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.

Friday, November 16, 2012

KRB Update - Mercy Ministries

Greetings from the nation of Guinea, West Africa. In this issue of KRB Update, I wish to share with you about Mercy Ministries. Mercy Ministries provides off ship ministry opportunities for crew and guests working alongside existing long term national organizations, demonstrating Mercy Ships vision of “Love in Action”. Mercy Ships Vision Statement – “Mercy Ships seeks to become the face of love in action, bringing hope and healing to the poor.”

Mercy Ministries is part of Programs (Hospital, Off Ship Projects and Mercy Ministries) and I have the privilege to oversee this exciting area and so grateful for our Mercy Ministries Coordinator, Site Team Leaders, Day Workers and crew who sign up and join us. I also enjoy participating and being a part at the sites myself. Here are our partners for our Guinea 2012/2013 field service:

Mercy Ministries Partners

CASO Lazare’s Orphanage – 27 orphans from babies to early teenager – many with special needs, including those who are HIV positive - Visits twice a week

AFEG Baby Rescue Center – orphanage for abandoned infants – 12 babies – Visit once a week – time to love on little ones.

Snuggle/Hug time with little ones at
the Baby Rescue Center
Ecole des Sourds – School for the Deaf – government school for 200 deaf students – their school is the neighbor to our dental clinic site here in town – Visit once a week – with triple translation from English to French to sign language

City of Solidarity – School for the Blind and Handicapped Village – about 600 handicapped people live here with the spouses and children – about 35 blind students in the school – visits once a week to the school and once a month on Friday evenings with the those of the village.

Jean Paul II Hospital Day Care Center – about 300 children - ages babies to 5 years old – Visit once a week – short program with the children

Ignace Deen Hospital Visitation – to the pediatric ward at the hospital – Visit once a week in the evening – time with the patients and their caregivers

Prison Fellowship – Men and Women’s Prison in Conakry – working with the women at this prison is new for Prison Fellowship – Visits on Saturday mornings – great teams involved with this activity.

Jesus Film – in partnership with Campus Crusade for Christ Guinea – sharing the film based on the book of Luke in French or the local languages – working with local churches.

HOPE Center – Visits twice a week to those Mercy Ships patients and caregivers at the center while they continue to receive outpatient care – primarily for the interior or out-of-country patients.

Students at the Deaf School as they receive a
basic oral health education from our Dental Team

Sunday, October 14, 2012

KRB Update - Befriend-a-Patient

Greetings from the nation of Guinea, West Africa. In this issue of KRB Update, I am excited to share with you more about the Befriend-a-Patient project. Befriend-a-Patient visits provide interested crewmembers a practical and unique opportunity to demonstrate Mercy Ships’ second core value: to love and serve others. A genuine friendship from the heart communicates volumes. Friendships between crew and patients enrich the on board experience of crew and patient alike. We believe that transformation happens one person at a time. As us crew members are being transformed by the love of God we are able to share this love with patients through time spent together. Activities will depend on the patient though may include crafts, watching a DVD together in the ward, coloring, drawing, bible study, games, cards, going outside on deck 7 and taking a walk.

I have been involved with visiting the patients from the beginning of my time on the Anastasis in 2006 and over the last six years have befriended many patients. Most of my local friends in a country are former patients, day workers and partners.

Currently, I am assigned to a seven year old boy named Ibrahim, he is actually from Sierra Leone. This is his third visit to the hospital ship due to his leg bone problems. He has recently had orthopaedic surgery on both legs and so can’t really move much while in his bed except for his upper body. At a recent Sunday service in the ward, he was clapping and moving his shoulders as we had praise and worship together. Since he has been to school, he does speak some English which helps in our communications. I will post photos of Ibrahim as they are available – though for this update I have included three patients from Togo – Dodji, Florent and Cyril. Though in African culture, I never just visit one patient, but those in the beds next to him as the wards are like a small community especially with the children. All children under 15 years old need a caregiver to be with them. My visits to the wards are great highlights.

