Tuesday, 23 December 2008

Pray for Guinea

Background info: Mercy Ships are planning to visit Guinea for their field service in 2010 (although obviously won't if it is unstable). It neighbours Liberia and Sierra Leone - two of the poorest countries in the world and in no need of regional instability!

From the BBC (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/africa/7796902.stm):

"A Guinea army statement has announced the dissolution of the government, after President Lansana Conte's death.

... A BBC correspondent in the capital Conakry says tanks have been seen on the streets...

...He announced earlier that President Conte, who ruled the West African country with an iron fist for 24 years, had died on Monday night after a "long illness". Forty days of national mourning have been declared...

...Guinea's neighbours - Liberia, Sierra Leone and Ivory Coast - are enjoying relative stability after years of conflict and there are fears any unrest there could spread and embroil the sub-region in fighting once more...

...Although Guinea's mineral wealth makes it potentially one of Africa's richest countries, its population of about 10 million is among the poorest in the region."

Monday, 22 December 2008

Commissioning Service to see us off

On Sunday, 11th January we will be in Cambridge for the last time for our commissioning service at Eden Baptist Church (directions). Eden have been fantastic in their suport for us going to serve with the ships - not just financially but in many other practical ways. There will be a simple lunch after the service in the back hall where we would love to say 'Au Revoir'. If you would like to come let us know so that we can have an idea of how much food we would need to provide.

If you don't normally come to Eden here is how the service will go (roughly). It begins at 10am with a hymn, welcome and prayers. The first half an hour or so of the service has more songs, bible readings and prayers. There will be a short break when the children go out for their sunday school groups (if you have a baby there is a creche available during the whole service) and then in the second half of the service there will be a sermon by our pastor, Julian Hardyman, on a short passage from the Bible:

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
[Hebrews 12:1-3]
The sermon usually lasts about 35-40mins and would be followed by a final hymn. The service itself usually finishes about 11:45(ish).

We would love to see as many of our friends there to see us of (we fly out two days later) so please do come if you can make it. If you have any questions let us know.


Friday, 12 December 2008

The ship sails today!

After a frantic couple of weeks cleaning and tying everything down the ship is scheduled to leave Monrovia port at 2pm this afternoon (Friday).

Our friend, Daniel, who is a sailor on the ship says this:

"It takes us around 6 days sailing before arriving in Tenerife. The weather is mostly good here on the West coast of Africa but as a seaman you need to be prepared for every kind of weather conditions. Also pirates are sailing around on the West coast of Africa, not with swords but with rocket launchers..."

Please remember the sail in your prayers.


Thursday, 11 December 2008

CRB Check sorted!

Good News - my CRB check came in the post today and has been sent on to Texas. Hopefully this is the last bit of paperwork we need to get our visas sorted for Benin...

Thanks for all of your prayers (especially you, Natalie - very effective prayers!)


[33 Days and counting...]

Wednesday, 3 December 2008


Sarah and I had our last lot of jabs this week and my mind cast back to the presentation Dr Leo Cheng did at Eden in the summer. He said that he went to Africa feeling like Superman having had so many vaccinations. Here's what we're immune to now...

TB - BCGs for Tommy and Sarah when at school - Tom and Josh still to have theirs in the next few weeks
Hepatitis A + B - Sarah just needed a booster, Tommy had 4 injections while the poor boys needed 5!
Yellow Fever - Just a single injection each
Cholera - 2 drinks for Tommy and Sarah
Meningitus A,C,W+Y - 1 Jab for all (Josh will have his as a nice 2nd birthday present!)
Typhoid - Single jab each (Another present for Josh's birthday)
Flu - 1 jab, 2 for Joshua, none for Tom (getting a bit needle phobic now, as you can imagine)
Tetanus, Diptheria, Polio - 1 Booster for Sarah and Tommy
MMR - Booster for Sarah and Tommy
Pneumococcal - 1 for everyone

There are two points that I would like to raise about these vaccinations.

The first is to ask that you pray for Tom when he has his TB injection as he is beginning to react quite strongly when he knows he's having an injection and the BCG jab needs to be controlled and carefully placed otherwise he'll have to have it twice!

