Mission tea and feedback

Tim Stephenson,

Once again the weather has started to turn and so it is time for our annual mission tea and feedback session.

This Sunday (29th) at 5pm in the church hall

It will start at 5:00pm  with cakes and coffee. If you are able to donate  any cakes/ biscuits than please bring them  to the church kitchen just before 5:00pm.

Feedback will start at 5:30pm and finish for 7pm.

We are looking forward to you joining us to see how God has been working through many different events in so many different ways.  If you are interested in short or long term mission than come along and find out more about mission work.

Thank you, Wendy

ROOTED: STUDY OF COLOSSIANS

kathylarkman,

colossiansTree[5971]As we get back into the swing of our school diaries, routines, and church life, I want to encourage you to save the date for this year’s first women’s all-age bible study! It begins Monday, 30 September at 7:30 in the CBC church hall. We meet once a month on the last Monday of each month.

We are studying Colossians which is titled “Rooted.” Sharon Durant has provided our first bible study, which is on the Grace Place Blog, as well as hard copies at CBC and COTG.

Another component of the women’s bible study is one-on-one meetings, also known as study buddy time. The idea is to do the provided bible study together.
God has given us his Word but also each other. We are able to learn from each other, to be challenged and spurred on by each other, and to pray for each other.
This one-to-one element brings these two gifts of God together in a simple and powerful way: two people reading the Bible together, helping each other to see what God is saying there, and praying for each other that you will obey what you hear.

For more information, the study buddy guidelines are on Grace Place blog, and hard copies at CBC and COTG.
And If you don’t have a study buddy, please see Anne Holmes!
Have a great week!

Leaving Guinea, having a break and arriving in Senegal

A Little Odyssey,

It’s been a while now since we last posted – thank you for your patience – and thank you for the many encouraging comments we had regarding our blogs when we were home in the summer.

We left Guinea in the middle of June.  We had grown very fond of Conakry and the people that we met – the Day Crew, the patients, the church we attended towards the end of the field service and our friends from Christian Missionary Alliance (CMA) who we stayed and worked with for our field practice last November.  We are grateful that we are able to stay in contact with some of them through Facebook and What’sApp.  Although we had not publicly stated our departure day and time, nevertheless there were a good number of people there to wave us off from the dock.  The dock had been cleared, the gangway lifted up and we were off, waving madly, holding back tears and some led us in worship as we left.

About to leave Guinea
Up with the gangway
Artwork from the night before
On look-out
Matthew steering us to Las Palmas
We enjoyed the sail, Matthew was on two four hour watches each day on the bridge – 12 noon to 4pm and 12 midnight to 4am.  He did a great job and we are very proud of our 19 year old being part of the team that steered us safely to Gran Canaria – and here to Senegal.  
Worship on the bow
Dolphins


Dolphin watching, worship on the bow – oh and some work too – were all good parts of our five day sail to Las Palmas.
Looking great at night!
We arrived in Las Palmas and had only a few day there before flying back to the UK a bit earlier than originally planned, for an appointment with a knee consultant for Lynne’s knee,  but we took the opportunity to look around a little, and take a day trip on the day the ship came out of the water for ‘dry dock’. When we returned from our day trip, the only way on to the ship was via 72 steps up a scaffold type tower.  We (well Lynne really) was very grateful that the Tower of Terror only had to be negotiated once!  Matthew was staying on, on his own for a couple of weeks and cabin sat for us, meaning for the first time in nine months he had his own personal space.
Get that gangway in place!
    
Night out with friends
Las Palmas Old Town
   
Returning to the Tower of Terror!
          Looking across to Tenerife
On our day trip 
We arrived at Bristol Friday 21st June – exactly nine months after leaving!  Discombobulated (a word we used during our training in Texas and field practice in Guinea) described exactly how we felt for the first couple of weeks!  But it was good to be back.  
We had an appointment three days later with a knee consultant – Lynne didn’t need an operation after all.  The meniscus wasn’t torn – but there was wear and tear on the knee!  The joys of getting older!!  After the initial surprise we sought a physio – who was fab – and made plans to be as fit and healthy when we returned to the ship and then took the opportunity to enjoy the extra time we had at home!
Matthew arrived safely home as planned on 9th July, flying on his own for the first time.  Was great to attend our daughter Zoe’s graduation and greet our older daughter Hannah when she returned from a six month trip to New Zealand, as well as catching up with other family and many friends.  It was also great to welcome two friends from the ship, Ian and Sarah, who were on a flying visit to the UK for a weekend.
Off we go again! 5am on a Tuesday!
The same view by night
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  All too soon it was time to pack our bags again and return to the Africa Mercy which by now had moved from Las Palmas to Tenerife!  We had an early morning flight from Bristol and arrived back at the ship by lunchtime.  A beautiful island but we only had a few days to explore a little before sailing for Senegal.
          Our view from the ship

Getting ready to sail again

  

