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.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Cabin Door 2008

Cabin Door 2008
Originally uploaded by keith.brinkman
Christmas Day 2008

From my home, cabin 4236 on the Africa Mercy, to your home, a very Merry Christmas

Cabin Door Gifts

Door & Gifts 2008
Originally uploaded by keith.brinkman
Following the Dutch tradition, on Christmas Eve we place a shoe or boot outside our cabin doors. Then during the night we the crew have the opportunity to drop small gifts into the shoe or around the shoe of our fellow crew members. So on Christmas morning, I opened my door and saw small gifts all along my entire hallway (Deck 4 - which is the main accomodations deck for singles and couples).

Christmas Brunch

Christmas Brunch
Originally uploaded by keith.brinkman
Christmas Brunch was wonderful - on the 25th from 9am-11am - since we have just arrived from Africa, we were all excited for the fruits - including one of my favorites - strawberries. Our Food Services team did a great job all around. Most of the crew volunteered to help in one way or the other.

Christmas Eve Rene & Philip

For Christmas eve we had a wonderful dinner in our dining room followed by the Christmas Eve Service. With me in this photo from our table is Philip from Sierra Leone in the middle and Rene Tolno from Guinea on the right.

Christmas Batik

Christmas Batik
Originally uploaded by keith.brinkman
My friend from Ashaiman, Ghana made this wonderful batik for Christmas for Mercy Ships. It is displayed in our International Lounge for the Christmas Eve Service.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Sunset from the bow

Originally uploaded by keith.brinkman
If the weather permits (meaning the waves are not coming over the bow), the deck officers open the bow for the crew to go out after dinner to watch the sunset. I am in the midst of the group there as my friend Marcin from Poland has taken this beautiful photo. Though the sunset was not terrific, it was just enjoyable to be out there.

Sail out of Liberia Dec08

My last shot of Central Monrovia in the background. This was taken a couple days before we sailed out of Monrovia. I have basically lived in Liberia for two entire years. I have mixed emotions about leaving, not knowing when I will see the people here again, especially the children at the orphanages that I have been so involved with.

Academy Christmas Play Dec 08

The children and teens in the on board Academy put on their Christmas play this year in the International Lounge. The drama was written by three of the high school students and it was called 'Christmas in 2210'. They all did an excellent job. Every one was involved including those in the nursery program.

Kids Crafts Dec 08

As part of our Christmas celebration, one evening we had 'Kids Craft Night' in the cafe area. As you can see from the photo, the children are using popcorn to make strands for their Christmas trees.

Santa Lucia Dec 08

Santa Lucia Dec 08
Originally uploaded by keith.brinkman
Our Scandanavian crew shared one of their traditions with the entire crew of the ship - Santa Lucia - they sing various songs in their various languages and my friend JP shared some of the Christmas story, but with a Liberian accent. The whole event happened in what we call 'Town Square' in the middle of the ship.

Mtg 15Dec08 Toastmasters

Our 'Mercy in Africa' Toastmaster club continues to meet on board every Monday evening at 17:45-18:45. I serve as one of the officers in our club. In this photo is a new recruit, our very own Nicholas Safari Katsui from Mombasa, Kenya and he is doing great.

Dayworker Thank You Reception

For our Dayworkers Thank You Reception we hosted about 150 Liberians along with many of our crew who serve with them. We all gathered here in our International Lounge for the program - as seen in this photo and the one just below.

Dayworker Thank You Reception

As a way to honor and thank our dayworkers, we host a special Reception for them. Dayworkers are local Liberians who served as translators, cooks, security guards, cleaners and in many different roles - we provide a daily stipend and a meal. Many of my closest African friends have been dayworkers as we serve together. For this reception, we started out with a great African meal provided for lunch for everyone. Then we moved to the International Lounge and I had the privilege to be the MC. Following African music/dance, our Managing Director and Captain expressed their thanks. Then, three of the dayworkers shared a response and we closed with a prayer and benediction from one of the chaplains. Afterwards we enjoyed ice cream and time to say 'thank you' and 'goodbye'.

Vice President Visits

As a thank you to the crew, Vice President Boakai and the Minister of Health blessed the entire crew with a catered meal. Following the great meal, we had a reception in the International Lounge and we shared about our program activities for 2008. Various ones from the Government of Liberia shared their thanks to the crew on behalf of the people of Liberia.