The second is to reiterate a point made by Leo in his talk. We are so lucky to have access to these jabs and between them they will protect us from one of the three big killers in West Africa. Thanks to the excellent provisions on the ship we will also be protected from Malnutrition and unclean water supply. It's sobering to think that this is not the case for the people we will be serving just the other side of the dock and in the near future these will still be the big three killers in West Africa and the reason around 1 in 5 babies born won't see their fifth birthday...

Monday, 17 November 2008

CRB Check

As part of the application process for my new job with Mercy Ships I need a background check with the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB). I got the forms over a month ago and sent them back to Mercy Ships UK to process the application. Unfortunately, they were in the process of changing providers of the preliminary CRB check process and so my form hasn't been sent off to the CRB. To compound matters, the form I had completed was addressed to the former provider rather than the new one so I need to fill in a new form! It usually takes 4 weeks or so to get a CRB check back.

The problem is I can't get my visa stuff from Mercy Ships in Texas until they get a copy of my CRB check.

Please pray that the forms are processed quickly and we aren't delayed in receiving our visas.


Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Bon Voyage...

Well today we dropped off the bulk of our possessions at the UK warehouse in Stevenage. They will be picked up tomorrow and head off to meet the ship in Tenerife via the Mercy Ships warehouse in Holland.

We have been frantically packing since Friday evening when we first found out that we needed everything there by today - at least we don't need to think about what needs to go on the container anymore...

Please pray it all arrives safely - some of the children's most prized toys are in the shipment.


Monday, 15 September 2008

Tom's first day at school

It feels very strange. Tom is now at school! Well at least for afternoons for the next 2 weeks, then just mornings for a week, then mornings and lunch and then finally a week full time. But then he gets a week off for half term - so not too bad!

It was very cute when Joshua cried because he wanted to go too.

Tom was very excited and talked non-stop when he got home. He rang Nanny and then proceeded to talk her ear off while pacing up and down the room.

Tuesday, 2 September 2008

Its official

Its hot off the press - we are off to Africa! It's finally now official for the first week in January. Tommy is dancing round the room and wanting the phone battery to stop dying so that he can talk to everyone he knows. I am feeling slightly more stunned into silence but will be in touch with people soon!!!

Thank God we have a cabin and that we have time to prepare to go. We are sooooo pleased that this time back here is only for a season, and while it is useful time in many ways we are soooooo pleased that it won't be long before we will be serving Him on the Africa Mercy.


Wednesday, 13 August 2008

we wait...

...and in the mean time Tommy is adjusting to being at home and I am adjusting to being at work. The English summer is really not summer- Tom says its like winter - probably more like Autumn. We're enjoying catching up with everyone but miss our Gateway 'family' and are jealous of everyone else being in or on the way to Africa!! Still the timing is not our decision and we will keep trusting....and hoping....and praying....that we will hear something definate soon.....

We're off to London this weekend to mark my 30th birthday later this month so planning on having some fun here while we can!


Wednesday, 30 July 2008

We're back!

We made it back to England yesterday. Thanks Natalie for the lift to the airport! We had to say our last goodbyes to Sam and Natalie in Dallas airport and then board the plane as a family of four! Our family suddenly seems very small, after living in community! We have made it to Essex (Sarah's mum's house) so far and will probably go home tomorrow. Its great having time to recover and we're looking forward to seeing Amy (Sarah's sister) when she flies back from Romania tonight. Uncle Sam has been promptly replaced by 'Nanny, Nanny, Nanny', Joshua who only infrequently puts two words together said 'look, Nanny' earlier. The boys are adjusting to being back and have been telling Nanny and Grandad all about 'America' (as if the base was all of it!)

We only slept about 4 hours on the plane so are still trying to catch up before resuming normal life. We'll let you know what that looks like once we've worked it out!

Sarah. (who is now on the same time zone so happy to accept phone calls in addition to any other means of communication! ;-) )

Sunday, 27 July 2008

preparing to go home

We leave tomorrow night so I have had a little think about out time here and have concluded that...

We will miss
-fab friends we have met here
-having Uncle Sam with us all the time
-swimming outside every day (this is what Tom said)
-not having to cook (some of the time anyway) and wash up
-meeting green lizards and other interesting creatures
-big fridges with ice dispensers!

