Guinea trip - Sept. 2012


(Note: I didn't get a chance to post this prior to departing. But we have landed here in Guinea and are on board the ship, safe and sound. The team is enthusiastic to dig into the project and that will begin tomorrow. It's great to be back on the ship and being a part of the impressive work Mercy Ships is doing in West Africa.)

On Tuesday, I’ll be heading out for my next project trip. I’m leading a team of 9 EMI staff, volunteers and interns to Guinea to work with Mercy Ships at the local government hospitals in the capital city of Conakry. This is my third such hospital assessment trip with Mercy Ships in a row. Since Guinea is a French-speaking country however, there will be an additional element of challenge in gaining an understanding of the situation at the hospitals from the maintenance workers.

We’ll once again be staying aboard the ‘Africa Mercy’,the largest non-governmental floating hospital ship in the world. It’s a real treat to get to partner with Mercy Ships again, and to get a short peek into the great work they do in West Africa on board the ship. During the days, we’ll be out in town at Ignace Deen Hospital, one of the government hospitals in Conakry, observing and evaluating their water, wastewater and power systems as well as determining the structural adequacy of the facilities themselves. Our team consists of 2 electrical engineers, 3 civil engineers, 2 structural engineers, a mechanical engineering intern and myself. I’m also excited that my brother-in-law, KC Morrow, is joining this trip to help with the electrical evaluation (KC trained and worked as an electrician years ago).

Back on the home front, Alisha’s mom has decided at the very last minute to fly over and stay with Alisha and the boys! It is a huge relief to both of us as we were both realizing the reality of me being gone for two weeks so soon after arriving here in the UK. We have settled in very well here in the last 3 weeks, but we realized the full impact of having a limited support base here was going to be a real challenge for Alisha, both practically and emotionally. So, we are both feeling much better about this trip.

Also on the home front, this past Friday, Jonah and Graysen started school! We were notified on Wednesday that they had been placed in the same school, about 1.7 miles from our house. It was a school we hadn’t looked into at all and new nothing about. However, as we looked into it, it seemed like it might be a good fit. Alisha went down on Thursday morning to meet the headteacher (principal) and tour the school and her gut feeling about the place was very good! They seemed to care for the children very well and it appeared to be a very nice environment for the boys. Jonah was placed in a year 5 class (equivalent of 4th grade back home) and Graysen a year 4 class (i.e. 3rd grade). We were concerned about Graysen being in year 4 since he was heading into 2nd grade in the US, however, after looking at the level of instruction for year 4 here we felt that it might actually a better fit for him.

So, today was the first day that all aspects of life here in the UK have finally settled into ‘normal’ mode. I take the bus to work at just after 7am, leaving Alisha and the boys to get ready for school by 8:35am (Jonah and Graysen) and 9:00am (Brodie). So Alisha finally feels like she can actually start to think about what exactly she’s going to do here! It really is the first time since before we had kids and she wasn’t teaching (our first two years of marriage) where she hasn’t had a clear role. We are considering a few different options - more on that later as we figure things out.

It’s really amazing how life has picked up and carried on so quickly here. Thanks for your prayers for the past month - it’s been crazy but somehow, God has worked so many things out for us we are really dumbstruck at how quickly the dust has settled and in some ways it’s like we’ve lived here for years. I suppose this being the 3rd time in 5 years that we’ve done a move like this (Uganda, Colorado Springs and UK) tends to help with making us more mobile and able to settle in without going through the emotional torment of leaving our prior home behind. In some ways, nowhere feels like home anymore, other than where we are at that moment. I’m sure there are positives and negatives to that, though considering our line of ‘work’ it is definitely proving to be helpful in our current situation.

We would appreciate your prayers for the next couple of weeks as I travel to Guinea and Alisha and the boys (and her mom!) go about settling into life.

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