22 June 2011

not so newlywed

So as I mentioned in my previous post, "games, glasses, and more goodbyes," I hosted the Not So Newlywed Game last Friday night.  Basically, we had six crew couples answer questions about each other before the show, and then we had them try to match each other's answers--hilarity ensued.

My six couples were:
  • Ken and Mary Sanders, crew physician and hospital housekeeping supervisor, married 39 years.
  • Olly and Sally Peet, transportation manager and speech therapist, married 15 years.
  • Roger and Barb Quesenberry, ship security officers, married 28 years.
  • Richard and Elaine Winn, admissions nurse and writer, married 45 years.
  • Alex and Sharon Williams, OR admin assistant and ward nurse, married 9 months (and 3 days!).
  • John and Jenny Rolland, photographer and OR supervisor, married 15 years.  
We had 2 rounds of 10 questions each (10 for the wives, 10 for the husbands) and then a bonus round.  Some of the questions included:
  • What is your wife's most irritating habit?
  • If stranded on a desert island, what is one thing your wife couldn't live without?
  • Complete this sentence: My wife is a natural born _____________.
  • How many girlfriends did you husband have before you?
  • Complete this sentence: My husband may be the world's best __________, but he is the world's worst _________.
  • Please rate your wife's morning breath: A) Like sweet perfume, B) Just fine, C) So so, D) Pretty darn bad, or E) Could kill a small dog
Me, doing my hosting duties.

We asked the wives, "When it comes to upper body, would you say your husband is more: Buffed, Puffed, Stuffed, or Just not enough?"  Olly quickly answered "Buffed!" but Sally had written down "Perfectly Puffed!"

The Peets look on as the Quesenberrys answer a question.  I can't tell which questions it was in this photo, but the Barb and Roger came in second place, so they probably got it right.

The Winns answering a question.  When he was in college, Richard worked at a grocery store with Elaine's brother.  The brother asked Richard to take his little sister to a school dance because she needed a date.  After picking her up, he found out that she had brought along a can opener and her mom's hat pin as defense if he was a bad date!  Before the show we asked the wives, "What one item of clothing does your husband wear that you just can't stand?"  When we asked Richard, he happily stood up, gestured, and said "This shirt that I'm wearing right now!"  Elaine then turned her card around and it read, "The shirt he is wearing right now!"  So funny.  Richard and Elaine won first place.  The prize: an exclusive private dinner for two cooked by one of our chefs on board.  Their request: just no rice!

Alex and Sharon, our only actual newlyweds.  Alex said that his wife's morning breath would not only kill a small dog, but any other canine within a two mile radius.  Surprisingly, she matched his answer!

Unfortunately, I don't have any not-blurry photos of the Sanders and the Rollands.  Sorry guys!  So far I've gotten a lot of requests for another show, perhaps another Not So Newlywed Game, or an "Engaged and Dating" version, or the Dating Game.  We'll just have to wait see....

In other game news, my trivia team won first place AGAIN this week!!  Same members, but we changed our name to One Night Asleep At the Rattlesnake Ramblin'.  This weeks categories included more movie and music clips, art, science, world cities, and the Olympics.  We each won a $2 gift certificate to the Ship Shop/Cafe/Starbucks--a welcome treat.  Next week is the final competition and we hope to take home the grand prize.  More to come.

20 June 2011

the howdy ramblin' big sky williams

The Howdy Ramblin' Big Sky Williams
Me, John, Aaron, Ezra

Our lumberjack/cowboy-themed trivia team won last Tuesday and will hopefully win tomorrow night too!  Last week, the categories included movie clips, music clips, animal photos, literature, photos from around the ship, and math.  Will we win again?  Only time will tell.

19 June 2011

games, glasses, and more goodbyes

Let me start with announcing that The Howdy Ramblin' Big Sky Williams won the on-ship trivia night last Tuesday.  The team consists of me, John (eye team), Aaron (accountant), and Ezra (hospital supply).  Since costumes were encouraged and we are all Americans, we went with a lumberjack/cowboy theme and it worked because we beat out about 15 other teams.  It was definitely a close call: we only won by 2 points and the final two questions were calculus, so it was a true nail-biter.  Other notable teams included Gang-Green (four nurses dressed in all green, hair and all), Team Rehab (four folks from the Physiotherapy department, dressed in scrubs, casts, arms slings, and plaster), and Canadian Tuxedo (dressed in all denim).  It was easily the most fun Tuesday on board and I'm looking forward to the next two Tuesdays--hopefully we can win the overall grand prize.  I almost forgot to mention our prize for last week: a box of random things from hospital supply: an 18-pack of toilet paper, some soap, tongue depressors, a towel, expired sterile gloves, and alcohol hand gel.  Woohoo!

I think I mentioned previously that one of the ship's photographers came with us on an eye screening a few weeks ago.  Well, I finally have the photos!

