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Sunday, June 20, 2010

Transformed Lives Video

This is just a glimpse into the lives that are transformed by our surgeons and crew onboard the Africa Mercy.  Abel just went home to his village this past week and our friend, Elaine Winn, traveled back to the village with him.  She is a writer onboard and a team from Communications went to the village to document Abel's homecoming.  Elaine told us that it was just like a movie....the village was far in the bush up north in Togo and the entire village welcomed Abel home.  They couldn't believe that his legs were now straight!   We are so privileged to be here and be a part of these transformed lives! Your prayers, encouragement and support all play a part, too!  Thank you for your part in transforming these lives, too!

Happy Father's Day!    

Click here to watch the video!

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Part 2 of the iTV Video News Clip on the Africa Mercy

In this episode you'll see a story about a MaxFax Patient and Surgeon, Tony Giles.  Also covered are Engineering, the Academy onboard and the Cole family.  Please pray for the Coles as they had to go back unexpectedly to England last month.

Watch the video - here

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Greetings from Togo - May Newsletter

Great Response and Changes for our Newsletters

Thank you so much for the great response that we received from our short note on Mother’s Day! It was the best response that we’ve ever received from our friends and family! What a great encouragement! We must apologize for the “Dear” not actually making it into the note – it was a button that we wanted to try and I forgot to enter it before sending the note out! Oops! I’m (Denise) so sorry!

We have decided to change providers to send our Newsletters. After almost 8 years of using inJesus and going through changes with them as they've grown, their newest change to netatlantic is just not working for us! So we went looking for providers and we believe that iContact is going to work for us! We were very impressed that they gave us a call the day after we began a 15 day trial and offered us a 20% discount for being missionaries with Mercy Ships! If you've received this newsletter in your email...then you know it's working! Thank you for confirming your subscription to Mercy Watch!

Thank YOU! and Photos from the USA

A slideshow photo recap of the time in the US is available for those who would like to see it - here.

Unfortunately, we didn’t take pictures every where we went so in putting this together we did miss some photos of those we visited and regret that we didn’t take pictures! We do love and miss you all!

As you can see from this picture, we experienced some SNOW in Texas as we spent time there with friends and family during February! This is Rob in front of John and Ruth's home in Van, Texas.

We are very thankful for the time we had to reconnect with family and friends. Each of you holds a special place in our life! As we traveled some seventy-five hundred miles from January through April we were very blessed to share time with you in your homes. You all made us feel very special and reminded us again just how blessed we are to have family and friends like you!

We also were able to spend some time in Sunny Florida with our family, friends and our home church! This picture is of Rob and our leased car (Thank you M.A.T.S) on the beach in St. Augustine about 6 blocks from our son, Jason's, home during the month of March!

As we settle back into community life onboard the memories we carry back with us are priceless. Thank each of you for your love and friendship! It is a humbling experience to realize how much we are loved by so many. Thank you for your many expressions of this love!

This picture is of our leased car in Virgina as we experienced spring in the Mid-Atlantic during the month of April!

Information on Togo

We are now here in Lomé, Togo! The ship has been here since mid-February and will stay until mid August. It has been a busy time and many opportunities to share God’s love and care with the people of Togo. Screening has been done a bit differently here in Togo and there is much need for the services Mercy Ships can offer.

Togo has about 6 million people and just over 1 million reside in Lome. The country is about 100 miles wide at the widest part and about 360 miles stretching north from the Gulf of Guinea. The countryside is two savannah plains separated by hills from the southwest to the northeast. The per capita income is about $900 (US) or about $80 a month. The official language is French, however, many local languages are spoken (Ewe, Mina, Kabye).

Mercy Ships was last here in 2003 and Togo was the first African Nation that welcomed Mercy Ships in 1990. We plan to do about 2,000 surgeries during our field service from February to August 2010. These surgeries include; Cataract, Cleft Lip and Palate, Orthopedic, Maxillofacial, Reconstructive, Fistula, Hernia and Goiter. In addition to the surgeries, Our surgeons and nurses are training surgeons and nurses from Togo and other African countries to use our procedures.

Screenings in Togo

During the Togo Field Service, Mercy Ships is testing a new format for screening patients. Several pre-screenings were conducted from February until April - in multiple locations rather than one mass screening. This allowed our teams to reach multiple areas of need while hopefully reducing the size of the crowd that normally appears during large screenings. Our hope was that prospective patients would have less time to wait to be examined while also reducing security concerns that come with large groups.

In this photo, these people were waiting ever so patientlly. About 1500 people came to the first day of screening.

According to Rachel Dix, the screening coordinator for the Africa Mercy , the new screening process should enable Mercy Ships to accommodate more people. "We only schedule [surgeries] for two-week blocks of time," explains Rachel. "This will allow some flexibility in our surgical schedule. So if we have a very large case that comes at the end of the year, we'll still be able to accommodate it."

General medical screenings were held every week for ten weeks. The screenings took place at predetermined locations in Lomé. In previous field services, screenings were held dockside, adjacent to the Africa Mercy .

