Thursday, December 29, 2011

Palliative Care

The Mercy Ships Palliative Care Program was initiated after crew member Ann Giles identified a need to offer continuing care to people with inoperable tumors. Now in its tenth year, the program sends nurses into the community to offer pain relief, wound care, counseling and support to these patients.

Palliative care and cancer care are still in their infancy in Sierra Leone, and there is very little treatment available at local hospitals. “Often doctors here don’t tell people the truth because there isn’t much they can do to help them anyway,” says Palliative Care Team Leader Harriet Molyneux. The result is that many of the patients with whom the team works have never heard of cancer before. “We have to tell them, ‘This is what cancer is; this is what we can do for you,’” says Harriet.

It is never easy to tell people that they are going to die, but cultural differences between the palliative care nurses and their patients create additional challenges. “In this culture, it is very hard to break bad news to people,” says Harriet. “The culture is very much to say, ‘God is great’ and encourage each other and build each other up. So it’s difficult to say straight out, ‘I’m afraid you’re dying.’ I’ve never said it directly. You couldn’t do that.”

“They are my family,” says Adama – shown with the Palliative Care team, L to R: Camilla Börjesson, Harriet Molyneux, Adama Kargbo, Dee Ameyaw.

Esther Komba, a palliative care day-worker who has been a practicing nurse in Sierra Leone for over 15 years, has been an invaluable cultural interpreter for the team. “She struggled at first,” says Harriet. “She went home crying every day the first few weeks, because it’s completely going against her culture, but she’s a very strong woman, and she’s stuck with it – she does a fantastic job.”

In 2011, the Palliative Care Team was given a budget to develop income-generating projects for their patients. These projects help patients to support themselves and to be assured that their families will be secure after they die. The team works with patients to identify a skill or trade that they have developed in the past and then helps them to get the materials and training they need to start their business.

Adama Kargbo ran a cooked food business for 20 years before she developed a malignant facial tumor and became too sick to work. She came to Mercy Ships hoping to be healed, but unfortunately her tumor was inoperable. “When we first started with her, she was very depressed, very low,” says Harriet. “She had spent all of her savings on treatments that hadn’t worked, and she was unable to feed her family.”

Adama attends church regularly, and her faith and the support she has received from the Palliative Care Team have helped her to accept her condition. Her cancer is slow-growing, so after visiting her several times, the team asked whether she felt well enough to work. When she expressed a desire to restart her business, the team helped her to get everything that she needed to set up a food stall in the market. “From then, I’ve never slept hungry again,” says Adama.

Now Adama’s business, which she runs with the help of two of her daughters, is thriving. She has added benches inside her stall, and she has also started a second cooked food business that operates five days a week. Having managed to save a bit of money, she plans to start selling dried goods soon. The earnings from her businesses support ten family members and allow her to pay her grandson’s school fees so that he can continue his education.

“It’s dramatically improved her quality of life,” says Harriet. “She’s able to buy food for her family, and it has also improved her emotional state. She’s brighter, she has a lot more purpose. We’ve noticed a big difference in her.”

When the members of the Palliative Care Team arrive for their weekly visits, Adama always has a hot meal ready for them. “I prepare food for them to show them love because they have showed me love,” she says. “They are my family.”

November 2011

Written by Catherine Cooper
Edited by Nancy Predaina
Photos by Catherine Cooper

Ravel's Bolero Flash Mob

As one of the first professional symphony orchestras ever Copenhagen Phil (Sjællands Symfoniorkester) did a flash mob at Copenhagen Central Station on May 2nd 2011 playing Ravel's Bolero. Conductor is Jesper Nordin.

If you cannot see the video below, click HERE! Well worth the watch!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Exploring the Western Caribbean by ship...

7 days onboard the MS Mariner of the Seas. The ship is one of five Voyager-class cruise ships from Royal Caribbean International; it is one of the largest in its fleet and among the largest passenger ships in the world. It was constructed at Aker Finnyards in Turku, Finland and had her maiden voyage in 2003. Currently the ship sails cruises from the port of Galveston, Texas  to the Western Caribbean.

