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Wednesday, November 24, 2010

We thank God for you and all our blessings!

Happy Thanksgiving to all our Friends and Family!
Where does the time go? It seems we just completed the October Newsletter and it is already near the end of November and so much to tell you! We pray this Newsletter finds you all in good health and good spirits! And looking forward to Thanksgiving and Advent!
We will have a Thanksgiving feast as the Stewards department is planning a lovely dinner for us all as we celebrate and International Thanksgiving!  We wish all of you a wonderful day and however you celebrate it or when ever you celebrate giving thanks to the Lord....it blesses HIM!
One of the new Carrier Air Conditioning units

We give thanks that much progress has been made on the Africa Mercy as she has been in dry-dock near us in Durban. This is one of the new Carrier air conditioning units! These have been put on the ship and are in process of being installed. The ship has now moved out of dry dock and is in the water alongside the dock in the shipyard as work continues.
One of the Frichs generators coming out!
The two Harbour generators have been removed, the four Frichs auxiliary generators have been removed, and the two Sabroe air conditioning units have been removed along with all associated ancillary equipment. These generators are 30 years old and the new replacements will save fuel as well as being more reliable and provide a quieter environment for the hospital, allowing us to fully utilize all 6 operating rooms and all 4 wards.  This is a picture of one of the generators coming out of the ship!
 The four new MAN generators are now onboard and are in process of being connected onboard along with the two new Carrier air conditioning units.
One of the new MAN generators
The two access holes cut in the side of the ship have been welded back, the ship floated again and moved from dry-dock. There is much work to reconnect all the wiring and run the new wiring and install the control units in the engine room and on the bridge. There is also pipefitting work to do in the connection of the cooling and fueling systems for the generators and A/C units.
Much work is taking place all over the ship as different systems are upgraded and annual inspections are performed. The web address on the side of the ship has been repainted and is much larger. We can now easily find our cabin window as it is over the "g" on the starboard side.

This picture gives you an idea of the size of our ship! You don't often see the underside below the surface. We thank the various crew members and Mercy Ships for sharing their pictures of the ship as the work progresses. We are able to work at the ship for a day once a week and usually go there on Thursdays to do our work. It takes us an hour and a half each way riding on the shuttle bus to the ship and back. Rob is preparing the food storerooms for shelving to be installed and I am taking inventory of the staff development library.
Please continue to pray for the safety of the crew and shipyard workers as they labour to complete these many projects. You can read and see much more pictures about this on the Mercy Ships page, "Power the Vision".
We are thankful for a short break we were able to take over the weekend a few weeks back and went on a overnight trip with a few of our fellow crew members. It was an amazing time! The tour company picked us up from Appelsbosch and we began our three hour ride northeast up along the coast.


The Dumazulu Village
Our first stop was a recreated Zulu village where we observed and were guided through the many aspects of daily life in a traditional Zulu village. This was much like visiting an American Indian Reservation where the people dress and act as they would have during the 1800s or some other time period. Since we are actually living just outside a current day Zulu village, it is much different how they live now. They actually have a lot of the same issues as current day American Indians (such as drinking, etc.) living on reservations. 

Rob, hand fighting spear and shield
We saw the makings of the two different types of spears they use along with the shields. We entered one of the huts and our guide explained the arrangement of the sleeping quarters, cooking area and various utensils found within the hut as well as the construction of the hut. We also observed the making of baskets and pots by the women of the village. It was interesting to learn about their dress and how it told of the marital status of the woman.
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This was followed by observing some traditional dancing by the villagers.


The dancing was followed by a wonderful lunch freshly cooked just outside of the village. We've tried to explain in detail about all we learned at the village in the photo album or slideshow, "Dumazulu Village". If you watch the slideshow, be sure to turn on the details in the right hand corner to read the commentary.

After lunch we went over to the Hluhluwe (pronounced shoe -shoe -we) Game Reserve. We boarded our 4X4 open vehicle for a 3 hour Safari ride through the Reserve. We had a very knowledgeable guide who took his time to explain the wildlife to us.