 Okay, so this one isn't at screening, it's at the ship, in our Peri-Op room.  This is where the patients come before and after surgery.  I'm talking with Lorraine, our peri-op nurse from a few weeks ago, about the day's schedule.  You can see the patients get a piece of white tape over their surgical eye so there is no confusion!

Now we are at screening, in Hastings, outside of Freetown.  Unloading the Land Rovers can get tedious after a while, so I tried my hand (or should I say head) at carrying things the African way.

During set-up, Debra, the photographer, caught me with my camera.  Next to me is Glory, one of our day volunteers and perhaps the most calm and relaxed person on the face of the earth.

Our team leader, Woody, examining a patient.  I will be surprised if this photo doesn't end up on some Mercy Ships promotional literature somewhere in the near future.

Me and Isaac, another day volunteer, helping a woman find a pair of reading glasses.

Mother and child, sporting a new pair of sunglasses.  The kids almost always pick out glasses that match their outfits.

Handing out sunglasses to the children.

Patient holding a secondary screening card.  The pink card allows the bearer to come to the ship for a more thorough exam.  From there, she can get scheduled for surgery or refracted for prescription glasses.

This week, we are again without a surgeon.  Even though we can't do surgeries during this time, it is actually a blessing because we will be screening on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday.  It will definitely be a lot of hard work, but we really need to find more cataract patients in order to fill up the weeks when we do have a surgeon.  We are certainly seeing a lot of people at screening, just not good surgical candidates.  We see a lot of people with corneal scarring, which can be caused by disease, malnutrition, or trauma.  It is often blinding, but completely non-surgical.  Much of the corneal scarring we see is due to not get enough Vitamin A as a child.  Subsequently, we give out Vitamin A tabs to everyone under age 8.  We also see a lot of eye issues relating to trauma, glaucoma, and cataracts that are not fully advanced to the criteria for our surgeries.  Unfortunately, we aren't able to help everyone, but such is the nature of the game.  

On Friday, I hosted the "Not-So-Newlywed Game."  In a word, it was a success!  I had 6 contestant couples and around 100 people in the audience!  I will blog more about this later in the week once I get some photos.

And finally, this week is bringing more goodbyes.  My good friend Claire, one of our receptionists, is leaving tomorrow.  She was supposed to leave in another week, but found out yesterday that her grandfather passed away.  She is a fellow YoungLifer and I always enjoyed stopping and talking with her at the front desk, at whatever time of day. Claire, we will miss you!  Also, a few more families are leaving this week--some families that I quickly realized were glue in the Africa Mercy community.  The Rollands, the Peets, the Tvedts, the Sanders, and so many more.  Even though I know that these people will be missed so much by their friends on the ship, it is fun to think about the new lives they will start when they return home.  Some have been here for several years.  The Peets, in particular, will be heading back to the U.K. to start the adoption process with their daughter Libby.  Libby was adopted from Liberia a few years ago and just recently was granted her British visa, meaning they could finally return home.  What an exciting time for them!  Check out their blog at www.peetblog.net.  Olly is the Transportation Manager and Sally is a Speech Therapist on board and they are perhaps one of the funniest couples ever.

Please pray for the continued well being of the patients and crew.  And please pray that the Lord showers us with good surgical candidates this week--seriously, we need it!!

Kari Ann, keep on keeping on in this season of your life!  Let the Lord carry you: Exodus 14:14.

Again, thanks for reading.  And as a reminder, it's not too late to enter the Mix CD contest!

10 June 2011


The past two weeks have been really busy. 

For one, our volume of eye patients has multiplied.  We have been working with Dr. Glenn Strauss and Dr. Joseph Park, so instead of having one surgeon doing 8-10 patients a day, we have two surgeons doing about 30 patients a day (and finishing earlier than usual).  Dr. Glenn can remove a cataract in under 10 minutes, so needless to say, he is pretty speedy.  I went into the OR to observe him and the surgery was over before I knew it.  

