Wisdom from a Woman “In the Know”

Volunteering as a media liaison and later as the executive assistant on board both of our ships, Kate Pitchford knows just about everything regarding Mercy Ships! Kate had intentions to volunteer for just one year, but five years later is still on board making sure everything runs smoothly.

In this episode, Kate teaches us the importance of “taking the seat” in the market, how God has an epic plan to heal the world, and how one patient screening day in Guinea is a day she’ll never forget. Kate is candid in sharing all she’s learned from living in an international community and how the more she learns, the more she realizes how little she knows. You don’t want to miss the wisdom that Kate shares in this episode.

Mercy Ships has brought hope and healing to those who need it most for over 40 years. Using hospital ships, we are able to provide safe, free surgical care to those in need and bring medical training to healthcare workers living in the countries we serve.

Looking for a way to join our mission of bringing hope and healing? Partner with us through a gift, volunteering with us, or by joining us in prayer.

 

                       

New Mercies Podcast Transcript

Welcome to the New Mercies, a podcast by Mercy Ships, where we’ll take you behind the scenes and on board our incredible hospital ships that are transforming lives all over the world. We invite you to join us each week as we sit down with our crew, patients, volunteers, and partners to hear their stories of life-changing hope and healing.

Kate Pitchford signed on to volunteer with Mercy Ships for one year, and five years later, she’s still on board. Kate serves as the executive assistant on board the global mercy and I think it’s safe to say that Kate pretty much knows everything that’s going on at any given moment on board our ships. she’s funny, she’s smart, and she’s about to share some serious wisdom with you. Here’s my interview with Kate Pitchford.

Raeanne Newquist:

So, Kate Pitchford, you are coming to us from the Canary Islands on the Global Mercy. So welcome to New Mercies. And thanks so much for joining us today on the podcast.

Kate Pitchford:

Thanks so much for having me.

Raeanne:

So why don’t you kick us off by telling us about Tenerife right now. You guys are there, the weather must be beautiful, give us a little insight about this amazing Island.

Kate:

The particular place that we are in Tenerife was actually a gift to us in 2020, when the ship decided to end its field service in Senegal, and we were looking for a place to go. We ended up finding this port and it’s really not a very busy part of the island, which is probably why they were willing to take a ship with I think 239 people on board. And this just ended up being kind of our home base for the Africa Mercy and now the Global Mercy since the beginning of the pandemic. Tenerife is a really interesting Island. It’s got a few different zones that all are pretty diverse, and it’s really lovely. There’s lots of hiking to be done here. The part of the island that we’re on right now, I like to say it’s a really great place to be a wind farmer. There’re some days I’ll go outside and you just kind of want to turn around and go back. But I say to myself, it’s a great day to be a wind farmer. Happy for them, like heaven help you if you need to take a box down to the recycling bin, and you almost fly off! That almost happened to me yesterday. The Gurkha was like, Kate, don’t do it. Just wait, leave it here. I listened to him because I really don’t think I would have ended well. So yeah, it’s windy. But it really is beautiful. The sunsets are beautiful and so we are really blessed here.

Raeanne:

Now I know, Kate that you are in your fifth year serving with Mercy Ships, so back in 2017, you first came to work with Mercy Ships and to volunteer. Why don’t you tell us a little bit how you heard about Mercy Ships. What was going on in your life at that time that caused you to say, I’m gonna go do this.

Kate:

In the year after I graduated from college, I had a degree in French and communications. And so, I went to do a multimedia internship in Benin with an organization called Wycliffe Bible translators. So I was there for a year, living with a host family, they were absolutely lovely. And I worked in the Wycliffe Benin headquarters office, and kind of helped out with different multimedia projects. So, it was a bit of a surprising year, honestly. And it came up just right after I graduated. But anyway, a friend that I met there went on to work with Mercy Ships. And so, they joined the ship in Madagascar. And we kind of stayed in touch. I think we followed each other’s blogs, but I didn’t really see what he was doing as something that could also be for me because he was an electrician. So, for me, it didn’t seem weird that like, oh yeah, he could go work on a ship because he’s technical. But I don’t have any technical training at all. So, it didn’t even cross my mind that there would be work for me to do there. It did not cross my mind whatsoever. But one day, maybe I don’t know how long after he joined Mercy Ships, he sent me an email that said, hey, they’re looking for some people in the communications department, and you should apply. And then he put the link in the email to go apply for a position and I had never looked at Mercy Ships, but I decided maybe I’ll watch some of their videos and see what that was all about. And I remember watching the 60 Minutes video and a few other patient story videos and just general videos about what they do. And I remember feeling so moved by the challenges that the patients faced with needing health care that they weren’t able to access, I was really moved to hear about what Mercy Ships was doing to address that. And in particular, I just remember as I watched these videos, I felt my heart starting to beat faster. I just remember realizing, like, I don’t feel this way about most things, not many things get me to where I can feel my heart beating in my chest. And so, I wondered, could this be something that God wants me to pay attention to, and maybe I just need to see where this goes a little bit. And so, at that point, I decided to apply. And I took a little bit of time, like maybe a week to fill out the application just to make sure that I was doing it intentionally and not just being impulsive. And then I finished the application. And it was before the Benin field service, but they ended up filling the position on the communications team that year. So, the HR team kept my application and asked if I wanted to reapply the next year. And so, when that came around, I said, sure, I’d like to try and reapply. And that was when I became media liaison on the communications team. And my friend that referred me is now home in Switzerland and he has a family, but every so often, I’ll remind him that I really don’t think I would be here if he hadn’t said something. I think it was his message really, that planted the idea in my mind that I could actually participate in this because I’m someone that has more general skills. So, I don’t have a specialized technical skill or medical set of skills. And so, it was really cool that he took the initiative.

Raeanne:

Well, that’s cool, because there are needs on board both of our ships that really span a wide range of talents and skills and knowledge and abilities. It’s not just medical, it’s not just technical. There’s so many roles to fill. So, I love that your friend reached out to you, and look how it’s changed your life.

Kate:

I never would have imagined that I would still be here five years later, I signed up for one year. And there’s so many people on board that say the same thing — I signed up for a three-month commitment and now it’s like five years later.

Raeanne:

Well, what did you do as a media liaison? Tell us what that job is.

Kate:

Mercy Ships often has media outlets that are interested in the work that we do, and they might want to do a story about us. And Mercy Ships also runs on donations from people that want to donate $25 one time, to people that give really large donations. And that’s the reason that we can do anything that we would be doing. We just have to have the means to do the surgeries and the patient treatment and the follow up and all of that and then for all of the things that it takes to support the community on board. So, it’s essential that we find ways to share about what we do. And then there’s also opportunities for people who are major donors to come and have visits to the ship. So the media liaison is the one to kind of coordinate and host these kinds of visits, and help them to go smoothly so that the guests have a really good experience on board, whether it’s a media team that have a job to do, or it’s a donor that’s just coming to see what this is about, obviously, they know Mercy Ships if they were willing to donate money, but then they can see firsthand what it looks like in the hospital. And for any patient that is featured in media about Mercy Ships, there’s this really extensive process that comes before that. So, our amazing hospital chaplaincy team makes sure that the patient is comfortable and that they understand why they might be filmed or photographed. And they make sure that upfront, the patient really knows that whether they say yes or no, they’re free to say yes or no, and that that’s not going to affect whether they receive care. That might seem really obvious to us, of course it wouldn’t affect whether we care for them or not. But when you are offering something that for a patient can be the difference between life and death, we really need to be careful about how we handle those conversations and requests that we make. So, we frame it that way.

Raeanne

That’s a really good point to make. It’s not understood that when a patient comes on board, they can be photographed or videoed or what have you. They have to give their consent, if we choose to follow their story and then put it out there for the world to really be encouraged and blessed by but our patients have complete freedom to say no, we don’t want to participate in that. And patients do and we totally respect that. And like you said, they still receive care. That doesn’t make any difference in the surgeries they receive. But it is important for us to honor our patients and to you know, really honor their experience on board. Well, after you were a media liaison just for a year you mentioned your commitment was for a year but here you are five years later, you transitioned into a different role on board as an executive assistant. So, tell us a little bit about that.