Cathedral in Tenerife
Our new neighbour – we didn’t think we were that small!
We were due to leave Tenerife around 6pm Saturday 10th August.  If we missed our slot our larger neighbour would take it so everyone had to be back on board by midday.  All were present!!  We left as planned, and as warned, the ship rolled quite a bit that first day – and a bit for the rest of the nearly four day sail.  Some of our number unfortunately suffered quite badly with seasickness.  We did take medication for the first day or so but were generally okay which we were thankful for.  Stuart and Matthew were very busy when we left and during the sail and Lynne had meetings but it was a bit less intense for her.  We do enjoy the sailing.
Securing the gangway for sail
Ready to sail
Ready to sail
Matthew and Min, one of our Ghurkas
Securing the gangway in Senegal
Arrival in Dakar
Arrival Ceremony in Dakar
The Advance Team were waiting to greet us on the dock.  They had been in Dakar since April preparing for our arrival.
We arrived in Dakar on 14th August.  There was a three week set up plan to prepare for the opening of the hospital on 9th September.  Much to be done in that time – such a huge job but it was great to be involved in it all and be on the ship for the start of the field service.  We look forward to what is in store for us in the next nine months.
“For I know the plans I have for you”, declares the Lord, “plans to prosper and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11

Notices 22nd September 2019

Louise,

Priory Street (Corsham)

  • 9.15am             Matt Grylls
  • 11.15am           Alan Christie
  • 6:00pm            Gathered to Remember

Church on the Green (Rudloe)

  • 10:00am           Rob Durant

*** Harvest Service *** – NEXT SUNDAY!!

On Sunday 29th September, the offering from the Harvest Festival services across all of our congregations will be supporting the work of the Corsham Churches Foodbank and Tearfund.  Non-perishable food items (please see the list attached) collected will be taken to the Foodbank.  Our monetary offering will be sent to Tearfund to support the work of the Living Waters Church in Malawi where their EAGLES project is empowering rural subsistence farming communities to grow crops in a more sustainable way, as they seek to combat the adverse impact of climate change.  Please do pray about how you can contribute towards this offering. 

Some information about both of these projects can be viewed on the noticeboards in the coffee hall at Priory Street.  Alternatively, you can explore on the internet at:

If you are able to gift aid your donation, special yellow envelopes for your monetary offering are available on the table at the back of the building.  Please do mark them “HARVEST – TEARFUND”.  When the offering is taken on the day, only the contents of the yellow envelopes, and loose cash/cheques will be included in the Harvest offering total.  Blue envelopes will be treated as regular giving to the general work of the church.

Please speak to Paul G (Church on the Green), Michael P (Priory Street 9.15) or Roger H (Priory Street 11.15) should you wish to clarify these arrangements.

The Ark

The Ark begins again this month. Hooray!  Saturday 28th September, 10am at Priory Street for Bible stories, craft, puppets and snacks. It’s aimed at 0-7  year olds but ALL are very welcome, with an accompanying adult.

Men’s Curry Night

Taking place at Priory Street, Tuesday 15th October, 7:30pm – men’s curry night.  Please contact Ian H or a member of the men’s ministry team for further details.

Fight Night

A reminder that the men of the church meet for prayer every second Tuesday of each month at 8pm at Priory Street.

Tanzania Building Team

The team got off successfully on Friday but there is still need for someone to collect from Heathrow on Sunday 6th October at 16.15hrs.  There are five to collect so driving the church minibus is probably the way to go. If you can assist, please contact Tim S.  Thank you.

Advance Date – Family Quiz Night

There will be a family quiz/pizza night for the 9:15 congregation on Saturday 16th November.  Please put the date in your diary…

Women’s Bible Study

This will take place on Monday 30th September at 7:30pm at Priory Street.  Study notes (Rooted) are on the table at the back of church.  Please take one in advance of the meeting.

Mission Event

On Sunday 29th September at 5pm we will be holding a mission event where we will get feedback from several mission trips that have taken place, including the recent Uganda AIM trip.  We will serve tea/coffee and cake so if you are able to provide cakes, biscuits etc speak to Wendy.

Youth Ministry

Save the date: youth weekend away Friday 25th October – Sunday 27th October.  DRIVERS NEEDED so if you are able to drive young people to this event in Chepstow, please let Dan know either in person or by email at mastermarsy@hotmail.com.  Thank you.

This week @ CBC

  • Monday: Mums’ bible study, 9:30am
  • Thursday: Toddler Group, 10am
  • Friday: Corsham Money and Debt Advice Centre, 9:30am; Encounter, 3.45pm; Engage, 4:30pm; Energize, 5:30pm
  • Saturday: The Ark, 10am

Upcoming events:

  • The Ark – 28th September
  • Harvest Service – 29th September
  • Missions’ event/report back – 29th September, 5pm
  • Women’s bible study – 30th September, 7:30pm
  • Midweek service – 2nd October, 2pm
  • Craft Group – 5th October, 10am
  • Fight Night – 8th October, 8pm
  • Bible Sunday – 13th October (Ecumenical Praise Evening, 6pm)
  • Men’s curry night – Tuesday 15th October 7:30pm
  • Church Meeting – 21st October
  • Gathering to Praise @ Melksham Baptist Church – 17th November, 6pm

REFLECTION OF OUR BIG GOD

kathylarkman,
VICKY PHOTO

VICKY STEPHENSON, Contributor for today’s blog post

Going on holiday what must you not forget to pack?? pants? toothbrush? God?

How about a staycation, think easy meals, friends over, allow kids to watch films and stay up late, structured quiet times?

I understand this might just me be but I have realised over the last few years that I have been treating God like another term time activity one I can take a break from during the holidays. As ever I have realised that what I know to be true and what I say to others is not lived out in my actions.

