Keith R. Brinkman serving with Mercy Ships. This is another way for me to communicate with you all what is happening. I hope you enjoy seeing the photos and entries.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Tour of central Las Palmas with Ken,Ann,Jean&Jean

On Sunday, I had the day off and was invited to go on adventure with my friends Ken, Ann, Jean and Jean. We headed to the mountains and the former volcano in the middle of this island of Gran Canaria. We drove up to 6,500 feet, though when we got there, we could not see anything but the cloud. We stopped along the way in small quaint small towns and just enjoyed the day together.

Drydock 07 Under the AFM @ Bow

During our tour of the ship on Sunday morning, I took this photo at the bow (front of the ship). Since she was a ferry in Denmark before the ship actually had two rudders - one in the front and one in the back - we don't need the one in the front and so we welded it closed. So far things are going good with the inspection and certificates that we need to continue to sail.

Holding the weight of the Africa Mercy with help

Drydock 07 Under the AFM
Originally uploaded by keith.brinkman
Sunday morning we had the opportunity to have a tour under of the Africa Mercy as we are in drydock. Here you can see the middle bottom of the ship resting on these platforms with wood on railroad tracks. That is how they move us around the shipyard. It was very interesting to see the bottom and the different parts that are normally always under the water line.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

View of Las Palmas de Korean Church

This lovely view is of Las Palmas from the hillside where the Korean Church has their building. They hosted 55 of us crew on Sunday for service which was translated from Korean into English, Spanish and Chinese. Then they enjoyed bulgogi, my favorite Korean food and then went for a short bus ride to the Botanical Gardens and the Calle de Colon - Street of Christopher Columbus.

Africa Mercy High & Dry

Going into Drydock
Originally uploaded by keith.brinkman
Photo of the Africa Mercy in the drydock here in Las Palmas, Gran Canaria for our annual inspection. This is required for our passenger status for the ship and our options from West Africa are to go to South Africa or the Canary Islands. Soon I will post a photo of me standing down below the ship on dry land!!!

Entering into Drydock Las Palmas

Drydock Entering In
Originally uploaded by keith.brinkman
I am standing on Deck 8 - highest deck on the Africa Mercy as we watch the ship being raised and on placed on platforms with railroad like wheels as they pull us into our 'parking spot'. You can see 3 of the bulldozers pulling us. I have been in many drydocks, but this is the first time usually a system like this.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

At the helm, heading north

Sail to Las Palmas (20)
Originally uploaded by keith.brinkman
The helm (steering wheel) on this ship is much smaller than on the Anastasis and Caribbean Mercy (ships of the past). In case any of you are wondering, the officer on duty had the ship on auto-pilot - I just stood there for the photo.

Checking the charts for the sail

Sail to Las Palmas (28)
Originally uploaded by keith.brinkman
Even though most things are not electronicized/computerized on board the ship, we still make use of the charts for our voyages. Here we are checking out our route to the shipyard in Las Palmas.

Great View!!!

Sail to Las Palmas (24)
Originally uploaded by keith.brinkman
On the Africa Mercy bridge, there is this section on both side that has a glass bottom, so the capitan and officers can see when docking the ship. In the photo, I am standing on the glass looking down at the ocean as it goes by. When the orphans came to visit the ship, we got permission to take them to the bridge and I would ask for a brave one to volunteer to stand on it first, usually I got one, but even afterwards, some of them would not stand in this spot.

Alieu Swaray School Tenegar

The area of Tenegar is a possible location for agriculture, water & sanitation and community health education. Jeff and I visited this school, Alieu Swaray School, spoke with the principal and teachers to learn more about the area. All of our photos and information in our reports goes to our Programs Director and the leaders at our headquarters to be considered for a community for our '08 field service in Liberia.