Kate:

After the first year on the communications team, I decided, you know, that role helped me grow a lot and I gained a lot of confidence in myself. I was thankful for that. And doing after doing that for one field service, I decided I wanted to continue with Mercy Ships, but maybe see what other roles might be available that would fit my skill set. I ended up finding the executive assistant role and when people would ask me what I did in that job, one of the things I would joke about is basically, I had to be good at four things: I had to be good at finding things, putting things where other people can find them, making myself universally presentable on very short notice, and doing things I’ve never done before as though I’ve done them many times. So those are my four things. Obviously, it’s more complicated than that. But honestly, if I took so many of the tasks that I do day to day, they usually fit into one of those categories, because you end up kind of being a catch all for information that comes into your department and you have to find the place where the next person that needs this information needs to be able to look for it in a predictable place. And then you need to know where to go and retrieve information. Maybe it’s something that somebody wrote down three years ago, and they put it on navigator somewhere. So, you need to be able to look it up and find out where it is. And then when you’re an assistant, your job really depends on who you’re assisting. So, the executive assistant is there for the managing director. And the managing director, in many ways, is kind of an ambassador for Mercy Ships. So, while the ship is in a host nation, they are usually the main one interfacing with the government hosts. So, they may be representing Mercy Ships to the host nation. But also in many ways, the managing director goes between the crew and the support center in Texas and the other national offices. So, if there are organizational announcements, the managing director might be the one to make sure crew stay up to speed on that. And then of course, they also oversee the day-to-day operational management of the ship over the departments that make us work.

Raeanne:

Wow, it’s a big job. We did have Warrie Blackburn on the podcast several episodes ago, she was managing director on the Africa Mercy, and I know you worked with her as her executive assistant. You mentioned that in the managing director role they get to work with the heads of state or the government of our host nation that we’re serving in. So, in your role, have you got to meet some of these higher-ups, if you will, in some of these countries? And what was that like?

Kate:

Yes, we have gotten to have some really, really special guests onboard, which is always a huge honor. It’s really cool to be able to, for example, when we’re in a country, welcome the head of state like the President of Senegal has come to visit the ship. And the President of Guinea came when we were in Guinea. And so that does happen. Usually, we expect it when we’re in a country, it might happen sometime during the field service, or it might not. Sometimes the Minister of Health will come on board. Those kinds of people are the reason that we get to be in a country at all. So, we really want to honor them by making them feel really welcome. And it’s kind of funny, because you will say welcome to them to your home, but then they’re also welcoming you. So, it’s this funny, reciprocal relationship where we really want to show them hospitality. And they’ve shown us hospitality. And that’s this huge thing in Africa. So yeah, it’s kind of cool.

Raeanne:

Do you have a story about some time where you met somebody you were really excited to meet or nervous to meet?

Kate:

It’s kind of funny, because when someone like that comes on board, there will be kind of like this hush, or like nobody really says anything. There’s a lot of coordination that goes into having someone like that on board. And I remember in one particular country, the head of state was kind of known for coming at the last minute or announcing that they were coming at the last minute. So, we might know what week they are coming, but then find out the day a few hours in advance. So that means in two hours, the President is coming on board. And I’m not saying that in a negative way at all. That’s totally understandable. But it is always kind of exciting when it’s like, hey, now the whole ship kind of shifts gears towards getting ready. Let’s make sure that the floors are clean, and we polish the handrails and all of that and have our hospital visit lined up for them. And just everyone kind of comes together as a team, and makes those visits happen. So that’s really exciting. It can be a little bit exhausting, you know, stress inducing, but I think in a really positive way. Everyone needs those days where your heart beats a little bit faster.

Raeanne:

What has been a highlight for you so far, in your role on board?