Galveston is a coastal city located on Galveston Island in the U.S. state of Texas. As of the 2010 U.S. Census, the city had a total population of 47,743 within an area of 208 square miles (540 km2). Located within the Houston–Sugar Land–Baytown metropolitan area, the city is the seat and second-largest city of Galveston County in population.

During the 19th century, Galveston became a major U.S. commercial center and one of the largest ports in the United States. Galveston is known for the hurricane that devastated the city in 1900. The natural disaster that followed still counts as the deadliest in American history with over 6,000 deaths.

The most perfect bed in the world. I slept like a baby!

The Port of Galveston was established by a proclamation issued by the Congress of Mexico on October 17, 1825, while the land known today as Texas  was still part of Mexico. The Port of Galveston is the oldest port in the Gulf of Mexico west of New Orleans. The Carnival Magic, Carnival Cruise Lines flagship is docked in front of us as we await departure.

Deck 4, a wrap around promenade deck. I spent many a happy hour reading here in perfect quiet and peace.

The Solarium, an adults only pool and hot tubs onboard the Mariner of the Seas. Heaven.

Cozumel (Mayan: Island of the Swallows) is an island in the Caribbean Sea off the eastern coast of Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula, opposite Playa del Carmen, and close to the Yucatan Channel. Cozumel is one of the ten municipalities (municipios) of the state of Quintana Roo. Cozumel is a tourist destination for its balnearios, scuba diving, and snorkeling. The main town on the island is San Miguel de Cozumel.

The Royal Promenade onboard the Mariner of the Seas. A long 'street' complete with shops and over spilling European style cafes and bars. Good for people watching and live music and parades.

Arriving At Georgetown in the Cayman Islands we had to anchor in the bay and be tendered to shore.

The Cayman Islands is a British Overseas Territory located in the western Caribbean Sea. The territory comprises the three islands of Grand Cayman, Cayman Brac, and Little Cayman, located south of Cuba and northwest of Jamaica. The Cayman Islands are considered to be part of the geographic Western Caribbean Zone as well as the Greater Antilles.

We even came under attack from a pirate ship. Luckily, I didn't see any Somalians! Look carefully, and you will see the puff of white smoke as the canon went off. I nearly dropped my camera in the ocean. It was a big and very loud BOOOM!

The Mariner of the Seas in more dodgy pirate company.

Jamaica is an island nation of the Greater Antilles, 234 kilometers (145 mi) in length, up to 80 kilometers (50 mi) in width and 10,990 square kilometers (4,243 sq mi) in area. It is situated in the Caribbean Sea, about 145 kilometers (90 mi) south of Cuba, and 191 kilometers (119 mi) west of Hispaniola, the island harboring the nation-states of Haiti and the Dominican Republic. Its indigenous Arawakan-speaking Taíno inhabitants named the island Xaymaca, meaning the "Land of Wood and Water", or the "Land of Springs".

Once a Spanish possession known as Santiago, in 1655 it became an English, and later a British, colony, known as "Jamaica". It achieved full independence in 1962. With 2.8 million people, it is the third most populous anglophone country in the Americas, after the United States and Canada. It remains a Commonwealth realm with Queen Elizabeth II as head of state. Kingston is the country's largest city and the capital.

Jamaica Blue Mountain Coffee is a classification of coffee grown in the Blue Mountains of Jamaica. The best lots of Blue Mountain coffee are noted for their mild flavor and lack of bitterness. Over the last several decades, this coffee has developed a reputation that has made it one of the most expensive and sought-after coffees in the world; over 80% of all Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee is exported to Japan. In addition to its use for brewed coffee, the beans are the flavor base of Tia Maria coffee liqueur.

Meeting up with a dear friend of mine, Donna Shippie, who is the Asst Director for YWAM Montego Bay.

Distance sailed: 2,462 nautical miles = 2,533 miles = 4,559 kilometers in 7 days
Deepest part of the gulf sailed over: 11,410 feet = 3,477 meters
Average temperature: 72 F = 22 C
Average speed: 21.9 knots = 25.20 miles per hour = 40.55 kilometer per hour

It surely was a mix of all kinds of people... Meet Edie and Bill who definitely had caught Christmas Spirit by it's red nose!
Helpfully, the day gets noted in the elevators. I thought it a bit cheesy, but by Wednesday I had to look in the elevator to see which day it was!