Is it that I think my discipleship is something to pick up and put down when convenient or is that my vision of God does not include a God of the holidays? Or more worryingly, am I stuck with an image of an overbearing, strict, task focused, joy hating Father God for whom I have to earn my salvation by performing a strict task list, so occasionally I need a break from Him?

Why do I believe that God is with me when I am studying and preparing life group studies but He is not interested in me sitting outside in the sunshine chatting to the kids?
Why do I feel that “Christian stuff” bible reading, meeting up with people, praying is such a chore I need a holiday from it?

As with most problems in Christian living it all stems from a misunderstanding of who God is. Our God is a great big God (to quote a well known song!) which means he is at the beach with you whether you packed him or not! As we saw in John, Jesus had a beach barbecue! God is for us not against us. He does not hand out annual leave and then count the hours to make sure you don’t enjoy yourself too much.
When you are out enjoying nature in the sunshine He is with with you surveying all he has made and saying it is good, it is a glimpse of what is to come when all creation is renewed. The sunburn we may experience is a sign of the fallen nature of this world but we can have certain hope that God will renew his creation, then we can enjoy the Isaiah 40sunshine without burning or having to wear sunscreen (at least that is my prayer).

Life has different rhythms and it might be right for life groups or bible studies to have breaks for holidays but what I need to remember is that this doesn’t mean I just put God on the shelf until it starts up again. I should use the time differently, praying whilst out walking and splashing in the waves or even praising God whilst I have a lie in.

Sometimes it is not a break but a change which can help you renew your sense of God and help you come back to your first love. This summer we were able to go to St Davids Cathedral and join in a bilingual communion service. Hearing “Holy, Holy, Holy Lord God almighty who was and is and is to come” sang in Welsh in such a magnificent space was so different to our usual Sunday mornings; so out of my comfort zone that it jolted me into a new awareness of the awesomeness and majesty of God and refreshed my soul.

So you don’t need to pack God as He is already there but do be ready to see Him at work.

Back onboard, back at work, time at home, almost successful day trips and African cinemas.

Matthew Little,

So, I am back….

It is, at the time I write this, is the evening of August 31st. Why do I that? Because it’s a special day? No. the last day of a month can be significant though, but it’s nothing special today. Looking back on my previous blog update/diary entry writing schedule, I didn’t always start and finish on the same day. Most likely a week in between starting and finishing, so I deemed it reasonable to include the date I started. Oh, I am in Dakar, Senegal now. Probably best to put that out there now. 
Rambling over.

So what has happened?

After some much needed, and well-deserved don’t judge me, self-care isn’t self-indulgence, breaks are needed to prevent falls into insanity PTO (Personal Time Off for all the non-Mercy Shippers) back at home in the good old United Kingdom, where I reunited with many things including, but not limited to; Family, Friends, my bed, Krave, beautiful views of nature outside my bedroom window….. In fact, just having a bedroom window in general….
Beautiful Wiltshire.
I had my first flight on my own, unaccompanied by adults, flying from Las Palmas to Bristol, where I was sat on the first row of the plane, which I had entirely to myself. I could have kept moving from one seat to another, but because I am so used to being in a row with other people and didn’t know what to do, being the only passenger on the row, I just stayed where I was the entire time. It did get awkward at times, with the tinted glass right in front of me, making eye contact with the chief hostess.
But…. After Eights… are bitesize … anyway?
I had the entire row to myself.
I was picked up by my parents, who had already left the ship two weeks prior, because my mum was due for a consultation about her knee. It was all good, though, as it turns out there was nothing wrong, and she didn’t need an operation. We got home early in the morning, so I immediately went to bed. Later in the day, I reunited with my sister Zoe, and was introduced to Zoe and Seth’s new dog, Tinkerbell, a rescue from Zante.
 In the evening, Seth, Zoe and I went to see Spider-Man: Far From Home. We also went to Frankie and Benny’s (A restaurant) . I forgot to mention in a previous blog… I think, I don’t want to fact check right now… that I managed to see Avengers: Endgame at the local Canal:Olympia in Conakry. My first cinema experience in a different culture. If there were cultural differences that I observed in Guinea, going to the cinema was one that I remember: In UK cinemas, the audience is fairly tame when it comes to reactions. I think the highest display of emotion in a UK cinema will be either laughter,  or crying. But even then, it is generally a small, audible chuckle, a sob, not uncontrollable emotion. In African cinemas, you get cheering and applauding. The atmosphere is estatic. It was so estatic, particularly when the ‘dusted’ heroes, Wakandans (Black Panther), Asgardians (Thor) and Ravagers (Guardians of the Galaxy) emerge from the portals during the final battle. So much cheering in that cinema, that Captain America’s “Avengers……Assemble.”, the famous line that all superfans were waiting to be said,  was almost drowned out. He was surprisingly quiet when he said it though. I do hate “Audience reaction” videos on YouTube, but being around people showing a different  appreciation for film  that is different to the reactions that I am used to, is somewhat nice.   By the end of Endgame, I was a broken man. I was completely maybe a slight exaggeration overcome by emotions. Mostly depression, and I didn’t know what to say. If Infinity War was heartwrenching, Endgame was a completely different level that I didn’t know was possible. The MARVEL Cinematic Universe is one of my favourite franchises at the moment, and it was something that I had been emotionally invested in since 2014.  It will be hard to let the beautiful saga go, but the so-called “Infinity Saga” – everything from Iron Man (2008) to either Avengers: Endgame or Spider-Man: Far From Home (Which one is it, Kevin Feige!?) will be my definitive era of the franchise. I still remember returning to the ship that Sunday evening, not feeling like talking to anyone, then again, I wouldn’t have known what to say. Overall I, really enjoyed both films. I still haven’t seen Captain Marvel, though. I’ll leave that there, before this whole post becomes me rambling on about MARVEL superheroes. Though, I am sad that Spider-Man has been pulled from the franchise.  Not going to go into that, because this isn’t a blog about film company politics.
My time at home was fairly uneventful… I had some friends round for an evening, it was nice to hang out with them. Had TWO Indian meals whilst I was at home. One of the things that both my Dad and I were looking forward to at home was Indian food. Ian (who was in our OnBoarding group) and his partner Sarah, from Germany, also from the ship visited us, so we went out for a curry the first evening, showed them around Corsham, my home town, then we took them into Bath the next day, where they got the train to visit another Mercy Ships couple. I had a Shakeaway. Missed Shakeaway. As with all unhealthy things, it was absolutely delicious! but it was sickly. I got Starburst and Bubblegum-flavour-Millions. I bought Spider-Man: Into the SpiderVerse, which came out whilst I was away, but I heard good things about it, so I had to check it out. Enjoyed it a lot, and I also bought Ant-Man and the Wasp. I was planning on getting Captain Marvel, but I found out a few hours later that it was releasing on DVD two days later. I also ran into Imogen, my neighbour and oldest and best friend.  We had no idea we would both be in Bath, so it was also very nice to see her. I popped into to visit my church Youth Group on their weekly Wednesday Bible Study. Lots of hugs in quick succession were made. It was also funny to watch them realise I was there, and to see them charging towards me for hugs! I also did a feedback evening at my church with my parents, telling the congregation about the things we have seen and done during our first 7 month stint on board the Africa Mercy and in Guinea. A missionary couple from our church works a lot with WEC International (Missionary organisation). Annually, for the last few years, our church and this couple has been training up missionaries before they go into the field. It is so much like the On Boarding that long term volunteers have to go through before the ship (Or International Support Centre workers who want to understand the organisation more); Internationals going to pretty much the middle of nowhere to learn how to work in missionary work and other cultures. This year, the contingent are working in a school in Dakar, so my parents and I were invited to lunch at our church to meet them, because we were also going out to Dakar.