Kate:

My first field service in the executive assistant role was in Guinea in 2018, to 2019 and there was one week at the very end of that field service that was absolutely insane because we were welcoming the international board Mercy Ships on board. And there was just a lot of events surrounding that. So, they were coming for their annual meeting and it’s really good that they want to come and have their meeting on the ships they are our governing board. And so, to be able to have them on the ship to feel connected to the crew, and what we’re doing, that’s one of the most important things that they can do is to spend time with us and to see how the ship is operating and what it looks like just so that they don’t feel too separated from what’s actually going on in the work that they’re supporting. These are people that love Mercy Ships, if we could go in depth into each of their stories, we’d be completely blown away by how much these people love Mercy Ships, and how much they care for the crew on board. And so that always is a huge motivation to just make sure that they feel really welcome on board and make sure that their visit goes smoothly. So, it was a busy week. But that was definitely a highlight. And during that week, the board got to go and visit the president of Guinea at his house and don’t welcome us for a dinner. That was one time where I would say I actually got to meet a president because he went around the room and shook everyone’s hand and greeted each of us. That was really just a huge honor to be there.

Raeanne:

Were you nervous?

Kate:

I was so nervous! I mean, I was kind of like this person in the corner, just happy to be here. Oh my gosh, I’m just the assistant, you know, like, what am I doing? It was so so fun. I was just so grateful to be there.

Raeanne:

Now, in your role, like you said, you’re interfacing with a lot of heads of state and government officials, the board of Mercy Ships, kind of a lot of decision-makers, important people, if you will. But really, the heart of Mercy Ships is for the forgotten poor, the people who are desperately in need. And those are our patients on board. I think sometimes in different roles on board the ships, you can get caught up in the work that you’re doing and sometimes you almost forget that there are patients on board and people that are desperately in need, which is why we’re here. What do you do to keep the Mission of Mercy Ships your focus?

Kate:

I think a lot about something that I heard said during a community meeting. And I think this was during the Senegal field service, Susan Parker was on board at the time, and she gave a teaching, and she said something that I have always remembered. But she basically said, God has an epic plan to heal the world. I feel like I repeat this phrase a lot. But I feel like a lot of the time, it’s just to myself, because it makes sense in so many different ways. I’ll just repeat it to myself, because it means that God has a plan for healing our patients beyond what we can even plan or provide in our hospital. But it also means he has a plan for healing the healthcare systems. In the countries that we’re serving, he has a plan for healing our partners, and a plan for healing our government hosts and even for healing the crew members on the ship. And obviously that doesn’t look the same in all of those different situations. But I think we all are in need of health and healing in some way. And there are no exceptions to that. So every person that we come into contact with as Mercy Ships, whether that’s the partners who bring the produce to the ship in Senegal, or the people who provide our portable toilets that are on the dock — we have to rent those from a company and so those are people that we interact with, or the government hosts that we have, the people who work in our national offices, the donors who are finding out about Mercy Ships and wanting to do something to help, and so they donate. And I’m not saying that all of those people’s experiences or my experiences as a crew member, in any way compares to what patients have gone through, because that’s something unique and we all recognize that they are in need of a particular kind of help. But really, in truth, I think that’s when you realize that we all understand what it means to feel pain, and to need healing in different ways, not all in the exact same way. But I think there’s areas in all of our lives where we have felt pain, and we need healing. And that’s where all of our compassion as human beings comes from. That’s how we’re able to have true compassion and be God’s hands and feet to our patients. But we’re also called to be the hands and feet and have compassion for the governments and the systems that are serving patients and those host nations.

Raeanne:

Yes, God has an epic plan to heal the world because the world needs healing. Thank you so much for sharing that. Kate, you had mentioned in the beginning that you had graduated from college with a degree in French. So, I know you speak fluent French because I’ve heard you! Tell us how you’ve been able to use your French while serving with Mercy Ships?

