So what is it? 42% of the world’s people groups are classified by the Joshua Project as unreached. This is a disturbing statistic. It means that in these groups, there is little or no history of Christianity and there are millions who do not know who Jesus is. There may be a handful of evangelical Christians but they make up less than 2% of the population. Many of the groups have no known Christians at all.
One unreached group in Bangladesh has more than twice as many people as the UK. Japan with so few Christians has almost twice our population. Some colleagues who recently returned to the UK from Japan commented that Britain seemed to be full of Christians, compared to the situation they had come from.
So what can we do? It’s too big for each one of us and despairing about it won’t help. Neither will dismissing it and finding a distraction. It is one which should challenge us deeply and drive us to our knees, and there is something we can do……we can ask God to give us a burden for one, single unreached group, and make them part of our daily time with God. Or we can pray for a different group each day using an app from the Joshua Project at https://joshuaproject.net/
It may only take 2 minutes of our day, and let’s face it, we are on our phones anyway. You can even see how many others are praying alongside you, so you are not alone.
Phew! That’s OK then. Sorted. But be prepared! As you ask God to open your eyes and give you a burden for unreached peoples, there may be more……..
If you thought that after the building trip and clean up was over it would be a quiet time at Oasis you’d be wrong. This week there are updates from Mary and Shiela (as well as the disabled loo!) and new arrivals from Nigeria too.
This weekend is a three day Ship Holiday weekend. Approximately every six weeks, to allow crew to take time out for a little longer and rest we go into Ship Holiday routine on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Many crew get the whole time off but, of course, this is a working hospital and crew live on board so …… the wards are still open and medical staff need to work, patients need caring for, dressings need to be changed; there was an unexpected admission yesterday to the hospital so OR (Operating Room or Theatre as we call it in the UK) had a surgery today; crew need feeding; housekeeping staff work as the ship is not self cleaning; launderers continue to wash bedding, towels, uniforms, scrubs as people are still coming and going; reception staff and the Gurkhas need to work too. And this time, Matthew was on call Friday and Stuart is on call all weekend so they have both worked and Lynne went into the office for a few hours to keep up with the admissions and discharges and order patient meals for Sunday and Monday as it is bit tricky to order in advance.
We took the opportunity on Friday as we were both off to get off the ship and went to a local hotel to chill by (a different) pool. (We have had a pool at almost every place we have been to since leaving the UK in September!) It was a great place to relax and just be somewhere different; it was by the sea and, as is often the case, also next to a building site! We tried to take a taxi back to the ship to get back in time to see a friend off but after about half a mile the roads were completely blocked (as they often are – with no warning or obvious reason and at any time – so we got out and walked back! Only took about half an hour and we were back in time to say bye and we then went out again for shwarma and pizza.
A few of us at Roume
View as we were walking
Last Sunday we went back to Roume Island. We have been there once before and really enjoyed it so took the opportunity to go back as a friend was organising the boat. Hopefully Matthew will be able to come with us next time – but he was on call! The last time we went we met an Austrian lady who is a midwife and for a good number of years has been spending three or four months every year volunteering on the island offering midwifery and other medical care – amazing! We bumped into her again as we got off the boat! We had a fabulous day with some other crew. We were serenading by some locals and Stuart couldn’t resist joining in. We even met a young guy, born in Guinea, now living in Bristol who was on the island visiting family and friends!
Over the last couple of weeks we have both had the opportunity to be involved in our, or another, department’s devotions. Stuart led devotions for the Deck and Supply Departments and Lynne was involved with the worship for the monthly Ward devotions. Good to take time out with others in this way. The Ward devotions includes time for staff to share stories from their work.
