Sunday, April 22, 2012

Change. Is. Life.

     Change is good and bad.  It stretches, breaks, and grows you.  Recently one of my good friends who worked with me in the Galley left to go home and I am now stepping into her position.  Now I have the official title of "Cold Side Team Lead".  My job description doesn't change much but now I am responsible for making sure that everything is completed and completed well.  Cold Side in the Galley bleaches and washes all the fruit and vegetables; chops, slices, peels, or shreds the aforementioned; creates a salad bar with 6 different toppings (ranging from jalapenos to kidney beans to croutons to fruit, etc.), makes salad dressings, makes desserts or specialty breads, and scrubs floors and fridges.  Yes, that sounds like quite a list.  Not all is done at the same time though.  I was not looking forward to having to take over Emma's position.  She had been to culinary school and had worked as a chef for several years.  But, so far so good!  So up until Monday I was working by myself on Cold Side.  I always had Day Workers that I could pull from the dishroom to help me, but I was getting really eager to have another team member, ASAP.  Thankfully, Ken realized I needed all the help I could get and now Josh is working with me.  We've been having fun but now the girls in the kitchen are getting outnumbered...  Its funny to think that I'm in charge of one part of the Galley when I am literally the youngest one on the team.

     The last month in the Galley was one of the more difficult months.  The two main ovens that we use for heat and steam refused to work (one had a minor explosion), leaving us with one, smaller oven.  That meant no fresh bread from the baker (we bought local bread), desserts became more difficult, and dinner became more and more likely to be something fried.  Then the one steam kettle that was working decided it didn't want to anymore...but the electricians brought it back.  Then, Lucy 1 and 2, our vegetable choppers/food processors, worked only half the time.  Oh the stories....  It became laughable sometimes to see what was working.  Yet thanks to our patient and talented electricians, everything (except one steam kettle) is back!

   Anyways,  I finally took some pictures while I was at work, more will come eventually!  I promise!

The Coffeecake I made this morning, but that's only half of the pans...  It was really good!

Cooked coffeecake

"We're going on a fly hunt, I'm not afraid, got my trusty rag...."

Making bruschetta for a birthday party later that night, like my Ghana jersey?

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Painful Thoughts

     Pain is such a relative idea.  For some people a simple needle prick practically requires a trip to the hospital while for some it takes a piece of bone sticking out for them to start to be concerned...  There have been many studies done on a person's pain threshold (the amount of discomfort it takes for a person to admit pain)  and people vary a lot.  Yet there seems to be one major factor in play.  It is so easy for a person in a well-developed country to admit pain and seek treatment.  Yet in many third-world countries where medical treatment is not readily available people are forced to ignore the pain and continue on as best they can.

    Recently I have experienced a lot of self-inflicted injuries to my arms, the left one in particular, and I have been down in the wards so my nurse friends can fix me up.  But I look around at the patients in the beds with tubes and wires connected to them, or large bandages around their legs or faces or jaws, and I cannot compare.  They have had to live with serious problems, most of their lives. 

So far during the field service in Togo, Mercy Ships has done:
430  Cataract Surgeries
64  Pterygium Surgeries
151  Maxillofacial Surgeries
16  Cleft Palate/Lip Repairs
66  Plastic Reconstructive Surgeries
134   Specialized Surgical Solutions/General Surgeries
(i.e. hernias and goiters)
5  VVF Surgeries
12  Patients in Palliative Care
88  Dentures provided
261  Clinical Dental Hygiene Services
5,117  Dental Care - tooth infections/decay procedures

Bringing Hope and Healing...

Monday, April 16, 2012

Engine Room

Deck 2 and Deck 3 are not the hotspots onboard, they're hot and humid and noisy.  Supposedly the real missionaries on board are the ones who have to live on those 2 decks... :)  A couple friends and I were special enough to receive a tour from Dennis, one of the Engineers.  From the giant engines to the AC units to the welding shop to the incinerator, there is a lot going on.  But, now I know what the alarm I occasionally hear is from: something is a little bit off with something.  Yeah, I really don't know what I'm talking about.  But it was really neat to see all that happens below us!

"The Chocolate Factory"

Friday, April 6, 2012

Observing Surgeries

On Wednesday I was able to observe several surgeries: a couple cataract removals and some inguinal hernia repairs.  Honestly, I didn't do well during the cataracts.  Since the work is so delicate, the surgery is performed with a microscope and the image is projected onto two big screens in the room.  You can see one of them in the picture below.  It was disturbing, but I was just fine with the hernias.  Plus, one of my ship moms was the OR team lead for the hernias so I got to talk to her. :) 

What struck me most about the surgeries was how simple it was to completely change a person's life forever.  The cataracts took 5-10 minutes to remove and replace the lens, giving sight to the blind.  A hernia surgery was about a half an hour to an hour.  These people have lived most of their lives with some disability that is usually so simple to fix.  My problems honestly cannot even compare, they're not even on the same playing field.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Off Ships Programs

Last week I was able to tour the off-ships program sites.  There was a large group, 2 Land Rovers full, of us that went to the Eye Screening site, Dental Clinic, and the HOPE Center.  There were so many people at the Eye Screening, it made me realize how precious sight really is.  Right now Mercy Ships is only accepting people for surgery if they have double cataracts.  It may seem cruel to deny people with only one good eye, but its better to help the totally blind to see.  There are so many eye problems here and it is so hard to tell people that we cannot help.  But we are limited in space and in the types of procedures that we can perform.  It broke my heart to see one little baby, 9 months old, totally blind from dense cataracts in both eyes, and as skinny as a newborn.

Patients waiting to be screened

The inside of the Church where the screening was held.  To the far right is where they test the vision of the patients with the standard "E" charts.  In the middle the local eye surgeon examines each patient to determine if surgery can be performed.  To the left is where glasses are handed out to the few who desprately need it - and close by is the prayer support for the patients who are beyond our capacity to help.

The Dental Clinic is in a 3 story building close to the beach road in the Goverment section of Lome.  There are screenings Monday, Wednesday, and Friday and the clinics are held on Tuesdays and Thursdays.  The 2nd floor holds the Dental clinic which has 6 patient chairs.

Dental intruments that have been sterilized and are ready to be used

Sterilization Machines
The HOPE (Hospital OutPatient Extension) Center is fairly close to the port, about a 5-10 minute zimmi ride, and has bed space for 60 people.  The children there are friendly and happy, even though they have obviously suffered so so much.  Once we pull out our cameras, they want a "Yovo Foto! Yovo Foto!"  Which basically translates to "I'll-take-your-camera-and-take-a-bajillion-photos-of-everyone-and-everything!"  They were adorable.  And yes, playing with them made me miss my siblings...