Thank you Reception

Towards the end of a field service, we always have what we call a Thank You Reception in order to provide an opportunity to thank our partners and others who have made it possible. I was tasked with the guest list and invitations. We extended an invitation to Her Excellency Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, though since she had just been with us at the clinic dedication, we didn't know if she would come. Well, she did and graced us with a heart filled speech - it was a blessing to all the crew there and for the other invited guests.

Final Sunday at church

NGUMC Final Day (8)
Originally uploaded by keith.brinkman
On Sundays the crew are encouraged to attend local churches for Sunday morning services. Normally I have had patients in the Hospital on the ship and we have an optional service in the ward and I invite my patients to attend. At times, when I am not going to the service in the hospital, I attend the New Georgia United Methodist Church with other crew members. Rev. Alex Harmon has been a friend for two years now. This photo was from our last Sunday with them and they presented Certificates of Appreciation.

Programs Reporting Time

During our field services, every Friday morning at 07:45 I have the privilege to host Programs Reporting Time. This is an opportunity for Programs (Hospital and HealthCare Development) here on the Africa Mercy to share what is happening both on board and off the ship. I usually start out pointing out opportunities for the crew to join us - that is what I am showing in the photo.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Benin Advance Team

On Thursday evening at our Community Meeting, we prayed over and commissioned our Advance Team for Benin '09 Field Service. Four women (Brenda, Anouchka, Yvonne, Melissa) were asked to join the Benin Field Representative (Daslin) to prepare for the ship's next outreach. As part of my role as Programs Administrator, I assist to prepare the logistics and provide support for the team. I will drive them to the airport on Monday morning as they fly to Cotonou, Benin via Lagos, Nigeria.

Group Photo 08 w Mercy Ships

Photo of the children, teens and staff of the Liberia Children Rescue Education Foundation Orphanage at the start of their visit to the ship. In addition, some of the crew who have been involved in their lives are also in the picture - I'm seated in the middle on the dock. I printed this photo out for them to keep also.

Ship Visit 15Nov08

During the visit of the orphanage to the ship, I showed them a 6 minute power point with about 140 photos from this year. It was fun to watch them watch themselves on the big screen here in our International Lounge. I played the famous Liberian song 'Carry My Load' while we watched the photos.

Ship Visit

On Saturday afternoon the 15th of November, the children, teens and staff and 3 staff children came to the ship for a visit. One of the highlights was playing on the dock with the ride on toys, wagons, etc as you can see in the photo. Thankfully we had no close calls with the children and the edge of the pier - as that was one of my fears and thus ensured we had enough of us there to be watching.

Visit Nov 22

Visit Nov 22
Originally uploaded by keith.brinkman
During today's visit to Liberia Children Rescue Education Foundation Orphanage, I had given my camera to Joseph and he took this photo of me with Isaiah, Princess and Ma Hawa. I will miss them greatly when we leave in a few weeks.

Visit Nov 22 Distribute Photos

While the children, teens and staff of Liberia Children Rescue Education Foundation Orphanage visited to the ship last Saturday, I took individual portraits of them. Then I printed and had them laminated and as the picture shows, Kennedy, the orphanage director is giving the photos out to the children and teens. When I saw their faces while getting their photos, it was worth all the work.

Programs Reporting Times

One of my great enjoyments every week is hosting a weekly meeting on Friday mornings at 07:45am. I arrange and coordinate for speakers from our Hospital and HealthCare Developments areas. This provides a time to have our project team leaders and others to share what is happening in programs both on the ship and off the ship. For some of my speakers, it is the first time they have done a speech in English for a large group. I usually start with a welcome and advertise the opportunities for that weekend that the general crew may sign up and join us and also about the sign up sheets for local churches on Sundays.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

US Ambassador Visit - US Crew

I joined our managing director and others in hosting the visit of the US Ambassador to Liberia on board the ship. Some of the US crew gathered here in our mid-ship lounge for a photo. She and her party stayed with us for dinner in our dining room.

US Ambassador Visit

US Ambassador Visit
Originally uploaded by keith.brinkman
The newly appointed ambassador from the United States for Liberia, Linda Thomas-Greenfield came to the ship for a visit. She was joined by her husband, representatives from US AID and others from the Embassy. Here she is on the bridge with our Captain Tim Tretheway.

Harvest Thanksgiving Celebration Nov 08

A table of plenty with fruits and vegetables were up front in our International Lounge for our Harvest Thanksgiving Celebration. A crew member from each of the 35 nations represented on board came forward and spoke out prayers of thanksgiving in their mother tongue. After the service, we were able to select a piece of fruit/vegetable to take home.

