Preamble

We are a family of three; Andrew, Jodie and Jessica (aged 17) from Tasmania, Australia who are currently serving in Cotonou, Benin West Africa on the M/V Africa Mercy, the largest non-governmental hospital ship in the world, through Mercy Ships International. God has called us on a journey that has been many years in the making. For this season we call West Africa home as we seek to bring hope and healing to the poorest of the poor.



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Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Journey of the Tabernacle.


Our chaplains are wonderful and work very hard at nurturing the crew, often in very creative ways. A few weekends ago on the Africa Mercy they organised a Spiritual weekend revolving around the Journey of the Tabernacle. We began the weekend on the Friday evening with a Sabbath meal called Shabbat Shalom. We recited various traditional prayers and blessings and particpated in communion.

"Sabbath is taking a day a week to remind myself that I did not make the world and that it will continue to exist without my efforts."

The Journey of the Tabernacle entrance.

The Bronze Altar. Jessica and friend, Deborah.

The Bronze Laver-hand washing.

The Table of Shewbread/Bread of life.

The Golden Altar-an opportunity to write out prayer points and stick them above the alter as Jessica is doing below.


The Ark of the Covenant.


On Saturday different workshops were offered such as bible covering (see Jessica's wonderful effort above), collage, drumming and creative writing.


This is Jessica's collage-The Guardian Angel. There were many other activites throughout the weekend which culminated in a celebration service on the Sunday evening. A very special event  was a visit from an amazing travelling exhibition of biblical artifacts, some very old and rare.

Thanks Marty, Catherine and Ans for the way you serve the crew so sacrifically!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Spectacular!


This is our view every night. We are blessed to watch this magnificant display of God's glory as the sky is painted with splashes of gold, orange and pink. This night was particularly amazing and the stern of the ship on deck 8 was crowded with crew trying to capture the moment on camera. Of course a photo only depicts so much and the sunsets are far more spectacular live. But hopefully you can catch a glimpse of the beauty of the sunsets that cast a jewel over the dirt and grime of Freetown.


From the stern, deck 8 M/V Africa Mercy.

One of the fishing boats that we see every day seeking out a meagre living.



Crew taking in the stunning sunset off the end of the dock.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Naming baby Rachel!



I (Andrew) was invited to a baby naming ceremony at a village outside of Waterloo.
This is a local tradition for announcing the name of a baby to the rest of
the tribe. This is usually a private type of ceremony, we felt honoured to be
invited.
The poor old Landy had to do some real off road work to get us here. We had
to drive about an hour out of Freetown to a place called Waterloo. From there
we went off road along winding dirt roads, though deep puddles and pot holes
till we came to the orphanage.


When we arrived we were greated by a band who really gave
the astmosphere a great vibe.


The orphanage's piggery acts as a way of training the kids how to look
after animals and provide a source of income.


Emmanuel is the day worker who invited us to his house and orphanage. He works with me in engineering.
Emmanuel is very proud of his accomplishments and thanks God for his provision.


The orphanage houses 18 children and some carers. There is another building
off to the right hand side of this photo. This is Emmanuel's home.


Some of the kids.

Some of the guests and family cooking up the feast we ate.
On today's menu: goat with jolif rice and fish.


A goat was sacrificed as part of the ceremony. A village elder said some
words and announced the babies name. At this point the goat's thoat was cut.

The goat was skinned, then divided up and given to extended family. 

Emmanuel, Andrew, Sahide & Unknown?
I work with Emmanuel and Sahide, however the other guy in the tee shirt
decided he would like to be in the photo also.


Well someone has to do the dishes!


Emmanuel's family


Baby Rachel!


Monday, October 03, 2011

Charlotte Falls Expedition!


Last month we headed out with another family upcountry to visit the delightful Charlotte Falls. Many other crew had visited including Jess during the summer program. We didn't let a little thing like having no clue where to go stop us! No! After almost three hours of driving and many more confused locals (more than previous post) it took stopping at the local cop shop to finally get some decent directions! Andrew was told, "Three villages that way (policeman points vaugely)". No problem!

Once we arrived at the "carpark" we had a bit of a hike to get to the actual falls. Yes-this bridge was every bit as rickety as it looks, much to the kids delight!

It was worth the wait with the falls being at their peak due to the rainy season. The water thundered down and a fine mist cooled us off after our walk. We stood and ate our sandwiches and admired the scene before us. Sierra Leone is such a land of contrasts. The city is dirty and overcrowded. Travel an hour and you can be standing on a beach fit for a commercial. The land is lush and mountainous with beauty around every corner.


Jess, Grace and Eli.

This is our guide. Of course we had to pay him and we also had to pay a fee to an old lady in a blue house for the priviledge of walking past her house. TIA.

Here we are-Andrew, Jodie and Jessica.

Birthday on a Boat!


Andrew is the first one of us to have his birthday while we are away. He had a great day with lots of cards I had been hiding away, Facebook messages, phone calls and emails. Below he is opening his gifts-which of course he picked and ordered on Amazon months ago-lol, a Leatherman knife and a Maglite torch.


As a crew member, on our birthday we receive some cookies and our Mariners annual pay of $2 (seriously!)-paid by way of a voucher for the cafe. They are secretly dropped at our cabin door.


I made Andrew brownies for afternoon tea and we stuck candles in them, even though we are not allowed to light candles on the ship. Jess and I sang Happy Birthday and pretended to blow the candles out anyway! We headed off to Aberdeen, the "tourist" area of Freetown for a family dinner at a nice "beachside" restaurant called Alex's. It only took us one hour and 40 minutes to get there  After getting lost and asking many confused locals where to go we finally made it and had an hour to down our food so we could leave in time to get the land rover back before our allotted four hours were up!
Just me taking another picture of a boat.

Saturday, October 01, 2011

Pav Party


Ok-so it looks like a lot of our posts revolve around food! That's because we realised very quickly how much food affects morale and how missing food comes ever so close to missing your friends and family. The gap closes more and more the longer you are away (sorry friends and family). It is pretty hard to explain and I never would have believed it until I experienced it. We get pretty excited about food here-I mean everyone does! It's what binds all 35 nationalities together. Case in point-I heard of a recent returnee to the ship who managed to bring back several McDonalds cheeseburgers from Europe and proceeded to parade them around the ship much to the envy of the crew. We get excited about crepes in the cafe on Mondays, waffles on Fridays and hot dogs on Saturdays-the place is packed. We get excited when we get fries and pizza for dinner and the local ex-pat cafes and restaurant are packed with Mercy Shippers every weekend. I am not ashamed to admit that I have already Googled which take-away places are at each of the airports we have a lay over in-lol.

These photos are from our last Aussie/Kiwi night and we were so excited to have pavalova, Anzac bicuits, vanilla slice and lamingtons!!! Woot.

THE pav!! Thanks Robin.

Aussie crew-Russell, Nick, Robin and me.


Aussie surgeon Harry tackling the last of the pav.


Jess with our blow up kangaroo kindly donated to us by a US family.
Aussie/Kiwi crew Africa Mercy August 2011.