We are a family of three; Andrew, Jodie and Jessica (aged 18) from Tasmania, Australia who are currently serving in Douala, Cameroon, Central 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 Africa home, as we seek to bring hope and healing to the poorest of the poor.

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Monday, August 27, 2012

Summer Sensation!

Question? What's a kid supposed to do with two and a half months of free time in two different countries and on a ten day sail in the Atlantic Ocean???? Answer? Import some awesome leaders from several different nations lead by the amazing Margo Zupke a veteran of all things summer fun on a ship and create an amazing month long program! Above the kids hang out in a tree at Coco Beach in Togo. There are not many kids in the summer program as many of the families take the opportunity to go home.

Jess and her new friend Rachel whose family came to fill in for another position vacant over summer.

Sometimes I worry about the minds of our leaders-lol. This activity involved chewing up bubble gum and seeing what could be done with it!

Gross! I will save this one for Jessica's 21st!

It wouldn't be summer program without a LOT of craft. Jess and Zodi make a wooden flip flop photo frame.

Games on deck seven also featured heavily especially when we were at sea.

There are always lots of exciting field trips. One such was to the British School of Lome for their athletics day. Jess is participating in the egg and spoon race.

Jess hanging with friends, Zodi and Rachel at the British School playground.

I know this photo is a bit blurry but I had to include it. This is Aussie Day!!! A fellow Aussie brought with her so many donations from Australian organisations such as hats, stickers, flags, tattoos, fake play money, tim tams, iced vovos etc, etc. It was a very special day for Jess and she took along our giant blow up kangaroo to join in the festivities. The kids also baked lamingtons and did a bush dance.

All the kids up on deck eight after a very windy game of a ship favourite, Capture the Flag, made all the more fun playing at sea whilst rocking and rolling and dodging all the land rovers secured on the decks.

 Other games from the sick minds of our leaders- fun with Oreo cookies. They only got a little bit in trouble for sticking them to the windows and having the kids eat them off without hands!

Continuing  with the food theme-jelly games on deck seven!

Marshmellow games-Jessica's poodle made from marshmellows.

Tenerife at last! The summer program went for the first week we were in Tenerife and four of the five days the kids went out-the beach, Train Park, Big Park and Big Pool. Of course these things have proper Spanish names but the crew tends to give things a nick name as the majority of us don't speak Spanish. Above the kids are hanging out at the Train Park climbing frame.

The first week in Tenerife the weather was scorching-the hottest day peaking at around 41 degrees C. The kids cooled off with a visit to Burger King for ice cream after the Big Park. Jess is in the very far right in a green t-shirt.

If the photos were not exciting enough please enjoy this little movie that shows some of the highlights of the summer program this year courtesy of one of the leaders. The accompanying song quickly became one of the kids favourites during the morning devotions and worships times.

Thanks team for another amazing, outstanding, creative, exciting summer program lovingly created for our kids!!! We love you. Please, please, please come back-lol!!!


Friday, August 17, 2012

Sailing the Seven Seas

You haven't really fully experienced the Africa Mercy if you have not sailed on her. It is hard to describe being at sea for lengths of time. There is the overwhelming beauty of  the sunsets and sunrises and storm clouds gathering overhead. The spectacular shows put on by sea life and the sun glittering off the ocean on a flat day like a billion little diamonds. The camaraderie of the crew and the feeling of total isolation like a toy boat bobbing about on the huge Atlantic ocean. Nothing but ocean as far as the eye can see.

I love sailing! The is that precious moment when we enter open seas before I start to feel incredibly nauseous when the ship starts to roll and things that have not been secured reveal themselves by crashing and smashing around the decks and cabins. We had some amazing calm days where it barely felt like we were even moving. It was incredible. Above I am standing on the bow. Below Jessica does the same.

Jess and her friend Zodi play on the bow.

It wouldn't be an Africa Mercy sail without abundant sea life. Tourist around the world pay millions of dollars to go to theme parks to see dolphin shows and we see it live and all natural for free!!

 Doesn't matter how many times you have seen them, the dolphins never cease to delight and amaze.

Gorgeous little flying fish. They are actually very small but this photo shows them off very well.

Andrew and I took a trip up to the bridge during the sail. This is the view down to the bow.

Andrew learning how to navigate our position at sea with Charles, the AFM's navigational officer.

Francis, an AFM deckie behind the wheel.

Another glorious sunset at sea looking out over one of the smaller life boats.

Sail Olympics-an odd collection of random games and challenges situated around the ship and usually utilising something from the sales department that we have an abundance of! This year-potato chips! One challenge was to see how fast your team of four could all eat one bag of chips each. For the record, slat and vinegar is not a good flavour for this challenge! Above Jess tries to drop a pen into a container using a string tied around her waist with no hands.

Open Mike Night in the Cafe-Jess and her grade six mentor teacher and friend, Miss Kelly.

Always a favourite-Pirate Day; the lighter side of the very serious issue of piracy. The cutest pirate on board!

To finish off Pirate Day-a pirate dance party of course! Jess amongst some of the crew.

The most outstanding event of the sail-Worship on the Bow. This was the night before we arrived in the Canary Islands and we were running well ahead of schedule so the Captain allowed the ship to be turned in the opposite direction so we could avoid the headwind and see the sunset. What an amazing time to reflect on our smallness and God's greatness!

Some of the ship's talented musicians and singers led us in worship.

A little while into the worship our West African crew  picked up the pace and an all out African dance party erupted.

Love this photo!

Jess and Zodi in their African pants on the bow.

Jess and I have some cuddle time on the bow.

A crew member reaching for the heavens into the amazing sunset.

My wonderful friend Dara and I enjoying worship on the bow.

Now we are sailing again! This time we are headed for Conakry Guinea in West Africa where we will be for the next eleven months. More on that to come......