I can’t believe I have just four weeks left on board. Eight months sure has flown by! I have some prayer requests for you. Our ship is guarded by Gurkas, an awesome elite military force from Nepal (I’m standing with Lok Gurung). Most of the Gurkas are from Kathmandu and although their families survived the earthquake, their homes were destroyed. They are trying to get flights to join their families, but it is very difficult and they are understandably distraught, so please pray for them.
I appreciate your prayers for Freidia (the little one scheduled for the cleft lip/palate surgery). Although she didn’t make weight, they decided to go ahead and do the surgery (which is a miracle in itself). She is doing well, and hopefully she will now thrive, be able to breast feed and live her life without the stigma of disfigurement. Thank you for praying!
Attached are some pictures of Florette…isn’t she beautiful. The Dress ceremony the ladies are given a new outfit to begin their new lives. Most of the VVF ladies are so petite, you can understand how a pregnancy rips them apart. Please continue to pray for them as they go back to their villages and resume their lives.
Miss you all and can’t wait to see you soon!
This week, Mercy Ships will begin fistula repair surgeries on board the Africa Mercy in Madagascar. VVF, or vesico-vaginal fistula and ensuing complications, are the cause of the daily humiliation, rejection, and abandonment experienced by more than two million women in the developing world. Most commonly, VVF follows violent rape or complications from prolonged childbirth. Jackie writes to us this week:
“Some women are too young to birth children or they may have an extremely long, difficult labor which many times ends in stillbirth. They not only lose their baby, but are left with multiple female issues. The largest problem is a continually leaking bladder which makes it impossible to lead a normal life. They have an unpleasant odor and are almost always shunned by family and isolated from their communities.”
Fistula repair surgeries are offered free of charge by Mercy Ships onboard the Africa Mercy. The surgeries are complicated, and some women may require multiple surgeries before they begin the long process of recovery at the Hope Center, a facility about one mile from the ship.
As they enter the ship the day before surgery, the women wear white gowns, “walking into the unknown and hoping for a better life,” says Jackie. When they have recovered they are given beautiful new dresses as part of the Dress Celebration. The Africa Mercy staff help them to dress, put on makeup, and tell their stories as the women sing and dance in a celebration of their new lives.
Please pray for the women of Madagascar who will be receiving fistula treatment on Africa Mercy this week and in the weeks to come. Also pray that Jackie would be matched with just the right woman in a “Befriend a Patient” program on board. She has requested to be paired with a VVF woman and we look forward to hearing more good news from her soon!
To learn more about VVF surgeries, you can read a Mercy Ships fact sheet here, or watch this beautiful video!
Just to keep you updated on little Fridia; she had the cleft lip surgery and the doctors were waiting for her to gain more weight for the much more difficult cleft palate surgery, however, her mother has not brought her back to the ship. From what I understand, the mom feels that now that she looks OK on the outside, she doesn’t need anything else. But she will not be able to talk well (if at all) or eat and digest food well and all the other complications that go along with a cleft palate. We are praying the mom will have a change of heart and return her to the ship before the maxfax surgeons leave.
I’m a terrible photographer and even worse videographer, but thought you’d like to hear some familiar worship in Malagasy. This is my first time uploading to Youtube, so I hope this works. The video is from the church that I go to called Nouvelle Souffle (New Breath), the service is in French and Malagasy, but there is always someone from the ship in our small group that attends that can interpret (usually one of the West African guys). The pastor is the one playing the guiter; he is quite a character and gives a dynamite message. I’ve also attached a photo I snapped of the addition they are building on the church and a little girl that is standing in the scaffolding.
Below is a video of our Day Crew (and a couple of crew members) singing for one of our Community Meetings on board the ship. The Day Crew are hired from Tamatave and are very hard working, sweet people. Their ethnic make up is a mix of African and Asian, and you can see a lot of the Asian influence in their demeanor.
Work and life on board have been super busy, so my apologies for not keeping you updated better, but thank you for your thoughts and prayers.
Miss you all…Jackie