Wednesday, 29 December 2010


One of the Ship traditions is that everyone puts their shoes outside their doors on Christmas Eve and during the late or early hours people go around the ship and leave small gifts and notes in them. This year living off-ship in different parts of the campus there was the opportunity to leave little things for people in the dining room. This was really fun for the boys to be able to leave little things in peoples piles. And then to go to the dining room on Christmas morning and see all the lovely things people had left for us.

Tuesday, 28 December 2010

a 5th Farrell in South Africa :-)

Tommy's sister Ann has been to visit us for ten days and spent Christmas with us. We have made the most of having a car for a bit, spending time with her and seeing lots of the local area and beyond too. It has been fun having her here and we enjoyed showing her the Ship on Christmas Day. We have visited waterfalls, museums, the Drakensberg mountains, some battlefields and went for a game drive (which was one of our Christmas presents :-) ) and where we saw a rhino with a tiny baby and a herd of 20 elephants with babies amongst the much more common zebras, kudu, impala, wildebeest etc.
Tom enjoyed hiking to the bottom of one of the waterfalls and talking the guides ear off about all the countries he has lived in - 'where are you from?' is not such an easy question to answer when you have lived in 5 countries in a few years of life. Josh enjoyed seeing the injured cheetah in the Boma in the game reserve and when the safari vehicle got stuck in the mud so that we had to be towed out and the guide got covered in mud. There were tons of antelope, zebra and wildebeest in the reserve where we stayed a couple of nights, we heard there were giraffes too but hadn't seen them until we were leaving and Tom shouted that he could see giraffes. We could see two at the top of the hill, but later Tom said he had seen two and a baby, which we didn't believe until we saw our pictures which clearly show them all!
The Drakensberg Mountains were stunning, they looked like green carpet laid over the mountains and there were small waterfalls in every direction. We walked, found worms and photographed flowers and enjoyed the beauty of the mountains.
One thing that worked really well for our boys was borrowing cameras from some friends so they could take their own pictures. This kept a four year olds interest when you take him to three different waterfalls and on a 4 hour game drive. He enjoyed clicking away even though he was so tired by the end of the game drive he was clicking the button and holding the camera in one direction while looking at the elephants on the other side of the vehicle! -a bit of a shame as our camera is broken and the old one we took didn't record most of the pictures we took :-(

Saturday, 25 December 2010

Happy Christmas!!

We wish all our friends and family a very happy Christmas from the sunshine of South Africa! We miss you all and hope that you are having lots of mulled wine and mince pies for us. We miss some of the usual British/Farrell/Slennett Christmas activity but it has been fun to share some traditions from other cultures and to remember that Christmas is so much more than just traditions anyway. We are off to the Ship today, which will be fun to show Tommy's sister our home and to join with the rest of the crew in celebrating our Saviour's birth.

 We get to have two Christmas trees this year, drawn by the boys. And we had tons of Christmas cards arrive just yesterday thanks to some kind friends thinking of us and many of the youth from our church - thanks Impact group - your cards made our day and are decorating our playroom :-)
 One of the Christmas activities last week was to make gingerbread houses. Yesterday on Christmas eve we were served a very special candlelit meal and part of the dessert was to eat them - this was the one our table got to demolish made by some of our friends. It didn't look this good once we had finished with it!

Whatever you are doing and wherever you are we hope you enjoy this Christmas day, not just for the traditions and fun, but as a true celebration of something significant.

Friday, 24 December 2010

decorating Christmas trees

Someone got hold of some Christmas trees for the dining room - and we all got to decorate them...stringing popcorn (apparantly people do this?), making paper chains, colouring salt dough tree decorations and cutting snowflakes from paper. Above Tom is at the table colouring and here are some of our creations:
and you can see one of the finished trees here:

ever seen a lion in the nativity?

 There are two lions and a buffalo in the nativity at Durban Botanical Gardens. Josh was thrilled, he is lion mad at the moment. Really the nativity was a sight - a mixture of beaded animals, a white plastic doll, an angel with a blond curly wig, and a wooden lion...
One of the biggest beaded animals we have come across - the zulu women make smaller beaded animals and sell them in the craft areas.

19 weddings in one day

We visited Durban Botanical Gardens last Saturday, it was what you would expect really, beautiful gardens, plants everywhere, trails to walk around...and 19 wedding parties having their photos taken. We started counting while we sat and ate our picnic after we could see five different wedding parties all at once. Incredibly the weddings had all chosen different colour themes, apart from a couple that were pink that it was easy to count and differentiate them. The photo above has three of them in, the one on the left had green bridesmaids, there is one on the right behind the bush with the yellow bridesmaids and one of the pink parties coming down the hill. And there was one with gold and green bridemaids next to where I stood taking the picture! Josh was even asked to be in a picture, which fortunately he declined as he was covered in chocolate spread, dirt and a chavvy white England hat!

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

This year's school play...