In addition to the Lomé screenings, Dr. Tony and Ann Giles, agreed to travel up-country for one month to conduct mobile screenings. All potential surgical patients then can be transported to the Mercy Ships Hospitality Center in Lomé for further evaluation.

The crew and staff are excited and optimistic about the new screening procedure. The method may vary somewhat, but the result remains the same - hope and healing for the people of Togo.

Written By: Joy Clary
Edited by Nancy Predaina
(Denise made tense changes since it was written prior to these screenings being held - the screenings are completed now)

We’d like to share a story of one of the patients who had surgery 15 years ago on a Mercy Ship, the Anastasis and hosted a team from Mercy Ships in her village this year – this was written by Elaine Winn, a Mercy Ships writer.

A Visit with Edoh

A sweet, gentle young woman walked forward, holding a beautiful bouquet of flowers. Thirty joyful family members joined her in welcoming the visitors from the Mercy Ship. This was Edoh - a life restored by mercy.

Edoh is the youngest of six children. When she was about four years old, her eye became very red and began to swell. Her mother, Afua, desperately tried to find help, going from hospital to hospital in Togo and Ghana. But no one could help her little girl.

By the time Edoh was nine, a massive facial tumor had displaced her left eye, distorted her cheek and mouth, and left her teeth protruding at odd angles from the edges of the mass. She struggled to eat and breathe. The tumor was literally stealing the breath of life from her - she was slowly suffocating.

Edoh w nursefriend_lo
Then Afua heard about a hospital ship, a Mercy Ship, that had arrived in her country to offer free medical care. So, she took Edoh to the screening.

A huge crowd of six thousand crushed into the stadium in Togo, almost tearing off the gate. These desperate people were living lives of misery and rejection because of their abnormalities - viewed as a curse in their culture. Unable to work, or even live in society, they saw Mercy Ships as their only chance to have a normal life. They wanted a chance for a free surgery, the chance for a miracle.

But in the midst of all that suffering and desperate longing, mercy raised its head. A little girl's gasping struggle to breathe captured the attention of the crowd. Arms of compassion - some weak and some strong - lifted Edoh and passed her to the front of the long line.

Edoh remembers that moment - the moment that changed her life forever. She recalls, "I remember being lifted over the heads of the crowd and being passed along to the gate. A nurse saw me and said, 'This is the type of surgery we need to do.'"

And that day Edoh received an appointment card for surgery ... an appointment to receive life instead of death.

The doctors warned Afua that this was a difficult, risky case. But she wisely replied, "God gives children; God can take away. We will give it all to God and go ahead with the surgery."

And her faith was rewarded. Edoh returned home to a very surprised community. "It's a miracle!" they exclaimed. And they held a big party to celebrate.

A year later, Dr. Luer Koeper, a maxillofacial surgeon, who had helped to remove the tumor, took Edoh to Germany for a second surgery on her lip. Then in 2003, she had another surgery on her lower eyelid.

And now, 15 years after her first surgery, this "walking miracle" was welcoming Mercy Ships volunteers to her village.

Edoh happily described the transformation in her life. She recalled how she used to stay away from people. She couldn't go to school. She became very shy, hiding in her home. But now she can go everywhere - including school.

In fact, Edoh is a good student. After she completes her secondary education, she wants to become a nurse to help others - just like the dedicated Mercy Ships volunteers helped her.

The celebration arranged by the family continued at the "cascade," a beautiful waterfall that roars down the mountain behind Edoh's home. There, her brothers played their native drums, and everyone sang praises to God for His mercy toward Edoh.

A smiling Edoh added, " If it wasn't for the Mercy Ship, maybe I would be dead. Mercy Ships changed that. I used to look in the mirror and feel pity for myself. But now I think about what happened to me, and it's all about God. I put everything in God's hands."

Written by Elaine B. Winn
Edited by Nancy Predaina
Photos by Debra Bell

As we return to our roles onboard, there are many opportunities to excel. Several of the crew have been sick with various maladies which effects all of us spiritually and emotionally not to mention physically. We both have had a few days of adjusting and not feeling too well. Please pray for the continued health of our crew. Please continue to keep us up to date with events in your lives through your emails, phone calls, letters, and postings on FaceBook.

Please let us know what you'd like to see in these newsletters We try to find the right mix, so you are informed, yet at the same time feel a part of what is going on here. We would like to send a personal note to each of you. We use this vehicle of technology (email) for expediency, efficiency, and reliability. However we try very hard to ensure you don’t feel this is an impersonal tabloid. May we encourage you to take this opportunity to drop a note? Tell us what you like and what you don’t like. Tell us what you’d like to hear more about. Ask some questions that maybe we can answer for you and perhaps others have the same questions. We look forward to hearing from you…and for those of you who regularly reply…Thank You!! You encourage us greatly.

We’ve started a new website you might want to check out It is still a work in progress at this time. Our continued prayer for you is - May your life be as wonderful as it was in the mind of God the day He made you!

God’s Blessings,
Rob and Denise
currently in Lome, Togo        Email us