There are so many reasons I write a blog. Many are personal. Many are related to my interests like photography & DIY projects.
One other reason I write this blog is for advocacy.
It is a great honor to have a little corner of the internet that I can use to advocate for others.
I’m thankful for my little www nook where I can use my voice for those whose voices are often not heard.
Today I want to talk about Mercy Ships. There are a vast number of organizations out there doing so much good, but many I don’t have any first hand connections – with Mercy Ships, I do. Last fall a good friend of ours spent a couple weeks on board a Mercy Ship as an anesthesiologist. If you aren’t familiar with Mercy Ships, they are basically floating hospitals that dock at port cities, primarily in Africa to “bring hope and healing to the world’s forgotten poor.” Over 2.35 million people have been impacted by the work of Mercy Ships. “Many nations lack basic infrastructure services such as clean water supply, reliable delivery of electricity and medical facilities and personnel. A ship is a controlled, safe and environment ideally suited for serving patients and crew.” (Mercy Ship website)
~ worship service on dock, photo by Brian B. ~
This is my friend, Brian – the one in the middle with the big smile. Brian’s wife is one of my very close friends. My family loves their family deeply. I can’t imagine the last several years without their friendship and influence in the lives of my family. Last fall Brian had the opportunity to serve on board a Mercy Ship. I asked him if he would mind sharing a few photos and answering a few questions. It is one thing for me to say Mercy Ships is a great organization, it is another thing to hear it from a volunteer doctor. Thank you Brian for helping me with this post.
The following were Brian’s answers to a few questions I asked him:
After volunteering with Mercy Ships, what is your perspective on the organization?
As an organization, Mercy Ships is top-notch. It serves as an amazing example of what God can accomplish through his people, using their time, talents, and technology. They have over 35 years of experience operating hospital ships, and it shows in their thoughtfulness and organization. I was very impressed with their attention to detail, and their commitment to safety for the patients and the crew. More recently, they have started making more investments in infrastructure and education in the countries they are serving. While they are already having a tremendous impact on the people they serve, this will allow them to touch the lives of many more long after the ship has departed.
~ prayer & worship before starting surgeries, photo by Brian B. ~
How has working with Mercy Ships impacted you?
When planning my trip, I thought that Mercy Ships would provide a unique opportunity for me to use my skills as an anesthesiologist on the mission field. As you can imagine, you can’t perform surgery just anywhere, and it is extremely difficult to set up a fully functioning operating room in the middle of a third world country. Why not bring the operating room to the people? There were, however, a few things that caught me off guard when I arrived.
First was the general attitude on the ship. It’s hard to explain, but it felt like a mix of church camp and a hospital. People were genuinely friendly, helpful, and caring. There is no pretense on board. Everyone is on a first-name basis with each other. Occasionally, someone would call me “Dr. Brian,” but that’s as formal as it got. When you first board the ship, there is a plaque that greets you that reads, “Mercy Ships follows the 2,000-year-old model of Jesus. Bringing hope and healing to the world’s forgotten poor.” People really live that out on the ship. Everyone on board is a volunteer who has either raised support or paid their own way to be there, and it makes for an atmosphere unlike any I have seen.
Second, I was not prepared for how diverse the crew was. I met people on the ship from all over the world. It was enlightening and refreshing to see not only how they practice medicine, but also how they live life.
Lastly, I was surprised by how many people it takes to make the ship run. The crew numbers over 400, and it seemed most were not directly involved in medical care. This operation requires housekeepers, cooks, administrators, engineers, plumbers, electricians, carpenters, security, IT, teachers for the academy on board, hair dresser (you’ll need a haircut if you are serving long-term), among several others. While I was there, one of the ship’s greatest needs was for a plumber. You can imagine that things can get a bit unpleasant when the toilets stop working on board! They also needed a plumber to go out in the field and do work in some of the area hospitals.
If you are able, can you share about a specific experience during your time on the ship?
The patient I remember most was a man in his mid 20′s. He had a tumor in the back of his throat that was obstructing his airway. His voice was muffled, he could barely swallow, and he was unable to sleep at night because of pain and difficulty breathing. We did a CT scan on board (yes, they have a CT scanner!) and found that the tumor was so large, the man was breathing through the equivalent of a coffee stirrer straw. He would die in the very near future without an operation. Long story short, he had this tumor removed by Dr. Gary Parker, an oral and maxillofacial surgeon who has served continuously with Mercy Ships since 1986. It was an extremely dangerous, but life-saving surgery all made possible by how God is using Mercy Ships.
This week Mercy Ships is being highlighted by Sevenly. For every purchase you make from Sevenly this week, $7.00 will go towards Mercy Ships. For those unfamiliar with Sevenly, is a social good company that selects a different charity to highlight and raise support for each week…not to mention, the shirts and products are designed by such talented artists. This week Facebook highlighted Sevenly and Mercy Ships in this video:
Anchored from Facebook Stories on Vimeo.
So there you go…Mercy Ships & Sevenly…this week…make a purchase and difference. This is Chris and I pretending like we are Sevenly models in our new shirts….Love is the Bridge Between You and Everything; Anchored Love.
And here are the real models…they have more of the cool factor going on…
We attempted a shot including our faces, but it is quite possible that it is impossible for me to make a normal face in front of a camera. Nonetheless, this capture us. And he’s hot. And mine. And I love that he is willing to pose in a shirt all in the name of advocacy. I’ve got a good man.
Learn more about Mercy Ships by clicking here
Check out Sevenly each week to learn about other great non-profits and products that do a little social good, click here
small photos & ship photo are from the Mercy Ships website