To answer a follow up question related to screening that a friend asked and others may be wondering about - "Does it get easier having to turn people away that need services?" No it does not get easier, but when I turn away people explaining in a caring way that we don't have doctors/surgeons that can help them. I know I am being honest with them and they respect and appreciate that. Though the ones that break my heart are children and especially when someone comes too late and the surgeries are already finished but if they came earlier there may have been a chance as it is one of our specialties - those are awful hard and you feel like crying with them as the parents are usually at that stage. Even though it is hard on me, I can't imagine the parent's heart as for many there is no other option. I had this with an orthopaedic kid with bilateral club feet and I still grieve that we can't help him. I think many times if it was my child, I would ask and ask again in hopes to get help.

Thank you all for your prayers, encouragement and support as I serve.

KRB Update - Screening

KRB Update #2181 – Screening

Keith R. Brinkman 10 September 2012

Greetings from the nation of Guinea, port and capital city of Conakry. In one day alone over 4,300 people came to the People’s Palace, site of our surgical screening. Most of the entire crew were involved in this our largest event for the field service. I had the privilege to be the main gate keeper for the patients and caregivers. I tried to greet everyone who came in and with the assistance of my dayworker inquired how many cards they need. In total 3,454 cards were given to potential patients. Though, once they shared their medical situation, only 852 continued through the process for possible surgery on the Africa Mercy and an additional 527 for possible eye surgery. It was a long day but so fulfilling, everything went peaceful and the weather cooperated as we are in the midst of rainy season here. I did not try to greet people in the local languages (as I can’t identify the differences yet of the three major tribes), but primarily used my French (and English for those who greeted me in English). After the gates were closed, I went up to the area of the surgeon screening for maxillofacial and plastics/reconstructive. I sat with one of the surgeons and a fellow crew member as they further inquired to see if we could assist with surgery.

Hundreds were scheduled for surgery and others still require testing or further screening prior to being confirmed as good candidates for surgery on board. Last week, the wards opened on Wednesday and the first surgeries on Thursday. It is great to walk the hallways and see and hear patients back in our wards. Lives being transformed. I look forward to the start of the Befriend-a-Patient project and spending time with patients like Ousamne who I met on the first screening day.

Our Guinea Smiles Dental Team also started their screenings which happen twice a week on Mondays and Thursdays all throughout the field service. I served the first couple times to assist with crowd control and to answer questions.

Our Mercy Vision Eye Team will start their screenings primarily for cataract cases for adults and children, but also for pterygium and strabismus for children. A great start to this new field service!!!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

KRB Update - Guinea

KRB Update #2180 – Guinea

Keith R. Brinkman 18 August 2012

Greetings from the Africa Mercy en route to Conakry, Guinea. All of the required ship repairs, drydocking (see the photo below), and inspections were completed in the Canary Islands (just off the coast of North Africa, but part of Spain). This is the closest location we can take the ship to accomplish these activities. I spent most of my time finishing up work on the Togo 2012 field service, preparing for the Guinea 2012-2013 field service and supporting our teams already in the nation of Guinea. I also visited and had the opportunity to share in a local church who is praying for us and be a tour guide of the ship on one Sunday - it was good to use my Español once again. Our field service will be from our arrival 22 August 2012 till 15 June 2013.

In 2008 while docked in Monrovia, Liberia, we received an invitation, obtained permissions and went over across the border from Liberia into Guinea for surgical screening. For those who remember, one of my patients, Alimou, that is when I first met him. I look forward to seeing him shortly after we arrive in country. My second time in Guinea was last year as part of the Assessment Team doing the initial relationship building, logistics, and preparations. This will be the third time Mercy Ships has visited the port of Conakry, first in 1992 and again in 1998-1999 – these first two visits were with the Anastasis.
A few facts about the nation of Guinea:

United Nations Human Development Index: Rank of #178 out of 187 countries listed. The only country lower that we have visited was Sierra Leone in 2011 at #180

Independent from France since 1958 – currently a Republic

President: Alpha Conde since 2010

Life Expectancy: 58 years

Population: over 10 million people with over 1.5 million living in the capital and port city of Conakry

Area: 245,857 square kilometers (size of the state of Oregon).

