Monday, April 20, 2015

Wow - its been a long time since we Blogged!

We moved off the AFM in June 2014 to re-settle in Texas at the Mercy Ships International Operations Center, where we now live.

The kids are all at school in Van, I work as VP of International Operations and Anne looks after the house, kids and dog (yes we have a dog) as well as getting more serious about her writing.

Life is busy, blessed and amazingly different than 12 months ago - but it is still amazing to be part of Mercy Ships.

Will try very hard to update this blog a bit more often (maybe twice a year? lol)

Sunday, August 11, 2013


We arrived in Pointe Noir, Congo (not to be confused with DRC) 2 days ago. We have posted some photos of our first sightings of the dock, Don and Deyon Stephens, our founders, meeting the health minister and the president's daughter. 


                                               our captain stepping ashore...

We received a very warm and formal welcome organized by the government - the first time there has ever been refreshments (including alcohol!) on the dock. Of course we didn't partake of them because we were hosting the visiting dignitaries on board our alcohol free vessel :-)

                         Don making a speech in front of a sea of press.

Rob and I got off ship yesterday with the management team to visit the prepared Mercy Ship sites ashore. We visited all 6 of them - Patient assembly point, screening, Dental, eyes, team house for off ships programmes staff, and HOPE (Hospital OutPatien Extension) centre, which will house 150 patients and care givers before and after surgery. It has climate control facility for our maxillo-facial and plastics patients. They are some of the best sites we've had, our Hope center will be especially comfortable for the patients. the building was renovated with the help of a Catholic organisation and the local Lion's Club.

 DENTAL AND EYE SITES - These buildings are also renovated and are perfect purpose facilities for screening and treating our patients.

It was interesting driving around town, it's more developed in many ways because of the oil money here, but it's the old thing of the haves and have nots. Also, the hospitals we also got to visit yesterday, look good on the outside, and may even have a good surgeon in residence, however, the team supporting the surgery may be lacking in some basics such as the need for scrupulous hygiene! The major request of the government is for training for medical personelle.

We hope you enjoy the photos as you journey with us!

SCREENING SITE - This site will be a school which is perfect with a variety of buildings to screen, examin and assess our patient's suitability for surgery.


             Class rooms, complete with grafiti





The obligatory large load, balanced precariously on a bike and pulled along by one man!

Sunday, May 19, 2013


For those of you trying to donate to us through our Mercy Ships page (see link to the right) please note that the best way to do this is with your payment card, which will be auto converted to US dollars, otherwise, if you select your national flag to donate, the money may go into the general fund and not reach us.  Thank you!




...With Dr. Parker; meeting our patients...

Maxillofacial needs

Cleft lip and palate/baby feeding programme

Cataract needs

Visiting the Agricultural training site


Hanging out with patients (and nurse friends) on deck 7

Goodbye to precious friends...

Multilingual rendition of Silent Night

Christmas day!

Mariama's New dress, new life ceremony                             

BBQ on the dock with friends

Wednesday, May 8, 2013


The crew galley is a place where crew can cook for themselves.
The pros: it's a great meeting place where rich conversations happen and even richer food is prepared; a place of laughter, singing and entertaining banter.
The cons: it's noisy, you can't always find the tools or space you need, you burn your food because the oven you chose wasn't working quite right.

 I normally try to avoid the crew galley because of the 'cons' above.  Also, I'm an introvert, by which I mean I get re-energized by being alone and preferably in a quiet place. The crew galley, when there are a lot of people in a relatively small place all talking at once, can leave me feeling drained and in need of a dark room with nothing but whale sounds.

I do visit occasionally, in fact I've made several forays into it recently, including today. As I type, I'm sitting there watching a class of children making paper-mache masks.  The extraordinary thing is, my visits of late have been enriching and fulfilling for me in terms of food and interactions with others. 

