After four flights and 64 hours of travel, I was tired but excited. When I got off the plane, Kathy, a Mercy Ships representative, was there to greet me. I was surprised by how fast we flew through customs, expecting more scrutiny. Kathy said they see the Mercy Ships logo and pass you through quickly which surprised me. I then realized how well Mercy Ships staff are respected in the area.
We drove about 20 minutes to a quaint little bed and breakfast looking place. The drive was full of winding dirt and stone roads past chickens, ox pulling wagons, people carrying giant rice bags, and crowded streets with children running about. My first thought was, “I’m supposed to drive here?”I settled into the guest cottage, and then met 10 other new Mercy Ships crew members for dinner. We chatted and compared flight paths. Most were nurses, but there were a couple of doctors and an anesthesia assistant. To my surprise, there were only a couple of us from the U.S. It’s crazy how people come from all over the country to volunteer with Mercy Ships.
The next day consisted of an 8-hour bus ride from the capital, Antananarivo, to Toamasina where the ship is docked. We stopped for lunch at a little place off the beaten path. After lunch, we picked fresh lychees off the trees nearby. They were so delicious!
As we finally pulled up to the ship, I was overwhelmed. It was so big and right in front of me! I had been preparing for this moment for months and here it was! I began getting teary-eyed. I couldn’t believe I was lucky enough to be given this opportunity to serve on the Africa Mercy. How did I ever become so blessed? I will spend the next two days in orientation and completing paperwork. Until next week…