So, what is a day like for Stuart? Well the deck department starts the day at 0745 with a time of devotion followed by a daily briefing, who is on duty who is watching the water supply and what deliveries are expected. There may then be a specific safety briefing on firefighting, diving activity or working aloft Then we disappear our carpentry shop to look at the list of jobs that come to us via the ship intranet. High priority jobs are those that impact the mission of the ship and these could be anything from a loose door handle or making up a special shoe for one of the patients. Then there are the bigger items like moving fitted office furniture or making shelving. At this time of the year we are also planning work for the maintenance period in June in Las Palmas. The is a constant stream of personal items to fix like, my shoe, my sewing machine, my bicycle, can you make up a fishing net? It all great and most work needs some ingenuity as we can’t pop down to Screw-fix or Wickes for stuff. Since being here we have realised that most of the workshop machinery is old, worn out and not as safe as newer items tend to be. so with the captains support I have ordered some serious new kit that should arrive in the summer. We are also training some of the day crew in basic carpentry skills, as we seldom see any machine tools this training is based on hand tools and we end the course by building a tool box and providing them with a set of tools. Sadly the only tools we can buy locally are very poor quality and look like they will last only a few months. At the end of this field service our day crew will leave the ship and try to find a job locally, if these carpentry skills help them find a job and feel needed then its a step forward.
Below is a recent story from the hospital…
We love this verse on our cabin wall:
For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you “Do not fear; I will help you”Isaiah 41:13
Hello again, I did say coming soon, so a promise was kept! Unlike January, February has been a fairly slow month, so I’ll try my best to talk about things that happened. Some things, I can remember, however, they aren’t the best memories and fairly humiliating, but there are also good things that I remember. Life is like a dream like that. I did have a really weird dream a few days ago where I was back home, and I randomly kicked my sister in the stomach. And she was playing Assassin’s Creed, and when I realized that, everything went back to normal, and we started a discussion about Assassin’s Creed (weird). Almost, we just kinda… forgot that I kicked her. I would much rather dream about Padmé. So sit back as I blog and watch Torchwood at the same time. I mean I am watching Torchwood as I write, please don’t watch something at the same time as reading this. Or do, I am not going to know. Or will I?
So, we had container day recently. This isn’t an official ship ‘day’, the latest Netherlands container arrived. As a deckie, one of my jobs is to help out with the crane operations on the ship when the containers arrive (A monthly thing) and when the ship gets local delivery of produce (A frequent thing, twice a week.) with the aft crane out of operation until shipyard in Las Palmas in June, we are now limited to using the stores crane for everything. (Everything deck related, not the surgeries and everything else) This means that someone has to be on the dock, slinging up the pallets and receiving the things that come out of the ship (the bin/trash container) and empty pallets. Someone operates the crane, moving these pallets and the bin from the galley hatch to the dock and vice versa, and sometimes to Deck 8. Finally, someone is in the galley hatch, basically doing thee same thing as the guy on the dock. When we get a container, someone is also on deck 3 and the cargo hold, receiving the pallets that come down from the galley to deck 3 via the ONE elevator. We have one elevator for everything, which can make it difficult to work with with lots of jobs going on all over the ship that use the elevator at the same time.
This container day, I was assigned to the dock, where I was slinging up the pallets, whilst Mike, one of the carpenters with my father, operated the forklift, bringing the pallets from the container, at the aft of the dock, to the lifting area on the dock. Clear an LZ, Noble Six! Flynn, our German Deck storeman, was also on the dock with us, working in the containers, bringing pallets closer to the door of the container, for the forklift to move out from the container, to the lifting area. It can be hard work doing all this, particularly with the heat, and working in the sun in dark blue coveralls, but I do enjoy it, and if it means that the ship can operate, (Both actual ship stuff, with the Engineering side and the hospital side of the ship) then it’s good work all around, and it makes it easier to deal with the heat. Something that does keep coming into my mind is what is more important. Is it that this is a ship with a hospital on it, or is it that it is a floating hospital. On his visit to the ship in November, Don Stephens, the founder of Mercy Ships spoke to the Deck and Engineering departments at our Thursday devotion. He said that we are the beating heart of the ship. Others say that the hospital is the heart. But to me, it’s all a matter of perspective. I think this should be taken into account when considering the question:
“The eye cannot say to the hand, “I do not need you.” Nor can the head say to the head say to the feet, “I do not need you” 1 Corinthians 12:21
We would normally use the stores crane and the transfer container, but it’s broken down, so we have to do container work by hand now. Technically it was always by hand, but you know what I mean. At the moment, I do not have pictures from this, but I’ll put them on when I do.