Ministry of Health clinic in Artington

As part of our assessment for our community-focus activities for next year, we visited this Ministry of Health clinic in Artington. Regretfully, it is not fully staffed and only offering limited services for the people in the area. Artington is north of the capitol city of Monrovia, Liberia.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Assessment in Royesville

Blamacee Charles who is a teacher in the school showed Jeff and me around northern Royesville, which is a hike as the bridge was destroyed by an UN tank. I believe this is William Town or Besi Town in this photo. We asked alot of questions, but were careful not to raise expectations as we only did assessment. Others will take our photos and notes and make the appropriate decision.

Assessment in Royesville

With our return to Liberia in '08, we needed to do some assessment to find appropriate communities. I went out to some recommended locations including Royesville, which is a community the Anastasis crew worked with in '05-'06.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Group of '77 Virginia Property Group

Our group shot in front of the secure storage building on the property they are developing for rehabilitation of the disabled of Liberia. The wife of the vice president, the 2nd lady, is in the middle of the picture. This is an ongoing relationship with this group.

Group of '77 Virginia Property Opening

One of our projects has been a partnership with Group of '77 who are working with the disabled here in Liberia. We assisted with a secure storage building and hand pump on their property in the area known as Virginia. The wife of the Vice President is the Chairperson of the group and she is speaking to the group gathered that day. We have an ongoing relationship with them.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Family Photo Sept 07

Family Photo Sept 07
Originally uploaded by keith.brinkman
Family photo that we took at my parent's home on September 15, 2007 while I was back in Indiana. Most of us were able to get together on Saturday afternoon and evening and enjoyed time together and at the end of the evening, we took this picture. I have it up in my cabin so I can share with those who visit - to know my family.

Last visit with Mercy

Last visit with Mercy
Originally uploaded by keith.brinkman
Now check out her hair!!! This little girl's name is MERCY and she lives at the Centre for the Aged, Orphaned and Abandoned Children - the home that our team of up to 18 people visited weekly. This was taken at my last visit with them.

Last visit with Stephen

Last visit with Stephen
Originally uploaded by keith.brinkman
Photo of my friend Stephen who is from the Centre for the Aged, Orphaned and Abandoned Children - he is almost 4 years old they think - special little guy and I will really miss him. This is the orphanage that I visited weekly.

Liberia Children's Rescue Education Foundation Orphanage

Group photo of the children and teens at the Children's Rescue Education Foundation Orphanage along with the staff and my friend Brenda van Straten who is greatly involved in this ministry. I have visited them often and this was the day we hosted them on board the Africa Mercy - which was a joy for all of us.

Nathaniel & Flomo on Deck 7

Nathaniel Flomo Deck 7
Originally uploaded by keith.brinkman
Both Nathaniel and Flomo came back to the ship for a follow up surgery - they both had large tumor at their chin and lower jaw, which had to be removed and a titaniun plate was put in for their jaw. Nathaniel Baker is to my left on the photo - he is a primary school teacher from Harper in Maryland - a county in the far southeastern corner of Liberia. Flomo to my right is also from Maryland county and he is a farmer. They have both returned home, but we were able to visit every day in the hospital. Please pray for their continual healing.

Thank you Reception

Thank you Reception
Originally uploaded by keith.brinkman
As a way of saying thank you to all those who have helped us during a field service, we invite them to a special Thank you Reception on board the ship. Our department, Programs, hosted this event. One of my roles was to welcome the visitors and ask them to sign our guest book. At the last minute, we received word that the Vice President was coming to the event and so that was a welcomed surprise.

Holding a little guy during church

The Sunday morning services can go long at the local churches - often many hours. I was visiting this church this past Sunday and when they entered into Part 2 of the service, I stepped outside for some air and ended up staying out with the children. I met Emmanuel - see next BLOG entry and also this little guy, who ended up falling asleep on my lap. The children are precious.