My cabin attended went out of his way to confuse me. I am still not sure if this was a pig or a dog!

Beautiful and well appointed conference center. Very happy about this and well suited for the upcoming Alumni cruise!

Small cinema/screening room located right next to the conference center on deck 2
No matter what time of the day, I loved the quiet and fresh air on deck 4. I reminded me so much of countless hours spent on the promenade deck on the Anastasis.

Question and Answer time with the captain and cruise director in the theater.

One of the murals in the Royal Promenade, it looked more and more like the kid was holding up the Anastasis. I took it as a good sign!

The jogging/walking track on the ship.

The Royalpalooza, the final parade!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

If Mary and Joseph Used Facebook.

Ever wondered how the Nativity story would have played out if Joseph and Mary used Facebook?

if you cannot see the video below, click HERE!

Thursday, December 8, 2011


After a husband taught his wife how to handle a gun, he told her not to play with it. This is his revenge on her after she disobeyed his warnings...

If you cannot see the video, click HERE!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

A Greatful Heart

The Africa Mercy docked in the port of Freetown, Sierra Leone (as seen from the port towers). I am very grateful for every opportunity that we had to impact and help someone in this great nation.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

BAD Nativity sets!

A very piggy nativity, certainly not kosher…

Ready to cough up a hairball anyone?

Yep, chickens... WOW!

yeah, the cat nativity is probably worse. but these dogs ain’t much better…

this one is a craft kit, using marshmallows to make a nativity. yum.


the nativity kitchen timer:

Happy feet?


Monday, November 28, 2011

Stand By Me - Japan

In the summer of 2011 the Playing For Change Band was invited to perform at Jazz Fest in New Orleans.  While they were in town long-time friend of the project, Jimmy Buffett, invited them to a jam session on the roof of Margaritaville that rocked into the wee hours of the morning.  The PFC Band kicked off the night with this tribute to the people of Japan who have been a affected by this past spring's Tsunami.

If you cannot see the video below, click HERE.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Polka time!

I happened again, I got caught again while haphazardly channel surfing. I spent some more time this week watching RFD TV's (RFD-TV, or Rural Free Delivery TV, is a United States satellite and cable television channel devoted to rural issues, concerns, and interests. The channel's name is a reference to Rural Free Delivery, the name for the United States Postal Service's system of delivering mail directly to rural patrons.) Molly B's Polka Party. Once again, I simply could not change channels.

Mollie Busta, popular performer from the Jim Busta Band and Squeezebox, is host of the weekly RFD-TV Polka show, the Mollie B Polka Party. The one-hour program features the nation’s top polka bands and a wide-variety of ethnic styles produced on location at music festivals from around the country. Along with Ted Lange, Mollie B serves as Creative Director in expanding and improving RFD-TV’s prime-time polka programming.

I seriously need to get to a Polka Show!

Below in the video is the Lenny Gomulka Chicago Push band being taped for the show, if you cannot see the video below, click HERE.

Source: Wikipedia, RFD-TV, Youtube

Friday, November 11, 2011

There she is!

Safely arrived and dockside in Galveston, TX!

Mariner of the Seas, Pier 28, Galveston, TX

...and there she goes on her first Caribbean run for the season! Thanks to Hook 'em Horns/RCCLTexasTeen for the video.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

A Chance Encounter...

A friend sent me this incredible video of a chance encounter and shared moment with one of natures greatest and most fleeting phenomena.

A murmuration, which this is, consists of thousands of tiny starlings (birds) collectively flying and swirling about. The mesmerizing act is typically seen at the beginning of winter, right before dusk, as the birds look for a place to roost for the night.

If you cannot see the video below, click HERE to watch this incredible moment!

I highly suggest maximizing the screen to allow you to experience it as much as possible.

Murmuration from Sophie Windsor Clive on Vimeo.


7 Billion People | 7 Billion Actions |

By the end of 2011 the world will have reached 7 billion people. The United Nations Population Fund is leading an innovative global campaign to bring awareness to the opportunities and challenges that this milestone presents. But 7 Billion people means 7 Billion hearts.

