Here's my schedule for the coming weeks:
Tomorrow I get in a car for a four-day road trip to the interior of Madagascar to follow-up with Peace Corps Volunteers who did the HBB training.
I get back on Saturday night and then head out Tuesday morning to fly to Fianarantsoa and for two more days of HBB follow-up.
I will fly from Fianarantsoa to Antananarivo, where I will meet up with Michelle and we will both fly the next day to Mahajanga where we will follow-up Checklist training.
We will both then return to the ship on Friday evening, unpack and repack, and then travel back to Antananarivo on Sunday. After a quick overnight, we leave together to fly to Johannesburg, South Africa where we will get the necessary visas to go to the Republic of Congo.
Thursday, visas in hand, we will fly from Johannesburg to Pointe Noire, where the ship was docked for the last field service, 2013-2014. We will spend time in three cities over two weeks in Congo, every day packed full with supplementary training, follow-up, and visits - trying to determine if what we did there in pioneering our Healthcare Education program actually left an impact.
After two weeks in Congo, Michelle and I head to Berlin where she speaks at a conference and I will be madly writing reports for the end of the Madagascar field service as well as the Congo trip. We will also explore a bit and hopefully have a few hours to breathe after a full on, non-stop several months. Then I have a brief layover in London where I bid Michelle goodbye for a few months and then head through Madrid on my way to the Mercy Ships International Operations Center in Lindale, Texas, where I will spend a few weeks working from dry land while the ship makes its way to Durban, South Africa for the annual shipyard maintenance period. It's been three years since I have been there, so it will be a great time to reconnect with team members and friends from that side of the pond. Then, finally, I will head to Minnesota, to Seattle, to Colorado, and to various other yet-to-be-determined locations before eventually making my way back to Madagascar to begin the second field service in Toamasina.
It's a strange end to the field service - I've sailed away from Sierra Leone, Guinea, and Congo field services onboard and this time of year is usually one of sadness tinged with hope and a season full of goodbyes. This year I'm leaving long before the ship does and when I return the ship will be in the same place I left it; almost as if nothing has happened.
One of the joys of ship life though is not only am I trying to get massive amounts of work done and papers ready and supplies packed for the next several trips but my home will be sailing... twice... in the time I am gone, so I have to secure everything for 20 degree rolls in the open sea, find people willing to care for my plants, and toss any food that will expire while I am away.
I had a moment today when I actually stopped and thought, "I live on a ship. How weird!" Yes, three years in and those moments still happen. I love what I get to be a part of and I hope to be able to post updates from time to time; but at the same time don't be surprised if you don't hear from me either!
Thanks for your support and encouragement!! --Krissy