Friday, 26 June 2009

a hypermarket has opened..

Mum and I were going to go to the markets as it is my day off but the rain was so heavy so we decided to join the teachers on their trip to check out the new hypermarket that has opened. Apart from the men who came to meet us at the car with umbrellas it was just like walking into Tesco or Walmart. The store had an incredible selection of things not to be found in the tiny supermarkets here and it was useful to see they sold the odd thing like childrens toilet seats at a comparable price to home (for when the day comes that I feel brave enough to think about potty training on a ship!). On the whole the things we might have been interested in were too expensive (boxes of cereal $7, a litre of UHT cream $7, 4 basic yoghurts $6 and the exact box of washing powder that is $2 in the ship shop was almost $20!!!) but we did find a big pot of chocolate spread for disguising the boys malaria tablets, a packet of dates and some apple juice for a change!! It will be interesting to see how the store does over the months we are here, there were staff everywhere - with the umbrellas, packing bags, on the checkouts, stacking shelves - I mean everywhere, and only the odd customer in every few aisles. Thankfully we don't need to do much shopping while we are here but it is pretty interesting seeing what is available to the wealthy people or the foreigners here. I can't say it was as much fun as the markets with the hussle and bustle, trying to communicate what you want or negotiate prices, but its certainly stress free and reminds us of home - do you think tesco would like to start an umbrella to your car service?


Thursday, 25 June 2009

a day in admissions nursing

I've now done a full week as an admissions nurse (Sun-Thurs) so here is what we get up to...

8.30-9.00 Prep and devotions

9.00-9.30 Squint in the sunshine (or get rained on) outside whilst identifying patients on the list to bring inside for the days admissions, make sure family members have visitor badges so they are allowed in, talk to people whose operations have unfortunately been postponed and who don't have a phone so we have not been able to contact them to inform of their new date to come in

9.30-12.10 The patients are taken through to the admissions room with a nurse and a translator who have hopefully identified that they are able to speak the language of the patient, although sometimes none of the four admissions translators speak the language of the patients so they have to track down someone else. Patients are all admitted for surgery the next day so that we can make sure they have a couple of good showers, are well hydrated prior to surgery and remain nil by mouth from the requested time. We talk them through their stay, their surgery and recovery, gain consent for operations, give them toiletries (and toys to the children which have been donated), ensure they have enough transport money to be able to return home (which is kept on the ward until they leave to make sure they still have enough transport money!) check their observations, take blood after getting them to drink a few glasses of water as nearly everyone comes to us dehydrated, do pregnancy tests where appropriate and then show them to their beds.

12.15-13.00 Lunch with the boys - I am now appreciating the dining room - just turning up and having someone else cook for us is fab!

13.00-17.00 or whenever we get done - See the rest of the admissions for the day (making sure no one else has turned up since we went out to the dock in the morning as there always seem to be a mixture of people who don't come at all or who don't arrive first thing, such as those from the hospitality centre), make sure the patients have all been checked by a Doctor, give handovers to the wards and file all the admission paperwork so that it ends up with the right person in the right bed. then prepare the admission list and paperwork for the next day.

17.00 Be mum again!!

Monday, 22 June 2009

Wearing scrubs again...

...and it feels good!!

I am now working in admissions as a nurse while Mum is here looking after the boys. It is a little strange as I am sure any nurse must feel when they arrive. Although the job is pretty straightforward it is like moving hospitals - getting used to different paperwork, finding where things are kept and what a typical day is like.

And then there are other differences - remembering that abbreviations mean different things in different countries and different specialities (eg. IOL no longer being Induction of Labour but Intra Occular Lens, whatever one of them might be!!), the scrubs not being reversible (as I discovered today when I put mine on inside out!!), not being able to speak the language of the patients and having to take blood from babies and children not just pregnant women - not a fun task as you can imagine - the poor terrified little things come to this strange place and then are poked about with my stethoscope and then pricked for their blood sample :-(

I am working with some lovely nurses from Switzerland, Australia and the United States and some local translators. I am listening to people speak French (and Fon, Yoruba, Bariba and a few other things!!) all day long so will hopefully have the chance to practice my French a bit too. Hopefully after Mum leaves I can work in Admissions while Joshua is in nursery from August.