...was the Christmas story from the Angels perspective. The bigger kids told the story through acting, singing, dancing and sign language (in the pitch black for one song with luminous gloves -quite incredible!). The smaller kids did some group singing, dancing and joined in for a bit of the sign language. And the tiny ones dressed up as part of the nativity. Josh was quite vocal about not wanting to be a sheep so got to be a cow this year, and actually did make it up on the stage (after refusing last year and falling asleep on my lap dressed in his sheep costume). In the photo above (borrowed from the Schwebels blog as we didn't get any good pics- hope they don't mind) Tom is bottom left and Josh is the cow with the farmers tan next to him. We'll have the video soon (although our video camera seems to have died like our camera so didn't film it properly :-( There should be some film from the other video cameras though so we can show our visitors coming soon).

Monday, 13 December 2010

eating cookies

One of the Christmas traditions on the Ship is a mass cookie bake. This year we haven't the kitchen facilities for everyone to help make them so a few of us got them ready and on Thursday everyone got to decorate and eat them!!


Aren't they sweet? Our little thorn between two gorgeous roses, he plans on marrying the little girl sitting behind him even though he has his arms around her sister!

Saturday, 11 December 2010

would you like your child to look like this?

Some of the girls were drawing on him with charcoal. He said he wanted to look African ;-)

Friday, 10 December 2010

Our baby is 4 and Sarah lost a tooth!!

It seems incredible that it was four years ago that Joshua was born.  He was helped into the world by one of Sarah's friends, spent the first week of his life in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit since and not looked back since.

Now I wonder what else to tell you of Joshua since his arrival - this year his Christmas present from one of his teachers was the Mr Men book Mr Noisy - she tried to choose the one that reflected their character. He is a confident little chatterbox, always asking questions, especially to Miriam and anyone else he knows will keep answering them endlessly. He is very friendly and a bit of a ladies man, although now we're pleased to say the ladies include other pre-schoolers rather than just twenty-somethings! He is generous and caring, it was his own little idea to share his advent calender chocolate with his Dad on his birthday (slobber and all) and to share the smarties that he just received today with Tom before Tom went back to school after lunch. He loves having his friends over to play with him, he loves watching movies, playing with playmobil pirates and plastic animals. He has spent nearly half his life in Africa and has been to five countries on three continents. He remembers very little of the UK but knows how much he loves his family there, talks about them regularly and along with Tom loves to see photos.

So 4 years on he is thrilled to be four! He is loving it being his birthday, that people have said happy birthdday to him wherever he has gone, given him gifts and sung in the dining room. Really this is such a great age to have a birthday!! And his favourite present was some plastic animals that Tom gave him, he was so pleased with them that they have been to breakfast, school and lunch!

Sarah has spent some of the day in the local hospital, having a wisdom tooth extraction. There was no cavity in the adjoining tooth like they thought - it seems that the wisdom tooth had just moved and was causing some pressure. It was such a blessing that Dag, the ship dentist was able to remove it locally, and that it won't cause any more bother, beyond looking like a bruised chipmonk for a few days anyway ;-)

Thursday, 9 December 2010

the fear not factor

This week school is a little different - the children are practising the school play, The Fear not Factor. They are making final preparations for the performance tomorrow night. Tom is doing some group singing and dancing, plus has been in the publicity group. Josh is a cow in the nativity if he can be convinced to go on stage this year (after refusing last year when supposed to feature as a sheep!). Tommy gets to write school policies this week as we get further along the accrediatation process.
Tom has helped make some invitations and posters, others have been involved with the sets and costumes. Here is his handiwork:
 The invitations
 The poster


We are about to experience Christmas in Summer and it does feel strange. Summer might be a strong term for the weather that we are experiencing, with rain being the most common phenomenon, but it certainly is not winter and snow is something we are hearing of only from people far, far away in the distant land of home. Some things are familiar - the shopping malls best avoided as they are jam packed full of crazy festive shoppers for example, but on the whole it all feels strange. But kind of nice, I actually can't quite decide. We spent yesterday eating ice cream at the park in our shorts and t'shirts, not shopping for a Christmas tree as we have no where to put one. Next weekend we thought we'd visit the football stadium as Tom wants to see where the World Cup semi-final was played, rather than joining every one else in the long shopping queues or worrying about getting the turkey. The children have made decorations, this coming week we are making and decorating Christmas cookies and going to a carol service at our church here. There are signs that Christmas is coming, but it is nice to say that it is not because of any chaos or stress usually experienced at this time of year or because the days are getting colder or shorter. There are some things that we will miss this year having Christmas in South Africa (after our families, Mum's shortbread and mince pies rank fairly highly as does pretty much all the British food...), but it will no doubt be a unique international experience, sharing the day with our ship family -we're going back to the Ship for the day so the whole community can celebrate together.