Income: $863 per year

Population under the age of 15 years: 43%

Religion: Muslim 85%, Christian 8% and Indigenous Beliefs 7%

Prayer Request: For those we can help to hear about and to attend our upcoming surgical screening – to be held on Monday 3rd of September. We will use the People’s Palace, a three-story building that should provide good protection from rain (as they are in the rainy season) or sun during the day. All of us crew (both medical and non-medical) will be involved in this event as well as more than 100 local day workers who are essential in the translation process. I will work as the gate keeper at the main gate to the compound. Set up and around the clock security will begin the afternoon prior. We are anticipating crowds of 3,000-5,000, and we will hold a secondary day of screening if necessary to attend to all those waiting for care. For those on Facebook I will post a reminder as the date gets closer. We have already conducted remote surgical screening in ten locations as you can see from the map that the country is large.

Serving Together, Keith

Thursday, June 14, 2012

KRB Update - Training

KRB Update #2178 – Training

Keith R. Brinkman
June 14, 2012

Greetings from Lomé, Togo, for one last time. One of the things I hear often when doing assessment or talking with governmental officials is that they wish to have more training for their health care professionals. One difficulty here in West Africa is that if nationals go abroad to study many times they never return home to serve. So if Mercy Ships is able to provide hands-on training and mentoring on board, the health care professionals do not leave their home country.

One success has been with our eye project. In 2010 when we were here in Togo, our ophthalmic surgeon Dr. Glenn Strauss accepted Dr. Abram Wodome for a three month fellowship in eye surgery. This year, it was Dr. Abram who trained three Togolese eye surgeons. He also received some additional training related to pediatric cases with Dr. Glenn in May.

In our operating rooms/theatres, our surgical staff are involved with providing training and mentoring for surgeons and nurses. Here in Togo, they have worked with three maxillofacial surgeons, surgical nurse, and one surgeon in learning more about VVF surgery.

One of our international board members, Dr. Keith Thomson, has a passion to conduct workshops/conferences in anaesthesia for the professionals of our host nations. For the last several years, I have had the responsibility to assist in facilitating the conferences on behalf of Mercy Ships. Here at the largest government and university hospital, CHU, we had 139 anaesthesists, nurse technicians, and midwives with a focus on obstetrics anaesthesia and maternal health. The Ministry of Health brought in their people from all over the nation. They also trained on the WHO Safe Surgery Checklist. Pray that what they have learned will be applied to save lives of women and children in particular.

Other training occurred with our three Leadership Conferences – with community, church and government leaders, Agriculture – training of trainers, local Day Workers, Basic Oral Health to patients at the dental clinic and in schools, Community Health Education, and Mental Health.

Prayer Requests: 1) For each of the participants who received training and mentoring, to apply what they learned and share with others 2) Health for all of our patients 3) Our patients’ transition back into their communities and families 4) Our sail from Togo to the Canary Islands and the shipyard and technical work.

Serving Together, Keith


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

Saturday, June 02, 2012

Triplets at Local Hospital

While visiting the largest hospital in Togo - CHU with some of our anaesthesia team members, we were asked if we wish to observe a c-section.  We agreed.  The mother came in and was so extended, they thought maybe twins, though as the deliveries happened - the doctor raised 3 fingers - triplets.  Not a very common occurance at the hospital.  This was my first c-section to observe and then to have three healthy babies - what an amazing time.  The parents - Koamivi and Amivi are doing well.  She gave birth and named their children:  Elohne. 2.8 kg.    Erine 2.7 kg.    Eric 2.7 kg.