Kate:

Well, it definitely comes in handy I will say. It’s not that Mercy Ships is always in countries where they speak French, they happen to have had other field services since I joined in French speaking countries. And it really does help a lot, I honestly give a lot of credit to volunteers who come and don’t speak French, to me it seems very brave, it would be very disorienting to be walking around and not understand. French isn’t the only language that’s spoken. So, if you take Senegal as an example, if you walk around in the street, a lot of people are speaking Wolof. And so, I guess I have the experience of walking around and not being able to necessarily understand all the conversations around me. But at the same time, if I needed something, or if I wanted to ask for something, I can walk up to someone and say, pretty confidently what I would like, as long as they speak French, you know, that’s kind of given. But it’s really common. So, I try not to take it for granted. Because it really is super helpful. And I know that it’s kind of a safety net when I’m out and about. It’s also possible that people around will speak English. But yeah, I really enjoy like being able to walk around and understand what’s going on around me. There have been a few instances like in Senegal, in particular, I remember a couple of times where I walked out of the port and a person would come up to me and just say, are you working for Mercy Ships, Mercy Ships is awesome. I love what you’re doing, thank you so much. And they’re saying this in French and I’m glad I understand that because otherwise, it might just seem like I walk out of the port and someone just came up and is talking to me and like, what are they saying, you know, that could be a little bit like intimidating. So, I’ve been thankful that I understand what they’re saying. Another story that comes to mind is in Guinea, we were doing dental care for our patients. And we had a clinic that was off the ship. And we had fliers, so they were constantly screening for more patients because they had this big capacity to treat a lot of people and so all of the vehicles had fliers in their folders so that if we met someone on the street, we could give them a flyer to tell them how they could get screened for dental care. Like obviously, we can’t take them there, but we can tell them how you get there at this address, and etc. And so, I remember one time we got stopped at a checkpoint with the police. And that’s pretty normal, like you’re in a car and you’re driving, and they just have to check every car. Usually, they just let you pass. But he asked us to stop, and we rolled down the window and you just want to be respectful and answer their questions. And he leaned down to the window and he said in French, I want you to take out my tooth. And I was like I’m so glad I understood that because then I was like, oh, does anyone have a dental flyer? We just hand him something and so we handed that to him, and he was really happy and hopefully he was able to get care. But it was just really funny, like so random. But when they see our cars going around the city and they see the logo they will sometimes ask, and you never know. I’m always glad that I’m able to help connect people like that.

Another place where using French comes in really handy is when you go to the market, that’s kind of a place that I like to go and explore in whatever country we might be in. And sometimes I’ll have errands that I have to go run on Mercy Ships business that involves procuring local crafts for different things that Mercy Ships is going to do and so I had a person that a day crew actually put me in contact within Senegal in one of the markets there. And I honestly had never met this person, I just trusted the day crew and the person that they were going to introduce me to, to do business with. And I had done things similar in Guinea, but really this person, Abdu, became a friend of mine. And he introduced me to his wife, who also worked in the market. And really, it was a friendship that developed because first of all, I noticed what a honest and trustworthy person that he was, he really didn’t have to go to the lengths that he did to help me with the things I was trying to accomplish at the market. But he went so far to be helpful, and also welcoming. So, it’s kind of funny, because I tell people who are going to the market for the first time, people are probably going to offer you a place to sit if you kind of linger in their stall, but they might pull up a stool and offer you a seat. And in Senegal, they say tillable, like sit down. And so, and I say you should always take that seat, you’re not agreeing to anything else, you’re just accepting their hospitality. And that is one of the most basic things that we can do, because they want to show us hospitality. And so, if somebody offers you a seat, I don’t care if you’re going to leave in five seconds, you just sit down and new enjoy that seat like it’s the best seat you’ve ever sat in. When you are going to a market, the more times that you visit the market, I have found your visits to the market become longer. Because you get to know people, and you want to sit down and if I go with people now I’ll say, hey, just you know, I have a friend at this market and I’m going to visit him, you’re welcome to stay, or you can go shop around because I’m going to sit in his stall for 20 or 30 minutes and not talk about what I want to find in the market at all. We’re just going to catch up and find out how he is doing, and he’ll ask me questions because he wants to know how my mom and my dad are doing. He wants to know how my brother’s doing, how my friends are doing… And like he’s asking me all these questions. And then I say, I should go visit Khumba, which is his wife. And he’s like, oh, yeah, yeah, go see. And so, then I’ll walk over there and hang out with Khumba and ask all the same questions and make sure that everything’s going okay. And then she’ll ask me all the same questions. And it’s just this whole thing. Greetings are so important. And you have to have the patience, because you will do it every time that you see people and it feels like, the more that you visit someone, the longer the greetings become. It’s not like, oh, yeah, we just talked about this last week. It’s like, I still want to know, is everything going, okay? Relationships are everything, not just in West Africa, like they really are everything.

