Adventures in Cape Town

Hello friend!  I bet you’re wondering what i’ve been up for the last month or so, especially if you are supporting me with prayer or money!  Well I want to tell you about the amazing things I’ve seen over the last few thousands miles of my life.

We just arrived in Madagascar for an 8 month field service bringing hope and healing to the forgotten poor of the country.  The advance team in country just handed out their first patient card to this lucky lady.

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This is a great boost of enthusiasm for everyone.  It’s been a long tedious summer filled with problems and set backs.  To have sailed here for someone whose life will be literally saved is an inspiring thing.

But first…

I’d like to tell you all about what we did while in Cape Town, South Africa!

Madagascar will have to wait – sorry guys!

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Wes and I climbed to the best photo place of all time!

A month ago I was chosen as one of an elite team of people that would fly ahead to Cape Town to prepare for the ships arrival.  This elite team consisted of Ally Jones and myself.  The dream team.  The top dogs.

A week later they sent Katie, the hospitality manager on the ship, to make sure work actually got done.  We got much more productive with her there.

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Where’s the work again?

I’m kidding about the top dog stuff of course.  We were sent ahead as sort of a sacrifice; a ‘hope for the best but plan for the worst’ kind of scenario.  While we were there we were supposed to scrape together some public relations stuff and see what we could do with media.  The ship was going to be docked in Cape Town for two weeks not doing surgery and we may as well make the best use of our time.

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Proof of us actually working.

The reason why the ship docked in Cape Town was mainly to give the crew a break.  I’ve been on this sail to Madagascar for 4 days now and i’m ready to go crazy – i can’t imagine going all the way around the continent in more than a 20 day sail.  We also had to refuel, rewater, and recrew – with over 100 new crew flying in and joining the ship while we were docked.  I’ll offhandedly report that 40 of the new crew are nurses, not that I really care about that at all.

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I know you were hoping for a nurse photo.  Have a penguin instead.

Ally and I were in Cape Town for two weeks before the ship arrived.  During that time we mainly worked, with a few breaks to see penguins and go hiking and hang out with friends and adventure.  But mainly it was tedious backbreaking work.  And it paid off!  The ship arrived into port and we had an exciting PR plan ready.  We were going to invite certain people on board for tours, have a public weekend where people could line up on the dock to tour our home and do as much media as we could.  Things seemed like they were going to go great…

And they did!  During our visit in Cape Town we had over 5000 people visit our home.  Here is a photo of the line up during one of the public days.

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I also got my first taste of the real media world.  Yesterday I put together the final list of all the media that I personally hosted while on ship and it was a grand total of 21 outlets over the two weeks we were there.  Most of those were media who showed up at the last minute with mere minutes before their deadlines were due – yet even they were touched as I toured them around the hospital.  I had one lady come back to the ship three times for more interviews, though I suspect that she was mainly coming back to see the ship as much as she could.

The highlight of the media experiences was with a National Television station that wanted Dr. Gary for a morning television show.  After being unable to convince him to get up at 5AM for the live showing the studio asked if I could be on the show.  After about a billisecond of thought I agreed.  Thus the next morning the ship’s South African electrician (A fellow named Renier who i’m sure will be forever wary around me now – I used him for about 80% of the media teams) and myself drove away from the ship hours before the sun awoke to get ready for our big debut.  Arriving at the studio they put makeup on us, prepped us extremely quickly on what we were going to be asked and then it was 3-2-1 ACTION, I said a few things, Renier said some stuff and then we were thanking the girl on the couch and on our way into the world.  It all happened so fast.  They have sent us a youtube of the event but because of the Internet on the ship being stuck in 1994 we can’t watch it.  You guys can though!

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Alright you’ve got a lot of information here.  Before I let you go I’d like to talk about the personal impact this trip had on me.

While being interviewed, one of the nurses on board the ship said something that struck me as being incredibly accurate.  When asked why she extended her time on ship she replied “Most people come to the ship as nurses and other volunteers, but they extend and stay because they are crew members.”  That is exactly what happened to me during this time in Cape Town.  When I came to the ship it was for myself – I was here to have an incredible adventure, to meet people from around the world, to follow the will of God wherever it may lead me and to hopefully help some Africans in the process.  But i’ve extended for another reason.  I truly believe that the ship is doing the work of God.  I am a bit ashamed that it took me 9 months to realize that this is bigger than me, but at least I did realize it eventually.  The Africa Mercy is changing the lives of people in Africa.  My small role in this is to help tell the world about what we do here so that we can get funding and volunteers to continue existing.  Each media team that I talk to has the potential to talk to thousands of people, who will in turn tell their friends and hopefully either volunteer, or help us out, or start their own organizations.  And from those people hope and healing will come.  Men and women and children who had never dreamed that they could be helped will be given the hope that the west actually cares about them.  Whole villages see the afflicted mother or cursed child come back whole and from then on they believe that there is a better world possible for them.  We on the ship are helping to do that and it’s incredible.

I came here for myself, but i’m staying for the ship.  Its an amazing realization to know that by making the ship a better place through leadership into the community or the fellow crew you are having the chance to literally make the world a better place.  Each person that comes to volunteer or sends money to help keep the ship running is literally making the world a better place.  I’ve seen it – and I also have the awesome job to help show the world exactly what i’ve seen.

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