Friday, 3 December 2010

the crocodile and the gazelle AKA sports day

Today Tom was part of team gazelle and Joshua team crocodile as part of the Academy sports day. Usually we live on a ship with very little space and rules restricting running around so being here on the campus has been a lot of fun for the children. Unfortunately it never stops raining here and the football field was flooded but we still held a sports day event in the gym. The teams had to prove themselves in high jump, mini hurdles, penalty shooting, throwing balls and bean bags, in relay and sack races. They had a lot of fun, then the whole school minus pre-school and nursery put on a gymnastics display to show us what they have been doing in PE for the last few weeks. Here are some pics from today:
 Team gazelle
 Team crocodile
 Penalty shooting
 Josh high jumping
 Tom in the gymnastics display

Thursday, 25 November 2010

happy thanksgiving!

Today we get to dress up as a holiday and celebrate with our international friends later on by having thanksgiving dinner together. We are thankful for so many things, especially our family and friends, both here and at home :-)
 Here are Grade 1 and Miss Estelle the easter bunny, Tom as Tommy!
 Some of the teachers, Amy as an Indian, Tommy sporting a pilgrim's bonnet
 The table runners at dinner had been made by the kids in art class - this one is Tom's
The tree of thankfulness - everyone could write things they were thankful for on the leaves, Tom wrote about half of them, he is thankful for a lot of people!

Tommy is wearing a bonnet as made by Amy, Tom dressed as Tommy for Father's day. Josh is sadly sick and we are missing the fun, but I am thankful for a morning of cuddling in bed with my little boy.

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

beauty in pictures

Auntie Amy from England starred on the pre-school wall of fame as one of the very first pictures Josh has ever drawn.
 Spitting image, just needed a hat!

Monday, 22 November 2010

Academy Camp

The high school students went to a leadership camp at the beautiful Shongweni Dam reserve, just a few minutes from Durban. They spent 48 hours fitting in an amazing array of activities including an assault course, abseiling, jumping into the reservoir from the dam wall, rock climbing, raft races and more...

Here are a few pictures of the kids at play and the stunning scenery:


the chameleon

The kids here keep finding a chameleon, they have marked his tail and so have now confirmed that it is the same one that we keep seeing. Tommy has taken some photos of him:

Sunday, 21 November 2010

Student life programme

For a few weeks Tommy's Friday afternoons have involved watching kids light fires, put up tents, cook camp food and the like as part of the outdoor skills option of the student life programme. Some of the kids had their first camp out one weekend to put the skills to use. The idea of the Friday afternoons is to give them opportunity to do things they wouldn't otherwise get to do and a mixture of Academy staff and other crew are roped in to share their skills. Other students were able to learn dressmaking, vehicle mechanics and cheerleading.

Some pictures are on:

The next sessions being offered currently are cooking, photography, gardening and being a good neighbour (which is continuing to help paint a parsonage at the local church amongst other practical projects from what I understand).

Saturday, 20 November 2010

shipyard blog

You can check out the progress of the shipyard phase here:

We're glad to be away right now looking at the photos, but really miss our home! Please keep praying for the shipyard work to continue well and to be completed on time so that we can move back in the new year!

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

want to come and help out?

Mercy Ships is in South Africa gearing up for our 2011 Field Service in Sierra Leone, and we need your help!

Our state-of-the-art hospital ship, the Africa Mercy, has sailed out of dry-dock. Teams are now hard at work completing the new generator installation. The long-term crew is eager to move back “home” and sail onto Sierra Leone for a life-changing field service.
We have a very unique opportunity for you—a short-term service in South Africa!  From January 8-28 we are in need of individuals ready for a physically challenging—yet highly rewarding—task. You will help us relocate the crew back on the ship, and prepare the ship for the upcoming Field Service. After two weeks of groundwork, you will get to sail for 1 week on the Africa Mercy around the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa!

Can you think of a better way to kick off the new year than a three-week service trip to South Africa—and visiting one of the most beautiful countries in the world?

You would need to supply your own travel arrangements and a $200 Mercy Teams fee. Act now because spots will fill up fast for this once in a lifetime experience! Call or email Mercy Teams at (903) 939.7111 or

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

working in the galley

Here is where Sarah is currently working:
 The cold prep area is at the back where Jesse and Sam are working, this is where Sarah usually works chopping salad and the like
 And this is the hot area, most of the cookers are not used as we don't have that many people to feed!

Monday, 8 November 2010

yes we saw jelly fish!

Sorry this is another blog about what the kids have been up to, the shipyard work is continuing as is teaching and cooking. On Friday the elementary school visited Ushaka Marine World. Josh was wanting to see the jellyfish, Tom the sharks and Sarah the clown fish! There was an outside dolphin show and a few sad looking penguins and lots of fish in the aquarium. Here are some pics from the day:
 Here are the grade ones and the seals (Megan, Libby, Daniel, Tom, Anna, Andre)
 We were watching the sharks, and then this enormous fish swam by!
 The octopus moved out just for us
 We have seen turtles in the ocean, but none this close!
 This is a bunch of fish! We didn't notice the brown one until someone pointed it out, it looks so much like a rock!
 Here they are - our elementary school!