KRB Update - Mercy Ministries

Greetings from Lomé, Togo, West Africa. Mercy Ministries provide off ship ministry opportunities for Africa Mercy crew (long and short term and guests) working alongside existing ministries demonstrating hope and healing. Our highest goal is to demonstrate God’s love, care and concern for those we come to serve through listening, praying, counseling, teaching, spending time, playing, interacting and if suitable through practical assistance. I have a Mercy Ministries Coordinator who works full time and I am responsible for leadership over this area within Programs here on the Africa Mercy (Hospital, Off Ship Projects and Mercy Ministries). I love this aspect of my role here on board and going out myself and being part of the teams. Most of my local friends have been patients, caregivers, dayworkers and our local partners. Here are our mercy ministries partners for the:

Togo 2012 Field Service (most are ones we served with back in 2010 also)

Missionaries of Charity in Kpalime – we continue to partner with the sisters at Missionaries of Charity in the countries we visit – though this time the site is 2 ½ hour drive from the ship. Their care is focused on HIV/AIDS, a hospice setting.

Ephata School for the Deaf – our mercy ministries team visit weekly and work with the deaf students who are boarders from elsewhere in Togo (using American Sign Language).

Youth With A Mission (YWAM) – King’s Kids – we join YWAM with their monthly community children’s outreach with around 200 children.

Jesus Film – the team heads out with a local evangelist twice a week to different locations around Lomé sharing the Jesus Film in French or Ewe (local language)–based on the Gospel of Luke.

Hospital CHU Visitation – in partnership with YWAM and a local Assembly of God church, we join them in visiting the pediatric wards at the largest hospital in the nation.

Brigade Mineur Youth Detention Center – weekly scheduled visit for 90 minutes to share with primarily young men but also a few ladies in the youth detention center.

Maison Bethany Orphanage – a very popular site on Saturday mornings to visit, spend time with, share a Bible story, craft with the orphans at this home.

APEHM (Association pour la Promotion de l’Enfant Handicape Mental) – only facility in the nation of Togo to care for children with mental disabilities (autistic, cerebral palsy, down syndrome). Time of sharing simple Bible stories, crafts, lots of dancing and games.

HOPE Center – our mercy ministries teams visit our outpatient housing unit for patients and caregivers coming from far away – we go twice a week for the afternoon.

Prison Fellowship – Men & Women’s Prison in Tsevie – in partnership with Prison Fellowship, every other week our men and women make the hour drive north to this prison – they are able to share from God’s word, share testimonies and listen to the inmates.

Prayer Requests: 1) Each of the participants at our various sites as our time here is coming soon to an end. 2) Each of the above partners for their continued minister to these people.

Matthew 25 “I was hungry and you gave me no meal, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was homeless and you gave me no bed, I was shivering and you gave me no clothes, Sick and in prison, and you never visited. Then those 'goats' are going to say, 'Master, what are you talking about? When did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or homeless or shivering or sick or in prison and didn't help? He will answer them, 'I'm telling the solemn truth: Whenever you failed to do one of these things to someone who was being overlooked or ignored, that was me—you failed to do it to me.'

Serving Together, Keith

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Hopes Comes - Blind See

Below was written by my friend Glenn and Kim Strauss and I wish to share with you all also.  I met some of the children mentioned at our screening on Tuesday morning.  Great to hear has hope and healing has come.

"Now, as Jesus passed by, He saw a man who was blind from birth. And His disciples asked Him, saying, "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?" Jesus answered, " Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but that the works of God should be revealed in him." John 9:1-3

To all Mothers,

Imagine having 6 children. For some of you, that was 2 children ago; for others, it's just overwhelming to think about! But in Africa, eight is a rather small family. The family I want to tell you about is unique. As farmers, they had children so they could work their farm (not unusual here OR abroad just for survival), but something went wrong. Five.....yes....FIVE of them were born with cataracts! Five of them---are blind! We were all stunned to find a family with so many children blind! Unbelievable!

Allow me to introduce you to the family. Momma (and Pappa, of course) are poor farmers.

Adjo is the oldest, about 16 years old (although the parents are not sure), and born with cataracts, but could see minimally at least in her younger years. She is obviously the "mother" of the children and tries to watch out for the others (although being blind made this tough!).

Kokou and Kossi are 11. We thought these boys are twins, but turns out they are cousins! BOTH were born blind.. and in the same family.

