Sunday, 30 August 2015

What's that in the sky?

I love a good wake. I'd love it more if I were surfing on it, but beggars can't be choosers. This particular wake wouldn't be good for surfing anyway:

Isn't it beautiful? That is without any filters or enhancements of any kind! It is so mesmerizing to watch. Unfortunately if I look at it for too long my seaworthiness leaves me completely and I become a landlubber.

There will be no more wake watching for a while because we are in Madagascar!

As I was eating breakfast I could see some of the members of the deck department preparing for arrival.  

It is unclear to me what was attracting their attention in the sky but what do I know about mooring operations? It did make me think of my post from last year:  It was a serious process to get the ship all set up next to the dock. Even just to turn around (so we could back in) seemed to take forever. Last field service we had to move a couple of times to reset the anchors and the goal this time was to set once and be good to go. Hopefully things went according to plan so we can stay put. Being here has me very excited about reclaiming a routine and having the surroundings be familiar again.  Getting up early to walk, knowing where to find a quiet spot on the beach, having a chance to walk off the ship any night of the week and just feel free to roam, are all just nice things to know I can do even if I don't do them all the time.

Upon arrival many people immediately noticed that a ship with crew members awaiting trial for illegal exportation of rose wood was still sitting at the dock. They have been there for a very long time. I can't imagine how frustrating that must be, especially if you had no idea that someone was up to something. Maybe something great will happen soon so they can get back to their families.

This week is going to be a busy week! We are expecting A LOT of new crew tomorrow, and Tuesday is when all the day crew comes on board for their orientation. The ship is not going to be quiet anymore and the lunch line is going to be madness. It is all for the best though, because the hospital will open soon and lives are going to be changed (not just the patients').

Have a great week!

Saturday, 22 August 2015

Game Changer

What happened last week?


Well, on Sunday I had a wonderful experience. Let me explain...
Earlier in the week someone had unexpectedly asked me to go to church. I was a little hesitant but thought I could not turn them down, so I agreed. On Sunday I woke up particularly unhappy and disheartened because of a few things that had gone down on Saturday. I really didn't want to go to church, especially when it meant I had to get up at 6:30, get dressed, and act like I didn't hate life. Well, the person that invited me to go to church didn't show up, but luckily there were several other people that were still going so I was still able to go; I hadn't woken up for nothing. I was incredibly skeptical but when I walk into the small church I was warmly greeted and ushered to the very front of the congregation. As worship started, I was thinking. Thinking about life, about loss, about what I haven't figured out, about what the point of all the hurt was, and I just started crying. Now, crying is not uncommon for me at church but this was not the best venue for me to have sad tears running down my face. I was with people from the ship I didn't know particularly well, in a church I had never been to before.  As I was watching the worship team sing and dance with such joy I eventually stop crying and I felt better. I wouldn't call it peace, but I would just say I felt better. I left that church with a smile on my face and joy in my heart, and it was real. It doesn't make complete sense but it was a turning point. At least it felt that way.

Other than that excitement, I got my annual TB test, so I got to sport this lovely circle for a couple of days (the pen didn't last very long despite my lack of scrubbing)...

Good news: I don't have TB! 

I also got an unexpected gift to remind me of South Africa and that people care about me!

The ship is still in Durban but we hope to head for Madagascar soon. Unfortunately I can't divulge any specifics but hopefully we will have more shareable information soon!

Sunday, 16 August 2015

Trailer park

I think it was yesterday when I was thinking about the ship being out of water. About how we have to hook up to shore power, and how Mercy Ships has to pay lots of money to pump out all the grey and black water. It dawned on me that it is like we are in a trailer park. Sure we can pull away and travel around, but sometimes we have to stop and be reliant on the resources around us; we can't be independent all the time. I suppose that applies to all of us. We are free to roam around and make our own choices but we need something to come back to; where we can get recharged and pump out all the junk. They certainly have a sense of humour about the black water transportation vehicle:

Yes, it says "stool bus". 

The good news is that soon Mercy Ships won't have to pay so much to get rid of our waste because we are leaving Durban. The hope is to set sail for Madagascar sometime next week. The deck department worked some serious overtime today on the chain locker! I hope that they will have a good rest when we finally get back to Tamatave. Things never go as expected around here so when plans change it shouldn't be a surprise.

Have a great weekend and a wonderful week!

