Sunday, September 25, 2011

Just Another Day in Paradise

The Team House.  Sounds like some kind of off the grid, military hideout, doesn't it.  In reality it's where our Off-Ship Programs staff live (who, by the way, are awesome!).  It's about 6 kilometers and usually about one to one and half hours away.  Today we made it in thirty minutes.  Definitely a record for us. 

The team live in a fairly large house in a protected community that belongs to the Swiss Government (I think).  Believe me, it isn't nearly as sumptous as it sounds.  Actually, while we find it quite nice, most even moderately affluent Americans would be hard pressed to let go of twenty bucks to pay for an overnight stay. 

I digress.  We spent the day there with our awesome friends Tracy, Donovan, and Jordan.  The day was a smashing success with good weather, some tennis,

a BBQ (that we got charcoal for from a lady with a bag of it on her head), a dip in the pool, and of course a monkey.
Those of you reading this who live or have lived in a developing nation (especially in West Africa) get this.  Those of you who do not or have not, I only wish that you could begin to imaging the richness and depth of the events of this day because there is simply no way to expain in words how very different a little drive to a friends house for a swim and BBQ are from any experience you've had or can imagine.  I hope that doesn't come off as arrogant or cheeky.  It isn't intended that way.  I truly wish that you could know the absolutey incongruous, unfathomable joy that comes from 'enjoying' the 'simple things' in a devestated, post civil war, warm climate culture, African environment.  I guess you'll just have to start asking God to call you to Africa (even if it's just for a visit - we'd love to see you!).

The Word of God

There were a group of men and women on the ship this morning who brought with them many historical artifacts containing the word of God.  They are in West Africa with just a small portion of thier artifacts doing some teaching and lecturing.  They were invited to come to the Africa Mercy and were onboard for about two hours this morning.

Their texts ranged from cuneiform tablets to a 16th century Bishops' bible.  There were 40 artifacts in total.  It was incredibly interesting and I wished that I had more time to study them.


Imagine this; 5 boys between the ages of three and eleven, a six man tent that takes up the entire living room area to the point that you can't walk around it and have to push the couch into a niche and climb over it to get to the bathroom, a s'mores camp'fire', and a three a.m. wakeup call.  That was our night last night.

Elijah and Malachi both invivted a friend over (Xavier makes 5 in the previously mentioned group of 5 boys) and we set up the tent in the living room of our cabin.  With the table shoved up against the wall and the couch turned on it's side pushed into the niche by the bathroom we just had room for the tent in the cabin as long as you didn't mind crawling under the corners of it to get from one side of the room to the other.  The boys had an awesome time.  Honestly, my patience tank was pretty low after getting lots of 'help' putting up the tent and Dara did an amazing job entertaining a VERY hyper group of boys. They played spoons, the pillow game (lots of animal noises and whacking with pillows), and some other card game that I don't know the name of.  They also played charades and a flashlight game. 

After that there were s'mores of the camp'fire' (a pile of blocks that we shined a red flashlight on) with marshmallows on chopsticks.  Dara was giving them fire safety instructions and asked why they should not wave their marshmallow around if it caught on fire (theoretical of course, as there was no fire involved) and one of the boys says, "because it will set of the fire alarm".  I love living on this ship.

Amazingly they were asleep by 10pm.  Unfortunately, they were up at 3am and didn't go back to sleep.  I had the joy of getting up with them (although not until 6.30).  I'm sure the six of us were quite the sight traipsing into the dining room in our pajamas. 

On the whole, an awesome camp-in (planned, or course, by my incredibly creative [and beautiful] wife).

Monday, September 12, 2011

Buoyant Education

Last week we had the pleasure of attending the Africa Mercy Academy open house (just in case it isn't clear, our living on a ship is the source of the buoyant in the blog title).  Our kids have been involved in the Academy since we came onboard over four years ago and Dara is a teacher so of course we've seen the Academy plenty of times.  The open house, however, is a wonderful opportunity to stop by all of the classrooms to check out what's going on and be challenged by whatever activity the teacher of that room has come up with.

There was Social Studies trivia, French trivia, world map labelling, emotion face coloring, story writing based on Egyptian (I think) symbols, word assignments (is it a verb, adverb, adjective, noun, preposition, pronoun, etc.), and some math fractile thing (sorry Mr. Farrell for my lack of both proper terminology and enthusiasm regarding all things math), to name a few. 

The kids were all excited to show us their classrooms and it's always great to have another opportunity to connect with their teachers in a school setting (we get plenty of opportunity to connect in community).  We are so blessed to share life with and entrust our kids to teachers who love God, are passionate about our children's eductation, and model lives of love and integrity.  We can't imagine a better educational environment for our kids. 

Thank you Jesus and thank you teachers!