We look forward to
-seeing our family and friends (wooohoooo)
-being able to walk everywhere
-catching up on sleep
-not having to walk round the dorm to get to the bathroom or kitchen
-Tom and Joshua actually sitting down at mealtimes and eating
-having time to process the last month
-playing Bob toys (this is what Tom said when i asked him!)
-finding some earings after losing one firefighting and one life-saving!


Saturday, 26 July 2008

I got a Cicada

After hearing these things making a huge racket in the trees around and about I finally managed to get a picture of the Cicada.

The shell in the background is the shell they live in before breaking out of the back of it, shedding the skin and becoming the beautiful creature you can see in the foreground. This is just an annual example but others are famous for having a life cycle of either 11 years or 17 years apparently with a vast number appearing periodically. They make a particularly unique sound with a long lasting rattle that rises in pitch.

For the last week we have been in a different classroom for the BST and we got this picture of a nest literally right outside over the boardwalk:


Floating on prayers...

We finally had our pool test this evening and I think we can both say that it was a very fun experience. The treading water was no problem at all - we both felt completely confident to do it and managed being in the water the whole time with no problems at all. We did all of the drills without lifejackets except when they were part of the drill and feel acutely aware of all the prayers that have been said on our behalf over the last two months.

We had to do a variety of different things:

  • jump in with life jacket and then swim 20m
  • tread water
  • get into liferaft from poolside
  • throw the sea anchor
  • get into the liferaft from the water
  • put on a gumby suit in less than 2 minutes (the big red sea survival wetsuits)
  • jump in in the gumby suit
  • form a string of people in the suits and manouver around while joined together
  • get in to the liferaft in the gumby suits (hilarious!)
  • turn over the liferaft after it had capsized (also good fun)
The good news is that we now have a five year Basic Safety Training certificate from the US Coast Guards meaning we could get a job anywhere in the world on a tug boat, a fishing boat, a container ship... (just a shame Sarah gets seasick!)

We followed up with an all you can eat Pizza meal at CiCi's where we pigged out a bit too much after all of the exertion. We have our last 3 hours tomorrow for debrief and people start leaving straight after.

We will miss all of the people on the course and hope to meet up with them again soon on the Africa Mercy.

Tommy and Sarah

Friday, 25 July 2008

Getting closer..

..to the end... we have ended with a couple of days of survival classes. We have now done four tests and just have the final water practical later! We have seen far too many videos of people in trouble at sea and falling overboard. Slightly more fun was practicing throwing life rings and seeing all the lifeboat equipment. We get to jump into one later in the pool - should be fun!

Poor Sam is having less fun than us as his days with the boys are long this week and tonight we are out 4-9 so he will have to put them to bed. At least its the final bit! We're looking forward to returning for a rest - hopefully having completed our American coast guard approved basic safety training!


Thursday, 24 July 2008

nearly there...

Today many people seem to be able to sympathise with each others sore shoulders from carrying the air cylinder and sore arms from dragging the heavy dummy out of the container yesterday. Rather appropriately we learnt first aid and CPR today (I say learnt but that might be a slight over statement). I amused Tom telling him about bandaging daddy's arm, although he totally did not understand why I wanted to move Tommy onto his front (recovery position) and onto his back (to assess whether he was breathing).

We have now been swopping photos so we now have about a million to show everyone! And we've pinched all John's - our fab neighbour/resident photographer!

Now we have to play games to eat chocolate or something...I just heard the word chocolate (and more to the point British chocolate....which i have been having withdrawal from...American chocolate being 'different'....)...so I am there....


Gary Parker on BBC Wales

Below is a link to an interview on BBC Wales with Dr Gary Parker the Chief Medical Officer for the Africa Mercy. (only available until 26th July)



Tuesday, 22 July 2008

Firefighting done!

Well we had a great time with the firefighting practical today. Temperatures over 100F, struggling to breathe and really sweating was just the preparation that came from standing in the sun in our full kit!