Raeanne:

But it is really special that you can speak French fluently, and so you are able to sit and have these beautiful conversations. I love that that is an incredible skill that you have that really connects you to a lot of local people in some of these African nations where French is widely spoken, which is very cool. Now, I know that living on a ship is a very unique environment, what is something that you’ve learned by living on a ship?

Kate:

The ship has really taught me to relate to people who are different from me, both from different backgrounds, and also when we have differences. If anyone takes anything away from this whole episode, go and read Crucial Conversations and just change your life. It’s such a great book and that’s something that they talk about with all the long-term crew, you’re going to need to have some tough conversations with people. I heard this, I don’t know if you call it a proverb, but it’s an analogy, like how the tongue and the teeth work together so closely all the time. And they need each other in order to do their job. But sometimes, because they are so close, that also means that, you’ll bite your tongue, and doesn’t mean that your tongue and your teeth are not a good team. It just means that they are working really closely together and sometimes, being in such a close community can have some tough points. But I think being in this community for this long really will soften out your hard edges, you know, and you realize you can’t make assumptions about people, you can’t assume what people’s intentions are, or that your solution is always the best one. You know, one thing that I’ve learned to say, it never gets easier to deal with people that you’re different from, but I’ve also learned to say like okay, you know, the world needs people like that person too, God made them, and he wanted someone just like them.

Raeanne:

How have you seen lives changed through your time volunteering this far?

Kate:

There was a patient in Cameroon named Caltoume and she had a very large facial tumor. And I think I listened to Carys Parker’s episode, and I think she also mentioned Caltoume, actually. I still think about her every so often just because it was such a unique story. She flew down from the north of Cameroon and she didn’t have somebody in her family who had a national identity card to be able to fly with her. So, the only person that could go with her was actually a guy from her village who didn’t know her. He came and he was her caregiver. And he stayed with her on the ship, because she was 12 years old and she needed a caregiver, an adult to be with her. And the only person that could do it was this man. She had a really big facial tumor on the side of her face and had a couple of different surgeries to have it removed and to have her face reconstructed. And so, she had to return to the ship a second time. But the first time that she stayed, this man was with her. I don’t even know what his name was. But I just remember that at the beginning of their time, he was kind of not really sure how long he would have to be there. He was asking, how long is this going to take? When can I return to my family, because it’s a huge sacrifice for people to come even for families, like if it was her own parents, it would be a huge sacrifice to come and give up the work that they would be doing for a certain amount of time to deal with her. And so, he was kind of wondering, when he’d be able to go back to his village and continue his business. By the end of the first stay that she had there, he had totally flipped the switch and was there all out for Caltoume, whatever she needed, as long as she needed to be there. He’d ask, is she going to be okay? and just wanted to make sure that her needs were met, and really wasn’t so concerned about his own, what he needed to get back to anymore, which I just remember hearing that and realizing, wow, that is such a big heart that he had for this girl that he really barely even knew. But then just imagining like, when she did go back after her second surgery, and her family and her friends, and everyone in her village got to see her life changed. I really think we were talking about how God has a plan to heal the world and I really do think that God changes lives of the people that get to witness that, it’s not even just the patient. It’s also the people in their lives. It’s the people around them that see this healing that realize hope. For me, hope is you see that things don’t always have to be the way that they are, if there’s something that is causing pain in your life, it can be different, and being able to imagine it being different is what hope is. Caltoume was someone who really made an impression on a lot of people on board, on the crew, and on the other patients who got to hear her story.

