Despite every thought of rationalization in my body, I have found myself waking at 0545 to get ready for a run several times a week. Every time I've put on my running shoes, the thought of, "This is really ridiculous, Kristen McCauley," crosses my mind a million times over. However, the moment I have crossed through the gates where the ship is docked and have run past the security at the port entrance, I remember why I've dragged myself kicking and screaming for a run. I love running along the street as massive trucks and motorcycles stream past in an unordinarily controlled chaotic manor. As we stand on the dirt road waiting for just a split second of break in the traffic to allow us to cross the road, I wonder how it is that all these people are sooo busy at 6 o'clock in the morning! The side streets are more quiet with children standing along the road. Running past different little shops and businesses along the way keeps my mind entertained, while trying to maintain a conversation with the people who are running that morning. As for the Togolese, the look on their faces as several Yovos (white people) run past them is the best!
Lome is surprisingly a fairly large city that stretches on and on. I have been to the Market several times with some friends. The items sold at the market are typical -- beautifully craved figures of animals and people, handmade jewelry, jimbaes, musical shakers, gorgeous fabrics, warm bread, fufu and spice sauces, fruits, etc.
A couple of the translators that help us in the wards have taken us out around Lome as well. Let me just stop for a minute to tell you all about our translators. They are an incredible group of individuals that have an intense devotion to serving the families onboard the Mercy Ship. Without them, little would be accomplished around here! A couple days ago, we had about 5 or 6 kids who were being discharged from the hospital to return home. All of the kids had been through an orthopedic surgery to straighten their bowed legs. We gathered all of the families together and one of the translators taught led a teaching session on how to care for the casts and what to look for if there were any complications or emergencies. Watching him educate the families was a beautiful sight. I hope and pray that the message of basic health hygiene that has been taught and learned in the wards will carry and spread amongst the villagers when people return home. What a tremendous impact this could have!
Saturday, a few of us headed northeast out towards Togo Lake. The lake is about a 45-minute taxi ride from the ship. We hitched a boat ride starting from Hotel le Lac. Final destination: Togoville!
Our mighty boat driver!
Sarah C., Laura, Juan, Anna, Sarah
Edouardo and me
Togoville is a small island that is comprised of about 75% voodoo practicing individuals and families. The remaining 25% are Christians. As we were guided around the town, we were shown a few of the main sites where voodoo rituals and sacrifices occur. Walking through the village the day before we celebrated the Resurrection of our Risen Lord was really quite interesting. My heart literally felt as if a ton of bricks was being pressed upon me as we meandered betweens homes with cement mounds outside the front door. The mounds varied in sizes and numbers depending on how many spirits were helping to guard the homes. Pictures of ancestors were painted on the outside of buildings indicating where sacrifice and homage could be paid to the dead. Male and female concrete structures were scattered about the village waiting for someone to sacrifice an animal to ask for more food, clothing, shelter, etc. Everyday at 2:00 pm, a ceremony is performed in front of the female monument. There are various ceremonies and animals sacrifices that occur under the male and female trees that are about 200 years old. We were invited to stay to observe the afternoon rituals, but graciously declined as we needed to head back to the boat.
The week leading up to Easter was amazing. Palm Sunday's service was full of worship. The Queen's Lounge was converted into a meditation room with the stations of the cross. We had a very moving and convicting Good Friday worship service -- once again, I was overwhelmed with the thought of Christ bearing the cross for the sins of all mankind.
Easter morning, we had a Sunrise Service on the top deck, Deck 8, at 5:30 a.m. We also had a traditional service at 8:00 a.m. Afterwards, an unbelievable brunch was served! The Galley and Hospitality Staff went above and beyond to make our Easter celebration very special and memorable.
Sunday afternoon, several of us headed over to the Cristal Plage to toss an American football around! The walk is beautiful -- the road leading you towards the beach winds you through a handful of small farms.
The Cristal Plage is beautiful and a perfect place to relax.
American Football Team: Was great fun teaching Africans to throw a football -- by the end, perfect spirals were thrown from one person to the next!
Today has started off quiet and I really appreciate the stillness. In a minutes, I will be down on B Ward, laughing and giggling with the kids and their families! I do love being down there with everyone. There is a sense of knowing that this place is a taste of heaven. And when God says to taste and see that I am good, this is what I experience here.
I hope that you had a wonderful Easter celebration, knowing that Christ suffered and died so that we might enjoy the abundance of His grace and mercy. For it truly it is better to spend one day in His courts, than a thousand elsewhere!