One of the most recent projects for the deck department has been working on the bow mooring deck. This has included…. Cleaning and painting! Pretty much just cleaning and painting. We have given the deck a fresh new coat of (insert paint code here) green. So it’s gone from dirty and dusty green with a hint of brown and pale, to a shiny, emerald green! I unfortunately don’t have any before and after photos, but it looks so nice now. What’s sad is that it will ultimately collect dust again and go back to dusty and dirty. Oh well, such is the way of the world. It looks nice now though. Our saying in the deck department is “The party continues” and “The party never stops”. Which is true, because there is always something to be done.
Go Greased Lightning!
One of these tasks is greasing. I was working on greasing the exterior doors on decks 7 and 8. These things have to be done, to keep the doors opening. And like lightning, we did a fast job, me and one of our ‘Men of Guinea’. Apart from the doors which had a different greasing point to the other nipple. We have no idea where the other nozzle is. I think we are all done for now. I think this job has to be done every few months.
I finally got round to doing one of the things I have been meaning to do on board for ages. Visiting the wards! John, an Australian electrician, invited me to visit the wards with him, to see one of the patients that he had befriended. We all played Jenga together, which quickly turned from regular Jenga into extreme/engineer’s Jenga. We haven’t decided on a name. This was pretty much the general game of Jenga, however, instead of the regular three blocks on a y axis and x axis, we tried to see how many positions we could put the blocks on top of each other, whilst keeping the tower stable. It went as well as you could probably imagine.
Photo of the month
We are also working on cleaning and re-painting the aft crane. Which is fresh new coat of white. On the day that we started working, and I was observing stage working. I am intended to start stage work very soon. Apparently. I’ll try to get some of that filmed and put into a new vlog. So as we were working, this fishing boat tried to moor in the dock, and then that happened. Oops. The Tug boats tried to pull it out before anything worse happened. The next day, the boat was gone, and we don’t know how. Must have been when the tide was really high. There is also a wreck pretty much right next to where this boat was.
When your smoothie spills….
I have made up a proverbial phrase, please use it! If it was a full sentence, it would be “You just kinda freeze and stare at it with the people on your table and wait for a friend from another table to come over with serviettes and get you a new one.” That happened to me. It wasn’t my smoothest moment in my life. I was trying to set it down on the table, and instead, it just fell through my hands and went everywhere. On the table, and on the scrubs of a new person. (Good job, Matthew. It was only a tiny bit though. But still) If it happened in slow motion, Jim Croce or Eurthymics would not be playing, One of the following would be a fitting song. In no particular order:
Enya – Only Time
Simon and Garfunkel – Sound of Silence
Gary Jules – Mad World
Mad World but it’s that cover by the black kid from Vine
‘Sausage tree’. We never found out what this actually is
A week later, and I didn’t drop it everywhere.
I also went out to lunch one Sunday with Caleb (USA) Laura (Netherlands) Imani (USA) Octavian (Romania – Chief Officer) and Philipp (Switzerland), where we saw some interesting plants by the bay.
Here are some pictures of me repairing tarp. Look at that determination.
And that’s pretty much all for this month and a bit. I think. I am not keeping track of how long between one update to another. Thank you for reading, where ever you are in the world. Including the few people from Indonesia, how are you? (read my reflection).
I also don’t know what happened to my 12″ remote control Dalek. This was ages before we I joined Mercy Ships, it went missing years ago. We didn’t throw it away or give it away, it just vanished. I miss my 12″ remote control Dalek.
Sorry, I’m playing catch up with Neal and Lesley’s blog from last week. They managed to time their arrival to be just a week ahead of Martin and the building team so quite an unusual week at the Oasis I think. In the midst of a building site they still found time to minister to several though. Read their stories here: http://lesleyandneal.simplesite.com/441787942
It is high time for another update and Matthew has put us to shame by publishing two since our last one!! See Matthew’s blog They say that time on the Africa Mercy takes on a different dimension – and that seems to be true! Or it could be our age!
