Saturday, June 16, 2012

Slow Boat to China

Okay, so we're not really sailing to China.  Slow Boat to Tenerife just didn't have the same ring to it.  The slow part is accurate, though.  As an inter-island ferry originally, the Africa Mercy wasn't exactly designed for ocean going passages.  She pretty much plows through the water and rocks like a milk carton in a bathtub.  Actually, Elijah is fond of saying, "sailing rocks!". 

We cleared the breakwater in Lome yesterday morning and are making our way to the Canary Islands for a shipyard period.  I had the opportunity to get my hands dirty a bit and work the aft mooring deck, which was a welcome change of pace from leadership and management duties.  I was tough to miss in my day-glo orange coveralls and helmet.

We had an amazing dolphin show yesterday afternoon.  There were hundreds of dolphins swimming, jumping, spinning, and splashing around the ship.  

     Our family love being at sea and so far no seasickness!  Please pray that that continues to be the case and for a safe voyage to our next port of call.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Surreal Experiences

There have been a number of interesting things that have happened lately.  A couple of weeks ago we had Scott Pelley and the 60 Minutes team onboard to do a piece on Mercy Ships (don't know when/if it will air).  Every Sunday morning our family walks down a flight of stairs the the Starbucks Cafe onboard to have a latte or coffee-less frappuccino.  Elijah was standing in line wearing his pajamas and with his hair all frazzled right next to Scott Pelley.  Would've made a pretty cool picture.

Minister of Health Agba addressing the crew.
We had our Thank You reception last week.  This is an event we hold at the end of each Field Service to thank church, government, and business partners.  As such, it wouldn't typically fall into the 'surreal' category except that this time around the managers in the Stewards department did such an amazing job that I could actually participate in the event rather than work behind the scenes for it.  I had an opportunity to chat with the Togolese Minister of Health, the US Ambassador, and the Bishop of Lome, among others. 

The US Charge d'Affaires, Simon Hankinson, and I.

It was a wonderful reception that showed our appreciation for those who have helped us to bring hope and healing to the poor of Western Africa.

From last Thursday I have been the Acting Managing Director whilst our MD and his family are away on holiday.  That in itself is somewhat surreal but to add to it twelve of us from the ship were invited by the Minister of Health (pictured above) to a wonderful dinner out last night.  Dara and I and the Captain were seated with Minister Agba and his wife.  The minister toasted us and I had the opportunity to respond in kind, which I think went fairly well.  We also exchanged gifts and then chatted over dinner and dessert for the evening.  It was a lovely evening where we had the ability to exchange our thanks to one another in a more intimate atmosphere than the Thank You reception.

Today was the last day onboard for most of the Day Workers of the Africa Mercy.  These, too, are amazing partners who for ten months have served diligently.  I have learned much from my brothers and sisters of Togo and neighboring nations through the relationships that we have developed this Field Service.  So, too, have most of the crew.  The event was lively with great worship.  I had the honor and privilege of sharing a message of thanks on behalf of the crew, as did the Captain.  The Day Workers will be sorely missed in many ways.

I'm not sure what other experiences and opportunities are in store but I am appreciative of the ones that I have had lately.  I also appreciate Dara, Grace, Elijah, Malachi, and Xavier for their support and love.  I am thankful to be on this ship and serving with such an amazing group of men and women of God.  I am thankful for those who support us through prayer, love, and finances.  Most of all I am grateful to God for His faithfulness, mercy, and grace.

What's next?  Sailing and whatever other adventures God has in store...

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Hole in the Wall

The title is what came to mind as I looked at the porthole in my office window.  It's actually a hole in the door but, well, you know...

My door isn't really four feet high, I just took the picture from a funny angle and from the wrong perspective.

 My office is on deck 5 near the Reception counter.  It's about the size of a walk-in broom closet but has two windows and I thoroughly enjoy it.  It also doesn't have chair.  About a year ago I bruised my tailbone (doing cannonballs into the pool - go figure) and it was torture to sit.  I realized that my desk was adjustable so I moved it up and got rid of the chair so I could stand to work.  I enjoyed it so much that I've kept it this way. 

My slightly messy, chairless office.  Photo taken from the porthole in the above door.
I haven't actually measured my office but I have just enough room to lay down on the floor with my feet at the wall where the windows are and still have a book in front of me when I do homework at night.  I suppose if I were to offer it as real estate it would have descriptions like 'quaint' an 'cozy' but I love it.

Our Managing Director is on holiday and I'm filling in for him for about a month.  That means that I have the keys to his palatial office (complete with executive corner desk, book shelves, and a four person meeting table) but I'd have to sit at his desk instead of stand and my kids' artwork isn't on his wall.  I think I'll stay where I am.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Around Lome

We were out in town the other day and thought it may be worthwhile to share some photos of a typical Lome day with those of you who read this (and don't already live here).

Side of the road livestock grazing

Shoe store.

Shoe store with marketing panache.

Typical traffic.

Tire store.

Fast food (these roadside 'street meat' stands are about as plentiful as coffee stands in Seattle).

Produce stand.

Portable sporting goods store.
Delivery truck.

Home sweet home - well, almost.  This is the drive through the port.

Nearly home.

There she is.