Saturday, 31 January 2009

At sea, day 1

The first afternoon of sailing has been fun, we have both struggled to stay awake thanks to the sea sickness medication but otherwise really enjoyed being at sea. It is pretty smooth, although the ship is rolling from side to side. While we were at dinner it rolled quite a bit at one point, everyone grabbed their drink and plate and the bin moved across the floor! Nothing has flown around the cabin yet that we are aware of so that's good!

We spent some time on the bow, which is normally closed when in dock. It was awesome to see lots of dolphins swimming and jumping right next to the ship, and then we were able to watch the sun as it set. I saw a whale earlier too, so a pretty exciting first day at sea!!

Thanks to all who are thinking of us as we sail and praying against the sea sickness, we are faring quite well, just some nausea before dinner - much better than previous sailing experience!


Farewell Tenerife (aka "We are sailing, we are sailing...")

We have finally sailed! Following a final life boat drill to make sure evryone was on board, we left the port of Santa Cruz de Tenerife at around 1pm today (Saturday 31st) to the sound of a lone trumpeter who always greats us and sends us off from Tenrife with a rendition of various hymns.

We are heading towards Benin now, with an estimated sailing time of 9.5 days.


Songs for sailing...

I'm in a slightly funny mood this morning with the anticipation of sailing and have had this song going around in my head (join in if you know how it goes...)

When I was one, I sucked my thumb, the day I went to sea...

I jumped aboard a Mercy Ship and the captain said to me,
"We're goin' this way, that way, forward, backward, over the deep blue sea.
No bottle of rum to fill my tum, and that's the life for me"

When I was two, I buckled my shoe, the day I went to sea...
When I was three, I scraped my knee, the day I went to sea...
When I was four, I slammed the door, the day I went to sea...
When I was five, I danced a jive, the day I went to sea...
When I was six, I picked up sticks, the day I went to sea...
When I was seven, I counted to eleven, the day I went to sea...
When I was eight, I was really late, the day I went to sea...
When I was nine I got in line, the day I went to sea...
When I was ten, I did it again, the day I went to sea...


What's this...

We were busy getting our cabin ready for sailing (apparently we are working towards leaving at 10:30 today) when we came across this piece of metal (in fact about 10 of them).

Do you have any idea what they are for?

Answers on a postcard (always gratefully received) or via the comment link at the bottom of this post.


*Competition not open to members or affiliates of Mercy Ships International or any subsidiary organisation (because you already know the answer!)

Thursday, 29 January 2009

A new crew member!

My brother Sam joined the crew yesterday, initially working as Assistant Cook!!! We are very pleased to have him here and absolutely will not be doing his laundry, no matter how much we love him and no matter what he thinks. We will all appreciate prayers for our food (and that the Ship gets a Chef soon)!!


Family visiting

We have had my family visiting us this week which has been lovely. They have now walked up and down the blue stairs a million times going from the gangway to our cabin, eaten with us in the dining room, tried out the services of the crew nurse, Dr and pharmacist (thanks to all of them!), taken us shopping, to the park and beach.

The beach was a new experience as none of us had been to a beach with black sand. The boys were very sceptical about the idea and took some persuading to actually play with the sand toys we had taken (kindly given to us by a family who left). Tom then ventured out to those of us who were paddling only to encounter a wave that knocked him over and drenched him up to his shoulders. Fortunately he was grabbed and cuddled pretty quickly by uncle Sam and so does not seem too tramatised by the experience.


The container has arrived! Yeh!

We now have our things that came on the container, mostly bedding, towels, sandals and other (boring) stuff but most importantly the TRAIN set! Our lives will all be much happier now (not sure whether this is making Tom happiest or me for not having to hear him ask about it a million times a day). Joshua didn't know what to play with initially as he was so pleased to see everything, then he thought the box looked fun to play with and sit in. Now he has found his fire engine he hs barely put it down and keeps asking if he can take it to meals with us. It is beginning to feel more like home now that we have some of our things here.


