Monday, October 19, 2015

We only have today...

Today. Not yesterday, not tomorrow. We only have today. They live by that motto here in Tonga. More on that later...

We have just finished up the third of four outer island rotations here in Tonga. In all, we have visited every remote village in the Ha’api group at least once this season. Some villages we have visited twice. Everywhere we have been the villagers welcome us with thankfulness and a simple appreciation that we care, we care for their needs, and we care about them. We have been blessed to work alongside the local hospital staff that truly cares, that undertakes the challenge of open water passages, rock cliff island access, big surf, reef crossings, rain, sea-sickness, all to serve the needs of others. We traveled as far as the northern sub group of Namuka that is very remote and infrequently visited. In total on that visit we saw 154 patients on the medical side, and tested for and distributed 22 eye glasses. We closed out the Ha’api tour by visiting the nearer outer islands one more time before our departure.

We have moved the boat to the northern Vava’u group of islands to complete the final rotation of this season. We have two medical residents arriving on the 19th and will work within the beautiful Vava’u group through the end of the month. These are a totally different set of islands with deep water, protected anchorages, cliffs, high hills, and short distances between each. The Ha’api group on the other hand challenged us with shallow water, many reefs, open ocean across longer distance, and villages on the weather side of the islands making anchoring and shore party transport difficult. We are quite happy to close out the season here. Mike Bartz, a good friend of mine will be joining us for the last rotation, and will be remaining into November to help prepare the boat for safekeeping for the upcoming cyclone season. We have scheduled to have the boat hauled out of the water at a new boat yard here in Vava’u. Karen and I will both be flying back to the states for the season. We are both looking forward to seeing our friends and loved ones again.

“We only have today”…..Paea, our nurse practioner this rotation described the Tongan schedule, dare I say their view of life with those words. When we arrived here two months ago and met Moses, our liaison to the Hospital for our duration, addressed my many questions and perhaps underlying anxiety, with a simple, “No worries”. Those two statements sum up the simple and beautiful life of these South Pacific peoples. It has taken Karen and myself a while to understand, but we finally have. As westerners, even having been out here as long as we have, we carry with us a residual desire to manage, to control, to anticipate, to plan, to worry about tomorrow. We do it less now, but we still do it. Even out here in the middle of the Pacific we have car payments, insurance, storage unit bills, document renewals, blogs to post, and the list goes on. A couple of days ago we were at one of very few places in Pangi that have of the best basic and slow internet service. I was trying to renew the boat document with the USCG, an important and necessary task, but found myself frustrated when the westerner at the table next to me started to download a book to read which sucked up all the bandwidth and crashed my final attempt. I will admit that I thought about spilling a drink on her tablet. Then I remembered a quote by Cicero from “Wisdom of the Ages” that Karen is reading…. “First it makes no sense to worry about the things you have no control over, because if you have no control over them, it makes no sense to worry about them. Second, it makes no sense to worry about the things you do have control over, because if you have control, it makes no sense to worry”. We have learned a lot here.


A Tongan Girl

Bethany and a patient

Breaching Whale

For more photos from our first rotation, visit our facebook page here. For more information on our cause, visit The Catamaran has now traveled from Carolina Beach, NC, to Tonga- to become a FHCC (Floating Health Care Clinic) for Sea Mercy - and we've completed our first three rotations. Sea Mercy's vision is to be the most effective preventive, curative, promotional and rehabilitative floating health care provider and service delivery mechanism to support the remote citizens of the island nations. Their mission is therefore to ensure that the community sector has the practical tools and talent available to accomplish those visionary ends. To accomplish this in the short term they will provide floating health clinics to needy populations. To effect long term community improvement, they work to increase awareness of the health issues facing these vulnerable populations.

Please consider getting involved or donating to Sea Mercy, or simply share our cause with your friends and family. Thank you for being with us on this journey!

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