Our guide explained things like why were the stripes of the zebra a different colour than the usual black and white? Why did they appear to be browner? It was because of the drought and lack of access to the normal vegetation that makes up their diet.

We were able to see, zebras, Cape buffalo, white rhinos, giraffes, elephants, wart hogs, impalas, and nyala (The Nyala is a Southern African antelope). We even had a stand off with a Cape buffalo with our 4X4...he wouldn't let us past. We waited there until another vehicle came the other way and were able to coax the buffalo off the road and up the hill.  Amazing!   I can't get the video to upload...so I'll keep trying and send out a link when it goes out there...


DSC00039 A giraffe came right down the road towards us and we saw many elephants and a giraffe that came face to face with a bull elephant and took off the other way! We watched as the giraffe let the elephants pass and then quickly made a run for it in the direction he wanted to go! It is truly amazing to see the animals in the natural habitat! God is amazing! 
After riding and seeing all of these wonderful animals we headed to our lodging for the night at Hluhluwe game reserve where we were greeted by a very friendly meerkat. This meerkat was so funny!  It acted like a cat and followed everyone to their room and even got into a couple of rooms.  In one room was a family with 2 little girls and two beds.  The meerkat got up on the bed and the girls were in the other bed.  Well the meerkat wanted to get on the bed with the girls and kept trying to jump over and the mom blocked it, so they had to finally coax him carefully out the door!  When it wanted to come into your room, it would scratch on the door!  Here's a short video I took of the meerkat outside!
In the morning, we woke up early as the sun come up just after 5 am.  I had to look outside to see if there were any animals around.  Sure enough...two impalas across from our room and then I looked towards the trees and a couple of warthogs were about 100 feet from me.  I didn't dare go out but wanted their picture. 
Our lodge room and the giraffes!


So I cracked the door...thinking I could close it quick if they started to run towards me.  Well... they finally (probably 5 minutes) ran off and then I looked around the corner of the building and 6 giraffes were there eating the tops of the trees!  Here's a short video of the giraffe's having breakfast taken from the wall outside of our room!  Giraffes

We are thankful that we are so privileged to serve with Mercy Ships.  Rob is settling in more to his new role in the Stewards department and Denise is enjoying being back at her role in Staff Development. Each day we are thankful for the opportunity to serve with the talents God has given us. Our opportunities to serve the people here in South Africa are limited as we are not on a regular field service.  We are busy planning for the Sierra Leone field service next year and doing those things that you just can't seem to do when field service is in full gear! 
This is the first time we have had some official ministries going on while the ship is in shipyard! It is a blessing to serve the people here in South Africa!   The Mental Health team just finished up teaching in several different locations around Kwa Zulu Natal to the church leaders.  The Dental Team has had some exciting times serving here, including a day when sunny weather turned into some real hail!  The Eye Team has also just finished up it’s service in several location of the Eastern Cape area. 

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We are thankful that we had an opportunity to serve the village just outside the gate of Appelsbosch.  Rob and I were able to help with painting a parsonage for the Lutheran church in the village.  It was an interesting time for all as we really didn’t have the proper equipment to paint the outside of this house!  I used a machete as a scraper.  The paint was peeling off the house, so I asked did we have any scrapers….and this young man from the local church handed me his machete!  You can see some more pictures by going here…. Painting  Check out the scary ladder!  Oh my! 

We’re sure you must have finished your coffee or tea by now and so we’ll continue in the next newsletter.  We want you to know how thankful we are that you continue to support us here by your prayers, encouragement and financial support.  Thank you so much!  You are a part of what God is doing here in Africa!  We couldn’t be here without you!  We are blessed because of you and we pray that the blessings of God will pour out to you!  May you be abundantly blessed as you thank God for all that He is doing through you! 

God’s blessings,
Denise and Rob



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