We started at 6 to make sure we got most of it done before the heat of the day. As it turned out we didn't sleep particularly well. Sarah was paranoid we would sleep through and because we couldn't set an alarm (it would wake the boys) she kept asking me what the time was all night. In the end we were woken up by our neighbour at 5:48! We still managed to muster in time though - a bit of bed hair though!

The drills were good fun. Sarah didn't like having the mask on her face (she is a bit claustrophobic) but she did really well to do all of the tasks - including one with the mask on and then a blindfold over that to simulate smoke.

We had five actual fire simulations. The first was a simulated electrical fire using CO2 extinguishers. Then we got our hands on a hose and stoppped a fuel leak. The third was a rescue of a 165lb dummy (blindfolded) followed by using a dry chemical extinguisher to put out an oil fire. Finally they set up a larger fire in the container and we went in in pairs to put it out.

The team spirit was really good but it was extremely hard work - especialy once it started getting warm. Three people didn't manage to finish the exercises due to the heat.

We finished at around 11:30 and headed straight for the pool.

After lunch (double portion - very hungry!) we had a writtten test which was fine for both of us and now we are ready to collapse. It has been a fun day!

firefighting day 1

Can you believe we spent all day learning about fires and firefighting. At the end of today we got kitted out for tomorrow so that we can start promptly by 6am! We are going into a container which is going to be on fire! Sounds pretty fun? Lets hope so to make up for the fact that Supernanny is on duty from 5.45!!! Uncle Sam is not so keen on that bit if the day! We have to do some tests to pass like getting dressed within 60 seconds and then putting on breathing apparatus within 60 seconds, then presumably actually putting out fires. It took about half an hour today to get all the bits together so that could be a challenge, but you have to just keep trying til you can do it apparantly! Its going to be hot - they have warned us that everyday this week is likely to be over 100 degrees, hopefully not while we are dressed like Fireman Sam and Penny Morris. Tom is so excited for us that we are learning to fight fires it should be fun showing him some photos.

Sarah - who is looking forward to taking many hilarious photos tomorrow to distract myself from the thought of having to enter a burning building.

Monday, 21 July 2008

this weeks schedule

I know we've given our schedule to some people and it looks at bit different so I thought I'd post it so you can sympathise with the long days!

Monday 7.45-12.30 and1-5 fire fighting instruction
Tuesday 6-10.30 Fire fighting practical, 1-3 fire fighting test, 4.30-5.45 meeting
Wednesday 7.45-12.30 and 1-5 CPR/first aid
Thursday 7.45 -12.30 personal safety, 1-5 survival
Friday 7.45-12.30 and1-4 survival, 4-9 water survival practical/dinner

Sounds fun??? So glad most people are far enough away they can't come and witness any of the above! Please pray that the fire-fighting day is not so hot and that we don't drown on Friday, so that we can fly home next monday!!!


Sunday, 20 July 2008

Goodbye Dr Dave and Helen

Dr Dave and Helen Lyth left us yesterday to return to the Mercy Ships landbase in Sierra Leone via their home in Scotland. Dave does VVF surgeries for women who have been damaged during child birth. Last year they did around 300 surgeries. Helen works with the women while they recuperate to give them basic literacy or numeracy skills. Some of the women require multiple operations and so are able to develop useful skills while at the centre. She also helps out at a street school which supplements the primary education offering for youngsters in Sierra Leone. Sometimes she has 50 children in her class (she takes the children who don't go to school at all).

More Info:

Dave and Helen Lyth Blog
Aberdeen West African Fistula Centre


Tyler Zoo

We had a lovely trip tp Tyler Zoo, yesterday (apart from the fact it was almost 100F and there was little shade). Here are some pics:

Saturday, 19 July 2008

we've finished class!

We've now finished the classroom weeks here. We just have a week of basic safety training, which I am sure we will be filling you in on! Today we now have an African lunch (yep, more food!), then some of us are hoping to join the group going to Tyler Zoo later.

We're having to say goodbye today to Dr Dave and Helen Lyth, although we hope that we might be able to visit Sierra Leone before long to see what they are doing and to visit some Eden missionaries.


Caption Competition...

Miriam: "Must ... inhale ... waffles"

Hot Breakfast!

