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Wednesday, May 31, 2006

President of Liberia comes to the Anastasis

Liberian President, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, came to visit the Anastasis about a week before the ship left Liberia on 22 May 2006. The Anastasis sailed to Ghana on 29 May 2006. The Africa Mercy plans to arrive in Liberia in March 2007. She wanted to say Thank you for the service Mercy Ships provided to her country for the past 7 months. Here is a transcript of her speech.

"Dr. Barr and officials of government, prelates and members of the Liberian Council of Churches, Executive Director Quist, and staff of the Mercy Ship, visiting team coming with Dr. Bernard to help us, colleagues, friends, ladies and gentlemen.

I could no less than be here. This is not my first trip to the Mercy Ship.

I had the opportunity to come several weeks ago and to tour the ship, and to walk through the areas where our young people are being treated, and to just be awed by what is happening in their lives. I was overfilled with gratitude and appreciation to those who have given so much to be able to share with us.

There are three things that come from the service of the Mercy Ship,well-stated in all of the statements that have been made this afternoon. First is the blessings that come from those who walk in the path of Jesus Christ – the blessings that come from those who walk the talk, and those who benefit from those that make the walk. They're both blessed – the giver and the receiver. And I think those who are on the Mercy Ship will be blessed by God as those who they have served leave the ship also blessed. So we thank them for walking in the path of Jesus Christ.

The second thought that comes to mind is the humanity of sacrificial service. How many of us would be willing to leave all that we have – our family, our friends, our fortune, our profession, our occupation, and to go out and serve, bringing new life to others? How many of you, in your community, are willing to do likewise – to look around you in the community and to gather those who have the capacity and the capability to say, "Yes, we can do something"? About the garbage; about the children on the streets; about the old, abandoned people? That we, too, with what we have, can serve them. We can connect to humanity by the little that we do, and we want to thank the Mercy Ship for what they have done, for this sacrificial service. They have given up everything they have to come to a faraway place and to be able to render to those in need. We do thankyou.

And the third thing, that lesson that comes to me from their service, is the potential of transformation. We look at the examples that they showed – young people, ostracized, unaccepted in their community, ashamed to go around because of their disfigurement, because of their disability. And see the difference after this service – they can walk out, proud; they can once again regain their self-confidence; they can once again become a part of their community, their church, their school, their work. The transformation that comes from their potential.

And I sometimes see this as a microcosm of the transformation of our nation. Because there is pain in transformation, because you take something that looks one way and you mold it into something else. And in that period, there's no escaping the difficulties. I'm sure those young children, when they have to take anaesthesia, when they have to go through and watch a surgeon's knife, that they were afraid. But then look at the potential of their lives recreated. And I say it's a microcosm because I know that in our transforming our country, that there will be pain and sorrow, there will be difficulties. But look at tomorrow, when the bright lights come on.

And so we each and every one of us in this room need to capture the spirit of these three things: walking in the path of Jesus Christ; making sacrificial service, as the Bible says, "Cast your buckets where you are"; and recognizing, extolling, the potential of transformation.

To all of you Mercy Ships, we want to thank you. It's sad that you are leaving, we are going to miss you, the community, those you have served, the country, the government; but we take hope that as the Africa Mercy ship comes back next year, some of you – as many as could make it – will once again remember this great land of liberty, this place of a friendly people, with all its problems – that you will come back and once again join hands and bond with us. Give us an opportunity to work with you, to appreciate you, to thank you, and to share God's blessings with you. "

Monday, May 22, 2006

Africa Mercy Commissioning Video (8 min.)

Please click on the link above to go to the Mercy Ships Video of the Commissioning Service. Get your tissues's very moving!

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Update from Rob and Denise

Hello Friends,
The saying is, “time flies when you’re having fun”. We are REALLY having fun, and it would appear time is really flying. The past couple months have FLOWN by and the weather has improved….and we are enjoying it!
There has been a flurry of activity both on the ship and off. If you’ve been looking at our website ( and/or blog ( you will have an idea of the changes and excitement going on here at the Africa Mercy! If not…here are some of the highlights:

We had the commissioning service on April 6th….here in Northeast England rather than in London as the ship was not yet ready to sail.

