Friday, June 24, 2011

My Life on My Ship

I normally don’t talk about the organization I work for in itself; most of the reason being, I work in reception where the hospital stuff just doesn’t get by me all that much.

I truly do love this ship. The ship, or I should say the people and the God who dwell inside, bring so much light to so many people. “See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples, but the Lord rises upon you and his glory appears over you. Nations will come to your light and kings to the brightness of your dawn”(Isaiah 60:2-3). There is a lot of darkness over this country. There is the ‘secret organization’, the diamond trade, which works much like a slave force with how much people are paid, and of course the vestiges of war. But the people still smile, and there is still laughter. Satan has not won altogether. Even without us there is light. Still we are the harbingers of light.

Thousands of people have come through our gangway, or the gangways of one of the other ships, facing death and or separation from their families of friends, and left with a better future. Tumors have been removed, cleft lips fixed, and legs straightened. All this is for free. I love that about our ship.

I don’t just love what we do. I also love the society of the Africa Mercy. Numerous times I’ve gone by the cafĂ© and had to sit down because someone was playing the piano, an impromptu band was going on, or worship was in session. We’ve had trivia nights, sock golf (much like Frisbee golf but safe to play inside), and movies in the international lounge. I’ve been a part of Bible study groups, worship nights on deck 7, and prayer with friends. I love that.

Society means friendship, and with the Africa Mercy this is not a flippant matter. I’ve made friends who I can talk to about anything. Who though we are countries apart, I feel we will always be friends. I’ve laughed with them, cried with them, and worshiped with them.

Why am I telling you this? I thought you should know.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Agriculture Program

I am not the ‘go with the crowd’ charitable person. Not that I am a particularly defiant person but I don’t tend to like to do what I ‘should’ do, so I tend to go kicking and screaming to any of the off ship programs. Of course, I have various good reasons. Making relationships in one day with someone (especially children from orphanages) then only coming sporadically because my schedule doesn’t allow any different, seems almost cruel, and not worth it. Unless I can see a good reason for being somewhere, or feel I make a difference, I don’t see the point. The question comes up if I would do even more evil by going. For example, orphans need constant love, so going to an orphanage, and one of the children get attached (thankfully the orphans seem to have learned and psychologically extract themselves from large groups when they come) then never coming back or only coming back sometimes, only to leave for good in a few months seems cruel. Anyways those are my reasons for not going to our off ships charities often.

The credit for this photo goes to someone other than me.

One of my friends goes to the Agriculture sight almost every week. The Agriculture program is run by Congolese man by the name of Jean-Claude who does an excellent job of teaching about twelve people for three months how to farm and how to teach others to farm. Anyways, my friend wanted me to go with me, and I needed to get off the ship so yesterday I went. At least, I thought, it would be more about the labor than friendship building. Well I was wrong, but it was quite a good experience.
By now the twelve or thirteen people there have been there for two months so they have gotten it down pretty well. They were teaching us (not an incredibly hard thing in my case since I am a city girl I have to admit). Very patiently, a young Sierra-Leonean man and his wife (who had a cute little baby on her back by the name of Anna) showed Penny and I how to plant the seed. They even told us why we did it in that specific way.
Later, after a long lunch break Penny and I went to the other side where a group of men and a woman were fixing plant huts for the saplings (or whatever you call it). They taught us (sometimes patiently and sometimes not so much) how to make very natural rope out of banana palm leaves and tree bark. I am proud to say, I can now do both.
They were very friendly. I felt like I got to know them, which I need to do in another culture. How else can I understand a culture otherwise? Thankfully, they treated me like the friend of Penny and so kept me from feeling as if I have to go back every week, as I don’t think I’d be any use there.
I learned that we have so much to learn from the Africans. They are naturalists by nature. Everything they did at that sight they did without using chemicals and did it with an ease of people who felt that it was how it should be. They understood the need for it better than my American compatriots could. It might be partially because it saves money in Africa, it would not save money in America. Still… I learned. I love learning.
I was probably mostly in the way, I didn’t know what I was doing, and I was a complete foreigner and a complete idiot at times, but I’m glad I went. I like it when for once an African is lording knowledge over me instead of a westerner teaching an African.

Saturday, June 18, 2011


I don't think Satan likes Mercy Ships by much. I'm not saying every bad thing that goes on is a spiritual attack, but when throughout a field service, bad things seem to happen, one wonders.
Barring a war or something similar, the Africa Mercy is not going to leave Sierra Leone until we have completed our alloted time here. I think Satan knows that, but Christians are a lot less useful when they are discouraged, and that is probably his motive. He knows he's losing in the end, so he's going to throw as much ugly at us as he is allowed.

What I am trying to say is we need those prayer warriors back home to step up to the plate for us. I'm not going to get into details, except to say none of the problems have to do with the ship's safety. I'll also say, that emotionally I find myself wilted a lot easier. I find my self esteem attacked almost to the same extreme as my high school days at times. I also find I have never been so irritable in my life, and that is saying a lot becuase I have a sister and two cousins that I can be completely myself with.
Anyways, please, please pray for us.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Ah a few nice weekends

Ever since the day I went to Becca's and found that my being on board too long affected my ability to keep from snapping at people, I have made an actual effort to leave the ship.
We went hiking. Well sort of. A few weekends ago, about five of us decided we were going to hike Sugarloaf mountain (not sure why a perfectly normal mountain is called Sugarloaf). Well it would seem that this mountain isn't all that normal. At the beginning of our trip we hopped into a taxi, and told him where we wanted to go. We then spent the next two hours looking for this sweet mountain. Hah! We ended up at a waterfall sight where the hike to it was very small, much to the relief of my legs. Becca is slightly notorious in my mind for lugging me on interesting excursions. This was nice because the waterfall was cool, and I knew all of the girls (it was just woman which added to the charm) fairly well. I ate my sandwich, had water, and talked to Becca. It was lovely. So, am I sorry it took us so long to get there? Not a bit. On another note, we also went to the craftmarket where after getting attacked by a bunch of sellers (not literally it just seems that way when people are being so persistant all around you), I found a really pretty African dress. Yes, I finally bought myself an African dress. Sidenote: another team of hikers the very next weekend found Sugarloaf.
This weekend, we went on a less exciting excursion to a beautiful, seldom used beach. We swam, got sunburned, and generally relaxed.
Yes, I am surrounded by abject poverty, demon worship, old vestiges of war, and yet God has enough love to notice little me and my seemingly little problem: Heather needs off the ship.
love you all,