Mercy Ships

Mercy Ships
The largest NGO hospital ship in the world providing free medical care to the forgotten poor

Monday, January 15, 2018

The Twin Lakes of Mount Muanenguba

Cameroon is often referred to as "Little Africa" due to its diverse geography, climates, and cultures. In Cameroon, you can find tropical rainforests, mountains, active volcanoes, black sand beaches, grasslands, and deserts, all in a country under 200,000 square miles (about the size of California).

I was lucky to see many of these different landscapes on a hike to two craters lakes up in the mountains. The lakes are side by side and separated by a large grassy ridge. The larger lake is considered the female lake. It is considered "gentle" and you can swim in it. The smaller lake is the male lake, which no one swims in.

 At 9000 feet, it was a strenuous hike, but well worth it. The temperatures got quite cold that high up and it was a nice break from the stifling heat of Douala. We hiked through forest, villages, and the wide, grassy slopes of the mountains alongside grazing sheep. Wildflowers and butterflies were abundant.

Female Lake

Male Lake

My hiking buddies Steffi, Des, Missy, and Anne and our 2 guides Aliou and Sebastian

A refreshing swim after our 10 km hike 

We stayed overnight in a small shelter above the lakes.

Relaxing at our shelter

The view around the lakes

While everyone else was enjoying our campfire...

...I was hanging out with s village kids who were fascinated by my "white person" hair.

Good thing I like braids!

Along the way

The forest section of the hike; see the butterflies?

I counted at least 20 different types of wildflowers, after that I lost count.

Hiking with the sheep

I tried to pet the sheep but they kept running away before I could get close enough!

Grazing cattle near the end of our hike

Thursday, December 21, 2017

This Month In Cameroon

From the mundane to the extraordinary, here is what's been happening on the Africa Mercy over the last few weeks.
My coffee and my calculator: just another typical day at work.

Teaching percentages to my class of 6th graders

In the Academy we celebrated "Favorite Book Character" day. I dressed up like Eponine from Les Miserables.
Our deckies keep the ship well maintained
Our surgeons faced some difficult orthopedic cases.

An extraordinary transformation for Ulrich
A weekend trip to the black sand beaches in Limbe, Cameroon

Limbe, Cameroon

We've been studying the book of Colossians in our Academy devotions.   We spent time reflecting on what
 it means to be "rooted and built up" in Christ (Col 2:6-7) and created artwork based on our reflections.

The junior high & high schoolers spent 3 days off ship for our annual retreat.
 Our theme was "Christ in you, the hope of glory" from Colossians.  

The teachers dressed up like characters from Aladdin to get students excited for
 the retreat which included an Arabian Nights themed murder mystery game. 

One of the highlights of the retreat was a bonfire on the beach. We used bamboo sticks to roast hot dogs.

Harmattan arrived early this year. It's not fog, that's sand in the air, blown in on the winds coming from the Sahara.

Our Christmas celebrations include traditions from all over the world. This is Santa Lucia, a Scandinavian celebration.

Christmas on the ship also includes our own craft fair/holiday market called Winter Wonderland.
My friends Jamie, Lee-Anne and I used African fabric to make a variety of items to
sell at Winter Wonderland.  We called ourselves The Scrappy Sisters.  

Steffi, Anne, and I decorated our cabin door for the Christmas door decorating contest.

The math game I created to help students review for final exams.

It's been a busy season and as first semester winds down, I am looking forward to Christmas break and some much needed rest and down time. I send you my warmest wishes for a joyous Christmas.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

An African Field Trip

In the Academy, we try to go on one field trip each quarter. Since we're in a different country each year, that means new opportunities for unique and interesting field trips.

Last month, we were able to visit a local school that teaches practical skills, such as sewing, to at-risk kids who might otherwise end up on the streets. While we were there, they taught us the art of batik, in which you use heated wax to stamp images on cloth before you dye it.

You can also use string to create designs similar to tie-dye.

Dying the cloth after it's been stamped

Rinsing the dyed fabric

Laying them out to dry
Finished Product!
Students from the school pose with our English teacher and PE teacher

After spending the morning making batiks, we were able to visit a local Cameroonian family who invited us to their home and showed us how to do some of their daily tasks. We saw the community water well and took turns using a bucket to draw water. We tried to carry the water on our heads, but unlike our Africa friends, we had to use our hands to help! We also experienced cooking over an open fire and washing clothes by hand. 

Checking out the water well

A look inside the well
Don't forget to tie the rope around your wrist first, in case you accidentally drop it!

Peter, our translator, shows students how to use a ring of cloth for cushioning and balance.

One of our Dutch students tries his hand at making sugared peanuts

Washing clothes in buckets

Our field trip was educational for the students, but just as educational for me! One of the benefits of being a math teacher on a ship!