Harvest Thanksgiving Celebration

The crew of the Africa Mercy enjoyed a Harvest Thanksgiving Celebration on November 6th. The children and teens from the Academy were different fruits and vegetables. They sang some songs, quoted scriptures and make declarations of thanks. There are 46 children in the Academy, all children of long term crew members.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

I Love You in Sign Language

Visit Oct 17 (14)
Originally uploaded by keith.brinkman
Since learning some sign language at Bible college in '84, I have taught various ones how to do the sign 'I Love You' and here Owen, Jordie, Princess and Matalina are doing it - all from the Liberia Children's Rescue Education Foundation Orphanage in New Georgia.

Visit Sept 6

Visit Sept 6 (4)
Originally uploaded by keith.brinkman
One of the things we bring when we visit the orphanage is the colorful parachute - the children hold on to straps on the sides and then bounce a small or large ball on it - fun for all and thankfully it is real strong and does not tear.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Family Night w Victorious Faith Ministries

On Sunday evening for our community meeting, it was Family Night. Ines was able to invite 12 of the children from Victorious Faith Ministries Refuge Home and they shared a few songs and dance with us. In the photo they are doing the dance aspect. They did real well and we are real proud of them. On one of the songs, we the audience were able to participate with the actions also - fun!!

Monday, October 06, 2008

Visit of new children

Visit 02 September
Originally uploaded by keith.brinkman
Isaiah is one of the new children at the orphanage in New Georgia. Both his mother and father died from illness earlier this year. He is having a difficult time adjusting to life in the orphanage. We brought him and the other two new children to the ship for a visit. As seen in the photo, he was playing with some toys we have on the dock for our kids to play with.


Princess Portrait
Originally uploaded by keith.brinkman
Princess is new to the orphanage I visit in New Georgia. Her father was killed in an accident and something happened to her mother and so she is now in the orphanage. We brought her and the other two new children to the ship for dinner (which there was not much food that she liked) and a visit (including playing on Deck 7 as seen in the photo).

Birthday 42

Birthday 42
Originally uploaded by keith.brinkman
My 'birthday card' from the children at Liberia Children Rescue Education Foundation Orphanage in New Georgia. They also sang at the top of their lungs 'Happy Birthday'. All helping to make it a special celebration.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Site Visits Tenegar Aug 26 Well Tenegar

During our visit to the off ship ministry sites, I stopped and we visited with Paul Waldron who is our leader for Water and Sanitation. They are working currently on finishing up some new wells and some rehabilitation of water wells in Royesville and Tenegar. A friend who was with our group this day took a few photos and so I am posting a couple here.

Site Visits Tenegar Aug 26 Well Site

As part of my role on board, I host some groups of guests to see some of our activities at our off ship ministry sites. We also try to offer this for the general crew and I hosted the group this last week. We are near Tenegar at a community where Paul (in the blue) and Boakai are working with the community for a new water well. The kids I am talking to are ones I have met previously.

Visit Aug 9 Dental

While at the orphanage, we were able to do some dental screening. My last time serving with the dental clinic was years ago, but I have the trust of the children and so I had the flashlight (torch) and would reassure the child and then write down anything that Dr. Toni saw that needs to be addressed. Out of 47, 12 of them need some care - restorations (fillings) and some extractions. There are only two or three dentists in the entire nation of Liberia - through our dental clinic - we are hoping to serve over 6,000 adults and children.

Visit Aug 9 Dental Care

On Saturday, August 9th, while visiting the Liberia Children's Rescue Education Foundation Orphanage (one that I visit regularly), we brought Dr. Toni who is one of the ship's short term dentist. She was willing to come on her day off to do some screening of the children. None of the children, teens or staff have ever been to a dentist. Mercy Ships has a dental clinic set up at a local hospital providing free dental care for the people of Liberia. In this photo is Owin, who just turned five years old.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Sharing at Chapel @ Alfred & Agnes

During our visit to the Alfred & Agnes orphanage, the director, Jerome, had gathered the children and teens and some of the staff together at the Chapel. I shared briefly about why we were here and introductions and shared regards from Dr. Keith in the UK. My friend and our photographer Esther shared a song with them, but I told them they should be thankful that I don't sing - would not be a pleasant sound!

Visit to an orphanage with our interin CEO and family

I had the privilege of taking our interin CEO and his family, who are visiting with us on the ship for three weeks, to one of the local orphanages - Alfred & Agnes Memorial Orphanage in Brewerville. This is an orphanage that one of our board members from the UK is heavily involved with and I have been there many times myself.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Programs Team Dinner

Our Programs Team Leaders from the Africa Mercy went out for our appreciation meal to a newly opened restaurant in Monrovia. From 12 o'clock it is Winston Myers, Church Empowerment Manager, myself, Brenda van Straten, Advance Team Leader, Jean Campbell, Healthcare Manager and then to the other side is Jeff King, Community Development Manager and then Udo Kronester, Programs Manager.