I'll keep you posted with how it goes!!


Sunday, 21 June 2009

Happy Fathers Day!!

Happy Fathers Day, we hope our Dads are getting more attention than poor Tommy whose Fathers day has been rather neglected amongst all the events of the past few days. Still Tom says he thinks Fathers Day is tomorrow so maybe we can try again then?? So far Tommy has had to look after the boys (with Mum) for the day, including cooking some food to take to a shared lunch!

Love you Dad (s)

Saturday, 20 June 2009

Sock Golf Open 2009

After tiring oursleves out at Bab's dock we then tried a bit of sock golf in the is me in action...there were 18 tee off spots and 18 'holes' around the ship...the idea being to throw your socks around the golf course, including up or down a flight or two of stairs and around bends...
...this is our team - minus Mum who mangaged to loose her socks on the first hole - down the side of the stairs...never to be found again... :-(
..and then the awards... no guesses who won for best score...none less than the birthday boy himself...


Sams birthday - Babs dock

We spent a lovely day at Babs dock, a relaxing place to get away to just over half an hours drive from the ship, reached by travelling across the lagoon by a small boat. The weather wasn't too hot by African standards and we had fun playing in the water, canoes, sand and play area. Some of the others played water volleyball and boules, whereas we played hide and seek and searching for treasure on pirate island.

Happy 25th birthday Sam!!

The Farrells and (some) Slennetts by the half built guest house!

The birthday boy in action playing boules!
Digging for treasure and burying treasure
Tom and Joshua hanging out in a hammock watching Daddy and Uncle Sam playiong volleyball


Friday, 19 June 2009

How to....have a pirate party in photos...

Firstly you need to invite some friends and some bigger friends to help. You play a few party games - pass the parcel - with gold chocolate coins inside to make it more pirate like (?)...

and then travel at a fast walking pace -honestly Captain there was no running ;-) around the ship, hunting for clues written on palm trees to find the treasure (which being more gold coins was really not that exciting but no one seemed to mind or notice!).... then you play some more games... including pin the patch on the pirate and musical treasure islands (like musical chairs, but without the chairs and with islands :-)....
and then have everyone sing happy birthday to you and have a quick photo with the cake before it is destroyed...
then you eat cake and watch your brother amuse everyone by getting chocolate icing in places it should not reach...

give cake to your lovely Uncle and Miss Amy who have come to share the fun...and help take pictures...and get wet...
Have the pirates form teams to throw cannon balls (aka water balloons) at Daddy and Uncle Sam...and generally all get a little wetter (which they all found extremely amusing - in retrospect the 60 water balloons we had could have been a lot more!!).....then after playing a couple more games head up to deck 8 and make Uncle Sam and Daddy walk the plank (which may have been Nanny's suggestion - just so you know!!)...

So there you pirate party for our favourite five year old...we're just hoping they sleep well after the sugar rush so that we can have more fun for Sam's birthday tomorrow.

Captain Farrell

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Welcome Nanny!!

After collecting some extra stamps in her passport and trying a little hotel stay in Togo, Nanny has made it to Cotonou! The boys finally got to wear their high visibility vests and Mercy Ships Airport caps to meet her. We have been reminded of our arrival to the ship- the need to have crew photo ID made the minute you walk up the gangway irregardless of what state you might be in, and then having to fill out endless forms and walk around 7 of the 8 decks of the ship on the compulsory tour whilst thinking you are so tired you might not remember any of it by the next morning. Fortunately for Nanny there are a couple of small people who will more than happy to take her wherever she needs to go :-)


we waited...apparently in the wrong airport...

and waited......and waited (thanks to a rather helpful Information desk telling us un-true information that the plane had arrived but was taxi-ing around the airport due to the heavy rain). Electricity in the airport went on and off randomly, the boys fell asleep, we waited some more...and then we got the call to say someone else on the plane had phoned the ship to say they had landed in Togo. No announcements at the airport, still no helpful information from the apparently unhelpful information desk when we asked for an update. The airline office eventually confirmed that they had gone to Lomé because of the rain and was unsure whether they would try and fly on in the night so we left Sam and some friends there to meet them should they arrive later and brought the boys home (after paying about £1 for a few hours airport parking - now that would not happen back home!!).