I also wanted to share about an opportunity that I had to help out at a patient screening day in Guinea Conakry and that is a day that really, I think will stay with me for the rest of my life. One thing to mention before I go into it, is Mercy Ships generally tailors its patient selection approach in each country where it is. So, it’s not done in the same way in every place where we go. And they’re constantly talking about, how can we make this go smoother? How can we do it better, which is something that I really appreciate about the organization. In Guinea, they did patient selection in several places around the country, but the main screening day was in Conakry, which was the port city. So that’s where the ship was, it was like a 20-minute drive away at this outdoor location, lots of space, and it lasted for one day. And there was a lot of organization that went into it because there was going to be 1000s of people that were evaluated to see if we might be able to treat them. And that day I was really able to see how far our patients go in order to receive care. You know, there’s a lot of work that goes into screening, but there was at least a dozen nurses that were all there evaluating the patients to see whether they had something that we can treat. But at one point, my job was just to stand at the front of this very, very long line, there were 1000s of people, and each person that came to the front, I would say, okay, you go into that line, there was a little line of three people in front of each nurse. So, they would always have someone ready and queued up for them to see and that way, we would just help it go really, really efficiently. And so yeah, I was just there helping them file into the screening stations and this whole evaluation had been going all day. And the goal was to see each and every person that came in, so we weren’t planning to turn away anybody that was there at any point in the day.

By the afternoon, that meant that some patients that had reached the front of the line might have been there all day, and there were parts of the day that had been hot, and then there was also one point where it had rained and some people had umbrellas, and some people didn’t. And so, they had waited through all of that. But I remember one person who even looked at me and smiled. And they asked how I was doing. And I was like, did you just ask me how I am? How can you be so kind and so thoughtful as to ask me that when you have been waiting here all day in the sun and the rain? But it made me smile, like they were just so pleasant. And one amazing thing that happened that day, there was like 6000 people that passed through to be seen and some of those were caregivers, and some of them were the potential patients. So, it wasn’t 100% patients, but out of all of those people, they identified six cleft lip patients, and they had been expecting a lot more because usually there’s a certain percentage of the patients with clefts. And it was thanks to this Guinean surgeon, his name is Dr. Raphiou Diallo. He had been trained on the ship back in the 2012 field service in Guinea. And he had been doing these operations and training other surgeons to do the same operation in Guinea since then. So, when we came back in 2018, we only found these six people, which was just amazing. So, one of the things I really appreciate about Mercy Ships and why I really like working here is that this is going to sound counterintuitive, but Mercy Ships wants to work itself out of a job. We would love nothing more than to be 100% redundant in the places where we are. We’re happy to give care, but it would be great if it wasn’t even needed. We love serving. But if it were no longer needed, because health care systems that we work with have everything they need to care for their population, that would be a wonderful thing. And I say it that way because it is a system. It’s not like one person. And we are hoping that one day, everything will be in place so that everyone in that system has what they need to be able to do what they are there to do. You know, people are in their role because they want to help people and they want to provide health care, so it’s really cool to be with an organization that stands in the gap and does it in a very intentional and sensitive way that they’re constantly interacting with every country that wants to host us to see, where are you at in your community and where can we fill in your gaps rather than just putting a one size fits all approach on to a country. So that’s something I’ve really appreciated.

Raeanne:

Kate, you are such a joy and I know that you have in turn impacted many people on board as well. And I just want to thank you for sharing with us a little bit of Your Mercy Ships journey today. And many blessings to you as you continue to serve God and serve others on board.

Kate:

Well, thanks so much for having me, it’s been so, so fun, so I appreciate it.

Raeanne:

For more information about Mercy Ships go to mercyships.org. Next week we get to hear from a young woman who is wise beyond her years. Zodi Schwind moved to West Africa with her family at the age of 12. And because of her background, in many ways, it felt like coming home. You don’t want to miss this young woman’s powerful story of how Mercy Ships changed her life and her future.

For more information about Mercy Ships go to mercyships.org and to keep up with the guests on New Mercies, follow us on Instagram at NewMerciesPodcast.