Challenges and changes

Dear all,

In my previous update (June) I wrote about all the changes and challenges we experienced on the ship, when Covid-19 happened.
All the goodbyes, sail, arrival in Tenerife, quarantine and isolation.
Ending with my future plans, which I still don’t know how that will look like.

But let’s start with my final weeks on board and give you an insight on the last few months in the Netherlands with all the changes and challenges.
Most of my days were similar. Getting up for workout, shower, breakfast and go to work. Depending on my galley schedule I had to start at 8 in the galley, cutting tomatoes, cucumber, carrots etc. With less and less co-workers our days were busy. Hardly time for breaks, long days, standing on your feet.
My off-days I worked in the OR office, to get as much work done as possible.


In between planning and preparing for departure. When and how will I leave. What is the best and safest route to go to the Netherlands. Where will I stay, what will I do and so on.
The Dutch office has been really helpful in this. They provided living space in Tynaarlo, together with two of my friends. We found a flight into Dusseldorf, Germany. Where a taxi van picked us up and drove us home. After three months, finally of the ship, with more space than the dock. It was strange being in an almost empty airport, in a plane with around 30 travellers. Everyone wearing masks.
Of course it was raining when we made it “home”.


Our little house was decorated with some orange flags, balloons, pictures. It made us feel welcome.
Provided with plenty groceries. A bedroom bigger than my 3-berth cabin on the ship.
And best of all, our own garden, lot’s of green around us. It was good to have each other in this crazy transition time.
Quarantine was filled with reading, walks, bike rides and staying away from people.
After the first two weeks, there was some more freedom.
Seeing a supermarket for the first time in months was a little overwhelming, but slowly I got to used to live in the Netherlands. While my heart longed to the ship and my ship family it was also good to be around friends and family in the Netherlands again. Different than I’m used to, but good.


Not much happened during this time. A lot of thinking about the future, figuring out different options.
What do I want, what is wise, what is possible, what are the consequences of each option.
After all my thinking and debating there were two options left.
Returning to the ship, work part time on protocols, procedures and other OR stuff and work in the galley for the other 50%. Stay for two months, so I don’t have to deal with registration, insurance and other paperwork. Go home for Christmas and return to the ship and Senegal in January. Hoping that I wouldn’t get stuck on the ship if Covid gets worse in Spain and/or the Netherlands. IF returning to Senegal in January was a safe option.
Staying in the Netherlands, find living space, a job and a car and wait till it’s time to return to the ship. And do all the paperwork.


I can tell you that it wasn’t an easy process. And I’m often in doubt if I made the right decision. While writing this update I’m starting to feel homesick. Let me explain a little bit about my options/ choices/ challenges. My heart longs for Africa and the ship. With the ship being in Tenerife at the moment, no surgeries being done, how frustrated will I be, not being able to do my “normal job with it’s challenges”.  How long can I manage that. Is that wise. What are the risks? Getting stuck on the ship, cutting tomatoes for months. I’ve done it before, so I know I can, but will it be life-giving for me? Will I choose this option because it’s the easiest option?But staying in the Netherlands for a while didn’t look attractive to me. So many things I would have to do, think about and organize. I would need a place to live, but where depends on where I would work. Where would I like to work. Will I get a job for a few months. What would I do? Back to the OR with all it’s challenges or an easier, less challenging job as a nurse. How will I find a car, not too expensive, knowing that I will leave as soon as I can. How do I find a place to live, cause I need a job to afford it.

Where do I even begin… What needs to happen first…
I decided that if I would stay in the Netherlands I want to be close to family, friends and church.
After receiving an email from HR in the Dutch office, I knew an OR nurse at the office that worked as a travel nurse in the OR before. He provided some helpful information and I decided to send out some emails, just to gain information. Had a chat with family members, called the holiday park in my hometown to see if there was living space available for me.


Long story short, I got a fulltime job, in the OR, not too far from my hometown (1hr traveltime). I got to rent an apartment at the holiday park in my hometown. Which means I’m close to family, friend and my church. Have a car available to me to get to work and back. Got some help to figure out all the paperwork and registration. Insurance sorted and covered.
Before I could start at the hospital I had to get TB and MRSA tests done, all negative, so I had my first day of work in the OR after 6 months on September 14th.
Let’s say it’s different. It’s impossible to compare this job with my job on the ship.
But I do like it. It’s so good to be back in the OR. To be part of surgeries. The procedures we do here are totally different than the ones on the ship. I get to see, do and experiences new things each day.
It’s challenging to do things I’ve never done or seen before. But so far I manage. I enjoy being in the OR.
It’s strange to get paid for a job, instead of paying to work.
I’ll stay here at least till March. By then I hope to know more about my future within Mercy Ships. Where will I go and what will I do. I have to trust that I will end up where God leads me.
And that it all will be okay. I keep reminding myself that there is a reason I’m in the Netherlands for a season. I don’t know the reason right now, and I might never know, but it will be okay. I will be okay.








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