We had a fantastic American hot breakfast in the family dorm today. We were treated to pancakes, waffles and lovely little skinless sausages.

It was good!

(Big thanks to the wonderful servers)

Friday, 18 July 2008

Happy Birthday Jenny!!!

Happy birthday Jenny - its fab having you guys as our neighbours (probably not so great for you when the boys wake at the crack of dawn ;-) ), hope we will soon be your neighbours for a lot longer! Sleep well!

Thursday, 17 July 2008

week 3

We can't quite believe we are part way through the third week of four here. We have just spent 3 days looking at world views and community development (and are still going on the community development I think). It has been incredibly eye opening, realising that we all look at things with our own cultural view point and that we really need to know the basis for the views we hold. It is incredibly hard to get your head around some of the things that are ingrained in other cultures, that even despite an education programme about germs people still refused to believe anything other than that evil spirits cause illness.

Kim told us about the Ship helping set up mini-buisnesses to help women become self-sufficient, they were taught different industries over a period of many months, all were making a profit, their families were being fed (having previously not), yet when the ship returned they had all stopped. The Ship folk tried to get to the bottom of why this happened, as it had appeared so successful - and it seemed that they thought this was the only way to become friends with the Ship people (and relationships are a high priority) that they had done it but ultimately they had a fatalistic midset - they belived they couldn't actually change anything or make a difference to escape poverty and feed their families. Its hard to get it from a Western perspective when we think the answer is simple!

Sam and the boys are all doing fine (although you can read his version on his blog at samthemanny.blogspot.com ) except for Sam feeling a bit under the weather today- obvious to the rest of us by the lack of food being consumed and seeming more subdued than usual.

We had our class pictures taken and were offered a family one - thinking this would be useful for any future newsletters we took the opportunity - however Joshua did not want to be parted from a visiting cat, so if you ever get a Farrell family picture with a ginger cat you'll know why!


Tuesday, 15 July 2008

Snake II

Here's the second snake (just round the corner from the family dorm):

(Dr Dave Lyth with the snake)


Sunday, 13 July 2008

Going to the rodeo

I can now say that I have had the Texan Rodeo experience. I've seen real cow-boys lassooing bulls, children riding sheep (you had to see this one to believe it -one of them was only 4!), men riding bulls and bucking broncos, wagon races, a monkey riding a dog who was chasing sheep, cowgirl barrel races and square dancing on horses. Who wouldn't think that was fun! The man who got squashed by the bull maybe? They played extreme poker too, so anyone that fancies a challenge- what you need to do is get three friends to sit round a table with you, get someone to let a bull in and see who sits for the longest! The thing Sam is holding was given to us when we arrived - Tommy requested that we didn't buy him any tacky souveniers- he was not bargaining that we would bring him one back for free!


Saturday, 12 July 2008

For Roger

Here are a couple of pictures of moths for Roger. They have been added to the bugs slideshow. (They are a bit blurred because of low light and poor photography skills):

the emotional rollercoaster

Its been very up and down with news on the cabin. Some hints that we might be able to go to the ship at Christmas, some still hopeful we can be there before or for Tommy to go first to start the academic year and we catch him up when a cabin becomes free. Tommy went to HR today and they said they thought it would not be possible before the next academic year, but that we should know in the next week if we can go in January. I am taking the very defensive tack of not believing anything hopeful until its definite as it was all getting a bit much hearing so many different ideas. It is hard for Tommy feeling like everyone he talks to has a different story and wanting so badly to go and teach on board.


we saw a turtle!

We've just finished a week in class and been for a lovely walk (thanks to Dave our tour guide!) and seen a turtle, some lizards and lots of small bugs. We're off to Tyler State Park for 6 hours of silent retreat tomorrow . That should give us a but of time to process it all, if we don't fry first - they have warned us that it may be over 35 degrees...

Friday, 11 July 2008

nearly friday...

After three days on living on purpose (which included all sorts of things about personality, strengths, finding your purpose...) we spent today talking about community living. We are under no illusion that living on the ship will bring many blessings but also many challenges just from living and working in such a small community. We talked lots about confrontation and tomorrow look at conflict resolution!