Africa Mercy on Commissioning Day!

Africa Mercy, originally uploaded by MercyWatch.

Much preparation went into getting parts of the ship sparkling for the ceremony and tour. The guests (about 200 total) came from all over the world (US, UK, Liberia, Korea, Switzerland, Holland, Germany, etc) to attend the ceremony and tour a small portion of the ship. A number of our International Board Members attended the event and had a Board Meeting in London the day after. The Mercy Ships UK office hosted the event and worked out the logistics of getting everyone by train and bus to the ship!
The Audience sitting in the Africa Mercy Dining Room

An operating room onboard the Africa Mercy (not yet completed).

Surgery Tour
Jean Campbell explains about the Recovery Room.

Recovery Ward Tour
Reception, the Dining Room, a guest cabin, a family cabin, an operating room and the recovery room all were set up and cleaned thoroughly for the event! It was a glorious day and gave the guests, our crew and the shipyard workers a glimpse of how the Africa Mercy will be a magnificent tool to serve the poor and needy in Africa when she is completed!

First Ghana Pre-Screening

This picture is of the 1st Optical Pre -Screening day held in Ghana at the end of April for this upcoming field service. The Advance Team is on site there and working towards having everything ready when the Anastasis arrives.
First AFM Screening B005[1], originally uploaded by MercyWatch.

Mercy Ships announced that the Ghana outreach will begin as planned in June 2006. Since the Africa Mercy will not be ready to sail down as planned, the Anastasis will begin the outreach after she finishes the outreach in Liberia in May instead of retiring. So….what this means is extended service of the Anastasis until probably November 2006.

Community Meeting at St. John's Church

This created a new type of dilemma for us at the Africa Mercy! The crew here had planned to sail down to Ghana, but as the crew of the Anastasis is mainly finishing up and had plans to go back to their homes….new ministries….and other positions within Mercy Ships…many of the crew here are needed on the Anastasis. Some of the crew members of the Anastasis were transferring to the Africa Mercy and they will stay on the Anastasis and serve as planned, other crew changed their plans and have extended for a time. Still…we have a need to staff two ships as the Africa Mercy becomes operational.
This means that most of the Africa Mercy crew (about 300+) waiting all over the world to join the ship in the UK to sail to Ghana are now needed in Ghana in June! In addition, a plan to move the crew here (about 50+ or half our crew here) to Liberia and Ghana was worked out. Some have left already for Liberia this month and another group of crew will leave going to Liberia to join the crew of the Anastasis to prepare for the upcoming field service in Ghana.

April 2006 075, originally uploaded by MercyWatch.

So… there has been much activity in packing and preparing to go … meetings to figure out how the tasks and jobs will be covered here as many of those going are managers of departments on the Africa Mercy and those departments still need oversight from here. So those of us remaining here (we will be staying with the ship) will be wearing several hats in addition to our hard hats! As crew members leave there is a shifting of the remaining crew between the houses to consolidate the housing requirement as best as possible. We will be closing down several houses and so we will be moving to a different flat next week! This is all taken in stride and seen as one step closer to moving aboard (hopefully in July or early August) and actually sailing our marvelous ship to Ghana.

Rachel cleaning the Dining Room Windows

The reception staff will be going to Ghana (Penny left this past week to join the Anastasis), except for Denise and Rachel. Rachel has been heading up the Mercy Ships cleaning crew for the past few weeks and helping in Engineering making permanent English labels to replace the thousands of labels and signs in Danish.
April 2006 021, originally uploaded by MercyWatch.

Denise at the Reception Desk during Commissioning

Denise continues to assist any way she can in other departments. She will be very busy when the long awaited Fire Control Panel arrives in early June to be installed on the bridge and on the Reception Desk. There will be training required on the equipment and procedures established as the ship becomes operational. As we prepare to move the crew onboard, new reception staff will be needed to serve in Reception, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week! Training will be required for the crew to be familiar with safety on board and responses required. The crew will need to do test runs of fire drills, man-over board, musters and abandon ship drills to gain our certificate to sail. All of the planning and preparations are exciting to be a part of. We are so privileged to be here and a part of what God is doing here to prepare!
Denise, originally uploaded by MercyWatch.