It is now February, Christmas has been and gone – but we had a great time. A very different Christmas although we still managed our Little family Christmas Eve tradition of reading ‘The Night before Christmas’ but this year over Skype. We are very grateful for the good internet on board and also managed a family Skype the Sunday before Christmas with our girls, Lynne’s mum, sister and her two children; on Christmas Day we joined with our church congregation for a carol and prayer; and later that day with Hannah and her Christmas day hosts – friends from church.
We took advantage of the long ship holiday weekend between Christmas and New Year and took a three day trip up country to Kindia with our friends who we did OnBoarding in Texas and field practice in Guinea with – Jennifer, Ian and Merryl. It was good to get out of the noise, busyness and dust of Conakry and see green vegetation and hear the birds and insects (outside not inside the hotel). We were reminded of how noisy the ship is! You may have seen some photos that we posted on Instagram and Facebook but we visited some beautiful waterfalls and were fortunate to have a tour of the Mercy Ships Agricultural Centre where nationals are trained in sustainable farming methods – absolutely fascinating. We had a brilliant driver in Abdulay who took good care of us, took the potholed tracks in his stride and also acted as our interpreter.
Bride’s Veil Falls
At the Agricultural Centre
Still not good at selfies!!
Or positioning photos!
Mushroom farming on the left
Aquaponics under construction on the right
Pool at Kissili Falls
Time for lunch before heading back
Spent some time swimming until something was spotted moving in the water at which point we got out quick – it was a bra!!
It was back to work as normal on January 2nd – whatever normal is but we are certainly enjoying ship life, living on a ship and community living. We are constantly in awe of everything that goes on here and often look around and think ‘this just shouldn’t work’ ….. but it does.
So, what is a typical day …. or week?
We both work ‘business’ hours of 8.00 am to 5.00 pm Monday to Friday, although Stuart has now been put on the ‘On Call’ rota for the Deck Department. He could be called out for anything at anytime on the 24 hours he is on call – but hasn’t as yet so we can’t tell you what that entails. Although Matthew has been for a while and he was putting out rubbish on Christmas Day!
We normally go to breakfast 7.15 am to 7.30 am and then Stuart goes off for Deck Devotions.
Lynne’s day as Ward Administrative Assistant is a bit like going to the airport – ‘hurry up and wait’ followed by ‘hurry up and wait’, etc! The day involves checking which patients are on the ward, keeping the statistics and database up to date, finding out which patients are being discharged (only after Doctor’s rounds are finished), making their Outpatients appointments, organising discharge photos (all patients being discharged are offered a ‘souvenir’ photo of themselves and fellow patients, nurses and anyone else they want in the picture to take home. These are precious items and we heard of a patient who had been treated on a previous field service, kept his photo showing it to crew when coming for follow up surgery some years later when the ship returned.) Some patients go home but some live too far away to get back to their Outpatients or Rehab appointments and so need booking in at the Hope Centre (which is the the Mercy Ships ‘hotel’ type accommodation off ship.) Then it’s finding out which patients are being admitted for surgery the following day (when screening is finished!), which beds they will be in and if any patients are changing beds. There are three wards, with another 10 bedded ward available if needed. Two of the wards have 20 beds, and the third ward has 15 beds plus two ICU beds and two Isolation beds. The wards are very busy, and usually noisy, places, particularly in the morning when Hospital Chaplaincy visit each of the three wards to speak, sing and pray with the patients, Doctors are doing their rounds, patients and caregivers are having breakfast and getting up for the day. Caregivers, who are needed for all patients under 18, sleep under the patient’s bed on a mattress. Spaces between the beds are about 18″. Wards are mixed – male and female, adults and children but they are such friendly places with crew and patients look after, and looking out, for each. Lunchtime is 12 noon to 1.00pm – but we rarely manage the hour. After lunch, nurse allocations need doing in time for shift change at 2.00pm; patients meals are ordered for the next day (which is slightly more complicated than imagined depending on the type of surgery, when the surgery is, how many caregivers, etc; also for meal purposes children over 12 are adults!); patient visiting lists are needed for each ward and the gangway for the Gurka guards; more statistics; scanning charts for discharged patients (currently more are discharged than scanned each day!). All this fits around random jobs, queries and phone calls.
