kelly told me about some shocking realities of his life. It was humbling to hear. And convicting.

This is what I have learnt from the weekends lessons. In the words of Francis Chan:

"Frankly, you need to get over yourself. It might sound harsh, but that's seriously what it means.

Maybe life's pretty good for you right now. God has given you this good stuff so that you can show the world a person who enjoys blessings, but who is still totally obsessed with God.

Or maybe life is tough right now, and everything feels like a struggle. God has allowed hard things in your life so you can show the world that your God is great and that knowing Him brings peace and joy, even when life is hard...It is easy to become disillusioned with the circumstances of our lives compared to others'. But in the presence of God, He gives us a deeper peace and joy that transcends it all."

In a nutshell: Don't worry. Be happy. :)

Connections: Mercy Ships Updates

Check out the Mercy Ships Update for May here and for June here.

Friday, June 18, 2010

May Newsletter

Read the newsletter for May here. Better late than never, I suppose :)

Sunday, June 13, 2010


Lately I have been feeling bleh.

A part of me knows why and another part of me really doesn't. I find myself continually wrestling with God about life. About stuff.

I think part of my frustration stems from the fact that just when I think I have closed the door on a chapter, it creaks open again. And like an inquisitive child I stick my head into the narrow opening to take another look inside. And for just a brief moment it is enjoyable. But then bleh sets in. And it lingers.


Why can't I find a lock and bolt for the door and make sure that it is shut for good? While I was cleaning my classroom today, Britt Nicole's song Have Your Way was playing. She sums up things better than I ever could.

Feels like i`ve been here forever,
Why can`t you just intervene?
Do you see the tears keep falling?
And i`m falling apart at the seams.
But you never said the road would be easy,
But you said that you would never leave.
And you never promised that this life wasn`t hard,
But you promised you`d take care of me.
So I`ll stop searching for the answers,
I`ll stop praying for an escape,
And I`ll trust you,God, with where i am,
And believe that you will have your way.
Just have your way.
Just have your way.
When my friends and my family have left me,
And I feel so ashamed and so cold.
Remind me that you take broken things
And turn them into beautiful.
So I`ll stop searching for the answers,
I`ll stop praying for an escape,
And i`ll trust you, God, with where i am,
And believe that you`ll have your way.
Just have your way.
Just have your way.
Even if my dreams have died,
And even if i don`t survive,
I`ll still worship you with all my life.
My life.
And I`ll stop searching for the answers,
I`ll stop praying for an escape,
And i`ll trust you, God, with where i am,
And believe that you will have your way.
Just have your way.
Just have your way.
I know you will.
I won`t forget.
You love me.
Have your way.

Abel Dalome

Abel is a very happy eleven-year-old, who loves to make new friends. His attitude is surprising when one considers the physical problem he has been living with for most of his life … and the reaction of most people to that problem.

Abel had a normal childhood until a problem arose following an injection. His parents noticed he was having difficulty learning to crawl. His muscles had stopped growing, but his bones had not. As a result, his legs were not growing correctly because there was so little musculature to direct them. They began to bend backward at the knee, forcing his upper thighs out behind him. His parents took him to three different doctors, but none of them knew what to do for him.

Despite this condition, the resolute Abel learned to lean forward, correcting his balance enough to walk, climb and do just about anything any other active boy can do. He even became the goalkeeper on his football (soccer) team. The only thing he couldn't do was ride a bicycle, since it requires sitting straight on the seat and pushing down on the pedals.

Abel's physical deformity made him the target of ridicule from other children. But he remained optimistic thanks to his joyful spirit and his wonderfully supportive parents.

One day, there was an announcement on the radio that a Mercy Ship was coming to Togo, offering free surgeries. Abel's hopeful father took his son to an orthopedic screening in Lomè.

Abel as he appeared at the orthopedic screening

In the admissions tent, Abel demonstrates how he was able to sit before surgery.

Before surgery, Abel climbs into the Mercy Ships vehicle on hisway to the Hospitality Centre.

A few days later, a wonderful surprise awaited Abel when he awoke after his first surgery onboard the Africa Mercy . His left leg was straight out in front of him, wrapped in a cast! As he admired his newly straightened leg, he asked his dad if his right leg would also be straight after the next surgery. His father assured him that it would. Abel jubilantly declared, “If the other leg is going to be like this one, I am going to give a big thanks to the Lord. ” And a second surgery did straighten his right leg. He also had a third procedure – plastic surgery on his knees.

After two surgeries, a happy Abel and his father relax in the ward.

Through the round of surgeries and post-operative care, Abel's sparkling personality and brilliant smile earned him many new friends among the crew and among the other children recovering at the Hospitality Centre.

Abel enjoys sharing his picture books with roommates at the Hospitality Centre

A happy Abel tests his straight legs and crutches at the Hospitality Centre

A smiling Abel gets used to walking on straight legs with crutches on the dock beside the ship, as his dad looks on in the background

With the World Cup approaching, Abel is intensely interested in watching his favorite sport … and especially his favorite player, Chelsea's Didier Drogba. After so many weeks of recuperation, he is eagerly looking forward to getting out on the field himself.

But Abel's long-term goal is not to become a famous soccer player. He is determined to become a surgeon, like those on the Mercy Ship, “ because of the things they have done for me ,” he said.

Abel and his dad happily show off the casts in post op. after their removal.

Story by Elaine B. WinnEdited by Nancy PredainaPhotos by Debra Bell and Liz Cantu