Since my teammate Shannon is gone on vacation, I have been taking over for her duties.  Even though her title is "Scheduling Coordinator" it should just be "Eye Team Troubleshooter," because all day you just take care of all the little issues that arise.  I actually enjoy doing it--constantly running between the ship and the Eye Team's dockside unit, dubbed "The White House" (it's a big white aluminum modular structure), finding missing charts, scheduling and rescheduling patients, doing data entry on the hospital databases, playing with charts again, and generally making sure that everything is running smoothly for the team.  In addition to all of this, we had a little excitement in the White House this past Tuesday.  I was in one room talking to a day volunteer, when I heard a thud in the next room over.  I glanced through the doorway and saw a patient lying on the ground.  My first reaction was "Do we need to call the EMT??"  On the ship, the EMT is the Emergency Medical Team.  It consists of on-call doctors, nurses, stretcher-bearers, and other personnel that will respond to any emergency at the ship.  Anyway, I ran to the counter only to find that our cordless phone was not on it's base.  I instinctively bolted out the door to the Admissions tent next door, grabbed their phone and dialed 1000 for reception.  "This is Seth, we need the EMT to the Eye Building NOW!"  I run back to the White House only to find that the patient is now awake and drinking some water.  Another eye team member says "Oh, I don't think we need extra help."  Catching my breath and somewhat exasperated, I run back to the Admissions Tent to cancel my EMT call, knowing what would soon happen.  But before I could get back in touch with reception, I hear the overhead page: "Emergency Medical Team, please report to the dockside eye building immediately.  Again, Emergency Medical Team, please report to the dockside eye building immediately.  Thank you."  Knowing that an EMT page is broadcast to the whole ship, even inside the cabins, probably waking up all the night-shift workers, I let out an "oh well" sigh.  I walked back to the White House and watched as our team leader, Woody, is the first to race down the gangway.  Much to my chagrin, I tell him it is a false alarm, and then I see a whole cascade of crew running down the gangway.  The crew physician, the hospital physician, about three nurses, the ship's captain (!), a few stretcher-bearers, the programs administrator, the programs assistant (Woody's wife, Robin), the patient services coordinator, an anesthesiologist, an anesthetic assistant, and some other people presumably from the OR, because they were wearing booties and caps.  As some of these people go in to check the patient, I embarrassingly explain the situation to everyone else.  Everyone was very understanding and reassured me that it is always better to call the EMT and then not need them than to not call and have an actual emergency.  The captain even commented "Oh, well this was definitely a good drill!"  Never a dull moment on the Africa Mercy!  

In other news, we are still having some issues with finding enough cataract patients.  In years passed, we would have been a few months ahead in scheduling cataract surgeries, but right now, we are only 2-3 weeks ahead.  At our Monday screenings at Kissy, we only get about 30ish potential surgical candidates and similar numbers at our Friday screenings.  But the Lord has recently blessed us with two specific things.  This past Monday we pulled a double and went to a church to screen after finishing at Kissy in the morning.  Our hard work paid off, as we identified 63 potential cataract patients that day!  More than double our usual numbers!  Also, next week, we do not have surgeon, which will allow us to do screenings on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, so hopefully we will find a lot of patients to fill our appointment book.  

You might be wondering why I titled this post "farewells," and it is simply because now that the summer is starting, people are leaving in mass numbers.  There are several families and individuals that are leaving for 1-2 month vacations, but more importantly there have been several long term crew members completing their service with Mercy Ships.  Even though I haven't know a lot of these people for a very long time, it is still tough to say goodbye to people that you like.  It will definitely be weird to have fewer children running around the ship, and it will take time to adjust when new crew members fill the empty spots.  On the bright side, when crew leave the ship, it means there will be ice cream (see previous post) and someplace new to visit once I complete my service.  In all seriousness though, the crew turnover is one of the hardest parts of serving with Mercy Ships.  People come and go every day, and even though there are about 400 crew at any one time, the ship may see closer to 1,000 different crew during one field service.  I am definitely thankful that I am able to serve for the time that I am--I couldn't imagine just serving for two months or even two weeks.  

I'm not sure where I got the idea to do this, maybe because some really great couples/families will be leaving soon, but next Friday, I will be hosting a "Not-So-Newlyweds Game" in our International Lounge.  I've been recruiting couples to be contestants and I'm expecting a nice turn-out for the audience.  Things are still in the planning stage, but be assured that I will fill you in next weekend.  

I'm overdue for a few shout-outs: THANK YOU to Hypes, MK, Carolyn and Jamie, and Ashley for your wonderful entries to the Mix CD contest.  I'm not the only one who is enjoy your music, as I have a few friends who are always inquiring, "Did you get a new CD yet this week??"  CONGRATULATIONS to Ben and Joanna Sutton, who were happily married two weekends ago in Florida.  I interned with Ben at Rockbridge in 2009 and became friends with Joanna over the past year.  Also, a congrats are in order for my high school classmate Felicia Jones as she will be married to her fiance Tristan TOMORROW.  I know how excited Felicia is and I wish you all the best of luck!

Whoever and wherever you are, take care and thanks for reading!

ice cream

Ice cream is one of those universal treats.  Whether you are at the Dairy Queen in Uniontown, PA, or the Pink Hut in Lexington, VA, or Cone E. Island in DC, or here on the Africa Mercy in Freetown, Sierra Leone, ice cream is just always a good thing.

A few nights ago, some friends and I tried our hand at making homemade ice cream in ziploc bags.  It turned out really well!

Left to right: Jess (mango-banana), Christoph (Snickers), me (cinnamon), Laura (chocolate-Rolo), Miriam (mango).