I went camping for a weekend in the Gower with my parents and Hannah, my sister. We stopped in Cardiff, to see the apartment she is living in with her boyfriend, Nick. It is a nice place, but the main reason for going to Cardiff was to visit the Avengers S.T.A.T.I.O.N. (Science Training and Tactical Intelligence Operative Network). It was an exhibition that had been all over the world, including London. The London exhibition unfortunately opened and closed whilst I was away, but Hannah found out that they were bringing it to Cardiff whilst we were home(I mean, she found out months ago, but it would be open whilst we were in the country). Very cool to see the costumes of Thor, Captain America, Black Widow, and the rest of the Avengers roster, as well as props of broken bits of Ultron, Dark Elf and Chitauri weaponry, and THE ACTUAL SHIELD used in Captain America: The Winter Soldier (My favourite film in the MCU). It was a cool experience. It was primarily aimed at the younger audiences of the Avengers, but I thought it was worth the visit for older fans. Also, I am not worthy of the Hammer of Thor.

A few days after camping, Calum and Kira (my cousins) and my aunt visited, as well as my Grandma and Hannah, so that was the only day that the entire Little family were together before we left again. Nice to see them all. I also re-discovered the old videos and photos I took on my iPod a long time ago.  Calum and I were trying to find a video we made of a TV show about stunts that we made up. What we found were much better. These included badly acted  explosion sequences made with Action Movie FX. We also found a sequence of shots where I was just  running I have no idea what film I was trying to make. Honestly, I think the angles in these videos that I made when I was 11/12 were much better than the angles in my short films that I made for Film Studies about two years ago. Go figure.

A few days later, it was time to return to the ship. We flew from Bristol to Tenerife. The ship was in Santa Cruz de Tenerife for a week, to give the technical crew a bit of a break and rest after coming out of dry dock, which was an intense working period, with a lot of big projects carried out that couldn’t be done whilst on field service.  I returned to the same cabin as I had left with no bedding. Why? Because before my parents left and I moved into their cabin, my mum put my bedding into wash so it would be clean when we got back. Unfortunately, I forgot to take it out of the the dryer,  So I think hospitality  thought it wasn’t being used and put it into storage. So I had to get some new ones. Though, I think technical crew were only doing ‘soft work’. Mainly due to about half of the deck department going through basic training. So I spent the days just chilling about. I could have gone out into the city during the day, it was only a 5 minute walk from the ship, but since everyone else was working, and I didn’t want to go explore by myself. I just stayed on ship. The superintendent my the ship, who normally works at the ISC invited Deck and Engineering out for an Indian as thanks for the work during shipyard.  Although my Dad and I were home for most of shipyard, we were still invited to go out with them. The curry I had was very good, and it was a very nice outdoor atmosphere. Some very strange sights. Including a man doing keepy-uppy in a circle: He walked up the hill, then back down again, passing us twice.

