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!


Friday, 27 June 2008

our morning so far...

We are now wondering why we mentioned the red ants to Tom as he is now beyond paranoid and thinks they are everywhere.

Breakfast was great, normal cereal and fruit and Mark offered to drive us to a store to get some nappies etc. We were debating what car seats we needed when a family said we could borrow theirs for the morning. So off we went to Tyler (which was where we thought we were but was actually 25 mins in the truck???!!!). It was a Sam's store - it looked like it might have been the cash and carry type bit of the Walmart chain. Anyway, we bought nappies, batteries and drinks in ridiculously big quantities as that was all they sold.

We got back for lunch and think we may have unintentionally offended the cooking staff by declining the fish and chips (and no veg) option for the children as they just wanted a sandwich for lunch as they will be having pasta tonight. I think that may be an issue every lunchtime and the reason why everyone says excpect to put a huge amount of weight on during Gateway training!!

We'll see what the afternoon brings...


First Impressions

Everything here is so big! The campus for Mercy Ships is the size of a small farm, back home. There is so much land that I think they just build low and spread stuff out a lot. All along the 'highway' there were low rise, enormous footprint retail oultlets. And loads of overhead power cables - I don't think they bury them here?

It is hot! It really reminds me of walking into a greenhouse because its quite humid too. Apparently it is slightly warmer than usual for this time of year - it wouldn't normally be in the 90's until the end of next month. The days are shorter here than back home because we're further south so it get light later than we are used to - this helped the boys to sleep in I think.

The people are friendly. We were looked after by a couple called Mark and Nari Palmer from Canada who got us some food at the cafeteria. Apart from being our fourth meal of the day it was also really busy there because they had just finished their community meeting and most people who work on the base had stayed on for dinner so there were a lot of people and we struggled to find five seats together. The Palmer's also showed us our room in the Family Dorm. Sarah bumped into a guy who had been on the ship in '97 when she was, in S. Africa, as we walked into the Dorm. We've got a nice room with plenty of storage space.

It's time to go to breakfast now so we need to try and wake Uncle Sam up! Don't fancy our chances...

We have landed!

Well we made it to Texas (through American customs which included standing in an extra line for 35 minutes because we had a banana in one of our bags! As identified by the sniffer dog.)

The trip went very smoothly, though. In particular, the boys were excellent all day. Coping very well with having too many meals and not enough sleep. Here's a picture we took while waiting for the pushcahir in Dallas:

Hopefully this makes sense - we are feeling a little tired but thought we would post before going to bed so you had something to read in the morning. We probably won't check back till midday(ish) UK time tomorrow.


Wednesday, 25 June 2008

Weather Forecast

Here is a link to the 5 day weather forecast for Tyler, Texas. The nearest city to where we will be staying:

It forecasts high temperatures and rain for the next 4 days - excellent!


Tuesday, 24 June 2008

Sad news

Having posted yesterday about Uncle Cliff being unwell, we heard today that he passed away early this morning. Please pray for the family as they make the relevant arrangements and for me as I won't be able to make it to the funeral.


Monday, 23 June 2008

Luggage photo

Thanks to everyone in the Parkside Federation!

Uncle Cliff

Tommy's Uncle Cliff is in the last stages of lung cancer. He was diagnosed 2 months ago with a very aggressive form of lung cancer and is deteriorating rapidly. The prognosis suggests he will pass away before we get back from the US (maybe even before we go, based on recent condition). Please pray for the family. Especially his two grown up daughters and their families as they cope with the rapid change in his condition.


Sunday, 22 June 2008

How to subscribe to the blog

If you want to easily keep up to date with new posts on the blog you can subscribe to the feed. This is a free way to have the new posts available from within your browser in a way that easy to check and read. Follow the instructions below...

Using Internet Explorer 7.0

Click on the link at the bottom of the page that says Subscribe to Posts. You should end up here:

Choose 'subscribe to this feed' and then you can get up to date posts by clicking on the Yellow Star in the menubar at the top and then choosing feeds.

Using Firefox 3.0

Choose the 'Subscribe to Posts' link at the bottom of the page. Firefox will prompt you to save the blog as a 'Live Bookmark' which will then appear in your bookmarks menu with unread blog posts as a sub menu.

If you have a better way of keeping track of blogs please add a comment (and try to explain as carefully as possible).


Please comment!

Please comment on the different blog articles. Apparently you need to sign in to post comments but if you have a GMail account you can use that login. (If you haven't you should get one because its the best email system around)

Comments need not be considered, articulate, thoughtful or even related to the article. Just get stuck in!

(At some point Sarah will post, apparently, and then we'll have to see who provokes the most responses)


We have luggage!

Thanks to a very generous gift from Tommy's colleagues at Parkside we have now bought some luggage! We have 8 pieces of luggage - more than we are allowed on the plane now.

Maybe we can put Joshua in one of the hold bags and reclaim the (nearly £200) taxes and charges we paid for him to sit on our laps!

I would put a photo on but we haven't got space in the house to get them all out of the car.


Saturday, 21 June 2008

Preparation for Texas

This is the first (and experimental) post for the Farrells' blog.

Tommy officially left work yesterday at the Parkside Federation. A very strange day - saying goodbye to some really nice people and excellent colleagues. We are now madly trying to get organised and packed in time to go. We still haven't bought any luggage - although that should be sorted tomorrow. Sarah's got an appointment at the hospital for half of Monday and it seems like we have a lot to do in not much time.

We fly from Heathrow on Thursday at 10:25am to arrive in Dallas at 2:30pm local time with an hour and a half transfer to the Mercy Ships base. We will be flying back from Dallas on Monday 28th July to arrive back in the UK on Tuesday morning.

At the moment that is when all of our plans run out. After that who knows? At some point between then and Christmas we hope to join up with the Africa Mercy in Liberia or (later) Tenerife.

If you want to write to us (snail mail) in Texas then the address is:

The Farrells
Gateway Program
Mercy Ships
PO Box 2020
Garden Valley
TX 75771
United States

Or email /

We will try to keep this up to date with information and pics from the states. Neither of us have blogged before so lets hope we keep at it!