Emmanuel & Pastor Andrew

Emmanuel was borned with two club feet - where the feet are going the wrong direction - he has lived with this for many years. Thankfully, God made a way for him - our orthopaedic surgeons selected him for surgery and did his left foot and will do his right foot when we return next year. He lives at an orphanage that some of my friends have been visiting. I met him at church last Sunday as seen in the picture with Pastor Andrew. He has a gentle heart and spirit - I told him that I will visit him when he returns for his second surgery.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Orphanage Tour - Bridge

Tour Bridge
Originally uploaded by keith.brinkman
On final stop on the tour of the Africa Mercy with the children and teens from the orphanage was on the bridge. One of our senior officiers, Ruth Denton, explained the equipment (even had the radar system turned on) and what all happens on the bridge while we are sailing. It was a great day to host them on board.

Orphanage Tour

Tour Aft Deck 3
Originally uploaded by keith.brinkman
Saturday, we hosted the staff and children from the Liberia Children's Rescue Education Foundation Orphanage on board the m/v Africa Mercy. I had the privilege of giving them a tour of the ship - we have been to their home many times and now this was an opportunity to show them our home. In the photo we are on Deck 3 (hospital) aft (back part).

Monday, November 05, 2007

Peace Ward

Peace Ward
Originally uploaded by keith.brinkman
Hospital Visitation - through our Adopt-A-Patient program, I visited daily the hospital - currently visiting Peace ward to see Nathaniel and Flomo. We are unable to take pictures in the ward out of respect for the patients, but here is a photo of the Peace ward before the patients arrived. The other wards are named by other Fruits of the Holy Spirit - Joy, Faith, and Hope.

Fombo out on Deck 7

Fombo Deck 7
Originally uploaded by keith.brinkman
For our patients who are well enough, we offer to take them to Deck 7 to get some fresh air and for the children the chance to play 'outside'. Fombo underwent his first surgery on the Anastasis and that is where I met him. He completed his follow up surgery here on the Africa Mercy. He has now returned home with his mom and reunited with his father and older siblings.

Cheesemanburg Sunday School

Following we shared in Sunday School at the Good Shepherd Baptist Church in Cheesemanburg, we got out the parachute and starting playing with it. The children loved it - something new and different.

Cheesemanburg Community Garden

Jean-Claude Mouditou from Congo is one of our agriculture trainers. Here is showing me the community garden created by the people of Cheesemanburg. They are applying the principles that they are learning in raising new vegetables.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Academy Open House

As our crew is made up of singles, couples and families, we have an Academy on board. They had an Open House and we were able to visit their various classrooms. In the photo is Josephine Biney, her and her family were on the Caribbean Mercy years ago.
The Academy has 49 students in nursery (6), preschool (9), elementary (35), junior high (4) and high school (5) with 11 teaching staff using the Texas Education Knowledge and Standards curriculum.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Aaron & Hawa and their son William

One of the patients I am currently visiting is Aaron. He has been with us for 3 weeks now and soon he will be able to return home. The surgeons were able to do a surgery to correct a problem he has had since birth. On Thursday his wife Hawa brought their son William to visit, you should have seen Aaron's big smile. We stepped outside of the hospital and took this photo together.

Bernards Farm beekeeping course

As part of our Women's Empowerment program, we are conducting Beekeeping training with two groups of women. Beekeeping is something that the women can start up and maintain and yet doesn't require alot of her time away from her family and does bring in income from the sale of honey, wax and other products. We brought in Dr. Kwame Aidoo from Ghana to do this part of the training. One of our crew members and Dr. Kwame will return in March to continue with the training on harvesting and marketing.

Agriculture Graduation

I joined some other crew as we attended the graduation ceremony for one of the six Agriculture Training classes. Ben and Jean-Claude start the teachings from Genesis 1 and God's intent for man and the land. This group of participants included various ones from some of our mercy ministry locations - orphanages and home for the disabled. They are so proud of their accomplishment. During the graduation, many shared in song, including one about Composting which they made up.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Visit of the Sisters of Charity & Don Bosco brothers

Sisters of Charity Visit
Originally uploaded by keith.brinkman
One of our mercy ministries sites available for crew involvement during the week is at the AIDS hospice run by the Sisters of Charity. I was able to visit last month myself. Our group splits - the men go to the men's ward and have a Bible study and discussion and the women go to the women's area and then other women to the children's ward. Today we had the privilege of hosting on board some of the sisters and the brothers from their partnering ministry - Don Bosco. We had refreshments and time showing them around the ship. As one brother shared, we are all serving the same person - Jesus.