God specializes in the extraordinary and the ordinary.  Jesus himself hung out with the ordinary, the common people – sinners, tax collectors, fishermen, and the like.  The Creator becomes the created.  The extraordinary becomes the ordinary.  Even today, Jesus will meet us in the most humble of places.  For example, several years ago, after the birth of our first child, Jesus met me in a very un-grand place.  We were living in a flat above a shop in a low socio-economic part of town.  We rented the property as partially furnished, or perhaps we misread and it said poorly furnished – paintings circa 1970, nick-nacks from seaside resorts, and extra- basic kitchenware.  Someone had given us sun loungers to use as easy chairs, because the flat had none.  Its main room was located in the centre of the building, which meant no windows.  This in itself dented my pride, but it was all we could afford having just returned from 2+ years on a Mercy Ship with no savings, moderate-income jobs, and a new baby in tow.  I was still reeling from a touch of postnatal depression and although delighted on one level with my new bouncing bubba, I was living in a dark place, situationally, emotionally and weather wise.  It was a dark December in many respects.

I awoke one chilly morning to discover a dead mouse on our kitchen floor.  Whether it was frozen or had early onset rigor mortis, I couldn't tell.  It could have been either because the place was so cold. It felt like the proverbial last straw. I had been trying to hold myself together in spite of feeling far from my usual upbeat self. I didn't like the apartment of the part of town we were living in and I couldn't imagine ever coming out of the dark hole I seemed to have tumbled down.  I crumpled onto the floor and wept.  Hard.  After a few minutes I gradually became aware of a warm, affective presence in the room with me, and though I couldn't see him with my physical eyes, I had the feeling that the high King of Heaven reached down and sat on that cold, mouse bearing floor with me and he comforted me.  Actually, at first I cried all the harder at the thought of him meeting me there in that awful state, but after I got over feeling unworthy, I then felt comforted.  Humbled. I also felt for the first time in a while that I could go on and things would get better, brighter, and that we'd be ok.  The summer that followed was the sunniest and longest for years before or since. It felt like God's gift to me and our new daughter, whom I pushed for miles each day in an old, beat-up Silver Cross pram, simply for the joy of being out doors in bright places, feeling the warmth of the Son.

Back to the crew galley, another ordinary place that I have recently found to be infused with the presence and warmth and flavour of someone extraordinary.  The same presence that met me on that kitchen floor, on the rough edge of town, 16 plus years ago, has been meeting me here in this busy, noisy place teeming with life and laughter. He's been connecting me with people hungry for encouragement or direction.  He has given me the words to speak to lift them (I've only to read the book of proverbs to know I don't personally have the sort of wisdom that's been coming out of my mouth of late).  I feel like I'm a spectator, of sorts, watching God at work in and through me as the young woman, anxious about her future, sheds tears of relief in response to a word picture of hope.  An older woman getting confirmation that the thing she's headed for next may actually be a stepping-stone to God's plan for her life.  A girl, who often seems to sit on the fringes of our community, draws close and enters into deep conversation.  Who'd have thought such a pedestrian place could also be one of such heart-warming ministry?  

Perhaps next time you find yourself feeling too ordinary, you might pause to consider the possibility of one who is extraordinary, whose sweet fruit is flowing in and through you. As you listen for God, your soul will be satisfied as with the richest of fare.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Rip Van Winkle

No way is it almost a year since we blogged. Feeling a bit like Rip Van Winkle here - maybe I dozed off for 10 months or something. Very Scary!
Anyway we are still in Africa (Guinea at present) and keeping busier than we'd like - but that's nothing new.
What is new is that Rachel-Elise is planning to go to Israel this summer on an educational trip that will give her credits towards University (or College) in a couple of years time. VERY EXCITING.
If you would like to know more you can contact her on Facebook, or if you just want to send loads of money to cover her airfare there are two payment buttons just over there to the right:-)

Promise we will Blog more in the coming weeks............


Wednesday, May 23, 2012

End of the school year

It's been a hoot. Thanks for counting down with us. Tomorrow we head back to the UK for our first family holiday on home soil in over 4 years!! Which side of the road do us brits drive on now anyway?