The Africa Mercy Lifeboats

Rob has been busy and going to training! He recently took a course and received his Certificate of Proficiency in Survival Craft and Rescue Boats at the South Tyneside College Marine Safety Training Centre. This is an advanced safety course and he was able to launch, maneuver and rescue using various lifeboats (The biggest one - a 50 man enclosed lifeboat, an open lifeboat (similar to the ones on the Caribbean Mercy) and the Zodiac Rescue boat). The picture above is of the Africa Mercy Life Boats (the 2 guys in blue are our crew members).
May 2006 069, originally uploaded by MercyWatch.

Capt. Al, Betty Lou and us

For those of you who know Capt. Al and Betty Lou Bennett (shown in the picture above with us)…Al arranged this class for 4 of our crew members, including Rob, while he was serving as Training Officer on the Africa Mercy for a few months recently. Rob enjoyed the class and particularly was impressed with the professionalism and enthusiasm of the instructors for keeping the students aware of the life and death situations they were simulating. Rob attended an AMOS school, this is a software program that Mercy Ships uses to keep track of the maintenance and repair parts for the ship. Rob has been using this program for over 3 years now and really enjoyed the training!
April 2006 203, originally uploaded by MercyWatch.

Paul installing the Oxygen Supply System

On the ship there has been a continued level of activity as the engineering and deck departments test and verify the many systems required to deploy the ship, each week chipping away at the list of required survey items and the needed items for our ministry. The picture above is of Paul Waldron, one of our long term crew members, installing the Oxygen Supply System for the Hospital.
AFM0605_TECHCREW042_MO, originally uploaded by MercyWatch.

Aft Crane Testing

This picture is of the Aft Crane testing. Our Chief Officer, Tim Tretheway (in the white coveralls) is manuvering the crane in this test. On the other side of the railing...3 decks below are the 2 container hatches on aft deck. This crane will lift the containers from Deck 8, through the container hatch on Deck 5 to the Container Storage Area on Deck 3.
AFM0605_TECHCREW085_MO, originally uploaded by MercyWatch.

Andy in the Engineering Control Room

Testing is also being done on the engine alarms and this picture is of Andy Cole, 2nd Engineer and a long term crew member, at the Engine Control Console monitoring the various gauges.
AFM0605_TECHCREW036_MO, originally uploaded by MercyWatch.

Andy and Chief Pete testing the Engineering Alarm Panel

The engine room alarm panel is shown above with Andy and the Chief Engineer, Pete Johnson. Pete was on the Caribbean Mercy with us and will be here till July.
AFM0605_TECHCREW037_MO, originally uploaded by MercyWatch.

It is incredible to us that the Lord brings all of these experienced crew members to be a part of this extremely complex ship! One of the many perks of serving as part of this crew is the sense of community we enjoy. We not only get to work alongside each other, but to worship, praise, pray, encourage, share in our joy and our sadness. Recently, one of the UK office staff , he served in IT (with computers), passed away suddenly at the age of 37. Please join us in prayer for his wife and 3 children.

Rob signs out our Cabin Key!

May 2006 019, originally uploaded by MercyWatch.
We have some exciting pictures to share with you, as our cabin is almost complete. All that remains is the final cleaning. Most of the cabins are now coming to completion. We now must pick up the key to go see our cabin! It is soooooo exciting!

Deck 4 - Rob in the Cabin Passageway

As you come on Deck 5, pass through the Reception Area, then down to Deck 4. We head down the passageway towards the bow of the ship on the starboard side. As you can see from the picture, the deck heads are not yet in as they are completing the fire sealant on the wiring. Oh.........and also still running some of the wires!
May 2006 017, originally uploaded by MercyWatch.

Unlocking our Cabin Door!

Our cabin is easy to find and we unlock the cabin door and ...
May 2006 033, originally uploaded by MercyWatch.

surprise...just about everything is working inside! The lights are on, but we can't yet try the water. That will be in the possibly next week or the week after.

