Saturday, 23 August 2008

Breaking Barriers...

As I have mentioned before, myself and a few other Mercy Shippers are involved in running a Bible Study out at an orphanage in New Matadi, a district of Monrovia.

This past Wednesday we went out to New Matadi, as we do every Wednesday. And it was one of the first times where I really felt a tangible connection with the guys. It was great. A large part of the reason was that beforehand I had heard their names and been introduced, but with me a name often goes in one ear and out the other. And I've really struggled with their names.

But this week we had all (as leaders) made a conscious decision to learn their names again. It was great! And by doing this God really opened things up on such a deeper level.

We are now having a competition where they have to learn a memory verse each week and if they know it they get points. By the time we leave the person with the most points will get a prize. So we went round the circle seeing if they knew the verse and then allocating points. It was a lot of fun.

I also took my camera and so we had a group photo taken and I also took some shots of the church in which we meet. The photos here are all from New Matadi.

We've also all been invited to the graduation of Daniel, one of our guys in the Bible Study. That's happening next Saturday and should be a wonderful experience. I'm sure not many people from South Africa have been to be a graduation ceremony in Liberia!

It's just amazing how God works when you're just willing to focus on the simple things. Such as learning a name. It is then that barriers come crashing down.

Monday, 18 August 2008

A Wonderful Wulki Weekend...

This past weekend was a ship's long weekend. The whole crew, with the exception of shift workers (such as some nurses, receptionists, on-call deck hands, Duty Officer, etc.), are given the Friday and the Monday as holidays. Missionaries do need time off from time to time. And I had such a wonderful, much-needed break.
I went to White Sands beach on Friday with good friends Phil, Ali and Rodrigo. It was awesome to swim in the calm waters, play frisbee on the beach, and relax in each other's company.

And then the very next day, Saturday, was undoubtedly the highlight of my weekend. I went to Wulki Farm with eight other Mercy Shippers, including close friends Phil from Canada, Ali of New Jersey, Emily of Georgia, Carmen of Texas, Australian Tim, and my biggest rugby rival on the ship, Maria from New Zealand. Having such lovely, multicultural friends on the Mercy Ship is such a beautiful thing. And being able to spend the day with these people was such a blessing.

We drove out an hour or so from the ship and then entered the gates of Wulki Farm. Within the farm the road snakes up and down a couple of hills before reaching the large swimming pool at the top. At the farm we saw a multitude of animals, including ostriches, crocodiles, guinea fowl, turkeys, pigs, and even a couple of playful monkeys. Whilst for others the highlight of the trip may have been the monkeys and being able to hold them, for me it was the pool. This was added by the fact that the monkeys did not take kindly to the male members of our group. They absolutely loved the girls... But ran circles around us boys. The one even put his arm up my pants. I was close to panicking, but remained calm. He retracted his arm slowly. And much to my relief!

But anyway, enough monkey-business. Let's turn to the pool. The pool is actually two pools which are joined together by a short tunnel. It is easily four metres in depth at the deepest part. So it was the perfect place for Maria and Tim to teach me how to dive. I've never really learnt before, and so it was quite exciting for me. Although I did suffer a couple of belly-flops in the process! But I did get a warm applause after I finally managed to dive successfully.

The rest of the time was spent lazing in the pool, joking around, and having a really fun time together. And then at around 16h30 we slowly made our way back home to the Mercy Ship. It was the perfect day which made for an even better weekend. That's all for now... Until the next time, God bless!

Monday, 11 August 2008

Be Still And Know...

The past few days have been relatively uneventful here on the Mercy Ship. But what I have been thinking about is my future. 2009 is looming large on the horizon. It struck me how close it really is this past week when I confirmed my flight home. I fly out of Monrovia on Monday, 8th December, arriving in beautiful Cape Town the next day. Thinking about it now I am extremely sad. I don't want to leave this ship. She has come to be my home. Cape Town is my home town, yes, but this ship is also my home. I would love to come back at some point, and have plans in mind. But whether these plans are God's plans for my life is another question. So we'll see. At the moment I'm just hoping and trusting in God. Hence the title of this entry.

I've also realised that I have four months left here. And I have wasted some of my time here. So now is the time to make up for that by getting involved and showing God's light shining through.

This past Saturday I went to the construction site of the new God's Children's Home. It was pouring with rain, and we had to traverse some pretty sticky off-road sections (first time I've been driving a Land Rover through such terrain!), but it was such an awesome experience. I've always loved Habitat For Humanity builds and this brought back many memories. We painted doors and wooden beams. It is just so great to be involved with this sort of project. It is wonderful to see the progression from nothing but foundations to a solid building which will serve to house little children. I have a feeling I will be spending a lot of my Saturdays from now until the end of my time here out at the new site for God's Children's Home.
I have also (on work assignments) recently been able to visit several hospitals and clinics with which Mercy Ships are involved. It is great to see what our dental and eye teams do off-ship. I also visited Royesville, where Mercy Ships' Community Development Services (CDS) are involved with teaching correct agricultural practices. This is an aspect of the Mercy Ships ministry that is often overlooked. We do so much more than just healthcare. It is wonderful to see exactly what is happening out in the field, so to speak.

Unfortunately because of the pouring rain I did not get a chance to take any photos at the God's Children's Home site. In fact I left my camera on the ship. So some of the photos I put here are of last week when I had the opportunity of going in one of our MOB (Man Over-Board) boats and went for a tour around the harbour. I went to get some photos of the M/V Torm Alexandra, a semi-container ship that capsized in the Freeport in July 2001. I am writing a story on the history of this vessel. It has been a constant presence throughout the past four Field Services that Mercy Ships has had in Liberia. The other photo is of me doing another act of service: that of donating blood. This was ten or so days ago. I am also writing a story on the ship's Blood Donor Programme.
And with that being said I bid you a very fond farewell, until the next time. God bless!