A week of Thanksgiving

Monrovia Travel Blog

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Ramatu, a 5 month old with a cleft lip

Its hard to believe that in a couple of days it will be December.  With the weather here being in the mid 90s and very humid, its easy to forget that there is snow back home.  Time seems to stop here.  With 7 days and counting til I return home to my "normal" life, I take a moment to reflect and offer my thanks to all those who have helped me make it to this point.  I would list your names individually, but it would be long and boring and, like the Oscars, the thank you speeches need to be kept short.  Thank you to the members of Joy Lutheran and Immanuel Lutheran churches for your donations and prayers of support.  To my co workers, I miss you and will see you soon!  To my family, who not only supported me 100%, but found lost boxes, cat sat, and lent an ear when I was homesick.

Thanksgiving on the dock
  I love you all and I miss you.  Thank You!!!

The surgical part of the outreach has come to an end.  Its a bitter sweet moment.  Its been a long, hard 41 weeks (I was only here for 13 of those weeks), we served thousands of patients in that time, changed even more lives (I have more exact figures somewhere).  We had over 180 personnel come through the OR during that time, I have no idea how many different people came through when I was here- we have the highest turn over rate on the entire ship.  Because it was the last week, we did smaller cases, but no less difficult.  We had some troublesome babies this week who wanted nothing more than give us all grey hair.  We worked long hours this week, trying to get as many patients done before the end, for the ship won't be returning to Liberia for at least several years.

The new waterpump!
  Our last scheduled was a 40 year old man who had a cleft lip.  He has gone through life being shunned and outcasted by a deformity that if he had been born in the western world, would have been fixed when he was a baby.  He was so excited to have his surgery, so when his turn finally came, he was all smiles.

Thursday was Thanksgiving, as many of you know.  Thanks to some early planning and the best mommy in the world, I was able to make real American pumpkin pies.  Wednesday, after work, I set up shop in the crew galley and rolled out the crust and mixed the filling.  I introduced pumpkin pie to the world that day.  Americans are far out numbered in the OR (only 3), so most people have never heard of, let alone had pumpkin pie before.

Fish faces
  They are now all pumpkin pie lovers, and those that had had it before said it was the best they've ever had (thanks to Grandma's secret family recipie!).  We have an American cook this year, so (for those that remember my story of Thanksgiving last year) we had a real Thanksgiving meal.  We ate our feast out on the dock, watching the sunset into the ocean, very pretty.  Pumpkin pie after worship.

Today was a very emotional day.  I had to say goodbye to my orphanage.  Lots have changed at the orphanage since we first started coming.  They have started transplanting their garden from the nursery to their new beds- they have peppers and callard greens in so far.  The latrines are coming alone, they just need the commodes and doors to be put in and the add the shower house onto the back.

Jeremiah smiles
  But the biggest news is that their well is complete!  They are just waiting on the water tests to come back and then they wont have to go far for clean drinking water.  They were so proud of their waterpump, it was the first thing they showed us when we arrived.  It sits behind the school house and when they showed it to us they started singing!  I'm so proud of Emmanuel and Evelyn, the care providers, they are trying so hard to give these children the best they can.  I've never met such loving people.  All was going well, until it was time to leave.  Little Jeremiah came up to me for his customary goodbye hug and I scooped him up in my arms.  I had to tell this sweet little boy that I wasn't coming back next week, I was going home.
Jeremiah
  He looked at me and I saw his smile dissappear from his face.  He understood and wrapped his little arms around my neck and layed his head on my shoulder.  We both cried together.  I never saw him smile again.  I had to leave him there with tears rolling down his face.  I hate goodbyes.

As my time here draws to a close, I know I'll have more goodbyes, more last times.  I've watched others go through them, I vaguey remembering going through it last year, but I'm dreading it as the days get less and less.  Don't get me wrong, I can't wait to go home either, but I know my heart will belong here in Africa.

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Ramatu, a 5 month old with a cleft…
Ramatu, a 5 month old with a clef…
Thanksgiving on the dock
Thanksgiving on the dock
The new waterpump!
The new waterpump!
Fish faces
Fish faces
Jeremiah smiles
Jeremiah smiles
Jeremiah
Jeremiah
Parachute fun
Parachute fun
With my girls
With my girls
Madam President Ellen Johnson Sirl…
Madam President Ellen Johnson Sir…
Crew costume party
Crew costume party
Nurse Carla Espinosa from Scrubs
Nurse Carla Espinosa from Scrubs
The costume contest finalists
The costume contest finalists
Monrovia
photo by: Bluenose