I have been to Walmart (thanks Natalie) to buy cereal and milk, bread and peanut butter (and ice cream and other slightly less essentials!) so that we don't have to trek to the dining room every day for breakfast and lunch as it is quite a challenge to get us all there, fed and back before class. Hopefully that will help make the day less stressful.


Wednesday, 9 July 2008

Wireless down

The wireless is down in the family dorm at the moment so we are not able to check our email or update the blog easily right now. We will try to get back online as soon as possible.

Tuesday, 8 July 2008


Just a quick note to say we managed to add a scorpion to the bugs slideshow.

monday again

The boys enjoyed seeing a tiny little lizzard this morning on the way to breakfast so that was a nice start to the day. They don't seem very keen on us leaving them but settle with Sam as soon as we're out of sight...keep praying for him, they've been hard work today...

We're back in the training room again, the start of this week is about living purposefully. Its being taught by a guy who has been a doctor on all of the previous ships and the current ship! It's not as heavy going as last week and we get to discuss lots of things in groups which breaks it up more. We're feeling positive about the next few days and will let you know how its going...

We managed to fit in swimming with the boys after dinner as we'd enjoyed it so much at the weekend- by the evening at least you don't burn your feet on the ground when you take your shoes off to get in the pool. I actually got chilly after walking back wet and showering the boys before getting dry!


Monday, 7 July 2008


Well I have now tried my hand at wallyball, I have some new reasons why not to play

1. God gave all the wallyball genes in the family to Sam, so maybe he did not mean for me to play
2. I was completely terrified of the ball
3. I couldn't even see the ball half the time, let alone hit it
4. I now have very sore arms and wrists, that tingle a bit still from my attempts

Still, no one beat me up for being so terrible so it could have been worse.


Sunday, 6 July 2008


You may have noticed the new slideshows on the side. I am trying to catalogue the different creatures we are seeing. All of them so far have been taken by me and come from within about 100m of our front door and include a male cardinal, a lizard and some big bugs. I have been so keen with my camera that people are now coming to get me when they see anything interesting. I'll add to the slideshow when I get new pictures and try to make it obvious when it has been updated.

Thank goodness....

...for a day off!

We've had a lovely quiet day with the boys, doing puzzles, playing cars.... Its been great to catch up with family on the phone and we've enjoyed the open air swimming pool this afternoon. We are less anxious about the treading water for a minute thing, but still need to practice the jumping in and being out of our depth bit! Tommy has been taking pictures of birds, bugs and other stuff. I have taken some of a lorry (!!!) for Tom's friend Ben as the cab's are so different, couldn't find a toy one in Walmart though which was a shame. I've had another, less overwhelming trip to Walmart to successfully buy baby wipes and have now experienced Sonic - a kind of drive through drinks place that does great strawberry shakes. It got me out of playing wallyball another night - I think my excuses may be running out and I might have to give in soon???

Saturday, 5 July 2008

More 4th July Pics

Here are some pics from our 4th July celebrations. The 2nd picture shows our neighbours and new friends Jenny and John Rolland (their blog is linked from our blog):

Happy July 4th!

Happy 4th of July. We have enjoyed seeing a little of the celebrations - lots of food all day long (although most days are like that here!), going to Cici's pizza, listening to everyone sing the national anthem before the fireworks!!! Even the plant in the classroom was feeling patriotic. Might have to disown Sam though as he seems to be forgetting that he is no longer with under fives after the hours of 5pm.

Friday, 4 July 2008

We got a snake!!!

We were walking back to the family dorm at lunchtime when the guy in front of us stopped and said "whoah".

There was a snake in the bush next to one of the doors out of the family dorm. Here's a couple of pictures as Mark attacked it with a broom (again click to see bigger):

Thursday, 3 July 2008

9 fab years later!

After the first nine years of marriage we are very excited about where we will be in the next nine years (and beyond...) together! Hopefully with a few more stamps in our passport!!! I keep smiling that Tom has been saying happy anniversary to random people today. Uncle Sam told him to say it to us this morning, but I'm not sure that he understands what it means!

We had to write a type of poem today, and despite not seeing each other's, Tommy's and mine were really similar. We both had the same theme in mind: God is faithful and we keep trusting our future to him. We feel very laid back about the uncertainty which is very out of character for me, which I think says a lot!


