On Board the Africa Mercy: The picture to the left below shows the way it should be – the bank delivers money! In the past two weeks, the local bank delivered this huge pile of leones (the currency of Sierra Leone) to Micky’s office. In her job in accounts payable, she has to give cash to all the people who need it for legitimate expenses. Makes me wonder whether a vacation to some remote island would be considered a legitimate expense? You would think that the fact that I am sleeping with her would count for something with her, but so far, no luck.
Micky is staying very busy with her job and enjoying the interaction with all the people who come to her office. Sean loves the summer camp here on the Africa Mercy and is already bemoaning the end of it next Thursday. This week, he went to a chimpanzee sanctuary, visited a local waterfall (his picture is to the right below), celebrated Christmas in July, celebrated Thanksgiving, played with the kids at the HOPE center (Hospital Out-Patient Extension), visited the children in the hospital ward and did a load of art projects.
A few weeks ago, I mentioned in this newsletter a crew member who had a life-threatening infection due to an obstructing kidney stone and who had to be air-evacuated to S. Africa. She and her husband recently returned to the ship, rejoicing at her recovery. The stone had moved spontaneously into the bladder, relieving the obstruction by the time they got to S. Africa so it was just a matter of antibiotic and ventilator care for her. The other woman on the crew I mentioned before who had the rare uterine malignancy has also arrived in London this week and is staying with the Professor the Lord Ian McColl. She got her workup and consultation this week. We are praying for her healing.
Yet another crew member gave us an exciting evening this past Monday. On July 4th, we were having a nice barbecue on the dock with the crew to celebrate the holiday (given the problems with container clearance, the food on board has been marginal for our palate but somewhere, somehow , they had obtained real steaks! God bless them!). We had returned to the cabin for a leisurely evening when there went out a call over the loudspeakers for a medical emergency on the dock. Thinking someone was choking on a bite of steak, I ran down there only to find that one of the crew members had been delivered to the dock by a Land Rover. He was totally comatose. He is on the ship’s soccer team and another player and he had collided. The other man’s head hit the back of his head and had lacerated his scalp. He had dropped insensate and not moving to the ground, facedown. Upon arrival at the ship, he remained comatose and was possibly paralyzed, although he was breathing okay. We put him in a neck collar, lashed him to a backboard to protect his spine and carried him up the gangplank and then down three flights to the hospital deck. It was a very impressive injury but the exam suggested a severe concussion more than anything else. We resuscitated him in the X-ray room and then got a CAT scan. We were about to put a tube in to protect his airway when he suddenly improved but still wasn’t talking. I called my friend, Dr. Kerry Sullivan, in Cleveland, Ohio and he agreed to read the scan for us. It took a while to get the films uploaded to the web but he called back about 10:00 PM to confirm my normal reading of the neck and head. By this time, four hours later, the young man was dazed but was talking and was neurologically intact. He won’t be playing soccer for a while. Feeling helpless this far from good comprehensive medical care is a frightening thing.
I spent part of last weekend doing the grading and final analysis of the PAACS annual exam. Twenty-four of the twenty-seven residents passed on the first attempt and the others did not do badly. The three trainees who did not pass will take a remediation exam August 27. I will need to get that ready when I have recovered from this one. Last weekend, I also finished the last of the work for the graduate course on premillenial dispensationalism. I only have three more postgraduate courses to take via the Internet this fall and I think I will have met the requirements for the Master’s of Arts – but I have a few more courses to take before they will actually give it to me. As someone without a baccalaureate degree, I must earn that before they can legally award the Master’s degree. I hope to be a college graduate in a year or two. Maybe I can get a job that pays better then!
Thursday was the first day of the 10-day inspection tour of the PAACS programs in Ethiopia, Gabon and Cameroon. The two inspectors from the Colleges of Surgery of East, Central and Southern Africa started their visit in Ethiopia Thursday morning and will go to Gabon this weekend. As usual, all the carefully laid plans go awry in Africa. The visas we got for them in Addis Ababa had been placed in the wrong passports and that was fixed Thursday morning. Now, the private plane that was to be used to fly them to Bongolo Hospital from Libreville in Gabon will not be available so they will have to take a ten-hour car ride. COSECSA had already approved the three programs as training sites for two years but we are hoping for them to get two or three additional years which will allow the graduates to sit for the COSECSA fellowship exams. Please pray with us about this vitally important thing.
Also this past weekend, Dave Thompson, the founder of PAACS, visited the WACS (West African College of Surgery) conference held in Dakar, Senegal. We were very pleased to hear that WACS has continued to discuss the idea of our acceptance into their organization and by reports, we are much closer together in our attempts to come to an agreement. Please pray for wisdom and for God’s continued work in this matter.
Praise and Prayers:
- Pray for the inspection trip by the COSECSA (College of Surgeons of East, Central and Southern Africa). They will be traveling July 7 – 17 and are visiting the Ethiopian, Gabonese and Cameroonian programs.
- Pray for my brother-in-law (Cindy’s husband) and the extended family. His father passed away this past week.
- Pray for the strength and enthusiasm to finish strongly on the Mercy Ship. All of us are growing weary.
Serving Him in Sierra Leone,
Bruce for Micky and Sean