Note: Catherine Clarke Murphy is a 24-year-old University of Texas Journalism grad and a volunteer writer onboard the Africa Mercy. The following is an excerpt from her blog about her adventures in West Africa.
our last evening in the Canaries I had the good luck of meeting Teodoro
Mylonas. Teodoro is the 72-year-old, sweet-natured Greek grandfather
you never knew you’d always wanted. Originally from Argentina, Teodoro
lived in 27 different countries before settling in Tenerife; his father
was an officer in the Salvation Army. In true Argentinian fashion,
Teodoro pronounces his “ll” with a “j” and shouts a genuine “mah-ma
mi-ah!” when he is impressed, excited or shocked.
He first heard about our organization more than 20 years ago when he read in the local paper that the Anastasis, the Africa Mercy’s
predecessor, was going to dry-dock in Tenerife. “A ship coming from
Africa full with volunteers?” he said to his wife, “This must be it.”
grown up in a household where acts of charity were valued highly,
Teodoro wanted to witness this hospital ship of volunteers and see what
it was all about.
A bandmaster and spirited musician, he greeted the Anastasis
on the docks of Muelle Cruz with his trumpet. He has since played at
every arrival and departure of Mercy Ships’ fleet, more than 30 times
“I want to bless the volunteers like they bless
others,” he said. Thus, when Mercy Ships is docked in Tenerife, Teodoro
acts as a local host, taking crew members to dinner, chauffeuring us on
errands in his blue Citroen, stopping by to check on his “brothers,” and
of course, heralding the ship’s comings and goings with all of the
ceremonial fanfare fit for a king. He calls it “Teodoro’s First Class
On Wednesday evening, Teodoro offered to take myself, Chelle and Deb
(our wonderful AFM photographers) to the best sunset spot on the island.
We grabbed our cameras (and my notebook) for what would be our most
memorable night in Tenerife.
I’d like to end by saying after
meeting Teodoro I am inspired to “bless people as they bless others.”
His ‘pay-it-forward’ attitude set a wonderful example. Quite
appropriately, ‘Teodoro’ means ‘gift from God.’
Gracias por todo, Teodoro! Nosotros le apreciamos y le tomamos con nosotros en nuestros corazones a Africa.