Sarah's profile

Ok so I can't work out how to make it look pretty like Tommy's but Helen asked for my profile too so here it is for all to comment on!!! Sarah

This is expected of me:

"This is expected of me" is your response to how you think people expect you to behave. It's your normal guarded and masked behavior.



Discovering Your Behavioral Blends

"C/S's" tend to always be right. They like to do one thing at a time and do it right the first time. Their steady and stable approach to things makes them sensitive. They tend to be reserved and cautious. They are consistent and careful, but seldom take risks or try new things. They do not like speaking to large crowds, but will work hard behind the scenes to help groups stay on track. They are motivated by opportunities to serve others and to do things correctly.

Controlling Your Behavioral Blends

Think more positively. Guard against the fear of failure. Focus on the possible. Be cheerful.

This is me:

"This is me" is your response to how you feel and think under pressure - how you really feel and think inside. It's your normal unguarded and unmasked behavior.



Discovering Your Behavioral Blends

"C/S's" tend to always be right. They like to do one thing at a time and do it right the first time. Their steady and stable approach to things makes them sensitive. They tend to be reserved and cautious. They are consistent and careful, but seldom take risks or try new things. They do not like speaking to large crowds, but will work hard behind the scenes to help groups stay on track. They are motivated by opportunities to serve others and to do things correctly.

Controlling Your Behavioral Blends

Think more positively. Guard against the fear of failure. Focus on the possible. Be cheerful.

Tommy's personality

Here's my personality (apparently). Just click to see it bigger:

You can say whether you agree or not in the comments (over achiever?)...


I've been to Walmart!

Walmart was like a double sized Tesco extra all on one floor. It took some time to locate the washing powder and then even longer to decide on what one. I guess there is the same amount of choice at home, except there you just grab one and ignore most of them! At least grapes look the same on this side of the world and that was a slightly quicker purchase, once I had found them! I then found a section of George (Asda back home) clothes, but the sizes are all different so that confused me too (as did the shoe sizes), I must've looked strange just standing there staring at the hangers! Never mind it was still fun to get off base! Sorry, mum there was no chocolate prezels that I could find.....will keep looking....anyway, the whole thing was a cultural experience....the woman packed each item into a different plastic bag, (there is no obvious trying to reduce waste or recycle anything here)...and I was waiting to type my PIN no in to pay and didn't see that I needed to sign my name - I don't remember the last time I had to sign for shopping....

We talked this morning about hot and cold climate cultures, I didn't appreciate just how cold our culture is and how much of a shock Africa is going to be!!! I guess we are being prepared for that by being in Texas. Plus as we wait to know the next step/timing for going to the ship we learn to plan less and become more flexible???

We've just done a psychometric test for personality types that will be used somehow next week - seemed pretty accurate so will be interesting to see what is said about that....

Would be very happy to receive emails/mail/facebook messages/any communication from the outside world!!!

Wednesday, 2 July 2008


I thought I'd better post to update people on how Sam is getting on looking after the children. I have to say he has been fantastic! The children are already settled enough to be left with him that they don't cry when we go to class in the morning and he has been really flexible to help us get the most out of our time here.

He has also been a great asset in terms of building community amongst the gateway team. Firstly within the family dorm and now reaching out the rest of the group, he has been brilliant at initiating community building activities. Today the boys started the task of making pictures for everyone on the course - beginning with residents in the family dorm. This was an idea of his own that has already brought smiles to peoples faces.

Thank you for your prayers for him and the children.


Sorry we haven't posted for a few days...

It has been quite busy starting classes. A typical day sees us up around 6:45 to get over to eat breakfast from around 7. Class starts at 8 with lunch at noon (although it seems to over run most days). We're back in class from 1 until dinner st 5. We've had a few extra things in the evenings so far too, along with getting to know the others in the family dorm.

It has been really nice meeting our neighbours here. They are really lovely people from different backgrounds and we have enjoyed spending time with them. Last night we taught everyone how to play Perudo, after an emergency trip to Walmart for some dice. Needless to say neither Sam nor I won!


