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Tuesday, November 27, 2007

On BBC Look East tonight - a short clip on Mercy Ships


Tonight on BBC, there will be a short spotlight on one of the British Surgeons from Cambridge, Dr. Leo Cheng. Dr. Leo was on the Africa Mercy in August this year doing tumor removals here in Monrovia, Liberia.
If you miss this show or don't have access to the BBC you can click here (WATCH) for a short highlight of the show online. Most of this footage was filmed on the Africa Mercy. However, the ship they show in the beginning of the clip is of the Anastasis.

Monday, November 26, 2007

The last patients went home on Friday!


These are a few of the youngest patients playing with a couple nurses (Becky and Rachel) before they left the ward to go home on Friday!
We are packing up and getting ready to sail by the weekend! One of the dayworkers was trained to do wound care while we are away and until we arrive back in February! We gave her the supplies and she'll provide the dressings for the patients that need wound care! God is so good!
We look forward to see the Liberian people and all our friends here real soon! The screening for next outreach has been scheduled for February 18th in Samuel Doe Stadium (the big national soccer stadium) in Monrovia.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Nations join together to help Liberians debt load!

In February 2007, the United States cancelled nearly $400 million in debt for Liberia. Today, the International Monetary Fund began the process to cancel Liberia's debt. This will have a HUGE impact for Liberia. The country of Liberia was hard hit by the wars that ended in 2004. We have been privileged to be here and see for ourselves the incredible spirit of the Liberians to seek to bring their country back to what elder Liberians remember prior to the wars. It is a slow process, but it is happening. Roads are being improved, the port is getting busier. There are now a few street lights and a couple traffic lights in the capital city. We will be coming back here in 2008 and we are looking forward to more improvement and watching first hand the progress made by nations helping and the Liberians hard work and prayers answered!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

2007 Annual Lord Mayor's Show

In London, every year the Lord Mayor of London has a HUGE parade and it is quite an event! The parade participants were lined for over 3 miles and the parade route is just under 1.5 miles! Our friends in the UK know exactly what this is!



Mercy Ships took part in the festivities and also celebrated Mercy Ships' Dr. Gary Parker who was given a prestigious award by the Royal College of Surgeons and was interviewed on the BBC during the parade. Dr. Gary does Maxio-facial surgeries, including cleft-lip & palate and tumor removals.
You can click on the title of this post to learn more about the Lord Mayor's Show in London this year. It took place this past weekend .... so they have some great pictures there.
















Monday, November 12, 2007

We will be returning to Monrovia, Liberia in 2008!


Mercy Ships has received an invitation from the President of Liberia to return to serve the Liberian people in February 2008! According to correspondence to the crew from our Founder, Don Stephens, after considerable prayer and process, the decision was made to formally accept the invitation to return to Liberia. Although this is a shift to our previous plans, it is consistent with Mercy Ships long term strategy.

This is the official Press Release from our International Operations Center:

President Johnson Sirleaf invites Mercy Ships back to Liberia
Mercy Ships gives continued support for President’s goal to rebuildLiberia’s Health Care Sector

Garden Valley, Texas, November 12, 2007 - Her Excellency Ellen Johnson Sirleaf announced this week that Mercy Ships has accepted her invitation for the Africa Mercy to return to Liberia again for 2008 following a short dry dock away from the nation at the end of this year. The Mercy Ship expects to leave port at the end of November and return from February through November 2008.

This will be the fourth Mercy Ships visit to Liberia since the charity’s previous flagship, Anastasis, first called into the Port of Monrovia in 2005. Since that time, Mercy Ships volunteers have transformed the lives of the Liberian people by providing life-transforming surgeries, state of the art medical care, and community development projects throughout Liberia.

In May of 2007, the new flagship of the Mercy Ships Fleet, Africa Mercy, was placed into service in Monrovia and immediately more thandoubled the capacity of health care and services that could be provided. Conservative estimates state that the Africa Mercy’s volunteers will be able to provide over 7000 medical procedures during a standard 10 month deployment.

Her Excellency Ellen Johnson Sirleaf commented, “As Liberia works to rebuild its health care system, the Africa Mercy offers an indispensable bridge by responding to the individual medical crises that have kept too many of our citizens on the sidelines. These are people who want an active role in the reconstruction of Liberia - the fulfillment of their dreams of a strong and stable country.”