Blood Bank on the ship

For some of our patients due to the nature of their surgery, they need blood. Our blood bank is 'walking' as it is the crew - we volunteer - are tested and prepared to donate. Last Friday afternoon, I received an urgent call from the lab asking if I would donate a unit. A woman with a large tumor protruding from her neck was in the operating room, but she was needing blood and we have the same type A +. In the photo is my friend Mike O. as he donates.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Deck 4 being added

Deck 4
Originally uploaded by keith.brinkman
On the Dronning Ingrid the train deck was high and so for the renovations of the ship we divided it in half. Deck 3 being what is now the hospital and deck 4 (you see the photos of the plates/deck being added) is accomodations. I live on deck 4 in cabin 4236 a single cabin with a shared toilet and shower. My home!

Railroad Tracks in the D. Ingrid

Railroad Tracks
Originally uploaded by keith.brinkman
Prior to us purchasing the Dronning Ingrid, she had been used to transport people, vehicles and trains from one side to the other in Denmark - the train tracks are in this photo. In this space now is the hospital on Deck 3 and accomodations for singles and couples on Deck 4.

Seattle - Caribbean Mercy

Seattle - CBM
Originally uploaded by keith.brinkman
The former captain of the Caribbean Mercy just received this photo from a visitor who came to the Caribbean Mercy in '98 and in '99 while the ship was in Seattle, Washington. He sent it around to various ones of us as a reminder of a decade ago, where we were.

Reunion in NC July 08

Some of my friends who are former Caribbean Mercy crew had a reunion in North Carolina this month and took this photo. For everyone's benefit, the husbands stood behind their wives and together they are holding their children.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Malcolm Kelly with Yvonne & I

Malcolm Kelly was with us recently on board the ship. He shared that a highlight of the trip came as Malcolm and his father Moses Kelly were received by Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, who personally thanked Malcolm for providing a positive role model for young people in Liberia. "More than anything, our youth need someone to look up to who has excelled, not only in athletics, but in life. Understanding the importance of discipline, work-ethic and education, as well as nutrition and physical well-being is critical in our efforts to rebuild Liberia," noted President Sirleaf. "Malcolm's willingness to come here to Liberia, a nation founded by freed American slaves, builds on the natural kinship between Americans and Liberians. Having a young African-American athlete who has achieved so much in life at such a young age reach out to our young people in this way is priceless. We need more of that. Our young people need that kind of encouragement at this critical time in our nation's history," Sirleaf stated. Kelly was obviously moved by his experience in Liberia. "Everywhere we went, people ran up to me to shake my hand and hug me, saying 'Thank you! Thank you!' I was a hero, but not because I'm a football player; it was because I was wearing a Mercy Ships Crew shirt. I don't think I've ever been more humbled and honored than to be considered a part of the Mercy Ships team," he said. Kelly stayed onboard the Africa Mercy during the trip, observing surgeries, and visiting with dozens of patients on the recovery wards. The group also visited a clinic under construction by a Mercy Ships Field Service Team some 20 miles inland in the rural community of Tenegar.

Meeting Malcolm Kelly

Malcolm Kelly with the Washington Redskins - an American football team was recently on board the ship with us in Liberia - in the photo some of the children on board got to meet him. Malcolm has chosen Mercy Ships as his charity of choice. It was reported that Malcolm Kelly looks forward to his upcoming NFL training camp with an additional sense of purpose knowing that he's part of a much larger team as well.
The former standout receiver at the University of Oklahoma and 2nd Round draft pick of the Washington Redskins made the "Vision Trip" to Monrovia, Liberia as a way to shed light on the medical relief effort Mercy Ships has provided for the people of the war-torn nation.

Friday, July 11, 2008

4th of July in Liberia

A close up of some of the crew from the United States as we celebrate the 4th of July. We were asked to wear the colors - red, white and blue. Enjoying the celebration even while here in West Africa. Some of the larger groups of nationalities do the same on special days for their home countries.

4th of July in Liberia '08 USA Crew

4th of July - Independence Day in the USA - though we are in West Africa, the crew from the United States - about one hundred adult and children - gathered on the dock for our dinner and then dessert along with patroitic music, flag and balloons and then this photo of us all in the front of the Africa Mercy.