Music has always been the best way to speak to the hearts of the people. Playing For Change has partnered with the United Nations to present an original song around the world to serve as an anthem for such an important time: "United."

They traveled across the globe, put headphones on musicians, added them to the track, and created a video that can serve as a tangible example of something positive we can all do together as a human race.

Lets inspire each other. Lets everybody get involved and join us on in this journey, so that together we leave this world better than we found it. To learn more about how to be part of the "United" track go to

If you cannot see the video below, click HERE to view this amazing collaboration.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Mayonnaise Jar

A colleague of mine used this in our departmental devotional today... I am not sure who to attribute it to, but enjoy anyway. Thanks for sharing Nancy!

When things in your life seem almost too much to handle, when 24 hours a day is not enough, remember the mayonnaise jar and 2 cups of coffee.

A professor stood before his philosophy class and had some items in front of him.  When the class began, without a word, he picked up a very large and empty mayonnaise jar and started to fill it with golf balls.

He then asked the students if the jar was full.  They agreed that it was.

The professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the jar.  He shook the jar lightly.  The pebbles rolled into the open areas between the golf balls.

He then asked the students again if the jar was full.  They agreed it was.

The professor next picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar.  Of course, the sand filled up everything else.

He asked once more if the jar was full.  The students responded with a unanimous “Yes.”

The professor then produced two cups of coffee from under the table and poured the entire contents into the jar, effectively filling the empty spaces between the grains of sand. The students laughed.

“Now,” said the professor, as the laughter subsided.  “I want you to recognize that this jar represents your life.”

“The golf balls are the important things – God, family, children, health, friends, and favorite passions.  Things that, if everything else was lost and only they remained, your life would still be full.”

“The pebbles are the things that matter – like your job, house and car.”

“The sand is everything else – the small stuff.”

“If you put the sand into the jar first,” he continued, “there is no room for the pebbles or the golf balls.  The same goes for life.”

“If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff, you will never have room for the things that are important to you.”

“So . . .

Pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness:

    * Play with your children.
    * Take time to get medical checkups.
    * Take your partner out to dinner.
    * There will always be time to clean the house and fix the dripping faucet.”

“Take care of the golf balls first – the things that really matter.  Set your priorities.  The rest is just sand.”

One of the students raised her hand and inquired what the coffee represented.

The professor smiled.  “I’m glad you asked.  It just goes to show you that, no matter now full your life may seem, there’s always room for a couple of cups of coffee with a friend.”

Friday, October 14, 2011

Travels With A Duck

So what started off as documenting my own travels through the medium of a rubber duck, has now spawned an independently traveling duck with his own blog. Follow his story at

This time he is visiting the beautiful islands of Hawaii!

Lucky Duck!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

La Tierra del Olvido

This month's song from Playing For Change translates to "Land of the Forgotten".

The video features over 80 musicians across the country of Colombia. Music is the greatest tool for healing broken countries, cultures and hearts. This video is meant to unite and inspire the people of Colombia so they can move forward from years of conflict and create a positive future. Listen to the music, see the smiling faces, and remember that we are going to make it as a human race!!

If you cannot see the video below, click HERE!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

October Newsletter

My October newsletter is now online for your reading pleasure!

Click HERE to read a copy!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Mayer Hawthorne

Okay, I love this song and Mayer Hawthorne is fast becoming my new favorite artist!

Mayer Hawthorne (born Andrew Mayer Cohen)is an American singer, producer, songwriter, arranger, audio engineer, DJ, rapper and multi-instrumentalist based in Los Angeles, California. The stage name "Mayer Hawthorne" is a combination of Cohen's real middle name (Mayer) and the name of the street he grew up on in Michigan (Hawthorne Rd). "Mayer Hawthorne and The County" is a name Cohen often uses when performing or recording as Mayer Hawthorne with other artists. In Cohen's words, "The County" is basically anyone who plays an instrument or sings on his album. It’s also his band when he performs live. Cohen also performs and records hip hop under the stage name Haircut, sometimes as part of the groups Now On & Athletic Mic League.