Komi is probably 7 (momma thinks he is 5), and shy, but loves to be teased even though he can only see light.

Yawa is 6, quiet and a fearful girl who just sits quietly in her own darkness due to the cataracts.

Abba is a 6 month old girl and the only seeing child in this family! Spends most of her time being carried on momma's back.

For 16 years, Momma has been taking care of her blind children. Now, they have come, afraid, unsure and ashamed of their own poverty, asking for hope. Glenn and Dr. Wodome examined them and discussed their prognosis. You see, children born with cataracts must be operated on BEFORE they are 7 to have a good result, because by then the brain will "not turn the eyes on" anymore after having so many years of no visual stimulation. But......they decided to do them ALL! 10 eyes! There was enough evidence that their eyes were working on some level all this there was a chance! There was hope.

Surgery went well. We unpatched each child and watched. Kokou, the cousin, was first. I showed him a book and pointed to a tiny bee. Kokou looked with his new eyes and exclaimed," It's a bee!" He was now excited about the possibility of finally going to school! Yawa, so quiet, was next. She showed no signs of seeing at first, but suddenly her baby sister dropped her toy. And to our surprise, Yawa quickly retrieved it and handed it back! She COULD see! Now it was Kossi's turn.. He's the artist! He could see colors and delighted in coloring the day before surgery, but held his paper an inch away and to one side to see. After unpatching, I held out a red crayon. He perked up, took the color and began furiously coloring a new picture...this time, on his lap! He was so happy! Then came Adjo. She had had a lot of pain, because she is older, and her eyes were swollen. But, she seemed so pleased with her sight. Her brother, Komi, looked all around intently. He seemed confused. I tested his sight, and he was seeing double! When I covered his left eye, he then brightened and saw clearly (this should clear up in time)!
Momma now confessed to our translator that she was overwhelmed and worried she would not be able to control them...especially the boys! Ha! Poor mother. Don't we all feel that way as our boys get older! (much less all suddenly being able to see!)

A week later, they all came back for their checkup. What a change! (Take a look a the pictures to see the difference). Adjo RAN up to me and flung herself into me for a big hug! She looked beautiful! All dressed up and walking confidently on her own! She was now determined and independent. The older boys jibber-jabbered together all the way up and down the stairs hardly paying attention, as if they had done this all their lives! Yawa was still quiet but still taking charge of Abba. And Komi had adapted to one eye, and was smiling and joking around for all the cameras! They not only received their sight, but now their personalities really came to life!

And Momma? She was all dressed up, proud and ready to show off her 'new" children!

Hope had come.  Happy Mother's Day!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

KRB Update – 1st Projects in Africa

KRB Update #2176 – 1st Projects in Africa

Keith R. Brinkman                                                                                             April 21, 2012

Greetings from Lomé, Togo, West Africa. When the leadership of Mercy Ships felt that we were to come to the continent of Africa, inquiries were made with the nation of Ghana and an invitation was extended in 1990. Though as the Anastasis readied to sail, the invitation was revoked. The crew and staff all gathered to pray and seek God. It was revoked on the basis of false reports about who we are. During this time period of time, I was serving at the home office in Texas. With the closed door in Ghana, God was so faithful and opened the door wide for us in the neighboring nation of Togo. We are now in Togo for our fifth visit of a Mercy Ship.

During that first outreach to the continent of Africa to the nation of Togo in 1990, some of our projects ashore included construction of a school, agriculture and animal husbandry training, water and sanitation projects along with dental and medical clinics in Djegbakodji. During all this time, surgeries were held in the hospital on the Anastasis.

Due to my long friendship with John who led our work in the village of Djegbakodji and his desire to know how they are doing 22 years later, I have been in contact with a Togolese church planter/pastor who knows the people of the village. I visited in 2010 and just recently I was able to visit again.

