Back Home (In A Way...)
It's been a couple of weeks now since we arrived in Tenerife and it really feels like I've come back home. Obviously not like my real home in Canada, but I spent three months here with Mercy Ships so for some reason this feels comfortable like my home does.
When I left the island back in December I was plucked out of the life I was building on the ship. But I was also plucked from the island just when I was starting to get comfortable with exploring all that it has to offer. Now that I'm back I am going to take advantage of this second chance.
As you can expect, the first weekend back on this glorious island is everything that I've wanted. I have gotten to explore El Medano in a way I never did before. Last time I was too scared of losing my passport to go off the ship into town. I spent almost all my time around the shoreline beside the port. Don't get me wrong, it is amazing around there but it just was limiting me to only the nature of the island. I didn't allow myself to explore the culture until 2 weeks before my unexpected move to the new ship.
I am certainly not going to let that happen to me again. I am going to use every second I can to explore and learn the way of the islanders. I want to be like a sponge and absorb all that I can about this beautiful island.
The first two weekends I have primarily gone out alone to eat at new restaurants and try the various gelato's. I tried a strawberry and raspberry gelato the other day; best desert I've had in a very long time. It was simply divine how the flavor just melted in my mouth. Just thinking of it is making me crave it again (I may or may not be going to catch the shuttle after this to get some again). There are also a few places right on the coast that serve the freshest fish I've ever had. And when I say on the coast, I mean literally on the coast.
The photo above is a row of restaurants and apartments alike which are built on top of the sea wall. The photo was taken during low tide around 20:00 (8:00 pm) so the water is quite far out to sea but that is not the case during high tide. The tide here is about 2 meters which means that the water can come about 3/4 of the way up that brick wall. For reference, I am 167 cm which is approximately 5'6". So if I were standing where the water is now in the photo, during high tide the water would completely envelop me with room to spare. It's insane to think about!
Anyways, onto the good stuff! The mission is going so well right now. I am loving every second of this opportunity that God gave me to show my skill. We are well into the second phase of equipping the vessel for her first field service and so much is happening.
The hospital gangway on the port side (the left side if you're facing the front of the ship) was replaced over the last two weeks which is a huge win for the hospital and the marine operations teams. The gangway that was installed in China when the ship was being built didn't consider the limited mobility of the patients when they are both coming onto the vessel and leaving the vessel. Majority of the orthopedic patients need help in some form to climb up so we had to change them both out. Next week the ship will spin 180 degrees to start work on the starboard side.
As well there is also a ton being done on the IS (IT back in Canada) systems like the internal phones, paging system in the hospital as well as the rest of the ship, and the crash alarm for a code blue in the hospital. It doesn't seem like its that exciting but these are all little things that play a huge role in the functionality of the hospital. They are all vital to having success on this ship.
Today I was able to make my first phone call on the ship and we all were running around stupid excited about being able to call someone else on the ship. Today it's novelty but in a year from now it will prevent sterile nurses from running to a ward or something just to find out a simple piece of information.
The same goes for the paging system. When that is fully operational the hospital team can just page a doctor or nurse if something is needed urgently and they aren't by a phone. Pagers are still used in hospitals today and it will be so exciting when this project is completed! It still has some work but it is on its way!
A lot of the hospital specific projects are on hold until July due to supply issues but that isn't stopping the dental team from coming to start work on the crew dental and the shore dental equipment. One of the many programs that Mercy Ships runs is a shore dental program. They go to remote parts of the host Country to perform routine dental treatments and procedures to those who lack access to such luxuries. They are working 14 hour days to get this project started and after only 3 days working they are already about 50% done the set up.
Even though I'm not technically trained in anything hospital related I still am a part in making this all happen. I am supporting the people in charge of all these major and minor projects. I work hard to make sure that they have the resources they need and that everything is being communicated effectively. I sit in on several meetings every single day and take notes. I run around making sure that everyone feels supported in their roles. I organize meetings with VP's, Directors, and senior management so that the Project Managers can focus on other tasks (and trust me, this is harder than it sounds. Keep in mind these groups of people are spread out across the USA, Europe, and Africa). I develop internal sites so that all teams can be in-the-loop so to speak. So I may not be trained in the hospital, I certainly play a large part in bringing this hospital to life.
I am so proud of myself and am incredibly excited to see what else God has in store for me.
Side note: I am super excited that I got my seafarers book this week! What's that you might ask? It basically is just another immigration document from Malta (since this is a Maltese ship) stating that I am a seafarer. So I am legally a sailor now! How cool is that!!