And soon after that, it was yet again time to depart, go out to sea, and begin the next ten month field service in Senegal. It was a shorter sail, however, and the swell was tough, so the first few days of the sail were spent rolling. During shipyard, one of the projects was replacing the steering gear, as well as the helm. It was hard enough getting used to the smaller wheel, let alone trying to steer whilst the ship is  rolling! Looking out the windows to see sky-sea- sky again- sea again  was quite scary.  As I only had one watch this time, I had to do normal deck work in the afternoons. This is a little bit of what I did in the afternoons: Helped with some line-splicing. I was working with Donatien, from Madagascar, Alexander (My cabin mate from Sweden. He is an able seaman ‘on loan’ from Stena as their way of supporting Mercy Ships) Martina (Also from Sweden, Able seaman, has since left the ship). We were repairing our mooring lines by cutting chunks out from them, and then threading other parts of the line through the line. I also helped Lawrence (Ghana, he was a previous Bosun onboard. He comes back from time to time to help) with taping over the windows of the gangway  hatch. Whilst it was open. So the only thing keeping us from falling overboard was a very long rope tied over a large and open part of the ship, and a harness .I also did some cleaning of paint on the bottom of the gangway Don’t worry, it was stowed on Deck 8, Not sticking out from the side of the ship. Ship activities during the sail included: Worship on the bow, as always. I didn’t go during the sail from Guinea to Las Palmas because I was dealing with a very bad cold during the sail, but I did go during this sail. There was also sock golf (Whatever that is, I didn’t participate). There was a very fitting showing of The Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage of the Dawntreader. Not that we have a Minotaur on board or we were on a quest to rescue seven lords or anything. I hadn’t seen the Narnia films in a while, I really enjoyed the nostalgia. I’ve been quite nostalgic for The Hunger Games recently, as well. I have listened to the National Anthem of Panem countless times for the last few weeks. There was also a Pirate Party for the kids On Board. A Nerf war was part of it, somehow. I spent the end of the party trying to catch Nerf darts in mid air being shot at me by Luke, one of the Canadian crew members who was once a cabin mate, who left in March, but is back again.

Then we arrived in Dakar. I had a different mooring station for this sail. I was on the Bow during the sail from Guinea to Las Palmas. This sail, I was on the side party. Leaving Spain, I held one of the taglines connected up to the gangway to stabilise it whilst the Bosun lifted it up with the crane. I also secured it down to the deck with lashings. As we arrived in Dakar, I helped to set up the Pilot entrance, to allow the Dakar Pilot onboard the ship. When he was on board, and we were ready to dock, greeted by the Advance Team. A group of volunteers went to Senegal ahead of the ship from about June, to make preparations. These included: Hiring the Day Crew, working with the Ministry of Health to set up the Hope Centre and begin pre-screening. Working with the port to acquire dock space, and get the dock space ready for us. Finding a suitable site for the Agricultural Centre. (To learn about the Mercy Ships Agricultural Centre, please check out my previous blog post from January 2019!). As we docked, I was at the top of the gangway, with Georgy, Abdul, and Flynn. We set up the gangway, and disconnected the hoist from the gangway. We put up banners along the raling of the gangway, reading Welcome aboard the Africa Mercy In French and English. Although, this was after the gangway was on terra-firma, not in mid-air. After lunch, and an impromptu Deck Department meeting between two stairwells between Deck 6 and Deck 4 in the Dining Room, I was allowed to go to sleep, because I would be on Night Patrol that night.

Before I woke up, the Arrival Ceremony had begun. A few of us decided to watch from the Bridge. No one really knew what was going on, apart from speeches, a group of Senegalese Women dancing in unison by sweeping the floor and some rap. At least I didn’t know what was going on. Whether there was a program detailing what was going on, I don’t know. My first night of Night Patrol, I was alone. The next two nights, I was teaching Cherif, one of the Day Crew from Guinea who was invited to become a crew member how to do Night Patrol. I think It went well, as per usual and as I would hope, nothing happened. On Saturday evening, I went out to walk around Dakar with my parents. We encountered a man who apparently had just had another baby, and according to tradition, the parents give others gifts to bring good luck for their child (Hmm….) I got a pendant in the shape of Africa with the colours of the Senegalese flag (And many other West African countries), Red, Yellow and Green with a shell in the middle. My dad received two ‘Gold’ rings. We aren’t convinced they are actual gold. We saw a map of the world with ports that Dakar ships to, and learned that Liverpool is in Norway, apparently. It was dark, and we couldn’t tell where the outlines of the countries were, though.

On the Monday and Tuesday following, I had two days off. I stayed on ship though, because they don’t recommend people going into town by themselves. Our new Senegalese day crew are nice. I have been given much more responsibility over them, being given a team to clean the decks with. It was helpful to be given a leadership role on Deck, and I am liking the responsibility, and people looking up to me. Or, literally, looking down to me, because the Senegalese are very tall.

Sad departures.

