The African dresses and head pieces are beautiful. I was able to see some African women all dressed up on the ship and their dresses were by far the most beautiful I’ve seen. Not so much because of the fabric or style but because of the women wearing them.
Before they get these dresses onboard – you have to hear how they got to this point. In Africa, childbirth is a lot different then in America. Doctors are rarely involved and many women are left alone to labor. Complications are common. If problems arise, the women almost always lose their baby and they’re left with a lot of physical damage. One woman I met was in labor for two weeks – trying to push out the baby while running from rebels during war.
With the damage, ladies are considered outcasts - disowned by their family and friends…sometimes left in the bush to live alone for years. The medical problems are usually either too complicated or too expensive tofix.
But Mercy Ships can help. Not only physically, but spiritually. Throughout the entire process, the women meet with doctors for the surgery and spiritual counselors to help them rediscover their self-worth and significance in Christ. Once they’ve healed and are ready to leave, there is a “Transformation Ceremony” on the ship. This is were I spotted the most beautiful African dresses….and the most beautiful African women!
The ceremony is a pretty big deal…it symbolizes a new life for the women. They get all dressed up in a new dress and make-up (similar to a woman preparing for her wedding day). For some, it’s been decades since they’ve felt so pretty. There’s music, dancing, singing and praying at the ceremony and the women share their stories. All of them thanking Jesus for Mercy Ships, admitting because of the love and acceptance of the volunteers – they’ve been transformed from the inside out. These ladies are my heroes. Just look at the joy on their faces….and it’s all because of Jesus using a ship.