We normally have dinner about 6pm and try to get on deck to watch the sunset. Have to be quick though as it happens surprisingly quickly!
We are loving our time on board here but don’t want to bombard you with too much information at once, so Stuart will share a typical day with you in the next blog (which will be more timely than this one!) and we will share a non-working typical(ish) week another time.
In the meantime these three photos show some of the impact Mercy Ships has had during 2018.
Although only about 400 crew serve on board at any one time most are short term and this photo shows just how many serve during a year and from so many different countries! It’s great living in a multi-national community! Interesting, fun, challenging and sometimes just confusing!!
I am aware that this is my second post in a row with ‘crane’ in the title AND the first word of the title, but it’s hard to come up with a creative title that truly grips the reader. It’s not like a gripping few words also appear in the title. Leave me alone, alright!
So, I am back with a new update, and a lot of things have happened since my last post. The main thing was that Christmas happened! Yes, my first Christmas on a ship in Africa has been and gone, and it was great! As I mentioned in my last post (Is that plagiarism from myself or uncreativeness?) we have a large multicultural crew, which has meant opportunities to enjoy different Winter festivals and traditions from all over the world, such as the Dutch tradition of Sinterklaas as I wrote about last time. The Scandinavian crew also celebrated Santa Lucia. Yes, that one saint who carries a plate of her own eyes like she is a Del Toro enthusiast. Lucia (or Lucy) means light, which Scandinavians celebrate by wearing very fetching white robes and carrying candles and singing. I can admit, I wasn’t actually there, I was instead playing Dungeons and Dragons. It looked spectacular from the pictures I have seen.
I helped to judge the various Christmas decorated doors for the ship’s annual Christmas door competition. The crew here are very creative, as we saw trains, a Mercy Ship themed version of Twas the Night Before Christmas, human-animal hybrids, Grinches, Minions, toothless reindeer advent calendars, Christmas trees made out of rope and toilet role and LEGO. After this, the winners were announced on the dock at Carols by Candlelight , an annual tradition from Australia. I didn’t actually ask any of the Aussie crew about this, I just looked it on Wikipedia. the Australian contingent of the crew treated the rest of us to an Australian edit of Jingle Bells (Still have no idea what a ‘Ute’ is.) That same night, I learnt that Australia is actually a continent, and Australasia is a region. which is a sub-region of Oceania. Just so you know, I did pass A-Level Geography, but Geography isn’t about locations anymore. Instead, it’s about beaches and volcanoes, and maybe a few other things. At least that’s how it is in the British National Curriculum.
I was also given the honour of reading Isaiah 7: 11to 17 at the Christmas Eve service for the final Advent Candle lighting. My partner read from the book of Matthew. I like to think I was asked because I am the only Matthew on the ship. I didn’t light the candle, but I was standing by to extinguish the flame if got out of hand. I’m a trained firefighter, might I add. Then I played Crazy Uno and enjoyed a family tradition that turns out will not go away even if one half of the family is in a different continent.
And then came that very special day. I put out my stocking (Sent from home. Thank you Hannah and Zoe, I miss you very much!) whilst most of the crew put out their shoes, to find goodies from other crew in the morning. We enjoyed pastries and free coffee from Starbucks in the cafe. Soon enough, I received the on call pager. On call at Christmas? Yeah. I know terrible. It was a ship holiday though. Taking out the ship’s rubbish wasn’t how I was planning to spend Christmas, but I did get some more training in operating the stores crane after. My parents and I also connected with our home church and joined in worship over Skype. We enjoyed a Christmas lunch. One very talented crew member made a very nice cake replica of the ship. Of course, when enjoying various traditions, it is important to remind yourself of home, so the British crew were invited to watch the Queen together and play Charades in one of the British family cabins. Soon enough, another (and very special) Christmas was over.
