Even though the Africa Mercy is in the midst of ministry to the people of Guinea, many of the crew are in support jobs that don’t provide lots of direct ministry opportunity. To provide opportunity, Mercy Ministries was developed. Shelly Grivette, who came through the On Boarding program last Spring (and helped Sue with our interior colors) now directs the program and she wrote the following.
This Mercy Ministries site has turned out to be one of my (Shelly) personal favorites, even though it is also one of the most difficult. It’s heartbreaking because we are visiting desperately ill children in a hospital with limited resources. Two weeks ago we lost a precious teenaged boy, Ibrahimi, to AIDS.
When we first toured the hospital wards, my thought was, “my gosh these kids are sick. What in the world are we doing here? They are too ill to want to deal with strangers with white skin who can’t even speak their language.” How wrong I was! I am astonished every week as I watch the transformation in these desperately sick children and their parents. They absolutely come to life! I think it has a lot to do with giving them something other than illness to occupy their minds and hands and that people come to visit just because they care.
What has worked out well for us is to divide into teams of 2 and go into the individual wards where there are up to 4 patients, with parents, relatives and friends. We start by passing out coloring pages on clip boards and colored pencils. We give these to the adults as well as the children. Some of them have never in their lives colored a picture. I wish you could have seen the mother who took her sons beautifully colored picture and danced down the hallway with it, showing it to everyone she found.
Then we distribute a craft for them to make. One of their favorites is making beaded jewelry. We’ve also made Play-Doh villages, crepe paper flowers and next it will be a “galimoto” (which is anything they want to make out of pipe cleaners.) We’ve also been able to give gifts of small toys and stuffed animals that have been donated. Giving a sick little girl a colorful, soft kitten and watch her wrap her arms around it and snuggle it in close as she lays on her hospital bed is an amazingly humbling experience.
Mercy Ministries Coordinator, Shelly Grivette