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, May 15, 2013

KRB Update - Community

14 May 2013

Greetings from the nation of Guinea, West Africa. One of the very unique and powerful aspects to life serving in world missions with Mercy Ships is our community. Our community is both trans-generational (from newborn babies to those in their retirement years) and trans-cultural (crew coming from up to 40 different nations and so many different cultures). Some other traits of our community are: people chose to belong to the community, community is constantly changing (up to 100 new crew arrive monthly on field service – and as you can imagine not really possible to know everyone by name, we have the added assistance as you are required at all times to wear your identification badge), a group of people with common goals, there is a sense of belonging and being a safe place, a place where everyone has his or her place, working side by side, a place where we can be real, agree to disagree, participate in things you’d rather not do for the good of the whole, and a place of supportive growth and learning. Our community’s foundation is Jesus, faith in God, God as our focal point, a place where spiritual growth takes place, a group of people expressing who Jesus is, focusing on the Kingdom culture versus the individual cultures, we need to each be all that God created us to be so we can help one another to become all God intended, coming together as one body of Christ. We have our regular times of prayer, praise and worship and hearing from God’s word. At Easter and Christmas, we celebrate these two holidays in amazing and special ways on board – they are the only two holidays recognized on board officially. We celebrate birthdays and we also cry with friends during times of loss. Please note that most but not all of our crew are followers of Jesus. I also do not want to forget our amazing day crew (local workers who serve with us in many aspects on board).
Celebrating Josie's birthday - I have known
her since she was 18 months old.

As a community, we have a Crew Handbook which details many different aspects about life in this community. These range from maritime matters and law as we all are crew members to our chaplaincy department who also look out for our community. You might be surprised to know that we have a curfew for safety and security reasons – usually around 10:30pm everyone has to be on board the ship unless you have special permission from the captain. Our Code of Conduct includes details related to alcohol, dancing, smoking and the favorite of many our dress code.

There are various areas on the ship for our community – common areas/lounges, dining room, and Starbuck’s CafĂ© (area sponsored by Starbuck’s and yes there is Starbuck’s coffee available , though since I don’t drink coffee doesn’t excite me much except for my friends). There are services available from our library, hair salon, laundry room (which is open 24 hours a day – but you only are allowed one load per week due to water restrictions), ship shop, academy (for the children of our long term families – with 50 + in attendance), crew bank, and post office.

Hopefully you have a bit more of an idea of the community here. I have been living in community since I joined Mercy Ships in 1989, on the ships: m/v Good Samaritan, m/v Anastasis, m/v Caribbean Mercy and now the m/v Africa Mercy and at our office locations in Texas and England. I am very thankful for this community.

Please pray * All of our patients heal and are ok for discharge from the hospital

Serving Together, Keith

KRB Update - Education

06 April 2013
Greetings from the nation of Guinea, West Africa. I wish to focus in this update on some of our education/training type projects. Many of you already know of our direct medical services provided to the people of the host country – with no regard to nationality, gender, religion, age – as we bring hope and healing.

So many times when I have traveled ahead of the ship and our team has met with the Minister of Health and the President, one of their main requests is for training for their people. Mercy Ships has provided education in many different aspects for years both here in Africa and earlier including my time on the Caribbean Mercy. Our education (mentoring and courses) projects include: Mentoring: specialized surgeons, ward and operating room nurses, anesthesia providers, mental health professionals, laboratory technicians, and sterilize processing technicians

Courses: Ponseti casting, palliative care, agriculture and nutrition, leadership conferences, radiology, disease control, mental health, primary trauma care, etc. Our ability to be able to provide the mentoring and courses rest in large part on the availability of highly skills professionals coming from over 30 different nations. There is also much work done in order to coordinate these opportunities, some of which take place on the Africa Mercy and others happen ashore and in local hospitals. The amount of time invested in the participants depends on each project and needs. The outcomes vary but involve the increase in knowledge, improvement in skills and in Jesus-like attitude.

Dr. Michelle at one of the workshops
Most recently, I assisted with our Anaesthesia Conference held here in Conakry with 49 anesthesia providers and 11 midwives. The focus of the conference was on maternal health, trauma, World Health Organization Safer Surgery checklists and Lifebox (pulse oximeters). My role was coordination and logistics; it was a lot of work and began back in October. We believe that the participants learned through the lectures, workshops and interaction with the 12 facilitators who came from Europe and some of our own hospital professionals. The hope is that lives will be saved during their times in surgery from what they have learned.

Please pray * for all those involved in our education projects here in Guinea – may they take what they have learned and share with others and may the training aid in their care for the people

Serving Together, Keith