And soon enough after that, I made a very big and expensive mistake.
After enjoying Boxing Day off, I returned to work. Crazy how fast you grow up to have two weeks off Christmas holiday one year, then next year. Working and only having a few days off for Christmas. This is still a operational ship, even when the hospital is closed for Christmas, so work still goes on twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. I was given the job of continuing the work that I mentioned in my last blog on the exterior of the bridge, which was grinding at rust and painting. My job as a deck hand is essentially taking care of the ship. In the morning, I had given various ‘ash’ patches (ash is the gray primer we use) a coat of white paint. These patches were easy to get to and reach. After lunch, I was going to use a ladder and harness to paint over the patches which were hard to reach, and I was joined by one of my colleagues to help me where I was working. I don’t want to go into too much detail, and this is very hard to write about, but basically one of the Bridge windscreens was hit, of course by accident, during work, and now there is a very large crack. I found out today (22nd January) from our new Danish Captain (the third in three months. We are still looking for a long-term captain) that a new window costs about 10,000 Euros. My fellow Deckies have been super supportive of me, and have been taking care of me, and really want to see me complete my training, and keep telling me that it was just an accident, and these things happen. And if I think about it, it is a lesson for tomorrow and to reflect on, not to grieve over.
“I get knocked down, but I get back up again, you’re never gonna keep me down”
Ok, so maybe Chumbawamba isn’t the most appropriate. But it’s the most motivational thing quote about growing from mistakes from the top of my head. But hey, we’ll be singing, when we’re winning. We’ll be singing…….
“We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God – those whom he has called according to his plan” Romans 8:28
Ok, so that’s the bad news. More good news! As for my training and work as a Deck Hand, I have started my duty as Night Patrol. What does that mean? That means that I have to work night shift. On night patrol, I have four fire and security and rounds to complete, which means taking a trip around the ship – from the Bridge working the way downwards to deck 2. Four times a night. And they take roughly an hour to complete. Walking round the ship for an hour, walking down many staircases. It is safe to say that I work all over the ship. Boy, does walking non stop for an hour do some ugly things to your feet. Somethings that I didn’t know could happen. In the morning, at sunrise, you have to raise the flags (Mercy Ships flag, flag of the country we are docked in, this case, Guinea, and the civil ensign of Malta. The Africa Mercy is registered as a Maltese vessel) so that’s pretty cool. Today, I received Fire Panel training, which means that I am authorized to watch over the fire panel during night shift when it’s needed.(receptionist needs a break, for example) It’s always needed. It has to be manned 24 hours a day. Thankfully, nothing big comes up during the night shift, which is good news, but nights to yourself go on for soo long, I had to motivate myself before my last night shift by listening to the Halo 3 soundtrack. I got a couple things signed off by the training officer in my training book. Steady progress. As for day work, It’s going good. I was a bit unsure whether the jobs of a Deck Hand would actually help the work on the hospital, but today, I was on Deck Three receiving and moving Medical Supply pallets, so I feel good. Some days can be good days at works, others are ‘Nothing days’ (my own term) which can be hard, particularly when the jobs don’t involve much physical work and it’s very hot.
I wore my Union Flag T-shirt last week. It was the same day of the vote in Parliament regarding Theresa May’s proposed Deal. Even in a different continent, you don’t escape Brexit. I just felt like wearing it, no political agenda. I was practically invisible that day. It had me wondering, because I am on a ship, is it a Union Jack?
Unfortunately, we recently said ‘Goodbye’ to Femi, the ship’s last Bosun and his wife. Whilst it is sad to see them leave, he is moving up, so it’s not all bad. Soon, they will be going to good ole’ England so that he can go to Officer School in Newcastle. He said that he would be happy to support me and answer any questions I have about my training over Messenger though. Our new Bosun, Ibrahim, who was getting ready to take over from Femi, as the Assistant Bosun is also great though, so us Deckies have been left in good hands. Monce, our last Filipino Chief Officer departed a few days ago, and his replacement, Octavian, looks to be a good replacement. (Monce, if you read this, I did want to see you off. Consider this my goodbye!) And yes, we have had three Captains in three months, our current Captain being Milo from Denmark.