May 2006 032

This is a picture of Rob standing just inside the cabin door. The bookshelf is hanging on the wall and a couch will go just beyond it further inside the cabin. The bathroom is to Rob's left behind the kitchen area. You can clearly see the Kitchen area.....we hope to put a microwave in one of the open shelves. There is a sink and a space for a small refrigerator under the counter. The carpet is all laid under the covering.
Below to the left is a picture of the desk and wardrobe unit.
There are two wardrobes in the cabin. The other is on the wall across from this one.

May 2006 025

Rob opens up the wardrobe to show you the space! These units allow about twice the storage for clothes as we had on the Caribbean Mercy!

May 2006 004
May 2006 008

We also have a much larger bed in our new cabin! It's a real move up from our futon that we folded up each morning into a couch! And we have a wonderful window! Our cabin on the Caribbean Mercy was an inside cabin no daylight ever in there! We will now have sunlight! What a blessing!
May 2006 029

We found it quite challenging to show a picture of the bathroom and shower! Mainly cause we couldn't get far enough away to get a full shot of Rob or me standing in there! So we thought that we'd show the base part of the shower with Rob standing inside!
May 2006 030

There is a toilet and also the sink and a lovely cabinet. The mirrored doors on the cabinet open to quite a lot of storage space. All the bathroom/showers are basically the same and someone put a lot of thought into the design of the unit! It's compact but very functional! These cabins are beautiful and well designed and BIG (relatively speaking). We are truly blessed!!!
There is much work ongoing in the community areas of the ship and things are coming together. The floor of the cafe has just been re-finished and it looks gorgeous!
May 2006 034

These are the original tables and flooring from the ship.

May 2006 040
The cafe will probably be the gathering spot for crew and it is going to be lovely!
.........It's open and spacious ..........
two decks high and has nice areas that the crew can gather to talk, play games, check the internet (no computers yet...but the wiring is there) etc.

May 2006 041

The cafe stairway can not yet be completely seen as it is still covered up for protection purposes ... but the steps and railings are that same beautiful wood and will be gorgeous as well.
The crew is really enjoying looking around the ship as it is being cleaned and painted and is just beginning to look like what soon it will be ..................

A beautiful hospital ship to bring Glory to God by bringing hope and healing to the people of Africa!

We could continue on with more...but will save it for the next newsletter! So much is going on and it is amazing to be here and experience it all! If you have a few minutes...please write us an email or snail mail and let us know about you. Please let us know if you are checking the website or blog... we need some feedback on those sites. We are really feeling far away and not hearing much news about the USA! We were talking the other day about how Paul must have felt as he traveled around and wrote all those letters that are so dear to us! How did he find out what was going on in the churches, especially when he was in jail! There was no email then!

So we'd love to pray for you and know how you are.....until we hear from you... As Paul writes... "Peace to the brothers, and love with faith from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Grace to all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with an undying love." (Ephesians 6:23-24)

God's abundant blessings,
Rob and Denise

Thursday, May 18, 2006

New Article on the Web concerning our Training

As we prepare for the launch of the Africa Mercy, there are many, many, many things to learn and get ready. Lots of tests of equipment and training, too. Please click on the link above (where the lighthouse is in the title) to see how we are preparing for all these things. A quote from Denise about the receptionists training is included in the article and how the kids were able to see their new home!

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Community Meeting

Please click on the title link above to listen to the Community Meeting with our Exectutive Director, Ken Berry, as the speaker. Russ Holmes is the MC for the evening. The worship team is led by Lawrence Adjei.

Pictures of Jarrow and Hebburn

Click on the title here to see a picture show of the two towns near where the Africa Mercy is docked. We currently live in Jarrow and will be moving next week to Hebburn. The gentleman who posts on this site found some of our pictures and we've joined his group. This will give you an idea of the towns around here and our everyday life (except we don't frequent the pub).

I've found a blog describing the local area! This is great...some old photos of the ships built here and lots of local shots. Here is the link..

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Having fun in Engineering!

Some of the crew were having fun with Rob as they were preparing the labels for the Engine Room. They decided to give Rob a new function --- Just tap him on the head and he starts the Emergency Bilge Pump!