We are here! The moment we’ve been dreaming of and praying for has been realized right in front of us. After hours on 3 different planes, we were picked up by the Program Security Officer, Matt. He had bottles of water for us; how badly we needed those! It was maybe a 20 minute drive from the airport to the port, where the Africa Mercy sits in the water surrounded by other ships.
How can I possibly describe the moment I laid eyes on the Africa Mercy? After months of seeing pictures, visiting the website, and speaking about her, the massive white ship was right in front of us. It felt almost like meeting someone you’ve written to, someone you’re quite fond of. Maybe like seeing something in reality that you’ve only had dreams about. I felt like I already knew her, I had already been envisioning myself on her decks.
I asked another nurse that arrived the same day as we did what kind of reaction she had when she first saw the ship. She said she immediately felt the Holy Spirit. “Ahhh,” I thought to myself… that’s what I felt, but I didn’t recognize it.
It’s been two days so far, and I am simply in a daze. I’m confused, a bit lost, reminiscent of the first days of college where you don’t know anyone or how things work. Add in jet lag and a severe case of gratefulness and you get a feeling that has no name.
The atmosphere is thick with uncertainty: we don’t know where we will be sailing to, and we doubt it will be Benin. Normally the hospital would be set up, and screening of potential patients in full swing. Instead we are docked, sitting and waiting.
I had not considered how lucky I am to actually be on the ship at this moment. If it weren’t for Ruben’s position as Ship Security Officer, we may have been delayed indefinitely. The long-term nurses are here already because they prepare the wards ahead of time, but most of the remaining nurses have been told to cancel their tickets to Benin with no assurance of where or when they will meet the ship.
Many of them are in a prolonged state of transition, wondering what they will do until they receive word. “But I left my job… I’m living with my parents… What am I supposed to do now??” So I’m very thankful to be here, but I know exactly how to pray for them, because I would’ve been in the same situation if not for Ruben’s necessary presence on the ship.