For the New Year’s weekend, my parents and the other three wonderful people from our field practice took an excursion to Kindia. We saw a couple waterfalls, and we also visited the Mercy Ships Agricultural Centre. As well as the life-changing surgeries, Mercy Ships leaves a legacy in the countries that they serve in, with the Medical Capacity Building teams. At the Agricultural Centre, Eric, one of our volunteers, and a small group of Mercy Ships volunteers works with and trains representatives from a bunch of different NGOs different methods of sustainable development, which the NGOs will continue when we leave in June. They grow vegetables in a greenhouse, work to reuse water that has been used for the growth before, grow mushrooms, have a worm farm to produce compost and raise rabbits, to use their manure for fertiliser. It was truly amazing to see and learn more about.
As I mentioned we also visited a couple waterfalls in the area. The first we visited was ‘Brides Veil waterfall’. I tried to look it up, but it turns out the ‘Bride’s Veil’ is the name of a type of waterfall, that resembles a Bride’s Veil. Surprise, Surprise!
Here’s a big damn ant. Brownie points for those who understand the reference
The effort put by visitors making their mark on the huge tree by the waterfalls in mind-blowing. Some people haven’t just etched their name into the bark, they have chisled into it. Impressive. Never felt a waterfall before. It hurts your back with the strong, main part of the waterfall, It felt like getting shot with a machine gun. A very cold machine gun.
One of the cascades at Brides Veil.
This is a spiky tree. Never seen these before.
The main falls and the pool.
A hut, some bamboo and my father
The hotel we stayed at was very nice, with some quality food. Due to a missunderstanding, We have come up with a ‘Matthew Special’ deal. Basically, thinking you have ordered a shawarma, the staff bring out something else, but then you get you get your shawarma a little later. Delicious shawarma, delicious fish and some delicious omelette for breakfast. I also did some basic late night plumbing when I had to refill the cistern just to flush it, then part of the ‘flush’ mechanism broke off, and one of the bolts had to be put in just right to hold the button in place. Our driver became an honourary member of our group, which was helpful for us all, when we needed translations. The next day, we visited Kholissi falls. Sorry, Game of Thrones fans, it’s not what you think it is. Sadly, as the rainy season came to an end a few months ago, There wasn’t much to see, but it was cool to see apart from the two waterfalls there. The big somewhat green area between the fall areas car park and restaurant was an interesting sight to behold. I would like to say the ruins and rocks scattered across the land felt like a fantasy world landscape, the best comparison I can think of Amon Hen from Lord of the Rings. Although instead of fallen statue heads, there is an incomplete, industrial concrete structure. Hannah, maybe we can both be in New Zealand, except I am in a different continent at the same time. Astral projection, sort of? As of right now (26th January) the Little family is spread out across three continents. Enjoy your trip!
Finding a ledge to get into the pool was difficult
Collecting water to be recycled.
Inside the Greenhouse
A dragon fly
Part of the plot of land growing crops
During the Monday morning meeting, we have a ‘photo of the week’ the most recent was the Africa Mercy found in the port on Google Maps.
My own photo of the month is this. I was discussing productivity (golly, makes it sound like a business meeting) with a friend during a coffee break, and I forgot to mention how productive I was before the break. I was cutting rags. Amazing how you can put effort into an attempt of a professional, nice photo, which ends up looking terrible, yet not much effort can look so much better. You want proof, I took this photo of the Super Blood Wolf Moon during the eclipse.
Rule Brittania! Brittania rule the waves! I stopped working for a bit,
just to watch this Welsh registered fuel ship.
A school of fish between the ship and the dock.