That week, a small group of the deck department left. It was very sad. These included: Coltan, our Officer from Second Officer from Texas (I have probably talked about Coltan before on my blog.) if not, Coltan is a ship icon. He played the Sitar, and liked Indian music. Some mornings after Night Patrol, waiting for the duty officer give me permission to stand down, he would come up to the Bridge and play Indian music from his computer, leaving me very confused and wondering  where the music was coming from. As well as Coltan, Andreas and Veera, (Both Deck Cadets from Finland), Martina and Lawrence left. We ordered pizza and had a pizza party on deck 7 with the deck department. Riku, one of our Officers from Japan, brought out his violin, to play Irish music, and then Coltan brought out his sitar. It was a very surreal experience: A Texan playing an Indian instrument, and a Japanese man playing Irish music on a Danish ship docked in Africa. It was sad to see them go, they were super helpful. Lawrence knew what he was doing, and he was always supportive and positive about everything Deck related. He was also very spirit-encouraging. I didn’t have too much to do with Martina, as she joined the ship shortly before I left the ship. We were on watch together, so we did have a few conversations during the sail. Andreas and Veera both joined in Guinea, so I did work with them a bit. Andreas was on both my watches sailing from Guinea to Las Palmas.

The Saturday that most of them left (Veera left the Friday night before) I went on adventure around Dakar (I’ll go on to that) with a few of my friends. We wanted to be back on ship in time to see them off,  but not that I didn’t like the rest of them to mostly see off Coltan. Kate and I, who was part of the adventure party both wanted to see off Coltan, so we made it a thing to be back in time for that. We did. But then I forgot to say goodbye! Oops!
If you guys read this, this is my goodbye message to you all!

3 goals, only 1 completed

As I literally just mentioned, that Saturday, I went on and adventure around Dakar. There are several districts on the ‘Dakar-Plateau’, but we headed north. I was joined by Kate (USA, Executive Assistant ) Simon (New Zealand, Information Services) Stephen (Switzerland, Finance)  Leon (The Netherlands, Information Services) Rachel (USA, Food Services. As I write this now (9/9/19), she left yesterday) Luke (Canada, Transportation) and Anneliese (The Netherlands, Food Services, She also left a few weeks ago)
We had three aims that Saturday:
  1. Visit Ngor Island
  2. Visit the western-most point of Africa
  3. Visit the old Lighthouse
Unfortunately, only one was successful.

We went via buses to the Ngor district. We found a way onto the beach. After almost not paying for admission because we didn’t realise we had to pay.  We found a restaurant on the beachfront, and we got ‘brunch’, I guess. After leaving Guinea, I started to miss Bissap, a drink made from the juice of the Hibiscus flower. The thing with Bissap is that it tastes different wherever you go. Some places it could be very sweet, some places it could be a bit sour. So most of us at the table got Bissap, a few got coffees. Why, in the heat, I have no idea. They were probably not awake yet. We also got a few nibbles. The restaurant we went to was very stylish, it was like a lounge on the beach. A lounge of the beach with pelicans and a monkey. It’s true, there were pelicans just chilling. That monkey was also the first monkey I have seen in my life OUTSIDE of a zoo. In terms of Ngor Island…. there were a bunch of boats that went from the beach to the island, but, it looked like, if you determined enough, you could just swim across to the island, it was that close. There was a group consensus to not go over, because it looked just as touristy as the beach we were already on, and the view across to the island would probably be exactly the same as we were looking at. We also think the guy who was showing us around the beach was trying to get us to look at the fish he had caught. Or his boat, we weren’t sure what he was telling us. So we left. It was a bit disappointing, but the view just going up the concrete steps to leave was astounding. Just a bunch of parasols, with the flag of Senegal furled just to the side. It was a nice shot.

So that was one plan out the window.

We then got taxis to go to the Western most point, passing the US embassy  and one or two ‘American Food Stores’ on the way there. We didn’t know how to get to the point, and we thought there was a path through an artisan market. Oh boy. That was an experience. Whilst most of the group went on ahead, Kate, Luke and I were lagging behind. Mostly distracted by the seafront restaurants. Then, as we followed the rest of the group, Luke was stopped by a stall holder, who liked his beard! He was then pulled into his shop. We all went in to see what he was selling, until I was dragged into the next stall over, by their owner. He gave me a wooden hippopotamus as a gift, and encouraged me to buy something else. After ‘careful’ consideration, I bought a tiger. Why in quotations, because I wanted to get out of there. However, what I didn’t realise was, that right behind us, the guy from the NEXT stall over was waiting for me to leave to pull me into his stall. He gave me a wooden turtle as a gift, and you can probably guess what tried to happen next. I tried to tell him that “My friends are waiting for me. It’s all really nice, but I have to go!” He wasn’t having any of it. Until Kate rescued me and pulled me out of there.

We found another restaurant nearby, which had two very old and rusty ovens or stoves, that would probably  cause a fire if switched on. And someone trying to sell his things that he made was waiting for us. So I had to convince that I literally had no money left. He eventually gave up and left. I had juice from the fruit of the Baobab fruit for the first time. It’s very grainy.  They also had a cocktail made from Bissap, Baobab juice and Gingembre, which Kate and Anneliese both got. Kate forgot what she ordered, so when my just Baobab juice arrived, she accidentally drank some of it, realising that didn’t taste like Bissap or Gingembre. D’oh. It was still very nice though, I just stuck the other end of the straw in the drink. We also got plates of plantains and fries. They were ok, just very small portions. The western-most point was just a walk way. We still didn’t know the path, but we asked the security guard nearby if the way to the point was open. It wasn’t. Just looking across, we noticed just how empty it was. A bit weird, It would probably have at least one or two people, because it was the western-most point, so why was no one there. We couldn’t go that way, but the guard let us walk to the end of the nearby fishing jetty, for free, for five minutes. We met an employee from the embassy! He told us that the  beach where western most point is closed off to everyone. Even to the people staying at the hotel behind it. It was closed though, and being renovated by Marriott.  So we walked back in defeat. Mostly because the guard came up to us, telling us that our five minutes were up.