Tuesday, 27 January 2009


Tom started school yesterday, school starts at 8am but fortunately it is only up one deck to his class room. There will be 8 children in his class taught by Mrs Elizabeth, a friend of ours from Gateway/Texas. They are learning about 'things that go' this week and Tom is looking forward to having a show and tell time on Friday. Tom really enjoyed the 'silly dance' as anyone that knows him can well imagine! He seemed pretty happy going to and returning from school so that is a good start.

Tom wants to know when the container is arriving, and asks us about 20 times a day (at least) so we are really hoping it arrives here before we leave. Then the boys will have a few more things to play with, otherwise I might have to find a train track here as it is proving hard to live without....bringing lego (because it was small) was a good idea for Tom, but with Joshua not really having things to play with yet, most of the the lego has been taken apart and needs some rebuilding before they can play with it!

Tom is enjoying having bunk beds and sleeping well in general, which we are very thankful for, he is not so keen to go to sleep if we have friends in our cabin and the fake snoring can get pretty loud.


Monday, 26 January 2009

My first day at school...

I met my students for the first time in class today. I am trying to make sure I use all of the right words for everything - Junior High, Grade 7, Social Studies, Math(s) and so on.

The students are great - I was really impressed by their keeness (and their willingness to put up with a new teacher who keeps asking them strange questions!). I have a junior High (Grades 6-8 (yr 7-9)) World History class which will be interesting!!!

I'm looking forward to settling in and really having fun learning with the students. The sail date is still a bit vague at the moment but I think this time next week I'll be teaching on a ship at sea - so I hope the seasickness is not too severe.

Thanks for your prayers, everyone, it has been a pretty smooth transition so far and I hope I can really help to give these students the education they deserve.


(Sorry for no pics so far, it is really difficult to upload pictures over our internet connection. I will try to get some up sometime this week.)

Thursday, 22 January 2009

The reason we need more ships...

Here's a moving post from the (volunteer) paediatrician attached to the Mercy Ships VVF clinic in Sierra Leone. It's called 'Tears for Namina':

Mercy Ships are currently investigating a second ship - and for the first time building it from scratch. Due to the economic struggles around the world, giving to Mercy Ships is down around 25% for 2008 compared to 2007 (although we have experienced personally a great deal of generosity as we have come to join the ship). I pray that they will get the money (literally millions of dollars!) they need to increase their outreach.


a mini sailing experience

This afternoon we sailed across the dock to stay in a different berth until tomorrow. Tommy got to help move the land rovers which caused Joshua great concern as we started moving away from the dock with Tommy still there! Anyway, he seemed to understand that Daddy was driving to wherever we were going and was otherwise pretty oblivious to the whole thing as he continued driving the cars and tractors on deck 7! Tom was at a birthday party - I dropped him while we were on one dock and by the time I collected him an hour later we we in the new spot so I have no idea whether he even noticed either or whether he was more focused on eating cake!

Anyway, moving the landrovers means Tommy has completed his ship driving test, which in turn means he can sign out the vehicles to use for a few hours and that he can be called on for airport runs etc. And no, he cannot drive the ship [thanks for the comments/emails about that :-)], I think the captain pilots the ship and seems pretty good at it so I think we'll leave him to it!


Wednesday, 21 January 2009

Starting work

Tommy is so excited to be working again!! School doesn't start back until next Monday so he has been busy getting ready, planning lessons, ordering a few bits and pieces to come over with family next week. He is keen to get his ship driving test done while we are still in Tenerife so we hope that might be possible soon.

We are grateful that Tommy's work hours have been flexible enough this week so that I have been able to visit our friend Amy in hospital and catch a lift to the supermarket! Thanks to all who knew about Amy and have been praying, hopefully she will return to the ship today - yeh!


