Sunday, 22 February 2015

It just got SERIOUS!

The Minister of Health for Madagascar came to the ship last Friday. When important people come to the ship we are given ample warning and told to be especially courteous, and dress nicely in public areas (or just avoid them altogether). Since it was the Friday of the long weekend, the ship was pretty quiet so there weren't many people to get mixed up in the events. This a newly appointed Minister of Health so it was important to make a good impression since we will be here again next field service. There have been many changes in the government lately but it seems that we will be still welcome for our next field service in August. He gave a speech while he was on board and I think it is worth sharing. As a disclaimer, the first paragraph is not verbatim because the recording cut out, but it is along the same lines of what he said.

Many people have come to Africa to help the people
There were missionaries before you
There once was a missionary called David Livingstone
He did great things for the people, providing Hospitals & clinics
And he talked about Jesus
When other missionaries came after him
They talked about Jesus
But the people said we know about your Jesus, we heard already about him
And they thought Jesus was David Livingstone.

Ladies & gentlemen, my point is
There’s a major gap between saying something and doing it.
Many people are talking
Many people are saying a lot of great things
When it comes to actually doing it
Very few can actually do something
You are a true example of great missionary work
And you are actually doing Jesus’ work

In the name of the President,
In the name of the Prime Minister,
In the name of everybody in the Ministry of Health
In the name of all 22 million Malagasy people
I really want to tell you from the bottom of my heart
What you are doing is amazing
I can only promise you the Ministry of Health will do everything to allow you to do your work in the best condition possible.
Thank you so much, you are such wonderful people.
Mercy Ships CMO (Chief Medical Officer) - Dr. Gary Parker and Madagascar Minister of Health - Prof. Mamy Lalatiana Andriamanarivo
"Important" people come to the ship all the time: government officials, possible donors, the Captains of others ships in the port, people with power, wealth, and influence. I wonder what they think before they get here. I certainly don't remember what I thought it was going to look like, or feel like (that seems like ages ago). At what point does it just become "normal"? Honestly, I don't think it ever does. I was walking in town yesterday and I just had one of those moment when I thought, "how am I living in Madagascar right now?" This is my life. Though a mere blip in the grand scheme of things (hopefully I have lots more years to go), I have no doubt that it will not only change the course of my life but that of my family, friends, colleagues, and of course the people of Madagascar. A feeling of love; that is what I want to leave behind.

Have an absolutely wonderful week!

Sunday, 15 February 2015

Happy Valentine's Day

Even though Valentine's Day was not, by any means, marketed on the ship there were still plenty of reminders that we are well loved around here. I mean look at this Valentine I got, complete with a peanut butter chocolate (thank you LuWanna!):

This weekend was a long weekend for us on the ship, and that means lots of people took advantage of the extra day and went away. You know what that means... a quiet ship! A quiet ship translates into lots of things, but the best part is the large availability of laundry slots (yes, this is my life).

Also, the HR door was decorated for the occasion, complete with a glitter heart. One of my coworkers was the mastermind behind it and I have to commend her, because I think it looks great. I wish we could leave it up for a while longer.

Yesterday, I was walking back to the ship and I just thought that the sky looked so blue, the water looked just right, and I had to take a picture. I'm not doing it to torture those of you who are dealing with the freezing cold, but look at this:

Sometimes I am walking down the street, past the coconut vendors, the kids playing soccer (or football as many would say), with the pousse-pousse driver pedaling so hard to carry the three people who have fit themselves into the carriage, and I wonder how I got here, and how privileged I am to have this experience and expand my worldview. Perspective is an interesting animal. On one hand the more you know the better equipped you are to deal with certain situations and give well informed answers. On the other hand, the more you know the greater your burden can be at times. Where am I going with this? Not a clue, but maybe it will spark something in someone, somewhere. I hope you have had a wonderful weekend. For those you celebrating family day in Ontario, you still have another day of weekend ahead of you! Lucky ducklings!

A little victory that happened this weekend: yesterday night I was sitting in mass praying that God would give me the gift of understanding when they made the announcement as to when mass would be offered on Ash Wednesday and guess what? Pray answered! As clear as day I heard the speaker say 18:15. French isn't so hard when you have divine intervention. That being said, are you going to do anything in this season of preparation? Maybe it is personal, spiritual, or maybe you have some stuff that needs cleaning in your home. I hope whatever it is, you will find the motivation to get it done and the satisfaction that comes with accomplishing what you set out to do.

Saturday, 7 February 2015

What a Load of Crap

I got your attention didn't I? But really, look at this...

Gross, huh? Well a pile of compost can do a whole lot of good. I wouldn't call myself an agriculture expert, a gardener, or even someone who knows a little bit about turning garbage into nutrients for the ground, but I know there is great potential for this pile. This is a pile in the middle of a field that is owned by the Ambatovy mining company. It is on loan, under the care of a Malagasy man (Ramirar), and it is the home of change. I don't know exactly how this partnership started but somehow our Hotel Engineer, was involved and we are now putting our food waste to good use.

The fruit peels, unwanted food, spoiled food, food that gets scraped off people's plates at the end of a meal gets put into white buckets. The buckets get brought to this field everyday (except Sunday because Ramirar goes to church). There are only a few people that volunteer to load up the buckets, drive to the field, help Ramirar dump them, bring the buckets back, and wash them out, so they can be used again. Carol is one of these people. It is better if she has a buddy to ride along with her, so I asked if she needed anyone this past week. I went with her on Tuesday and Thursday, bright and early. We loaded up the buckets, drove to the field, picked up Ramirar at his house (which is on the edge of the field), drove to the pile, Carol unscrewed the lids, Ramirar dumped the buckets, I put the lids back on, and Carol loaded them back up.

Then we drove back through the field to the road, to drop Ramirar back at his house. Wait! The cutest part is the little boy who has apparently warmed up to Carol in the past few months. He smiles this huge and sincere smile that you can't help but love. His sister brings him to school on the back of her bike. We asked Ramirar if he knew their names and he said the boy is Redi and the girl is Zeta. Really, I cannot stress enough just how cute this kid was.

So thank you Carol, for letting me ride along, for being willing to get dirty, and for showing your love to all the people you meet along the way!

I hope everyone is having a great weekend. If you have any prayer requests, or questions please do not hesitate to ask.