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Wednesday, May 31, 2006

President of Liberia comes to the Anastasis

Liberian President, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, came to visit the Anastasis about a week before the ship left Liberia on 22 May 2006. The Anastasis sailed to Ghana on 29 May 2006. The Africa Mercy plans to arrive in Liberia in March 2007. She wanted to say Thank you for the service Mercy Ships provided to her country for the past 7 months. Here is a transcript of her speech.

"Dr. Barr and officials of government, prelates and members of the Liberian Council of Churches, Executive Director Quist, and staff of the Mercy Ship, visiting team coming with Dr. Bernard to help us, colleagues, friends, ladies and gentlemen.

I could no less than be here. This is not my first trip to the Mercy Ship.

I had the opportunity to come several weeks ago and to tour the ship, and to walk through the areas where our young people are being treated, and to just be awed by what is happening in their lives. I was overfilled with gratitude and appreciation to those who have given so much to be able to share with us.

There are three things that come from the service of the Mercy Ship,well-stated in all of the statements that have been made this afternoon. First is the blessings that come from those who walk in the path of Jesus Christ – the blessings that come from those who walk the talk, and those who benefit from those that make the walk. They're both blessed – the giver and the receiver. And I think those who are on the Mercy Ship will be blessed by God as those who they have served leave the ship also blessed. So we thank them for walking in the path of Jesus Christ.

The second thought that comes to mind is the humanity of sacrificial service. How many of us would be willing to leave all that we have – our family, our friends, our fortune, our profession, our occupation, and to go out and serve, bringing new life to others? How many of you, in your community, are willing to do likewise – to look around you in the community and to gather those who have the capacity and the capability to say, "Yes, we can do something"? About the garbage; about the children on the streets; about the old, abandoned people? That we, too, with what we have, can serve them. We can connect to humanity by the little that we do, and we want to thank the Mercy Ship for what they have done, for this sacrificial service. They have given up everything they have to come to a faraway place and to be able to render to those in need. We do thankyou.

And the third thing, that lesson that comes to me from their service, is the potential of transformation. We look at the examples that they showed – young people, ostracized, unaccepted in their community, ashamed to go around because of their disfigurement, because of their disability. And see the difference after this service – they can walk out, proud; they can once again regain their self-confidence; they can once again become a part of their community, their church, their school, their work. The transformation that comes from their potential.

And I sometimes see this as a microcosm of the transformation of our nation. Because there is pain in transformation, because you take something that looks one way and you mold it into something else. And in that period, there's no escaping the difficulties. I'm sure those young children, when they have to take anaesthesia, when they have to go through and watch a surgeon's knife, that they were afraid. But then look at the potential of their lives recreated. And I say it's a microcosm because I know that in our transforming our country, that there will be pain and sorrow, there will be difficulties. But look at tomorrow, when the bright lights come on.

And so we each and every one of us in this room need to capture the spirit of these three things: walking in the path of Jesus Christ; making sacrificial service, as the Bible says, "Cast your buckets where you are"; and recognizing, extolling, the potential of transformation.

To all of you Mercy Ships, we want to thank you. It's sad that you are leaving, we are going to miss you, the community, those you have served, the country, the government; but we take hope that as the Africa Mercy ship comes back next year, some of you – as many as could make it – will once again remember this great land of liberty, this place of a friendly people, with all its problems – that you will come back and once again join hands and bond with us. Give us an opportunity to work with you, to appreciate you, to thank you, and to share God's blessings with you. "

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