Observing Philip's Surgery

Philip Surgery Max Fac
Originally uploaded by keith.brinkman
I signed up 3 months ago to observe a surgery and my opportunity was last Friday. I watched Dr. Tony Giles from the UK perform a tumor removal surgery on Philip from Guinea – one of our neighboring nations. A cell that is used to make enamel went bad and formed a tumor in the chin/jaw area. They had to take out the lower jaw along with the tumor. It was interesting to watch and see all the tools they use and how they are able to do these life changing surgeries. Last night, I visited briefly with Philip in the hall and he is on day five of his recovery and doing good. We were limited in our conversation as he speaks French and I have not yet learned much of that language.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Centre for the Orphaned / Abandoned

CAOAC Aug 07
Originally uploaded by keith.brinkman
Saturdays, I visit the Centre for the Orphaned and Abandoned with about 15 other crew members. There are about 70 children and teen living there under the care of Comfort and Dennis and their staff. While we are there, we usually have games, singing with motions, a Bible story lesson, crafts and more games. As it was rainy last week, we met on the small porch and here is a picture of some of the boys.

Armor of God in balloons

Last Saturday, we brought a special guest to the orphanage... Mario from Italy as the clown. When he came out, the children ran, they had never seen such a person. Prior to our visit, we asked the director if this would be ok and she said she. We were huddled on the small porch as it was raining and so when he came out, they even ran out into the rain. The Bible lesson was on putting on the armor of God and he made balloons to demonstrate - Sword of the Spirit, Breastplate of Righteousness, Belt of Truth, Shield of Faith & Helmet of Salvation.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Collin at Orphanage

Collin at Orphanage
Originally uploaded by keith.brinkman
On Sunday, July 29th I responded to an emergency announcement and reported quickly to Reception. I was assigned to drive for our emergency medical team to a site on the other side of town. The site was where we found Collin who was not breathing and his heart was not pumping, his friend was doing CPR. He apparently drowned while swimming with friends at a local nearby beach. Our doctors and nurses did all they could, but we could not revive him. Henry and Phil, two of our chaplains, came to the site to be there for his friends, our team and others – we had a time of prayer and crying. I didn’t know Collin that well, but he was part of our community and being there trying to help just hit me emotionally also. He was 21 years old, just three days shy of his 22nd birthday. Please pray for his family and friends.

Little George

NGUMC w George 6 months
Originally uploaded by keith.brinkman
My friend took this photo at church last Sunday as I was sitting next to George, 6 months old, and his mother. I was attending the New Georgia United Methodist Church, only 20 km from the ship. Our man of peace here in Liberia used to attend this church prior to being moved into the district overseer role with the United Methodist Church, which is a large denomination here in Liberia. The president herself attends the Methodist church.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

HIV Graduation - Ceremony

HIV Graduation - Ceremony
Originally uploaded by keith.brinkman
Our HIV/AIDS training has been happening in 3 communities with small group representatives from 8 churches. They came to the ship for their certificate ceremony. I joined them for the special event and I ran into two pastors I met at our Pastors Reception - they were the ones who gave me my Liberian name, KOFA.

HIV Graduation

Last Friday, we had the graduation ceremony for 8 church groups as they have finished their training in HIV/AIDS. Now they are working on their own proposals on how they will use their training to impact their communities in regards to HIV/AIDS.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Celebration of Sight - Slit Lamp

I helped with getting the patients to this point. After our station, an ophthalmologist performed the laser eye procedures utilizing a portable, table-top YAG ophthalmic laser. "When the cataract is removed the surgeon leaves a little membrane in the eye which helps to hold the [synthetic replacement] lens in place," Dr. Hugh explains. "After a period of time this membrane may become cloudy. As it becomes cloudy the patient’s vision is compromised. So they bring the patients back and they use the YAG laser to cut a little hole in the center of that membrane. The patient is able to see clearly again through that hole." Medical research indicates about half of those who undergo a cataract removal procedure will eventually lose their sight a second time due to cloudy membranes. We will have our Celebration of Sight day in September.