Today the boys are maintaining their excitement as we plan to go and meet the flight which is coming in at 2.15pm, they have already been discussing amongst themselves the need to borrow the orange hats again. As for the rest of us we are all rather tired and will be glad to have Mum here later, although we might need to show her straight to her bed. We are amused that Mum is having an adventure and has been to Togo before us, I'm guessing she might not be seeing it in the same light after leaving home at 4am yesterday :-)

Monday, 15 June 2009

Getting ready for the airport run!

We are all very excited that Nanny arrives tonight. We have been down to get her room ready and we KEEP asking if we can go to the airport yet. Nanny had thought it was funny that Mercy Ships had told her that she would be met by someone wearing a high visibility vest and a mercy ships cap ... so we have arranged that ...

We are ready to come and get you Nanny, its only three hours until we see you!!

Tom and Joshua

Saturday, 13 June 2009

Practising French at the craft market...

Man selling me something: (pats my stomach) Bebe?

Me: Non (laughing, while not overly amused!!), j'ai deux fils

I am not quite sure whether that is sufficient explanation, but I didn't know how to say, no I just like eating a lot of chocolate!!

Sarah :-)

I've been let loose in the landrovers!!

I have now got my ship driving license to be able to get out with the boys and their friends during the summer break!! Watch out Benin!! I don't get my own weekend use but I can drive on Tommys slot, not that I probably will very often as he doesn't mind driving on the crazy roads here, its just nice to be able to!!!


Monday, 8 June 2009

The surgery schedule is full

Today was initially planned as a further screening day - but the surgery schedule is now fully booked until the end of the field service. We have just had a page that there are vehicles going to the hospitality centre to support the staff who have gone there who are having to tell anyone that comes that we are unable to help them at this time and who will pray with people. It was shortly after 9am and we heard there are about 1000 people waiting there already. This is a hard day for our staff, there is such need here, please remember them today.

Sunday, 7 June 2009

Film festival

The Africa Mercy hosted its own Oscars type awards last night. Anyone could submit a video they had made as long as they didn't mind it being watched by the rest of the crew and put before a panel of judges. We saw some very funny videos, a few made by the high school kids which was nice and a slightly strange one by Sam called something like 7 reasons not to hit snooze. Someone asked me today if I could understand what he was saying!! I think unless you were British you probably couldn't understand what he was saying and unless you were British you might not 'get it'. Valuable prizes (toilet brushes) were awarded for various categories in the cafe after the judging had taken place, sadly there wasn't one for most random film, but don't worry Monkey - we loved it and will give you a banana anyday :-)

Marche Dantokpa

View of market from a bridge
Stall of Benin football shirts - we looked for a small one for Toms football mad best friend Ben but they don't come small enough so I took a picture for Ben - hope you like it!

According to the guide book the huge Dantokpa Market is 'perhaps the number one attraction' in Cotonou. It is the largest market in the country apparantly where 'you can find everything that you ever wanted as well as many things that you didn't'. I went there with friends in search of fabric, as this is the best place to buy small quantities as many of the fabric stalls outside the market will only sell you 6 or 12 yards. It was very hectic but after passing a lot of women selling soap and plastic hair accessories we found the fabric street, did not acquire a friend who wanted to be our 'guide' and found our way out again! All in all a good first experience! And we now have fabric for a family outfit -watch this space!!

Friday, 5 June 2009

Desserts and goodbyes

Tonight we shared desserts with our friends from the Gateway training last June/July. We celebrated the birthdays in the last month or so since we last met and are sad that some of our friends will be leaving soon. We have already said goodbye to lots of friends, but it will be sad saying goodbye to people who started the journey with us. They came to the ship a little quicker than us so will have served with Mercy Ships for a year by the time they leave.

On a more positive note some of our Gateway friends will be here for a while yet and we are really pleased that a couple of them have extended their stay beyond what they had originally planned. Yeh!!

End of year celebration

Today is the last day of school!!!!

