A Trip to Paradise

Trip Start Aug 26, 2012
Trip End Nov 22, 2012

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What I did
Kilissi waterfall,

Flag of Guinea  , Conakry,
Monday, October 15, 2012

Hello my family, friends, and blog followers :)
Wow has it really been 2 weeks since I last updated you all. So much has happened and so many amazing moments are all stored in my wee head and heart to share with you all. Where to begin..... You all better settle down because this may be a long one :)

I can't believe how much I have had the opportuntiy to experience this past weekend but first I had better go back to before that and fill you in with that.
On my last blog I had the Mercy Ship cold which I had managed to avoid until two weeks ago. I'm blaming it on the constant air con and close spaces we live in, I've done pretty well to had been here 7 weeks and only just gotten something. Then when I did get it i was pretty knocked out for about a week, probably hense why I didn't blog - there was nothing exciting to tell you all about being sick :) I only went to the dental clinic one day that week, had important meetings two other days, and then rested for the rest. Yip see very exciting :)
The ship has a three day weekend every 7 weeks and that just happened to be that week so by friday I was feeling so much better.

My favourite kiwi friend Michelle and I went to visit some of the patients on friday that have had surgery here on the ship and been discharged to a local hospital- The Hope Centre. A lot of the patients having the surgeries are from up country and don't live close to the ship/Conakry, but once they are discharged they still need follow-up care ie physio, dressing changes etc, so so they don't have to do lots of traveling they are discharged to the Hope Centre.
Visiting the kids had to have been one of the highlights for me here. Though we can't really communicate with words, the amount of smiles and laughter make up for it. It's amazing how much fun you can have without speaking the same language :) Jenja, soccer, coloring, and balloons are what they love, yet when you being out your camera is when the real fun begins. Little face start popping up from nowhere to have their picture taken with the Fotay (white people). Some of my favorite pictures are from hanging out with them. I've put some in here for you all to look at.

The rest of the weekend was spent relaxing, going back to Dubreka waterfall, going to a hotel and hanging in the pools, and going to one of our local translators church. It can be a bit mind boggling the fact that I get to see and experience something new every single day but I'm loving it!
African church is amazing! If you ever think about coming (and I think you all should!) here's two pieces of advice, wear comfortable shoes for dancing and take a fan!!! It can be hot hot and sometimes long! I'm trying to learn some of the awesome moves the Africans have when they dance but us white people just can't quite get the groove. The kids amaze me as well, the are incredible dancers!

This week and last week have been crazy, amazing, long, heart touching, fun filled weeks in the clinic. I have been working with a new dentist that has arrived and she has been getting me to do a lot more procedures so she can see more patients. This week I have (under guidance) extracted teeth, and sutured up (stitched) surgery sites. Wow is all I can say! I love it! It truly is amazing working here and with all our team. I love everyone of them!
So far since I have been here in August we have seen 1,200 people, done 3,348 procedures (fillings and extractions), and seen 60 people for hygiene appointments. So for example today we did 193 extractions. Phew, the days are pretty hard but I've settled into life here and just have to make sure I'm in bed early :) Not to easy when I hate missing out on things, like winning card games and hanging with my friends. I am getting better though ;)
Rainy seasons has nearly finished which makes working at the clinic a bit harder and way hotter! The city needs a good electrician (Dad) as we have power cuts every day, sometimes 4 times a day for sometimes a couple of hours, and the A/C is not run on our generators. You can imagine how the hotness gets to you when the power goes out and your in the middle of a surgical extraction ;) yes hot stuff it is!
Two things I don't leave the clinic without are, deodorant and a rain jacket. Your pretty much guaranteed you will use both every day.
Screening days for me are the days we see the hardest cases as I think I've said, but with Gods help I have been able to pray for the people coming in with malignant tumors, that we can do nothing for, and be at peace that I can leave them in God's hand and not stress my heart out about every single one. I have to say its not easy but I remind myself everyday about the blessings in life and am so thankful to be here. So yes clinic life is busy but we tend to be very easy going and have a lot of fun with each other. Life's to hard if you can't have fun :)