So that is plan two gone.

Third time lucky.

We headed to the lighthouse, in the Mammelles district. Why is it called Mammelles?  There are two hills in the area. The hills look like breasts. Hence Mammelles. Literally, we went to the boobs of Dakar! On one of the boobs is the lighthouse, on the other boob is the African Renaissance Monument, the tallest statue in Africa, that is 49m tall, face to face with the Statue of Liberty and built by North Korea!

The taxi wouldn’t take us up the concrete road up to the lighthouse, so we walked. It was a very nice view though. The lighthouse trip was successful. We got a guided tour of the Lighthouse, presented by a very enthusiastic owner, who was so proud of his job, and the views, he insisted that we take photos! It was a very cool place. The Lighthouse of Dakar is the second most important lighthouse in Africa, because it marks the ‘gate’ between the North and South hemisphere. The MOST important lighthouse in Africa is in South Africa, which marks the ‘gate’  from the Western hemisphere to the Eastern Hemisphere.

Some very astounding views from the top the lighthouse of the city.

Glass of whatever +Sunglasses
= generic Instagram photo
The Western-most point on the continent of Africa
Simon
Long road to the Lighthouse
Lighthouse view number 1

The Lighthouse bulb

Lighthouse view number 2

Lighthouse view number 3

The Adventure Crew (photo courtesy of Kate)

“What are you two talking about, I don’t see any icebergs?”

A Brit and a Canadian,  former roommates. And Baobab juice!
(Photo by Simon)

Going up the lighthouse (Taken by the very
enthusiastic lighthouse keeper)
(Annelies, Stephen, Rachel, Kate, Luke, Me, a pillar, Leon and Simon)

An international video call

The day after that, the Adventure Crew had an international catch u.p On this call, we were spread across four continents: Africa: Me, Kate, Simon, Rachel, Laurianna and Stephen (and Moise for a shortwhile) on the Africa Mercy in Senegal and Ian (USA. He was a project assistant on board during shipyard) in Tanzania (Mission work); North America: Philip (He was AV Technician on board. He now works as AV technician at the ISC, Texas!); Europe: Arne (Netherlands. Project Assistant. He joined two days before I left, but he went to the aquarium with us) Sam (USA, Galley staff, but he was in Italy at the time) as well, towards the end of the call, but the internet quality was so bad for him, that we barely had any conversation with him! Last but not least Michael (Australia. Internet Services) We ordered pizza. They were tiny. I had Tex-Mex. Due to some funny comment, midway through eating some jalapeno, the spiciness of the slice went up, through my nose, instead of going down. That wasn’t fun. It was great to hear from them all (What we could hear, anyway), and to be updated in their own lives (What they were doing i.e. work, educational, waiting for a new phase .where they were. What time it was where they were calling from!) Reflecting back on a different time…. That was only a few months ago. It’s weird. 

Presidential Beef…..

Different parts of deck work recently has included beef. Why? Isn’t the deck department separate from food services? Yes, they are separate, but one day when I was on call, I was called out (I knew in advance about this) to help with an after-hours delivery of beef… Here’s the story….

As a way of showing appreciation of what we were doing in Senegal, President Macky Sall offered us many deals, including offering to pay for our fuel, and has also pledged to give us 1 cows worth of beef for everyday Mercy Ships is in Senegal. So I was sent to the galley to unhook the pallets from the stores crane, and move them into the elevator.

Pallet of beef

Other than that, I have been doing more training on the stores crane. I did want to be trained on it in Guinea, but due to a complication with one of the cranes, the company didn’t want to newbie going on the other crane to damage it, leaving the ship without a crane until Dry Dock for maintenance. Not gonna lie… I am a bit annoyed by that, but I also understand why the decision was made. Other Deck has been mostly the same as in Guinea, scrubbing the decks, cleaning, chipping, grinding and painting. We are in ‘Rainy season at the moment, but the weather can change drastically. There was an INTENSE recently. During the working day. So instead of working outside, in the middle of a thunderstorm, I was asked to sort out the Paint Locker. So I got to work, rearranging paint buckets, organising by colour, organising used and empty cans and a bit of sweeping. Because of rain during the nights, most mornings on deck are spent pushing puddles down drains, to eliminate potential mosquito breeding grounds. The drastic weather changes? It can be SWELTERING in the sun. Very exhausting. Enough said.

Also, Rachel left last week. It was very sad. So, on the Friday evening, Rachel, Simon, Stephen, Leon, Kate, Laurianna and I went out to a hotel roof top bar, not too far away from the lighthouse and giant statue. The hotel is called Hotel du Phare des Mamelles. So, literally,  but not so literally, translating to Hotel of the Lighthouse of the Boobs. It was a pleasant evening, and the sunset was fast and phenomenal. We chose to go East just to see a sunset over Dakar. So, there we were, a group of friends, driving along the West Africa coast, chasing the sunset. We also found out that the on the crown of the Man on the giant statue lights up during dark hours. We also got Hawaiian pizza,  though it had chicken instead of ham, that was so hot, that it burned the top of mouth. Before we left, I had a very deep and meaningful conversation with Nic, one of our officers about Artificial Intelligence. What I learned from her is that the reasons why Artificial Intelligence is commonly depicted as trying to annihilate/enslave humanity is because humans are idiots, and Artificial Intelligence often misinterprets the data we are feeding them.

