Well, it’s Christmas time again! A joyful time, “Joy to the world,” Let heaven and nature sing, Christ is born! In the holiday season here, lots of long-term crew travel home to spend Christmas with their family. The crew (like myself) who stay onboard over the holiday season start to miss home a little bit more. But Christmas on the Africa Mercy does not leave you empty-handed. with all the different traditions, gifts, and food, we are also surrounded by friends. creating those fond Christmas memories is one thing that makes the holiday season special to us. Over here Christmas is full of memories with friends and… food. In the Christmas season we have many traditions, parties, and decorations throughout the month. On Christmas day we have a big special lunch for all the crew that the Food Service department prepares. Then the ship will have what we call “Open cabins” where anyone can sign up to open their cabin to the rest of the ship, they have little appetizers and snacks. Then you can walk around and visit other people’s cabins and talk and have fun. But in the midst of all this holiday fun we can never forget what Christmas means. And though the weather may not feel like Christmas to most people, here on the ship it definitely feels like christmas. In the story of the birth of Jesus, I always think about how he was born in a manger in a stable. Now it’s not the most normal place to give birth but of course if that never happened, the story of the birth and the life of Jesus wouldn’t be so eye-catching to us. If he was borne in the way that he deserved, things might be different. A lot of people would probably never pay attention to him because he would have been just a normal king that ruled the world. But because the birth was in an unnatural way people were able to relate and willing to worship.
I have been spending some good times with my friends lately. I have taken a trip to Kribi, played games, watched Christmas movies, and gone out to relax and have a good time. I am truly blessed with the love of the people around me and the time that we spend together.
Here is a patient sorry, I hope you enjoy!
“Ernest’s eyes speak of a pain and sorrow beyond his 27 years. A facial tumor had been growing for over a decade, and he spent his young adult years hiding from the world, simply waiting to die. “I was making everyone uncomfortable, so I would just stay home in bed all day, alone with my suicidal thoughts,” he explains
When he heard about Mercy Ships, he knew he had nothing to lose. He said goodbye to his wife and five- year-old son and made the two-day journey alone. “Many men from my village have tumors, but they were too scared to come to the ship. They told me I would die,” he said. But he knew they were wrong … this was his only chance to save his life.
By the time Ernest arrived at the hospital ship, he was dangerously ill, and his tumor was bleeding. Mercy Ships doctors admitted him for a life-saving blood transfusion. A local ENT surgeon assisted with Ernest’s case.
When Ernest’s condition stabilized, he received what five billion people around the world are unable to access – safe, affordable and timely surgery. As Ernest recovered physically, he also recovered emotionally – changing from a withdrawn, sad man into a confident, optimistic man. His new outlook on life was reflected in the light in his eyes.
Volunteer nurse, Kirsten Murphy (USA) monitored him the first night he was admitted and witnessed his transformation. “I remember his persistence. I remember his new-found hope. I remember the huge grin that spread across his face post-surgery when he realized he was handsome!”
Now, Ernest returns home to be the man he’s always longed to be – the husband he feels his wife deserves and the father he wants to model for his son. “Before, life was very difficult for me. I can’t wait to go back to my village and show those who doubted that Mercy Ships has given me new life.”
After more than 10 years of carrying a physical and emotional burden, Ernest is free! “When I came here, my life was already over. Now I have everything in front of me.”
Story by Georgia Ainsworth
Edited by Nancy Predaina
Photos by Saul Loubassa Bighonda and Shawn Thompson
17 December 2017