This past weekend is really what I wanted to tell you all about!! Arr so much fun! So I'll tell ya...
About 15 of us had the weekend free and wanted to get out of Conakry city and see the country and get some fresh, petrol free, none dusty air. So we organized to go up country and visit the agricultural site in Kindia that Mercy Ships is running with local people, teaching them the best way to grow crops, make compost, and work the land.
So the owner of the site came and picked us up in a very African style (holes in the floor, no seat belts, doors that don't shut properly, and squish as many people in as possible) mini van early Saturday morning and off we headed on our 5 hour (depending on traffic and road condition) drive to Kindia. Wow is all I can say again! The car didn't seem to want I go into gear sometimes and we got about an hour into our trip and my lovely brother Chris's face kept popping into my head as I started hearing noises and saw smoke come into the van from lots of places. So out we hopped and the drivers inspected what the cause was and rattled around under the hood for a minute, while we took in the scenery, and a couple of minutes later we were told we could get back in. So in we climbed and started off again and this lovely screechy noise had started again. My diagnosis was that it was the cam-belt but then I'm no mechanic. We made it another hour and a half and were told we needed to give the car a cool down so out we hopped again. The place we stopped was absolutely beautiful!! All I've seen over the past 6 weeks was Conakry town and a waterfall but this... Wow! It was amazing, reminded me if the Lion King, pride rock kinda scenery. This was the Africa I had thought about, I was waiting, and so longing so see! You know when people say a pictures worth a thousand words, well pictures couldn't really even capture the beauty of this God created, breathed land. Just amazing! I kept taking deep breaths of the air and just soaking it all in :) After our wee cool down stop we were back on the road and the car made it to Kindia. Yay!! We settled into our hotel/villa/mansion which I don't think had been used for the last year but it was a place to rest. We then made our way through town followed by 50 African kids yelling "Fotay Fotay!" Not too many white people go up to Kindia so we were a bit or a novelty I think :)
They were so adorable! I loved it.
We headed off to the agriculture site after our walk and we were welcomed by an African band and then sat down to a delicious traditional meal. After stuffing myself, we went on a guided tour of the site to burn all the lunch off. I know you probably will guess what I'm going to say but it was so BEAUTIFUL! Green rice fields, pineapple plantations, potatoes, Kasava, coconut trees, chickens, and rabbits are all grown on this farm. I never knew pineapple was grown from a plant near the ground, learn something new all the time :)
We then made it back in time for tea and sat down to the African band rocking out the beats again. They are amazing drummers. What was hilarious was that all the men drumming we're wearing traditional outfits/no shirts and all 15 or so of us girls we're taking pictures of the 5 year old boy drumming, loving all the attention :) oh funny. We then were all pulled randomly out and had to show them our dance moves. It's a same no one videoed mine as you all would have been proud haha maybe not.
I'll never forget my stay at the hotel. Water and power that worked sometimes, toilets that didn't work, and applying 80%2525 deet spray in the night because Michelle and I woke up to a bug crawling on me ekk! All part of the memories :)

Sunday started with a 4 hour hike up a stunning mountain, stopping off at remote villages, which we were asked to stop at and enjoy their hospitality of corn and the best bananas I've ever tasted. Followed by lunch at some waterfalls and then off into the van we got again to begin our trip back to the ship.
It really was the best weekend I've had here!! Loved every bit of it. The thing that has stuck with me the most is the friendliness and hospitality of the people here in Guinea. It's an honor for them to be allowed to give us things and have us in their house.

When I came to Mercy Ships I kept thinking "wow I have so much and they have so little here", but the more time I spend with these beautiful, so welcoming, heart touching people the more I am thinking that maybe, just maybe, they have so much and we have so little. Do we know what it's like to share our food for the day with perfect strangers, and doing it out of such giving hospitable hearts, expecting nothing in return? I think we could all learn a lot from these people. Just something for thought for us all :)

So yes, what an awesome, fun weekend and a good rest of the week I've had. It's amazing how Friday rolls around so quickly here and it's the weekend again. Think I'm going to have a quiet one this weekend. Couple of friends are leaving the ship tomorrow so will hang out with them after a little sleep in :) Might go to a market this weekend too and get some local goodies. I'm loving the fact I have the ability to go up country, or stay on the ship, or go to the market, or just hang with the girlies at the pool. Fun times are definitely being had :)
Well I love you all and want to say thanks for sitting through this :) You guys are awesome! There's so much more I could tell you but I really think you should just all come and experience it for yourselves ;) hopefully I've given you enough of a taster that you will want to.
All my family I miss you all so much, and to my precious treasure Kathryn :) I love you and am going to find it weird that we won't be together to have a party next week but know that I will be thinking of you and missing you like crazy :) You can have a party for me k.
Love you all! Thanks for your prayers and emails. Hope you are all well!
Until next time,
Lots of love
Rach xoxo :)
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