Of course, New Years happened. I managed to inspire one of my fellow crew members with a Bible verse neither of us had really looked at before after another crew member asked us to collect a bunch of inspiring Bible verses to hand out to the rest of the crew to encourage us this year. We had an open mic in midships before gathering up on Deck 8 to watch the fireworks at midnight. Even fireworks let off from the islands. I was asked to blow the foghorn (Is that the verb? Blow? Sound? Operate) But they had enough people to do it, but I was on the Bridge and I was asked if I wanted to, so that is what is important. Is this the part where I reflect on the year that was 2018? No, I don’t like reflecting, read someone else’s blog for that. But what I will say, is that it was a big year for me, and marked the end of one chapter of my life, and start of another, and I pray that for everyone else who also had this in 2018, and for those who are in the middle of their current chapter, that they will have an enriching and good new chapter, even during an uncertain time for the world.
That’s all from me at the moment, thank you for reading! I also recently uploaded two new vlogs in two consecutive days on my YouTube channel, If you want to learn about animals and their species name, check them out in my Texas vlog part 2. Link to my channel in the side bar.
This letter comes with our love and greetings.
For a change, we are starting with family news.
We had a wonderful joy-filled day on 10th
November, when our youngest son, Peter, married
Miriam at Cornerstone Church in Nottingham.
Bethany and Michael will be
going to Liberia at the end of
January to serve at the ELWA
hospital run by Serving in Mission
(SIM). This hospital just outside
Monrovia hosted two of the
largest Ebola Treatment Units
during the epidemic that swept
through Liberia in 2014-2016.
We have just enjoyed a lovely Christmas spending
time with all of the family over the holiday period.
David lives locally and continues with his gardening
business. He still has plenty of winter work as the
weather is so mild at the moment.
Gill turned 60 in August and to celebrate we had
a special holiday in September, staying in a
cottage on the Norfolk coast. One of the
highlights was seeing seals playing in the sea
along a beautiful deserted golden beach.
This photo was taken in front of a seventeen
arch bridge near the home of some friends that
we visited on our way back from Norfolk. We
like this picture because of the ideas
represented by the bridge. More of this below….
We joined WEC in 1989 and went to serve at Bourofaye Christian School (BCS) in Senegal, to help provide education and support for the children of missionaries. The parents’ goal is to use all possible means of sharing the Good News of Jesus, the One who is the bridge to God. Since returning to the UK in 2001 we have served as WEC’s International Missionary Kids
(MK) Consultants, seeking to help our MKs and their families as they cross the many bridges of transition in their lives, caused by living in more than one culture, changing schools frequently and facing lots of goodbyes. In October Steve helped to organise a day conference on family debriefing, a training day designed to help missions to support their families as they go through changes. Some transitions are planned or gradual, whereas others are traumatic and sudden, perhaps involving deportation or evacuation. Our goal in WEC is to support our families as much as we can, conveying Christ’s love to all of our workers and helping them towards maximum effectiveness. A summary of the training from the conference will be published in the January edition of our Educare magazine, which Gill has been working on.
MK Staff Training
In our last letter we asked for prayer for our summer training course for new MK workers. Thank you to those who prayed! We had 12 adults and one little girl on the course this year, heading for BCS and two other locations. Once again our church, Corsham Baptist, did a wonderful job in hosting our participants, catering and providing all kinds of support from child care to transport to tea and cakes. We are so grateful for the efforts of our wonderful church members and leaders, without whom it would be really difficult to run the course at an affordable cost. For 2019, it is scheduled once more to take place at Corsham Baptist Church from 21st July to 1st August, so we would appreciate your prayers again.
Travel in 2019
There are several overseas visits scheduled for 2019. Steve is still finalising a major trip, and it is likely that he will travel to East Asia for a couple of weeks in March. In May Steve will be attending the Child Safety and Protection Network conference and refresher training in the
US, to upgrade his own safeguarding knowledge in the international context. This is essential for him in his role as WEC’s International Safeguarding Officer. Both of us will go to Eurotck in Germany in May – an excellent opportunity for networking and mutual learning for agencies based in Europe. Steve has been invited to give some safeguarding training at two WEC conferences later in the year, Eurocon in Spain in September (regional conference for European team leaders), and the WEC France conference in October.
Once again we want to thank you for your support, prayers and interest in our work. We look forward to hearing your news too, especially at this time of the year when so many of us enjoy catching up.