When Mercy Ships crew came to the village in 1990, there were no known Christians in the entire area. Now there are three vibrant churches. I was very warmly received by the people of the village and able to share in their churches. I brought greetings from John personally and overall from Mercy Ships. As I was driving back to Lomé, my thoughts went to the New Testament (Colossians) related to a letter written for a certain area and how the letter was entrusted to a friend and read in that area (Ephesians 6:21-22). The people of Djegbakodji all expressed their gratefulness to God and with our efforts in their area and it was a great privilege to speak to them.

One of my maxillofacial patients (Florent, 15 years old who had a large tumor removed from his neck) heard I was going and requested to join me along with his father and older brother. That was great as he is a patient who we have cared for this year in our hospital on board.

Prayer Requests: People of Djegbakodji, Togo and for all the people from our former outreaches and field services especially here in West Africa – for their lives – physically and spiritually.

Numbers 6:24-26 “The Lord bless you and keep you, the Lord make His face shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up His countenance on you and give you peace.”

Serving Together, Keith

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

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Degla Discharge Day

Degla Discharge Day by keith.brinkman
Degla Discharge Day, a photo by keith.brinkman on Flickr.

Degla was one of my patients that I be-friended while we was with us in our hospital and at the HOPE Center. On Easter afternoon, he was excited as he was discharged and started his journey home to the nation of Benin.

Ken Fish eyes Seaman's Center

We had lunch at the Seaman's Center and Ken ordered the grilled fish - though he wasn't too certain about the eyes still be in there.

Innocent Glasses at EEPT

Innocent is from Benin and works with our Eye Team - previously as a day worker and now as a full time crew. He calls me Uncle and so I call him Nephew. Great serving together with him.

Easter Kronester Family

Great having the Kronester family back with us especially at this time of the year with Easter. This photo was taken Easter morning in our International Lounge.

Easter Morning Service

Easter Morning Service by keith.brinkman
Easter Morning Service, a photo by keith.brinkman on Flickr.

Easter Morning Service on board the Africa Mercy in Lome, Togo, West Africa.
He is Risen !!!

Friday, March 23, 2012

KRB Update - Patients
Please click on the link and read more about four of patients here in Lome, Togo.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

KRB - Screenings - Togo

KRB Update #2174 – Screening
Keith R. Brinkman February 25, 2012

Greetings from Lomé, Togo, West Africa. During our recent surgical screening, my role was as the gate keeper, passing out initial screening tickets. A total of 1,609 tickets were given to potential patients who came along with their family members and caregivers. I brought them inside the gate in small groups. I tried to greet each patient – I used a combination of languages: French with Bon Jour (Good morning) ou Bienvenue (Welcome) or in Ewe with Woezo (pronounced "Way-zo" – also means Welcome). I knew they understood my pronunciation of the Ewe when they responded with ‘lo’ or ‘yo’ with a long ooo. Plus there were some who greeted me in English and so I responded in English. See the above photo.

About 4,000 people came to Kegue National Stadium here in Lomé for the surgical screening for maxillofacial, plastic-burn reconstructive and general surgery. Most of the Africa Mercy crew and our local day workers were involved. It was a peaceful night and day as we cared for them one person at a time. The prayer team was stationed under a tree and available to anyone wishing prayer.
As the hospital crew was preparing to close the Patient Gate, Lawrence and I asked if we could maintain our post with the gates shut, but still available if anyone arrives with a maxillofacial tumor or cleft lip and palate. We probably had a couple hundred people come during those final couple hours but most were not surgical candidate for the Mercy Ship. Though the very last person was a father and her daughter, when asked what is her problem, he said the hole in her mouth and when I leaned down to take a look it was clearly a cleft palate (hole in the upper part of the mouth). Her name is Samsia, probably around three or four year old girl. She was scheduled for surgery!!!

Our operating rooms are open and have just finished week #3, Wards have patients and caregivers and dayworkers and patient visitations have restarted.
Our Dental Team under the new leadership of Sieh Moore from Liberia is set up a facility near the government sector of Lomé and they conduct their screenings on going every Monday and Thursday mornings. The number of tickets he is able to distribute all depends on how many dentists we have for that period and their average capacity (how many per day).

