Friday, July 29, 2011

Visit to the Craft Market

Walking to the market.
Painting of previous ship the Anastasis.
Can you see me? Many lizards in Freetown.


Rainy season in Sierre Leone makes for surprising storms sometimes.
Waiting for poda poda to get back to the ship.


Monday, July 25, 2011

Give Healing & Provide Hope

 At our community meeting this morning they told us about For every shirt that is sold seven dollars are donated to Mercy Ships. The design is AMAZING, much nicer than any of the logo shirts we have here on board. The t-shirt is only available for one week, so don't hesitate to click the link below and order one. This would make a wonderful welcome home/Christmas present for me (hint hint).

Sunday, July 24, 2011

A tour of the ship...

You can make any image larger just by simply clicking on it.

These are the Land Rovers that we use.  They are loaded on deck 8 when the ship sails.
Coming from the city you would enter the port at the rear of the picture

Everybody enters and exits through the gangway and must pass security desk where they scan our ID's.

Once you enter from the gangway on Deck 5 you come to the reception desk. To the right and down a little bit you come to the cafe area were people meet all times of the day to pray, do Bible study, play game.  
The cafe is part of the midships area, where you will also find the computer area, international lounge and more areas for people to hang out.

In the rear of deck 5 there is a small library with quite an assortment.
On deck 6 in the rear is the crew laundry area. We are allowed one load  a week and are urged to share a load with a friend so that we can separate our whites from darks.

Throughout the ship are many stairwells.
There is one elevator but it is only used for moving equipment and food.

Also on deck 6 is a crew galley area where we can cook our own food.
For the 40 - 50 children on the ship they have a school that is fully accredited with an international Christian school association.

On the left you will see the view from the front of the ship, looking over the containers in the port.

To the right is where we meet for services and department meetings.

The dinning room.

There are many corridors on the ship, most of them look very similar.
The stairway on the right is what I use to get to my room on Deck 2

These last three pictures are my room. I am currently in a 4 berth, but there are only two of us, witch is rather nice.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Picture Update :

Tonight I went up to Deck 8 to view the sunset. It was a very clear evening considering the fact that it is the rainy season here in Sierra Leone. To get a better view of the pictures you can click on them and they will enlarge.


We are docked near the large cargo ships. When you look out the starboard (right) side you can see the containers on the dock and the city in the background. On the far right is one of our life boats.


On the port (left) side looking towards the bridge.

 On the back of the shift (aft) looking towards Freetown.

The sunsets here are much earlier than at home, near seven every night. You can often find people enjoying the sunset from the dock.

A few of the many people that I have met here on the Africa Mercy.
The two ladies standing on the right and the one sitting inf front of them, they are all three leaving tomorrow.  One of the saddest parts of working on the ship is saying goodbye to the people that you work, eat, play and live with.

I will be updating again this weekend with the info on my first week.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Destination: Sierra Leone

Youn can see at the bottom of the plane where they are working on it.
My travel time began Sunday morning as I packed my final bag for Sierra Leone (SL). I said goodbye to Daisy our dog, checked on my room for the last time and wondered what all would change in Festus while I was gone for the next six months. I arrived at St. Louis airport with plenty of time to check-in, spend some time with my parents, and go through security. The flight from St. Louis to Chicago went without delay. I got to Chicago O’Hare Airport with a three hour lay-over so I took my time and ate lunch before going to the gate for my eight hour flight to Brussels, Belgium. The time for us to board the plane came when we heard an announcement that they had to make a repair and that they would update us in thirty minutes to say if we were boarding or if they would need more time. It didn’t really bother me that they were fixing the plane, cause who wants to fly on a broken airplane?!?!?, but it seemed odd to me that they hadn’t worked on the problem the first three hours that I sat there waiting to leave. After three more hours and many many more updates they told us that we would be leaving for Brussels and that since we couldn’t make our connecting flights we would be staying in Brussels till the next possible flight to our destination.

(Insert blog post about Brussels, Belgium that will come later.)

Wednesday morning I woke up and it still hadn’t really hit me that I would be going to sleep that night in Africa, but got ready, repacked my bags and walked across the street to the airport. From the time that I checked my bags till I got on the plane to London I was wondering where my new friends were. Last thing in the world I wanted was for them to be stranded in Brussels for two more days. A mere forty-five minutes later the plane landed in London. When they started boarding the plane for Freetown there my two friends appeared. They had been booked on an earlier flight from Brussels and too were afraid that we had missed their flight.

Getting very close!!!
I got on and found seat 25G for the next phase of my travels. Since my first long flight had only a few cabin screens it was very encouraging to see individual screens for everybody to see on the seat in front of them. That’s when my joy began to become evident. Right there on the screen it shows the flight path, how long it will be till we get there and different weather information. When I looked and it showed Freetown as the final destination I couldn’t keep the smile off of my face. Wow, I’m going to SL today, RIGHT NOW!! I was hoping to get some pictures of Freetown and maybe even the ship, but the sun goes down around seven every night and our flight didn’t land till eight.

A beautiful sunset flying over Sierra Leone.
Two movies and six hours later we landed. For those of you that live in Missouri you know the humidity that seems unique to our area, well, I was warned about it here and as soon as the door opened on the plane it rushed in. Nothing says welcome home like that damp heat you feel when you open the car door after it’s been sitting out in the heat all day. I went down the stairs and walked across the runway. That’s when the excitement of going through the FNA airport began. We stood in line to get our visas checked, but working with Mercy Ships (MS) we are exempt from getting a visa and have documentation from the government. When I arrived to the baggage claim area I was greeted with a moving belt about fifty feet long and about a hundred and fifty people standing around it. Just a glimpse of the lines and “organized” chaos of a not so highly developed international airport. After waiting some time the baggage came and we moved out to the next area. The officials would move each group of people off to the side and ask them wheat they were doing in SL, but with being with MS we could always show them the logo on our shirt or just tell them what we were doing and they were happy to let us move along. Through the next checkpoint the baggage was checked to make sure that people had the proper bags. Finally we mad it out of the airport to the driver that would take us to the ferry, across the river/bay/port to the Africa Mercy (AFM). Now, that seems like an easy task but our driver was right at the edge of a small mob like group trying to get people to use their service, but MS has it set up for us to use a Sierra Ferries and it is just billed to our crewbank account. We walked up to the vehicle and the last thing that I imagined was a Dodge Durango, but we crammed our luggage in the back and jumped in to get to the ferry. On our ten minute drive to the ferry we passed by many huts (houses) some dark and some just illuminated with multiple candles. Some would be completely quiet and some would be rocking with music and ten our more people standing around it. The ferry was nicer than I expected with enough room for about ten cars and probably over a hundred people. Across the water, what seemed like a far way away, I could see a few lights of Freetown. As we got closer and closer I could start to see the dock area and the lights of different buildings all up the hills of the city. Once we got close enough I could see the AFM but I wasn’t able to get any good pictures because of the poor lighting and the movement from the ship on the waves. We passed the ship as we went to the local dock and were met by two vehicles there to pick us up. On the streets of Freetown there are many motorcycles and groups of people just walking in the way of traffic so I found out that sometimes it takes a little while to get to your destination. Three hours after the plane had landed I finally made it to the ship. It was a little past eleven there I was standing in front of my dream.

View from the ferry. You can see the lights of the Africa Mercy at the far right.
My next update will tell you about my first impressions about the Africa Mercy and all the things that I have experienced onboard since. For those of you that prefer shorter entries I apologize for the length of this one. I promise to keep them briefer in the future. Thank you for your prayers as I made my trip, and thank you for the prayers that you continue to give.