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, July 01, 2014

You Call me Out Upon the Waters.....

Do I like to sail? Can I say I love it but I hate it? I love the sun dipping low on the horizon, painted in a hundred different shades of beautiful. I love the romance of the dazzling aquamarine water glittering like a thousand diamonds while the bow cuts through the waves like silk. I love it when the sky darkens with stormy, ominous clouds and the waves then crash over the bow splashing unsuspecting crew with salty spray. I love the dolphins leaping and twisting in a fabulous show just for us. I love the spout of a whale shooting high in the air, the arch of it's back cresting above the waves. I love it when the Ghurkhas cook their traditional Nepalese food for us and the way the crew bonds together like we are the only people left on earth. I love all the activities that will forever be synonymous with a Mercy Ships sail.....sock golf, worship on the bow, Sail Olympics, Crossing the Line......
 
I hate the way the ship rocks and roll, preventing me a from a decent night's sleep, making it impossible to walk in a straight line. I hate it when my stomach lurches as we pitch and shudder violently. I hate the feeling of constant nausea that plagues me and I hate being medicated and sleepy to avoid it. I hate the trapped feeling I sometimes get and the need to stand on solid, unmoving ground, like I want to be anywhere but on the ship. I hate having to pack up my cabin and securing it for the imminent rocking and rolling, emptying my open shelves, sticking things down with blue tac, tying bungy cords around my cupboard doors, my TV and fridge. I hate not having T.V. I hate all the drills. I hate lying awake at night listening to that "thing" that goes bang, bang starboard to port each time we roll and never being able to work out what it is.
 
Love it of hate it or a little bit of both, this is the life we have chosen. You called me out upon the waters....

The bow.....

Captain Tim and Gabe, the Ship's Security Officer scan the horizon from the Bridge walk.

Stunning special effects from deck 8 of an evening, by one of our ship's talented photographers.


 

Spectacular sunset, even behind the curtain of clouds.

This latest sail we celebrated becoming Double Royal Diamond Shellbacks having crossed the Equator and Prime Meridian at the same point for the second time. We first crossed the Equator on our sail from Durban, South Africa to Freetown, Sierra Leone in January, 2011 taking us from the lowly status of Pollywogs to Shellbacks. Above, the crew celebrated with crossing the line games on the bow. Here the Shellback kids face off in a game of Tug O' War against the Pollywog kids.

Go Shellbacks!

The crew wave triumphantly from the bow as we do doughnuts of the buoy that really, truly does mark the point where the Equator and Prime Meridian cross in the Atlantic Ocean!

Just another really cool photo!

"The Buoy".

Proof from the Bridge of a very special location. 0 degrees longitude/0 degrees latitude.

Just a nice shot that Andrew took from Deck 8.

Another nice pic that shows our gentle roll!

Can't do a sailing blog without a photo of the wake.

Andy's babies safe and secure on Deck 8, enjoying the sunset.

I read a saying on Facebook recently which I shared during the sail, "You always feel closer to God when you are near the ocean". Never is that more true when we are worshiping on the bow as the sun sets and the sea life dances.

Its gets pretty windy on the bow. Me with awesome hair!

Cool shot of the bow using a GoPro camera.

We had some pretty wild pitching this sail. That is when the bow lifts up and then slams back down into the water. It gives the feeling of being in a lift and causes everything to shake and shudder. The act of pitching is responsible for some pretty impressive waves over the bow.

Cannot beat dolphins in the wild.

They love to lead the ship, jumping and leaping into the air right at the point of the bow.
 

We added a new tradition this sail; The Captain's dinner. Just like a real cruise ship a special table was set aside in the dining room and attend by the Captain and his wife and several of the long term departing crew. The rest of us sat at "candle lit" tables in our finest dress. Afterwards we had mocktails in the cafĂ© complete with fruit sides and little umbrellas. The Captain graciously posed for photos in his full regalia.

One last drill before we saw land ahoy! Jess was a little less than impressed by the wind.

Ever since I first heard it's haunting melody and it's fitting lyrics I knew this song was our journey. It has become somewhat of an anthem of late for the crew. I often play it in the cabin and it stills end chills down my spine.

I read online........" the overtone of this song is about the scene of Peter being called by Jesus to walk on the water, and he did, but then he temporarily lost faith and started to sink. He called on Jesus to rescue him, and Jesus did. In the bigger picture, sometimes our faith in God wanes a little bit, and then we struggle. We can't do it on our own. But when we put our full trust in Him, He responds. Always."
 Bob Marshall GodTube

It's like the song writer knew.

Oceans

You call me out upon the waters
The great unknown, where feet may fail
And there I find You in the mystery
In oceans deep, my faith will stand


And I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise
My soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours, and You are mine



Your grace abounds in deepest waters
Your sovereign hand will be my guide
Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me
You've never failed, and You won't start now



So I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise
My soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours, and You are mine



Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Saviour



I will call upon Your name
Keep my eyes above the waves
My soul will rest in Your embrace
I am Yours, and You are mine
I am Yours, and You are mine
I am Yours, and You are mine
I am Yours, and You are mine


Hillsong United


(Photo credits: Josh Callow, Hannah Palmer, Shelly Davies, me, Andy and Jess and possibly a few other talented crew!)