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.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

KRB Update - 1st White Man to Visit Their Village

KRB Update #2172 - 1st White Man to Visit Their Village Keith R. Brinkman December 28, 2011

$3.97 – Can of Deluxe Nuts - Walmart
138,000 leones – transportation – shared taxi, motorbikeSeeing Kalimu running towards me after I entered his village … priceless

Many of you will remember reading my KRB Update #2169 - entitled Kalimu – one of our cleft lip patients. I shared his story and that of his granny. She brought him for registration for surgery while our Screening Team visited Kenema in January of this year. Once she got the surgery appointment, she brought the boy to Freetown for his surgery.

I wanted to stay in touch with them, but she didn’t have a mobile phone number, but another patient named Sylvester said he knew where they lived in town and would check on them. I called and called and always got the message ‘out of network area or turned off’. I wasn’t worried about his recovery, but really wanted to know how he was doing. Our days in Sierra Leone were limited, so I decided I would go and visit them. I understood they lived in the town of Kenema as she gave me a street and house number. When I got to the area, I met many from the family, but they shared the news that granny and Kalimu lived in the village. When I asked how long it would take to get to the village, the aunt thought it would be one hour by motorbike. She shared that her brother, Ibrahim, has a motorbike and so we got him on the phone and asked for a price quote. So off we went, after about 45 minutes, we arrived in Gbado and his elder brother joined us as he knew where the village was located. Ibrahim had never been to the village and I wondered as he said they were all family, but I learned later that their father had 70 children from 3 legal wives and 7 other women. When we were leaving Gbado, a man came running calling my name. His name is Amadu and he was with his son Abdul in our hospital for his son’s surgery. I never knew where they lived.

We continued down the road/path and I had no clue how long it would take. As the path got narrower, there were many times we had to get off the motorbike and hike ourselves as it was too rough and steep for all three of us on the motorbike. After an hour from Gbado and through the community of Dodo, we finally made it to a village where we left the motorbike and started the hike to the village, crossing many ant trails, a bamboo bridge and trying not to step again in mud as I did that earlier. No one could spell the name of the village – though they shared that the village name means ‘Under the Palm Tree’. When we got to the village, they offered us a stool to sit down on, no sooner had a sat down, when out of the corner on my eye, I saw this boy running full speed towards me, it was Kalimu. It was so great to see the boy again, soon his granny followed. They couldn’t believe I came to visit. He looked so good and his lip was completed healed.

While they were with us on the ship, another fact was lost in translation: the boy is not in a Christian school, though he is attending the government village school. Thankfully I brought a can of deluxe nuts from Walmart and was able to present that to the village elders as that is an African custom of bringing nuts. Plus I had candy which I gave granny to share with all the children. I let Kalimu use my camera to take photos (or ‘snaps’ as they call it) – they loved taking snaps and looking at them on the display on the back. I walked around and got to see their village, the population of about 80 people. He lives with his granny, which is somewhat the custom also as his parents live in another village about seven mile walk from their village, so we were not able to visit them.

I learned from the village elders that they were pleased with my visit and shared that I was the first white man to ever come to their village. Wow!!! I am so thankful for the hour I got to spend together with them. I spoke words of life and encouragement over his life and believe that some things/seeds of ‘Papa God’ were planted in his and granny’s lives. About twenty of them walked with us to the next village where we left the motorbike, I said my goodbyes for now and started the long journey back. I was away from the ship for 17 hours – spent one hour in town with his extended family and one hour in the village, but it was worth it all. I shared with them that “my heart is gladi gladi”

Serving Together, Keith
Email: Mail: Keith R. Brinkman, Mercy Ships, P.O. Box 2020, Lindale, TX 75771 USA

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Godwin & Elizabeth's Wedding

At my church here in Ghana (Ashaiman) this morning at the Christmas service, my friend Godwin married Elizabeth. Godwin was a day worker who served with us on the Anastasis. It was great to be there to celebrate with them.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Save Them Young Visit 24Dec2011

Group photo from this morning's visit to Save Them Young - one of our mercy ministries site in Ghana from 2006-07 with the Anastasis.

David Comes Back for Visit to Orphanage

While visiting Save Them Young this morning - I was not the only visitor - David who grew up in the orphanage, but is now working in Kumasi came by also.

Save Them Young Visit Visiting with Doreen

Visited this morning with Doreen - one of the house moms at the orphanage near Tema - Save Them Young - we visited their weekly on Saturdays with Mercy Ships when the Anastasis was in port in 2006-07.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

2011 Christmas Card AFM

The Christmas Card from the Africa Mercy. Merry Christmas to everyone
Keith (Kofi) Brinkman
in Tema, Ghana West Africa

Thursday, December 08, 2011

KRB Update Tamba Foday

Greetings from Sierra Leone, West Africa for the last time. As many enjoyed hearing the story of Kalimu, I decided I will write another one – this time of an orthopaedic patient named Tamba Foday from Koidutown, Kono. As a young boy, an accident occurred causing much damage to his right leg and foot. All this took place during the civil war in the nation. As a child, he was not able to attend school as his mother did not have the money for school fees. Later on, he went to live with his uncle in the city. They sent him to school. Though, instead of school being a place to learn, he instead felt much ridicule from the other children. They would provoke him and make fun of him because of the problem with his leg and foot. In addition, the long walk to school was difficult on his right foot and later he stopped attending classes.

While in the market in January, they heard on the radio in their local language that Mercy Ships would be screening patients at the local government hospital. He wasn’t able to get there on the first day but made it on the third and last day and was issued a surgeon screening card for March. We had sent our screening team up-country to five locations and made the commitment that due to the poverty and lack of access to medical care; we would pay all the transport costs to and from the ship in Freetown. So Tamba, boarded the rented ‘poda poda’ and travelled for the first time ever to Freetown. After their arrival in Freetown, Tamba along with potential orthopaedic patients were screened by our orthopaedic surgeons.

Tamba shared with me that he didn’t believe he would get any assistance. Though after being on the ship and seeing the other patients come and go from the operating rooms, his belief that he would get help increased greatly. He commented that “the nurses took good care of me, they give you your medicines and people visit you”

I didn’t really connect much with Tamba until he was at the HOPE Center where he lived for over three months. We would sometimes talk for a long period of time and as he is older we were able to go deeper in our conversations than those with the much younger children. He shared that his family is Muslim, though he has learned about Papa God and His son Jesus Christ while he has been here with Mercy Ships. I asked if they attend the mosque on Fridays and he said yes. I encouraged him that he can still pray to Papa God for his life, his situation and to develop more of his relationship with Him. He commented that “When God thinks of me, I feel good”.

He is so pleased with his healing, he feels happy and his mother cried for joy seeing him. On his return to his home town, all his friends and neighbors came to see and look at his leg and how he can walk now himself properly. I miss having time with Tamba as we visited almost every day. School started in September and he is enrolled at the local school. He doesn’t know what he wants to be in the future, but has the thought to be a doctor “as without the doctors who took care of me, I would not be better.”

Prayer Request: Tamba’s life, reintegration into society, his physical, spiritual and emotional health – and for all of our patients