Sunday, 9 August 2015

Sweating Bullets

Excessive sweating is not something new for me. You are currently thinking I am offering way too much information and I have officially fallen off my rocker. Wait! Sweating is good for you right? Gets rid of the toxins? Well I should be toxin free given that I currently occupy a cabin that lacks airflow, and an office that is warmed by the beautiful sun all day (which results in a skin clarifying sauna by around 13:00). Despite those particular disadvantages that guarantee I will be sweating at some point of the day, I had not at all anticipated that I would end up sweating more in the coolest place on the ship than in any of the heat filled rooms that I frequent. I got a new duty in case of a fire and so now I get to muster on the bridge. Sweet! The bridge is air conditioned all the time (to protect the instruments) and when there is a fire drill you don't have to stand on the dock all bored and uninformed. Sounds great. WRONG! I must have been incredibly nervous because I had to wipe my brow on multiple occasions to make sure I didn't drip on the time sheet. Luckily the drill didn't include any fire simulations because I would have had more tasks to manage. Whoever decided to do a muster only was my personal hero that day.

This weekend was fairly quiet with the highlight being a big purchase at the mall: pencils. Sad? Well, it was more sad when someone invited me to go to dinner on Saturday night and what came out of my mouth was "I have to buy pencils". It was true! It was also true that I needed to buy leggings as well, but apparently I thought that buying pencils was enough of a justification. I am pretty excited about them because they don't have an eraser on the end and the outside is neon! What more could you ask for in a pencil?
If you hadn't thought I'd fallen off my rocker in that first paragraph surely you think so now! I get excited about the small things. 

What else has been going on? Well an update on the delay is that we are behind about two weeks. The good news is that the problem wasn't as bad as it could have been, which is great news! We should be back in Madagascar at the end of August, with the hospital and off site projects, up and running soon after. 

That's all for now! In a previous post I mentioned having to wear hard hats on the dock. Some of them are downright dirty but there are some pretty new ones like this: 


Sunday, 2 August 2015

This Seems Familiar

The ship was supposed to set sail tomorrow. Guess what? It isn't. For some that might seem like the worst thing that could happen, but for me it might actually be a good thing. You may be wondering why we aren't leaving tomorrow, and I think that is a very legitimate wonder. I will not pretend to know exactly what is going on, because I don't. I can only tell you it has to do with the same propeller that was having issues last year in dry dock. It's consistent; I'll give it that. Anyway, this delay might be a good thing for me because it will give me time to get used to a new job responsibility, and the new people that have arrived before we get a gigantic influx of people upon arrival in Madagascar. Just the influx we got this week seems to have upset my equilibrium. For some reason, after community meeting, the noise in the cafe was kind of startling. It wasn't a terrible noise, it was just the sound of people catching up after months apart, getting to know new people, making friends, and having fun. I just haven't heard that noise before. I do have to say that I have been given some more wonderful roommates this year, and I am very excited about it. The other exciting thing about it is that we are all from different countries: Australia, Canada, Netherlands, and the United States.

Considering this was supposed to be the last weekend in South Africa I had a full day on Saturday. I went to the Wedding Expo in Moses Mabhida Stadium in search of a bridesmaid dress, but instead I found this...

The interior of Moses Mabhida Stadium. A field that saw the games of the 2010 World Cup. A while ago I asked someone who Moses Mabhida was, and it surprised me. It surprised me that a country would name such a prominent landmark after the leader of a communist party. Upon further investigation he was more than just a leader to a party with a scary name. I'd encourage you to read for yourself:

Apart from the beautiful view, luck brought something else to do while we were there (since the expo didn't produce any dress prospects). That being said, there was one great conversation with a man who was selling magazines on behalf of the media company for which he works. He said he used to be a lawyer, and was commenting on education in South Africa and the unemployment rate. He thinks there are many people suited to jobs that they won't even be considered for because they don't have the right credentials. I fully agree. Just because you have the paper don't mean you will excel in a certain job/career. I liked that guy. Back to what I was saying. On the first Saturday of every month there is a market set up outside the stadium with stands filled with food, clothes, jewellery, and other treasures. It was a most incredible day for it and we walked around for hours.

I expect that we will know more about the delay this week, but for now I'm still on the ship and the ship is still in Durban.

Have a wonderful week and thank you for reading!