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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Monday, February 15, 2016

Mercy Meets Hope

Jesus really loves the people of Madagascar. What are the odds of two ships with entirely different missions, serving one God, crossing paths in a tiny town off the east coast of Madagascar. A town that is friendly and safe by day but whose demons come out at night, to play. A town seeped in prostitution, kidnapping and robbery. A town where the locals are warm and friendly, where coconuts hang from palm trees swaying in the sultry air and the brilliant blue of the Indian Ocean beckons seductively.
This town, this beautiful nation, that we have come to love has had an influx of hope, healing, help and knowledge in hundreds of different ways, depicting the love of Christ, channelled through the crew of the Africa Mercy and the Logos Hope, representing over 60 nationalities.
I cannot tell you how excited we were to have a sister alongside. We began as strangers and parted as friends, immediately bonded by our passion for the people of Madagascar, our faith and our unique lifestyle and ministries!

Here she comes!! The crew of the Africa Mercy lined the decks to catch a long awaited glimpse of the much anticipated arrival of the Logos Hope.

A view from our bridge. Captain Jan in the green shirt.

Getting closer. The Logos Hope have a wonderful tradition of gathering on their decks, on arrival into a new country, proudly waving their countries flags. It is an awesome spectacle!

Panning out.....
(Photo credit: Carol Tanzola)

From the bow.
 (Photo credit: Robbie Lerma)

Jess and her two Aussie friends, sisters Charlotte and Annabelle represent!!!

 Aussie to Aussie (look real hard to the top right).
(Photo credit: David Forrest)

Side by side.

(Photo credit: Kristin Jack)

 

Nice panorama!

On Christmas Eve we were privileged to be amongst the first in Madagascar to visit the Logos Hope for the opening of the book fair. We listened to quite a few speeches, watched the "Parade of Nations" and heard a number from the Logos Hope choir.

We then moved down to the book fair, where a local dignitary cut the ribbon for the book fair, officially opening it in Tamatave. Oh yeah.....there were snacks :) Above, just a small section of the huge book fair that expands over almost an entire deck.

Jess and Andy at the book fair.

Having our snacks in the Logos Hope café.

We also celebrated Christmas side by side, each of us empathizing with the other, the feeling of being far from home, our own cultures and traditions and the family and friends we had left behind, never far from our thoughts.

Not long after we had finished our Christmas brunch we heard a lot of commotion coming from outside. Andrew and I ran up to the deck and were greeted by the amazing sight of the Logos Hope crew clustered on their bow, proudly waving their countries flags. In unison they called out "Merry Christmas Africa Mercy!" It was a whole lot of fun!

An aerial viewpoint.


Our first joint gathering was on our dock side and was basically a huge getting to know you event, reminiscent of a speed dating night! :) We call them Connect Groups though!
(Photo credit: Kristin Jack)

A crew member, Mathieus, who runs their Transportation department hosted us for dinner one evening on the Logos Hope. It was eerily similar to our dining room. Spaghetti Bolognese and white chocolate brownies were the order of the day and we enjoyed a great evening of getting to know several of the crew. There was plenty of...."Do you have this, do you do that?. We also had a guided tour and I was finally able to peek inside the Logos Hope library. We also toured the bridge where I took my turn at the helm. Captain Jodie!! Fortunately this was a drill.

The Logos Hope leadership came to have a special dinner on board with our leadership. Worse luck I was down with gastro for this event but you can see Andrew in the back row on the right and we couldn't go to their leadership dinner as it was on Jessica's 16th birthday.

Each time the Logos Hope is in a port they take on many short term projects. Their advance or "line up" team find needs within the community, prior to the ship's arrival, similar to how Mercy Ships operates, expect we mostly search for patients and long term ministries we can partner with.

One of the large projects the Logos Hope crew undertook during their visit to Tamatave was the complete overhaul of the local libaray or Biblioteque, in French. On behalf of the Africa Mercy I was able to donate about seven boxes of books to the Logos to take to the Biblioteque. I also visited one day to see what was happening and stayed to help catalogue books for a while. No mean feat as the titles were in French!

Above, a Logos Hope crew member and I working on cataloguing books.

Locals helping out with cleaning the books which were very dirty and dusty. Some were covered in mould.

Logos Hope crew sanding shelves.

Inside the Biblioteque.

Outside-right next to the local tip!

We couldn't miss the opportunity to get together with the Logos Hope mum's! There are a few less families on board the Logos than on the Africa Mercy, mainly due to the fact that the Logos Hope school finishes at the end of grade six. So lots of little ones!

The Logos mums came to visit us first and the next week we went over to visit them (above photo). There was lots of mutual "checking out" of family cabins! We were surprised to find that some of the family cabins on the Logos had he same carpet as the cabins on the AFM.

We found a unique bond with the Logos Hope mum's and it was great to be able to compare notes. I mean how often can you find a group of women in the same boat as you? Since then we have formed a Facebook page for the Logos and AFM mum's called Ship Sisters.

Having some fun on the Logos Hope!

We heard the rumours long before the ship graced the sunny shores of Tamatave. Was it true? Did the Logos Hope really have a soft serve machine in their café???? Much to our delight the rumour was completely founded and I am sure our crew doubled the Logos Hope's usual port intake of soft serve ice cream!

Above, Andrew enjoys a vanilla soft serve. Below, Jess and friends with a soft serve selfie! (Photo credit: Kristin Jack)

 

The Logos Hope is largely evangelical as well as programmatic. During the course of their visit they had several concerts/shows for the local people where the gospel was presented in an appropriate manner and translated into Malagasy by local translators.

We had the pleasure of attending the International Cultural Festival where we watched many of the crew perform. It was an upbeat concert with a serious message.

Above, me, Jess and friend Charlotte with some AFM crew photo bombing behind, at the concert!

Some Logos Hope crew who were amazing on the drums/djembes!!

A large proportion of the Logos crew are very young, with many kids doing a gap year (or two) fresh out of high school. This proved too good to be true for our youth on board, who took the opportunity (as much as possible) to hang out with the Logos gang.

 Above, some of our youth on board the Logos Hope.

Logos Hope engine room tour-Jess and friends.

Logos Hope + AFM youth=fun!
(Photo credit: Zach McKillop)

To bid our neighbours fond farewell we hosted a combined BBQ, our dockside. Around 700 of us gathered, relishing new found friendships and lamenting our impending goodbyes, over dinner. The fun continued as the heavens opened up and a torrential downpour took us by surprise. Many of the crew danced in the rain while about 200 Logos crew invaded the AFM leaving our poor security guards a bit frazzled.

In West Africa, a downpour of rain after a significant event is often called a "shower of blessing" signalling Gods approval on the event. Oh how the angels must have be rejoicing over the gathering of so many Christians together, sharing a common goal to bless and serve the people of Tamatave and beyond! 

I love this photo. The Logos "line up" (advance) team beside our Logos liaison team with swapped t-shirts!
(Photo credit: Kristin Jack)

All good things must come to an end and it was a sad day as we bid the Logos Hope farewell. Jess and some new friends (on each end) pose for a final photo!
(Photo credit: Patricia Royston)

Africa Mercy crew, locals and other ex-pats gathered dock side (or quayside as the Logos crew prefer :) ) to wave off the Logos Hope after their short but impactful visit to Tamatave.

(Photo credit: A Logos Hope crew member)

Jess and friends say their final goodbyes.

(Photo credit: A Logos Hope crew member)

Au revoir, Veloma, goodbye....

Fair winds and following seas, Logos Hope. God bless you on your future ministries and we hope to meet again! #madameetsmercyandhope

(Photo credit: Patricia Royston)