Eye Screenings continue to take place every week on Tuesdays and Wednesdays at rotating sites around Lomé.

Prayer Requests: *Each of our patients – their health, surgery and recovery for Hope & Healing. *For our healthcare professionals, we have had some surgeons cancel and that has a great impact. *Right people to still come for the remaining surgical slots and for Jonah from Ghana to have an opportunity for his second surgery.

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

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Surgical Screening - Cleft Lip Child

One of our highest priorities in our surgical screenings related to maxillofacial = cleft lip and palate. Here is a photo of one of our first patient - who will receive her healing on board.

Surgical Screening - Hernia Boy

Where I was station at screening - the first main gate - I watched for any children and would stop to ensure that they had a parent with them. This boy, 10 years old with a hernia came but by himself. Through my translator Ruthie, we explained to him that he needs to go get a parent, brother/sister, neighbor someone. We prayed and waited, waited and then he returned.

Screening Lines inside 1st Gate

For the Surgical Screening here in Lome, Togo, my role was gate keeper and ticket provider to the potential patients (I gave out 1,609) and from my gate they lined up here awaiting the next gate and where they will see a pre-screener.

Screening Lines

A photo of the lines outside the stadium at our Surgical Screening here in Lome, Togo - about 4,000 people showed up (potential patients and their family members)

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

KRB Update - Jonas from Tema Newtown

KRB Update #2173 – Jonas from Tema Newtown
Keith R. Brinkman January 25, 2012

Greetings from Lomé, Togo, West Africa. I pray that everyone had a great start to this New Year 2012.

During our short stay in Ghana after leaving Sierra Leone, one thing on my heart was to be able to find Jonas, a former patient, actually one of the first patients I met when I moved to the Anastasis in Ghana in June 2006. Though all I had was his first name, his home town and a before surgery photo. I first met him at the surgical screening day in 2006 and after he finished the screening process, he returned with joy to tell me that he was accepted and had a surgery appointment. I awaited his arrival in our hospital and was actually able to observe his surgery (see below photo). During his recovery, I visited him almost daily for many weeks. Though when he departed, I didn’t obtain any of his contact information.

On the 29 December 2011, I really felt to leave work early and to go and see if I can find him. His hometown is Tema Newtown, an industrial/fishing area near the port city of Tema with tens of thousands of residents. I prayed and off I went taking a shared taxi from the roundabout. While in the vehicle I explained to the driver and other passengers what I was attempting and requested their advice. The driver let me off in a location he thought I should start in. The first group of guys I asked, said to walk farther down. Then I saw two ladies and approached them and one shared she actually saw Jonas that morning. With excitement, I asked, do you know where he lives and she said Yes!!! There was a hint for a Christmas bonus (money) which I didn’t have, but her and her friend walked me back through a maze of shacks for about eight minutes and then I looked left and there was Jonas standing right there and after only split second, he recognized me. It was a great reunion as we last saw each other in October 2006. Please see the photo to the right of Jonas and some of his friends, a nephew and myself outside his shack. Jonas has a condition which actually partially grew back and he knew and was informed that would happen. After visiting, I told him I would check with the surgeon about whether we can schedule a second surgery while the ship is in neighboring nation of Togo – just the next country to the East and only 3-4 hours by public transport.

Dr. Gary remembered Jonas and said to turn in his contact information to the Patient Flow Manager and we’ll see if he can be scheduled (need to wait till after the Togolese patients screened in 2010 are scheduled).

Next Wednesday, February 1st, the entire crew will be involved in the surgical screening for this field service – the surgical specialties include: maxillofacial, plastic reconstructive, ophthalmic, VVF (vesicovaginal fistulas) and general. The operating rooms will be open for 17 weeks and we expect to provide surgery for over 1,200 patients. One of which may be Jonas.

Our Chief Medical Officer shared this prayer with us related to the surgical screening and I wish to share it with you. “That He (Father God) would bring to us all the people He has purposes for with us and that He would keep away those He doesn’t have purposes for with us.”

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