Since arriving here at the Africa Mercy I have noticed the strange manicures on display. Brightly colored nails- sometimes with patterns or designs, often all over the cuticles- parade around the dining room and common areas proudly worn by nurses and other Hospital workers. I like to call this the “Mercy Mani.”
One of the favorite things for the children to do on the wards is to give manicures. Boys, girls, young or old they take pride and joy in painting the nails of the crew members who are caring for them. Unfortunately, I don’t have much contact with the patients on a daily basis. Like most other hospitals the Laboratory is in a separate hallway away from patient rooms. Here on the ship we are nestled in between the hospital laundry and other ancillary services (radiology, pharmacy, etc). This being said, I walk past the wards every morning and afternoon (on my 90 second commute – with traffic) and see the precious children having a marvelous time. I love working in the lab but I wish I could spend some time with these little patients and share some of the love of Jesus with them. After all, this is really why I am here.
Fear not, there is a way! The “befriend a patient” program assigns patients to crew members and allows us to go visit with the child on the ward. I was finally assigned a patient and tonight was the first night I was able to go visit her but I found a two-for-one deal. My specific patient is a wonderful 11 year old girl here for an orthopedic surgery. However, I was able to “befriend” the 9 year old girl in the next bed as well and together the two of them gave me my first “Mercy Mani!”
Sure we don’t speak the same language but I’m picking up phrases as I go. We were also able to play a rendition of “go fish” in which there was no talking but they seemed to know what they were doing so I just followed their lead. I promised to let them braid my hair later in the week so it looks like I’m going for the fully beauty treatment. We’ll see how that goes.
It is so wonderful to finally see the fruits of why we are all here. I love to see the smiles on the faces of these amazing people and know that they are here because the Lord has made a way. They can sit in their beds and praise Jesus for their ability to walk or see or even live knowing that we are here because we love Him and want to share His love and healing with them.