So that has been a bit about what I have been doing/ up to for the last two months/ please forgive me If I post stuff on this blog that you don’t want to read, I like to use this blog as a bit of a personal blog. I also don’t want to pump out updates that are purely about “work, work, work”, so I try to put a bit of  variety into my writing.

As this was about July and August, and a bit of September, this one was longer than normal. When I get back into the routine of monthly updates, these posts will be shorter.

Thank you for reading, and have a good day,

Matthew.
The date I post this? 15th of September

Adventure Crew of the past – 4 different continents in one call! (Thanks for the photo, Kate!)
No. I was not twerking.
(On Screen, from left to right, top to bottom)
Philip (Texas) Michael (Australia) Arne (Netherlands) Ian (Tanzania)
(On ship.)
Kate, Simon, Rachel, Me, Laurianna, Stephen.

A new addition to Priory Street

Tim Stephenson,
Nattie during installation of defibrillator box

The eagle-eyed amongst you may have noticed the new defibrillator box appear recently outside Priory Street. This is the proposal made by Rhiannon after the latest first aid training included instructions on using such devices and the Leadership Team approved its purchase in the last financial year.

The box is now fully operational thanks to work by Martin and Nattie and has been registered with SW Ambulance service so will be available to any who might need it in the local community.

Thanks all!

Notices 15th September 2019

Louise,

Priory Street (Corsham)

            9.15am            Eddie Larkman

            11.15am          Eddie Larkman

            6:00pm           Gathered to Praise

Church on the Green (Rudloe)

            10:00am           Rob Durant

Missions and Persecuted Church Prayer

The prayer meeting for MPC will take place tomorrow, Monday 16th September, at 7:45pm.  Please chat to Wendy Rowe or contact Vanessa Naish for more information about these monthly meetings. 

On Friday 27th September 18:30-20.00 at the Springfield Centre, Michelle Donelan MP, has organised representatives from Open Doors and Sat 7 and we and all her constituents, are invited to come and learn about these organisations and how we can take action supporting the Persecuted Church. It is free with light refreshments provided.  Please contact Vanessa or Michelle at michelle.donelan.mp@parliament.uk or 01249 704465 if you would like further information.  Thank you.

Mission Event

On Sunday 29th September at 5pm we will be holding a mission event where we will get feedback from several mission trips that have taken place, including the recent Uganda AIM trip.  We will serve tea/coffee and cake so if you are able to provide cakes, biscuits etc. please speak to Wendy.

Youth Ministry

Save the date: youth weekend away Friday 25th October – Sunday 27th October.  DRIVERS NEEDED so if you are able to drive young people to this event in Chepstow, please let Dan know either in person or by email at mastermarsy@hotmail.com.  Thank you.

Midweek Service

This Wednesday, 18th September, is our midweek service.  The text is James 1.1-12. Eric Seager will be leading and David Morrell preaching.  The service starts at 2pm and concludes with refreshments at 3pm.

Steve and Gill Bryant – WEC

Thank you for your prayers for Steve and Gill whilst they have been at a training conference in the States regarding Safeguarding in Mission work. Steve will be in Spain from 17-20 September for another Safeguarding Conference and will be presenting some teaching seminars. Please continue to pray for both Steve and Gill as they serve God.

Women’s Bible Study

This will take place on Monday 30th September at 7:30pm at Priory Street.  Study notes (Rooted) are on the table at the back of church.  Please take one in advance of the meeting.

The Ark

The Ark begins again this month. Hooray!  Saturday 28th September, 10am at Priory Street for Bible stories, craft, puppets and snacks. It’s aimed at 0-7  year olds but ALL are very welcome, with an accompanying adult. We’ll soon have some leaflets printed with the term’s dates on so please spread the word and invite family and friends.

Tanzania Building Team

Help is needed to take the Tanzanian team to Heathrow and someone to collect.  There are four people going so a large car would do.  If that’s not possible, someone could drive the church minibus.  The dates are Friday 20th September, leaving Corsham at about 13.00hrs; returning Sunday 6th October Heathrow at 16.15hrs.  If you can assist, please contact Martin Sheringham.  Thank you.

Advance Date – Family Quiz Night

There will be a family quiz/pizza night for the 9:15 congregation on Saturday 16th November.  Please put the date in your diary…

Thanks!

Norman Fuggle would like to thank all those who sponsored him for the charity Memory Walk in Bristol in memory of Alan Marment.  He raised £500 for the Alzheimer Association.

This week @ CBC

Monday: Mums’ bible study, 9:30am; missions and persecuted church prayer meeting, 7:45pm

Wednesday: Midweek service, 2pm

Thursday: Toddler Group, 10am

Friday: Corsham Money and Debt Advice Centre, 9:30am; Encounter, 3.45pm; Engage, 4:30pm; Energize, 5:30pm

Upcoming events:

The Ark – 28th September

Missions’ event/report back – 29th September, 5pm

Harvest service – 29th September

Women’s bible study – 30th September, 7:30pm

Midweek service – 2nd October, 2pm

Craft Group – 5th October, 10am

Bible Sunday – 13th October (Ecumenical Praise Evening, 6pm)

Church Meeting – 21st October

Gathering to Praise @ Melksham Baptist Church – 17th November, 6pm