Born and raised in Ann Arbor, Michigan, Hawthorne moved to Los Angeles and was eventually signed to Stones Throw Records by label head Peanut Butter Wolf. Originally the Mayer Hawthorne tracks were meant to be just side projects for pleasure, but upon hearing them Peanut Butter Wolf insisted they be made into an album. Hawthorne has had no previous vocal training.

Mayer Hawthorne draws influence from the music of Curtis Mayfield, Isaac Hayes, Leroy Hutson, Mike Terry, Barry White, Smokey Robinson and the legendary songwriting and production trio of Lamont Dozier, Brian Holland, and Edward Holland, Jr. (known collectively as Holland–Dozier–Holland). Taking umbrage at the notion that his is a purely "throwback" soul sound, however, Hawthorne also cites more contemporary artists, such as J-Dilla, as significant influences.

Here he is singing the old Tony Bennett classic 'I left my heart is San Francisco', if you cannot see the video, go HERE!

Source: Wikipedia and Youtube.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Sally Kargbo

“Sometimes, I would just sit down and cry,” said Sally with great emotion. For seventeen years, people laughed at her and mocked her because of her legs – horribly misshapen and knock-kneed. The constant verbal abuse made her feel ashamed. Walking was difficult and tiring, so she didn’t go to school. She just stayed at home in her misery.

The problem was caused by an automobile accident when she was only ten years old. A witch doctor blanketed her legs with a native concoction of boiled leaves. Splints of wooden sticks were tied to her legs for three months. But nothing changed; she returned home with bent legs. Without money for surgery, she had to learn to live with her disability.

Three years ago, Sally’s parents died. Since she had no siblings, she went to live with a friend. Her friend found a mentor to teach Sally to sew, and she eventually went to work at a dressmaker’s shop. In fact, she hopes to own her own shop some day.

A new friend at work told her that a Mercy Ship, offering orthopedic surgeries at no charge, would soon be in Sierra Leone. She encouraged Sally to go to the screening. The volunteer surgeons on the Africa Mercy surgically repaired her legs and put them in casts.

A jubilant Sally walks on her own straight legs. When she awoke in the ward, she was delighted to see that her legs were both straight in the casts. But when her casts were changed, she was ecstatic. “I could SEE my legs were straight!” said Sally with a brilliant smile. “It’s like a dream, and I’m an angel that can walk on straight legs!”

While Sally was recuperating from surgery, she received some very special guests – the wives of the President and Vice President of Sierra Leone! The moment was captured by a photographer and printed in the local paper. This was a highlight for all the patients in the ward, who dubbed her “Queen Sally.” She had never received such recognition before and thoroughly enjoyed the reflected glory of the event. It was a great start in helping Sally think of herself in a new and more positive light.

Another bonus of the surgery is that her straightened legs add height to her physical stature. When she walked on her bandaged legs for the first time, she exclaimed, “I’m so amazed! I used to be a short somebody. Now, I’m tall!”

A free surgery revolutionized the life of this young woman with the bubbly personality. Sally already knows what she will do first upon being released from the hospital ship. “I want to give my testimony at church of what Mercy Ships did for me,” she states firmly. “If it were not for Mercy Ships, I was going to die with legs like that, because I had no money. I was mocked every place I went. I’m thanking God for what He has done for me, and I’m asking Him to bless you people.”

Story by Elaine Winn
Edited by Nancy Predaina
Photos by Debra Bell

Thursday, September 22, 2011

With No Hands, Man Teaches Others to Farm

Bambay Sawaneh was a teenage farmer's son in Sierra Leone, Africa, when rebels attacked and left him for dead.

A decade later, he's put aside revenge. And in spite of a serious handicap, Sawaneh is equipping himself to help others in need.

If you cannot view the video, click HERE!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Viral Inspiration!

A friend sent me this... Wow.

Below is some commercials created by YouTube sensations Rhett and Link as part of "commercial kings" for IFC.

If you cannot see the videos, click HERE.

NOPE. it's Chuck Testa!

Don't get a divorce.... get a donut!

Friday, September 2, 2011

September Newsletter

My  September Newsletter is now online for your reading pleasure, kick back, sip your coffee and enjoy reading! Read it HERE!

Bizarre Records

Okay, so there is this awesome website called Bizarre Records, where they post awesome and bizzare record album artwork.
Here are some of my favourites! Visit them at