Saturday, 17 January 2009

the first few days

We have had a few busy days of exploring the ship, we've been trying to master collecting everything we need in the dining room before we sit down (still rarely done- its harder than you think!! esp. with kids who make a mess!!), finding the areas of the ship where kids can play, visiting the bank to pay crew fees, visiting the shop to buy washing powder, soap etc, visiting the supermarket as the ship-shop had run out of washing up liquid, finding the laundry and trying not to shrink our clothes in the dryers...... its all very different but already starting to feel more familiar and less daunting...

We have only just begun to catch up with friends as we surface from the daze we arrived in and as the feeling of wanting to sleep for a week passes. We are so grateful for having familiar (and friendly but not familiar) faces around us who have made us feel really welcome.

The boys are settling in - Joshua didn't fall out of bed last night (he would have struggled with all the things we put to wedge him in the bed so we hope that will be the end of that!), cabin is his favorite new word and he seems to understand that's where we live now, although remains very confused as to where everyone else is (where Nanny? where Grandad? where....?).

Tom is pretty happy, he's met some nice kids from his class (although most of them are on holiday so aren't around much). He is getting used to the idea that the people we know will not want to sit next to him at every single meal time (!!) and that he will need to behave if he does not want to spend so much time on his bed or with his lego on the shelf. That aside he is enjoying looking at the maps of the ship and watching other ships coming and going. He is quite impatient to get to Africa as that is 'where we need to go to help the people in Africa'. Very true, we will just make the most of the time we have here in Tenerife, getting to know people before the outreach starts in Benin and making sure we have enough chocolate spread and peanut butter in our cabin (although I'm sure they might sell both in the ship-shop so we'll probably be ok).

Sarah. (who has not drunk hot chocolate since she arrived and wonders whether the strange tired ill feelings over the last few days were in fact withdrawal symptoms??)

Wednesday, 14 January 2009

Our first day

We have had a very tiring but lovely first day here. We have been to Loro Parque to see the dolphins and sea lions performing and some other animals (and people pretending to be animals - you know who you are!). It is so nice seeing our friends here and they are great helping us work out how to get dinner, get off and back on the ship through security and important things like that! We then returned in time for dinner, finished dinner in time for our scheduled tour of the ship (which included actually going to 7 of the 8 decks with very tired children in tow which was very useful but hard work, but fortunately included the one where kids can play so we know where to head tomorrow) and then stopped by the cabin of some friendly people who were leaving and had offered us their microwave, kitchen stuff and beach toys which the boys were so excited about and we are very grateful for!

Well tonight is the 2nd night Joshua sleeps in a bed rather than a cot and he hasn't fallen out yet which is better than last night!! Think of us unpacking tomorrow...

Oh and while I wrote that Joshua has now fallen out of bed, remains asleep under the ladder to Toms bunk and is slightly blocking the door so I am not sure I can get in and put him, fun, fun...


Tuesday, 13 January 2009

We have arrived!!!

Well the plane journey was straightforward - if a little stressful as Joshua decided not to sleep and be extremely grumpy for 4 hours.

We were picked up by our friend John who drove us back to the ship and then welcomed onboard by Jenny, Andre, Miriam, Natalie and Amy from our Gateway class in Texas.

There were a lot of banners and messages and things on our door to welcome us (trying to get a picture uploaded but failing!!!). We are going to bed now - a bit dazed and confused but mostly very happy to be here at last!


We are flying!!!

Monday, 12 January 2009

A Fond Farewell

We had a lovely time at our church in Cambridge yesterday. Here are a few picks of the farewell lunch after the service:

(Thanks to all of the catering team for the wonderful food and to Roger and Jenny for organising it for us!!!)

Tuesday, 6 January 2009

The home straight

Well we had a very busy Christmas and New Year period visiting family and friends around the country. We got back yesterday from the final part - a lovely visit to Southampton to say farewell to some long standing friends.

Now all that is left for us to do is get ready to go. Sarah and her mum and sister are up in Cambridge today to pack up the last things we need then I'll go up tomorrow with the van to get rid of whatever is left.

Then we'll be up at the weekend for our commissioning service and a final farewell to Cambridge folk. (If you're coming bring a camera in case we forget/have packed ours - we would love to have your photos).