The invitation to return to Liberia was discussed during meetings in Washington D.C. this past week when President Johnson Sirleaf was honoured at the AFRICARE Conference. Don Stephens, Founder/President of Mercy Ships was in attendance for this conference and enjoyed an audience with Her Excellency prior to her key note address.

“Part of Mercy Ships goal in returning again would be to strongly support momentum for Liberia’s national health policy and increase capacity for medical care by using the Africa Mercy as a platform for medical education and mentoring in administration/management infrastructure,” stated Don Stephens.

“Mercy Ships is committed to increasing the health care capacity of Liberia and our volunteer crew will also deliver selected small scale construction and renovation projects alongside the medical training and surgical services the ship provides,” Stephens said. All Mercy Ships services are provided free of charge to the nation, thanks to donors around the world who are passionate in their support of the volunteer professionals onboard the Africa Mercy.

This commitment also follows on the heels of a decision by Ann Gloag and the Balcraig Foundation whose generosity contributed to the refit of the Africa Mercy, to also agree to assist in the renovation of the JFK Hospital in Monrovia which has served as the on-land location for the ship’s medical and dental screenings. This and several other projects are planned to assist in establishing a long-term medical infrastructure within the nation after the ship concludes its service at the end of 2008.

Prior to arriving in Monrovia, the Africa Mercy will make a short courtesy stopover in Sierra Leone for a formal protocol signing for the ship’s next port of service in 2009. This signing represents the organizations’ ongoing commitment to help the people of West Africa emerge from the difficulties of war and subsequent disease related to the destroyed medical infrastructure in this area of the world.

Mercy Ships was originally invited to Liberia in 2004 by Jacques P. Klein, Special Assistant to United Nations General Secretary, the Liberian Council of Churches (LCC) and in partnership with Dr.Gwenigale of the Liberian Ministry of Health.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Thoughts from Liberia

Mercy Watch
Thoughts from Liberia
Rob and Denise Miller

Hello Friends,

How is it that the month of October has gone by so quickly. Sometimes it amazes us, when we realize it is time to send out another monthly newsletter that yet another month has passed. I wonder if we didn’t have this reminder, if we’d be as aware of the passing of the time, or if many months would go by before we realized we had not sent out any letters.

So, as we’ve been reminded of this passing, let us tell you a little of what has been happening in the past month. I (Rob) have been described as a “collector” of books and not a “reader”. Often times I’ll come across a book that captures my attention for one reason or another and I purchase the book, with intentions of reading it. Rob and Obele in the Rescue Boat - taking it out for a spin after fixing the engine. Before I know it, much time has passed by and I’ve not completed reading the book, although I may have started it or scanned it many times. Sometimes, this is because the author may be challenging me in an area I’m not ready to deal with, or other events seem to require my attention more. Recently, I’ve been challenged to read a series of books by an author I’ve not previously been familiar with, his name is Stu Weber, and the book which got my attention recently is titled Infinite Impact. I must confess, sometimes when selecting a book, I ask, what experience does this author have in this area? What experience does he have to speak concerning this subject? How can I relate to what he is saying in my life? And sometimes it may just be I don’t really like the author’s writing style even though the subject matter is valid and I could learn from it. I tend to like reading from authors who tell me a story and relate their story to biblical truths. (Sounds like Jesus’ parables :^)) So I was pleasantly surprised to find that Stu Weber has all of these qualities I was looking for. If you’d like to read the first chapter of this book you may do so at http://files.tyndale.com/thpdata/FirstChapters/978-0-8423-7441-5.pdf

Christian in the Dining RoomIn our last newsletter we spoke some of Christian and his father, Anthony. This month they have been back several times for follow-up, dressing changes and physical therapy on Christian’s foot. ChristianHe is healing wonderfully. We and the nursing staff that cares for Christian are so pleased with Anthony who so lovingly encourages Christian to do the painful exercises and also does daily massage on Christian’s foot to help it heal. Anthony asked that we take several pictures as he is going home this weekend to visit with his family, and to harvest the rice that he grows. Christian will stay here in Monrovia with his Uncle and await his father’s return. We enjoyed a meal together this past week after Christian had come for one of his appointments. It is a privilege to be able to become friends with Christian and his father, and we look forward to Anthony’s return so we can hear about the harvest and how the remainder of his family is doing. The picture above is Christian in the dining room with us. We surprised him with a new outfit and he was so happy to wear it when he came to eat lunch with us. The photo on the right is Christian getting his bandages changed. (One of the nurses shared this picture with us) You can see the upper part of his leg where the skin was taken to use for grafting the top of his right foot. Bee Boxes delivered at Graduation! You can also see that he has 5 toes now on his right foot! Praise the Lord!