Celebration of Sight - Left or Right

We seated the patients and their families. Many stood and shared testimony and expressed their thanks to God and to the crew and to speak of how their lives had been transformed. One man spoke of losing his livelihood as a fisherman because of the cataracts that stole his vision. Another said he’d feared his eyesight had failed because of a curse placed on him by a neighbor. Both gave praise to God for the return of their sight. As you can imagine, many were older people. I reviewed their records and got them ready for Dr. Hugh to look into their eye.

Celebration of Sight

Celebration of Sight
Originally uploaded by keith.brinkman
One-hundred eighty-five patients crowded the Africa Mercy cafeteria on last Friday to celebrate the restoration of their eyesight with the beat of African drums, hymns and shouts of praise.
Health Care Services Manager Jean Campbell said of the Celebrate Sight event, "One of the things we wanted to do was to celebrate the fact they could see again, that this was a gift to them, and that ultimately it was God who made it all possible for their operations to take place onboard. It also was an opportunity for patients to express what a difference sight has made in their lives." My role was patient flow and getting them ready for the slit lamp.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Extreme Dentistry in Prison

Dental in Prison
Originally uploaded by keith.brinkman
Our dental team normally serve Monday - Friday at a local hospital where patients line up early in the mornings to get a ticket to receive free dental care - fillings, root canal and extractions and some limited oral surgery. For a few days last week they set up a limited dental clinic in the central prison of Monrovia - with a population of 580 men and 20 women. We have had teams visiting and sharing with the inmates since our first visit to Liberia. We are partnering with Prison Fellowship of Liberia.

Orthopaedic Patient

Orthopaedic Patient
Originally uploaded by keith.brinkman
New on the Africa Mercy - orthopaedic surgery - first time on a Mercy Ship. Our orthopaedic team have worked extensively in Honduras and elsewhere, but with the new ship is the first time they are able to offer orthopaedic surgery on board. Here is a little girl and her mother after her reconstructive/corrective surgery of her club feet.

VVF Patient & Yvonne

VVF Patient &Yvonne
Originally uploaded by keith.brinkman
My friend Yvonne has befriended this lady who has had a successful VVF (vesico-vaginal fistula) surgery on board - the fistula is due to prolonged labor and with the delivery occurring only after the baby dies. The woman is always wet and unable to control the flow of urine. Around 100,000 new cases of VVF are reported every year and affects women who are very young and very poor. We are planning to provide surgery to over 200 women.

Inside ICU on Africa Mercy

Inside ICU Jax Donated
Originally uploaded by keith.brinkman
In this photo, you see Ans Rozema who is from the Netherlands and is our Patient Care Coordinator for the hospital. She is sitting in the ICU - Intensive Care Unit - which was sponsored by Charlie & Katy Towers and the People of Jacksonville, Florida. Jacksonville was the home port of the Caribbean Mercy from '94 - '00.

Relay Games at Orphanage

Relay Games at Orphanage
Originally uploaded by keith.brinkman
Since the transition between ships is basically done, we have returned to going on Saturdays to the Centre for the Aged, Orphaned and Abandoned Orphanage. We usually have relay games as seen in the photo to wear them out a bit (at least I get worn out) before the Bible story, songs and crafts. Great being back!!!

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Sharing about Adopt-A-Patient

For our Open Hospital night, I was asked to share in one of the wards about the Adopt-A-Patient program. In the photo I am explaining how you can select a patient from the IV Tube Poles - one for men, one for women and one for children. I encouraged the crew to take on the challenge, sharing from my personal experiences.