This morning the children paraded in to the International Lounge and were given a character trait that describes them and Bible verse. Tom's class sang the colours of the rainbow and 'if all the raindrops...' in quite a shy fashion, probably not very much like the practice runs in pre-school (I'm guessing knowing how lively they are usually!). We saw performances from the music group and choir and watched a video of photo highlights from the year (we have the extended version which I'm sure Tom will be pleased to show anyone at Christmas!!). The children then graduated and introduced as the new class of the grade above! Tom is now in Kindergarten. He has been bringing his 'work' home all week, mostly a lovely collection of his drawings of ships - various pirate ships and lots of the Africa Mercy including one of us crashing into an iceberg!! He has been given a picture with photos of his class throughout the year that they have all signed, which is very sweet - Thanks Miss Elizabeth and Miss Sandy.

Tom then wanted to come straight home and play lego, he didn't seem all that phased by any of it, or the thought of moving to Kindergarten, except that he mentions occasionally he doesn't want to move up as he will have less time to play lego! This afternoon they are having a pool party, games and ice cream on deck 7 and 8. think what in the world we are going to do for two weeks with Tom home...other than play lego all the time...

Thursday, 4 June 2009

Tom is FIVE!!!

Tom is so excited to be celebrating his fifth birthday.

Highlights of the day:

1. Eating chocolate cereal sent over from England
2. Receiving presents from friends and family, all of which he is VERY pleased with, thank you Nanny, Great Nanny and Ben!! He opened them all before Tommy went to work at 7.30, with a sleepy Uncle Sam watching!
3. Wearing a crown at school that said 'I'm 5 today', being the class 'special helper', eating banana muffins and having fun with his friends at school
4. Eating peanut butter and chocolate sprinkle sandwiches - something Tom had requested months ago and I agreed to for his birthday, which he reminded me of- before breakfast!!
5. Ringing the bell at lunch and having a couple of hundred people sing happy birthday and cheer for Tom - unlike most adults he found this very exciting rather than embarrassing!
6. Helping Mummy and Daddy build his new lego ship, complete with dock and containers, crane and lorry!! This was a bit of a gamble present - it was on offer before we came and so we bought it last November and shipped it over, not knowing at the time that he would become SO ship obsessed and it honestly was THE most perfect present in his eyes!
7. Having our first 'bomb alert' drill!!! Complete with fire engines, fire men, emergency medical vehicles, it was the first time we could not go through our normal route out of the ship due to the 'bomb' which confused the boys slightly
8. Eating dinner and chocolate cake with friends on deck 8 overlooking the ocean
9. Riding the go-kart and playing with friends on wiggle cars and the climbing frame
10. Talking to Nanny and Grandma on the phone

We love you Tom, happy birthday!!!

Wednesday, 3 June 2009

Last day of nursery

It was the last day of nursery before the summer break, which ended by joining pre-school for a pool party on deck 8. Two of the other children will move to pre-school now and one will go home in the summer so things are about to change for Joshua who is still nursery age for another year. He will be joining his friends some days during the 6 week summer activity programme before we see what happens about nursery once school starts back in August. Joshua has made some lovely friends this year - there might not be many of them here but they are all very sweet. It will be nice to have a break though and it means Nanny's visit is getting closer - yeh!!

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

Watching the bin men...

This morning Joshua and I were sitting by a window on deck 5 and started watching the bin men outside on the dock. We have big grey bins lined up on the dock and every now and then a bin lorry comes and empties them. It struck me initially that it was actually just like a bin lorry would be at home, it didn't look as if it belonged in the dark ages like the fire engines we spot sometimes and for a minute there it seemed like we could have been back home watching the bin men (as you do when you have small boys who like such things). The difference was that they were taking rather a long time, bin men back home don't really ever stop, they just put the rubbish in and keep going. After watching for a bit longer we realised that the men were actually going through every bag, opening them up with their bare hands, and removing certain random items that were considered worthy of keeping. It was then that I realised that we were watching a bin lorry in Africa which is maybe a little different to home. It is quite emotive when you stop and think of the poverty that is behind people searching through my bags of rubbish (containing mainly mango skins, milk cartons and NAPPIES).