Denise was privileged to go out with the Women's Empowerment Team to one of the local villages called Bernard's Farm. You may remember that she went there with a Vision Trip a couple months ago to see the agriculture program. This time she was able to see the women's graduation for the Beekeeping classes! The picture to the left is of the Bee Boxes that were delivered for their graduation. Each woman receives two bee boxes. A couple of weeks ago, I heard that some of the boxes already have bees! I took several pictures and put them together to tell the story...you can see it at http://www.mercywatch.org/ (our new website). It was an incredible day and the ladies were very happy to see me, again. I couldn't believe that they would remember me.

Peter and Tommy from the Orphanage looking out of the bridge floor window.094Several Saturdays ago we were able to visit one of the orphanages locally and spend some time with the children. I (Rob) was able to talk with some of the older boys at length and learn more about them as they shared their stories with me. I’m humbled by the degree of suffering these young men have endured, and touched by their gentle spirit. It wasn’t until after I’d answered some of their questions about my childhood, and challenges growing up, that they shared their stories with me. I felt I knew a little about having a turbulent childhood, but quickly realized how truly blessed mine was. The picture to the right is of Tommy, one of these older boys, showing the window in the floor of the bridge on the Africa Mercy to Peter, one of the younger boys at the orphanage. The children and the staff of the orphanage came to visit the ship last weekend. The picture on the left is of the children and the staff.

DSC04270This past Sunday, Denise was privileged to preach at church, and had been asked by the Pastor to bring a message which would encourage and challenge the woman of our congregation. She did an excellent job, as she recounted God’s early call on her life and how she has lived out that call, as a young woman, daughter, sister, wife, mother, grand-mother, friend, and business-woman. She shared of her heart and her successes and challenges. She spoke of submission and provided some insight for the women as to how her submission was unto the Lord. Additionally, she spoke of providing a Christian witness through obedience to God and how through this witness over a period of seven years brought her unbelieving husband to true faith in the Lord. (Rob snapped this picture as we were finishing the song prior to the preaching.)

Denise is going through a little transition period in her job. She has completed the two year commitment in Reception and is transferring into the Staff Development department, tomorrow. She is excited about the planning that is ongoing in Staff Development and her new role within this team.

Rob climbing down the rope ladder to the rescue boat, 5 decks down!The crew has just passed our external audit for our Lloyd’s Surveyor in the areas of International Safety Management (ISM) and International Ships Port and Facility Security (ISPS). We have a system in place to adhere to the international policies governing the Safety and Security of our ship and that there is an atmosphere aboard that fosters the understanding and utilization of these systems by our crew. This is quite an accomplishment, considering the frequent rotation of our crew. The surveyor engaged the crew randomly asking questions concerning their understanding of the ISM and ISPS codes, and their authority and responsibilities under these codes. This is surely another blessing from God and an outpouring of His amazing wisdom and unity. Only God could bring together a crew of over 350 people from all over the world (about 40 nations on board currently) and just a 10th of them experienced or trained in the operations of ships prior to their time with Mercy Ships and have a Lloyd’s Surveyor leave impressed with the crew’s knowledge of these essential systems!

Christian and Anthony in front of the ShipChristian catching a ride!Denise and I are getting more and more excited about our upcoming holiday. In approximately six weeks, we’ll be back in Florida, USA. We look forward to seeing many of you. We’ll be staying with our oldest son, Jason and his family in St. Augustine, Florida. You may not realize, but our ships phone number is a Florida number, so when you are in the USA and would like to call us, it is not an international call and for many who have free nationwide weekend calling it would be free. So…we’d look forward to hearing from you. You may call us at 954 538-6110.

May you be blessed abundantly, and your cup filled to overflowing, may the Lord bless you and keep you, and make His face to shine upon you and give you rest!

God's blessings,

Rob and Denise

Mercy Ships, M/V Africa Mercy

currently in Monrovia, Liberia