Thursday, 31 January 2008

Departing Tenerife...

My final week in Tenerife was a really good week, spent doing quite a bit of work in Reception, but also having lots of time to get out and do some cycling on good, tarred roads, as well as spend time with friends. It will be the last time I cycle on that quality of roads for quite a while. Roads in Liberia are notorious for their potholes, and not to mention the taxis. If you thought South Africa was bad, then you should see Liberia. I was able to go for a really long cycle on my final Monday in Tenerife – okay, only between 40 and 50 kilometres, but long considering I was on a mountain bike and much of it was uphill. I took the road to San Andres and then headed inland on a long, winding road that went higher and higher the further you cycled. It was 13 kilometres of uphill and then I came out at El Bailadero, a viewpoint overlooking both sides of the island. I could see down to the other side of the island, and the view was spectacular! After my 13 kilometre climb (easily one of the longest ascents I've made) – which reached an altitude of perhaps 1,000 metres – I rested, taking in the beautiful vista, and then headed back down on the rather hair-raising descent. There were a couple of occasions on the descent when my shoe unintentionally touched the tarmac! But such is the danger and excitement of cycling such a route. And the hairpin bends added to the thrill! Despite these potentially risky incidents, I reached the ship safely after my relaxing three hours in the saddle! For your information, the ascent took me around 1 hour 20 minutes, whereas the descent took me only 20 minutes. My hands were so cold by the time I reached the bottom!

On my final night in Tenerife, Tuesday evening, I took a slow walk to town with a group of good friends. It was a boy's night out. We bought ice-creams and then walked up to one of Santa Cruz's major parks, and spent time in prayer there for a while. It was so good just to pray for a safe voyage down to Liberia, and to also thank God for the wonderful Captain and Officers that the Africa Mercy has. We are truly blessed. It was also a good time of bonding between us guys. However, a damper was put on our evening when we were walking home. We walked passed a man lying on the ground, clutching his chest. There was a policeman with him, and so we carried on walking. But we soon turned back. We felt convicted to pray for the guy. So we sat down on the walkway opposite, and started to pray. We didn't know the situation – whether the man was drunk, having a heart attack or a seizure, or what it was. Shortly afterwards an ambulance arrived, and I was really concerned when the paramedics left him lying there. He seemed to be motionless. I really thought we were witnessing a man passing from this world to the next. And my heart was stirred. I felt such a deep love, compassion and concern – I was overwhelmed. I wondered how much more I would feel were it a family member or a friend in such a situation. It turned out that the man appeared to have drunk himself close to unconsciousness. He was hauled to his feet and taken to an awaiting police car. But the feelings that were stirred within me were so intense, so deep, that I can only attribute it to the Holy Spirit living – and working – in me.

The next day (Wednesday) was a busy day – like the previous few days! We had another at sea fire and lifeboat drill, and that went well. We were able to account for all the crew sailing to Liberia with us. Captain Jurryan, the purser Rob Cairncross, and myself were the last to “abandon ship” from the bridge, having mustered all crew. Following that Captain Jurryan led us in a prayer for a safe passage down to Liberia, as well as giving thanks for the time that we have spent in the Canary Islands. We departed the port of Santa Cruz de Tenerife shortly after 14h30 on our sail south towards Africa – and the Liberian Outreach 2008! Over the next few days we will sail through some of the most pirated waters in the world, before reaching Monrovia on Tuesday, the 5th of February. This is not only a special day as it marks the beginning of our Outreach, but it is also my birthday. My 24th birthday will no doubt be a day that I will remember for the rest of my life. God bless. Murray signing off for now.

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