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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Tuesday, December 31, 2013

#BestSurpriseEver #SheNeverSawItComing!

Our family are awesome at organising and keeping surprises!! We love to plan surprises for each other, the bigger the better! Our speciality is arranging for people to be in places where they are not expected but their presence is much hoped and wished for. We are so good at it, I have to say.
 
A couple of good ones come to mind......when I was still living in Tasmania and the rest of my family had relocated to Queensland I surprised my mum for Mother's Day by flying up and hiding in and then bursting out of a refrigerator box! Along the Queensland theme, Andrew and I surprised Jessica for her 10th birthday but flying her from Tasmania to Queensland and then onto Townsville to visit her cousins. We told had her we were going to Bridport, a small seaside town in Tassie. She was so shocked, all she could get out was, "Can we still go to Bridport?". Lol.
 
When my parents retired from Churches of Christ in Queensland I decided to make them a memory scrapbook of cards and message to culminate a life a good and faithful service to God and to pretty much anyone they came in contact with. I was so excited to give them the book as I had tracked down many of their friends, past and present, including friends from Zimbabwe and from their old youth group, including one member who had become the Mayor of Hobart! (Afterwards Dad gave me a heap more cards they had received and I had to make a whole other scrapbook). One more to mention is the time my mum decided to surprise me! It will live in my memory and heart forever! Not long before we left Australia to come to Africa, I arranged a trip to Brisbane, Queensland for Jessica and I to meet my new niece. We had not yet received word that we had been accepted with Mercy Ships. A few days after we arrived in Queensland Andrew called me to say we had received an email to say we had been accepted as long term crew on the Africa Mercy, after five years of waiting. My sister and her family happened to be in Brisbane as well as they were catching a cruise from there, so we had decided to have a family reunion. The only one missing was Andrew as we couldn't afford to fly him up as well. Mum and Dad flew up from Tassie as well and you can guess who they brought with them!! So we were all together for the first time in years and poignantly, just before we were to head overseas to live. It was very emotional!
 
But not content with all these and too many more to mention Mum and Dad decided to up the anti. After months of plotting and planning they landed in Pointe Noire in November, surprising Jessica who had no idea. The photos below capture the story......

Just after we picked them up from the airport(after lying blatantly to Jessica about our whereabouts) Mum and Dad waited behind the dockside tents ready to surprise Jess when her class came to the dock for their PE lesson.

Mum runs over to a completely shocked Jessica with Dad not far behind!

Long, emotional hugs!

 

Time for a few explanations!

She still can't get over it!

Group hugs!

Still in shock!

 

More hugs.

"Jess, I can't get over how tall you are!"

Time to go inside to get sorted.

Mum and Dad at Africa Mercy reception getting their ID badges and cabin keys and handing in their passports.

Listening carefully to emergency muster instructions given by receptionist Hannah.

Mum and Dad's couple cabin on deck 4.

Lucky they had those emergency instructions as there was a fire drill about 20 minutes after they boarded! More to follow on Mum and Dad's visit in future blog posts! Needless to say this was the perfect surprise and long may the tradition of meticulously planned and epic surprises continue in our family!!

Love Is.....



What does love mean to you? Is it a hug or a kind word? Is it a bunch of flowers or some new bling? Is it the gift of time or a financial gift? Check out this awesome video to see what love means to some of our patients on the Africa Mercy!

School Pics


School photos are just a little bit different when you live on a ship in Africa. There are not little stands and green grass to pose on but there are land rovers to climb on and other fun places on board to capture another academic year! Above and below, the whole academy pose on the dock at the bow of the Africa Mercy. (Jess is in the front row on the end at the right hand side.)
 

The Africa Mercy Academy Junior High (Grade 6-8). Yep-Jess is the oldest and tallest!

The grade seven/eight. Yep-Jess is the only girl!

Looking tough!

I had been hoping for ages that Jess would get a school pic at the helm so I was very pleased to see this photo!