Monday, 30 June 2008

starting class!!

Today Uncle Sam was tested further as he had the boys all day. All survived to tell the tale which was a reassuring start to our time here. They visited the farm and then they practiced for going swimming by getting changed ready and then changing back again as the pool was being cleaned! Joshua cried again when we left him, but looked pretty happy when we saw him at lunch and then from dinner time, and was very concerned about where Uncle Sam was every time he moved. Although there are no other children the boys are getting to know some of our course friends and seem pretty settled overall (they are eating ok, although not very much, and sleeping really well too - just with the odd night waking)

Starting the class was great, (but they weren't kidding about it being all day, every day so it's going to be busy so keep praying we survive...) One thing I found interesting was that the biggest thing God was concerned about in the first part of the Bible was oppression and injustice of people, not immorality or something else. We are learning so much outside of the classroom too, about Africa and the work of the ship which makes us long to go and serve (and no there is still no news on the cabin - other than there's none in the near future...)

This afternoon we met Don and Deyon Stephens, the founders of Mercy Ships, in their home over drinks and cheesecake, so got to hear the history direct from the people that made the history. It was the first time we had been in an American home which was exciting too.

Tommy and Sam are now playing some kind of volleyball thing in the gym, after a very embarrasing scrabble type game, where Sam was making up all sorts of words and I realised i don't know enough words.


Sunday, 29 June 2008

the texan church experience!

Well we got a lift round the corner as the weather has now decided to rain, rain and rain some more. We are surprised that anyone managed to sleep through the thunder and lightening....anyway, we went to the church round the corner. We walked in to a room decorated with red, white and blue and greeted by a lady in a cowboy hat!!! She took us to find the kids activities where they were celebrating the 4th of July with ice cream and strawberries, so Tom opted to stay there (who wouldn't!!!) and join the other kids for their own singing and fun. She sat him with a little boy of the same age and asked him to look after him and make him welcome. She said to him, say hi to Tom and its great to have you here, so he did, in Texan - I wonder whether the boys actually understood a word of each other! We're not sure whether Tom has any clue what the 4th of July stuff was all about, and are slightly puzzled that the story was about snow, but hey he seemed happy enough as he left with his lollipop!

We're about to go to a session for more introductions, so hopefully we'll know at least a little about everyone by the end of the day and more about what to expect in the next four weeks.


Photos of the base

Here are a few photos we have taken from the base:

Saturday, 28 June 2008

exploring the base

We have been for a walk round the base (2 mile track). There is a barn with free range chickens and rabbits. Tom got to help the lady put the eggs in boxes - some were still warm as we saw her remove them from under some of the chickens! We saw lots of goats on the way back, but despite Joshua moo-ing all the way round the cows were in hiding today - they probably heard him coming and ran in the other direction!

Joshua is finding it hard walking around - probably a combination of being tired, the heat and the uneven ground, we're all getting a bit tired carrying him around (the pushchair front wheels are broken so its hard to push unless you tip it up! We might have to get a cheap buggy from somewhere...)

We have now registered, which was all of about 5 minutes, and are about to go to meet everyone on the Gateway. Time for the nanny to do some work....good luck Uncle Sam...


News Flash

From Tom: At approx 8:32am Texas time ... Joshua was in the road. But it was alright mummy was there and there are no cars either.


its hot, hot, hot

Every time we leave the air conditioned buildings Joshua says 'hot', every time Joshua falls over and touches the pavement he says 'hot' rather than 'up', while we were swimming every time he touched the side he said 'hot'. It seems to be the most common word at the moment! - even above No!

Swimming was a welcome relief - in an outdoor, unheated pool the temperature was about right, but the ground was too hot to walk without shoes so we left them right next to the steps! We're so glad that we have some factor 40 beach suits for the boys, I think we would run out of sun-cream otherwise.

After popcorn chicken and chips last night and fish and chips at lunch-time, it was nice to see some tomato pasta - although just when I thought the boys might eat something, Joshua refused to try any!

We now have neighbours as other people are arriving for the Gateway, by car - which is certainly the way to do it so you can get off the base - although they just drove for 2 days which appeals even less than a 10 hour flight!