It all started simply enough. With a hospital ship that went in for repairs in a South African port. This ship was no stranger to dry docks and repairs, having started her life as a rail ferry, she was completely refitted a number of years ago in England to become a hospital ship. And then every couple of years she goes back to dry dock for all the bits and pieces of maintenance that can't be done in the water.
This year was the year to fix the propellor that wasn't working quite right. And so into her special tub went the ship, where they drained the water out and removed one propellor, and then the rudder, and finally even the propellor shaft. Full of surprises and difficult fixes, all the parts were worked on by talented men and women, until finally everything came back together. It was slow work and in the meantime the ship was refilling with men and women who wanted to work in her hospital, but the hospital wasn't open yet. So those men and women found other jobs onboard to keep things running smoothly.
After many more days than planned, it was finally time to fill the tub around the ship with water and sail away.
The people onboard cheered as they began their sail to Madagascar. As they began to sail, they noticed something in the water... the humpback whales were flipping their tails in excitement!
All day long, the whales kept jumping and slapping the water with their tails, as though they wanted to put on a show for the hospital ship!
Even after the sun set, the whales kept jumping and enjoying the water!
The next day the ship's crew woke to more excitement, and whales that came by, swimming and jumping.
Until finally the whales decided to wave one final time, and the ship sailed on full of excited crew who couldn't wait to start work in Madagascar!
After many days on the water, the ship sailed up close to the port of Tamatave where the people were eagerly awaiting her arrival!
The port stood open and waiting, while the ship turned around and backed into her spot, the same cosy port as she occupied last year.
And with crew on the decks watching out, and crew in the port waving her in, the ship finally arrived and was tied to the dock in her home for the next 10months. Tamatave, Madagascar.
Now the crew of the hospital ship have one short week to prepare get things cleaned, setup and ready to go. They have patients to screen and evaluate, appointments to make, new crew to train.
We could use your prayers. It's going to be a very full week, with no weekend break if we want to be ready to go in time. Pray for good communication all around. Pray for wisdom as decisions are made that will impact the rest of the year. Pray for strength and energy to do all that must be done. Pray for safety for all involved (and healing for our plastic surgeon who was recently injured and needs some time to heal before coming to the ship). Pray that we would remember to put God first everyday, no matter the circumstance.