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Friday, December 19, 2008

Farewell Liberia


All Hail, Liberia Hail All Hail, Liberia Hail This glorious land of liberty shall long be ours Though new her name green be her fame And mighty be her power In joy and gladness with our hearts united We'll shout the freedom of a race benighted A home of glorious liberty by God's command

All Hail, Liberia Hail All Hail, Liberia Hail In union strong, success is sure We cannot fail With God above our rights to prove We will over all prevail With hearts and hands, our country's cause defending We'll meet the foe with valor unpretending

(Liberia National Anthem)

Our time here has come to an end.....farewell Liberia.
(Nathanael saying goodbye)
We also say farewell to many crew who have been with us throughout the outreach. Many line up on the dock and wave goodbye each afternoon.
Part of leaving comes with getting ready for sea. Anything that could fall off your shelves etc has to be put on the floor. As I write, I have boxes of crockery, TV, plants and toys scattered around the living room floor. 24 hour watches were patroling the decks looking out for any potential stowaways. Then of course emergency preparations. We all get many drills so we can practice mustering at our lifeboat stations and fitting our lifejackets. I think we all seem to have it down to a fine art by now.
After 6 1/2 days of sailing we have now arrived at Tenerife. The voyage was a bit rocky on some days with a lot layed low with sea sickness. Tim did a good job of getting us there.
This was the view from the sea at 1am this morning
And this is where we arrived this morning.
Towards the end of the trip we were informed that there wasn't a berth available for us as the Spanish Navy had taken it. Because the port give us a berth free of charge we can't complain too much, but they found us a space along the way where they usually load cement so it's quite messy round here. It's a bit further to walk to town so we will be investigating the buses and hopefully we will move over to the other side in the next few days.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Farewell Dayworkers

Whist in Liberia we provide some employment to help us with work on the ship. Applications and interviews are set up and over 100 dayworkers are employed. They become part of our daily lives around the ship, many are Christians, some are not and end up becoming one! So it is always sad to say farewell to them at the end of an outreach. We try and honour them for all that they have achieved with us and the other week we had a big celebration. These guys know how to party. Click on the video to hear them singing and dancing.....you never know, even you might be tapping your feet at the end of it.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Presidential Visits

(Tim & President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf)
Before leaving Liberia, President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf requested a visit to the ship to give a thank you speech. It took a bit of arranging with many protocols and security but it was worth it. The dining room was transformed into a smart function room.
President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf has been a great support to Mercy Ships during our time here. Click play to hear her speech (I'm afraid it's in two parts as it was too long to upload the whole video onto You Tube)
thank you speech Part 1 thank you speech Part 2 If your speakers aren't loud enough to hear the speech you can download the transcript from here
Following that the Vice President wanted to hire the presidential caterer to come and cook a meal for the whole crew. This sounded like a good idea and he brought along many of his VIP friends who sat down and ate with the crew.
(Tim with the Vice President)
(Tim with the Minister of Health)
To show their appreciation they presented the ship with a beautiful handmade quilt, made by the people of Liberia. It is now hanging up in our cafe area.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Nathanael's Nursery Portraits

It's that time of year when the yearly school photo's come out. Fortunately on the ship we haven't got the high costs that go with it and and the dilemma of choosing which ones to have as our ship photographer does it for us and gives us all the digital photo's. Here are Nathanael's nursery photo's:

Friday, December 12, 2008

Book Night

During our time in Liberia we have been learning more and more of what has happened over the many years of civil war. We recently came across an art exhibition at a nearby hotel. Many of the paintings captivated us, but were not the sort you would hang on your wall in your living room. Most of the pictures depicted war and the atrocities that go with it. There were scenes of rebels with their guns, burning houses, people running for their lives and others to horrific to even mention here. For Liberians it was everyday life at one point, and it amazes us how people continue with their lives as they daily rub shoulders with former rebel soldiers, some who may have killed your family and the memories it must bring. There was a caption under one painting:
"You have to run for your life, the only way is in the river, you can't swim. In war there is no option"
The theme of "no option" rings out as we read the recently published book, "Redemption Road" by Liberian Author Elma Shaw. In a recent radio interview Elma says that the book portrays different characters from all walks of life, representing all the different people in Liberia, each of them struggling with something and all searching for their own redemption. The stories and the characters are not necessarily the story of one person, but lots of stories mixed up -- attitudes and thoughts and everything -- several of them given to one character so that we can see the essence of who Liberians are. The stories that she ended up portraying in the book were the stories that she had heard most often. Everyone wanted to tell what had happened to them, and what had gone on. And the ones that kept repeating from different people, from different places -- the incidents that kept repeating -- were the ones that made it into the book. We had the privilege of having Elma on board for an evening where she did a book reading and signing. She was interesting to listen to and was very open to questions from the crew. If you ever come across the book, read it and learn of some of things that went on here and what people are dealing with now.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Yabba Dabba Doo

Recently we had a costume party on board, a time for crew to let their hair down for a bit and have some fun. Of course we couldn't miss an opportunity like this to take a part. Everybody had to dress up in a film or storybook character. There were some amazing costumes like Spongebob, Narnia Ice Queen, Scarecrow from the Wizard of Oz and even Cruella, who got boo'ed off the stage because she was so good as she looked just like her!
So here are the Tretheways as the Flintstone family (although we have Bam Bam instead of pebbles!)....and guess what....we won!

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Jesus Film & Church Dedication

This is Pastor Jomah Kollie.

Wow! what an amazing man, a man we have all come to know and love here in Liberia. Pastor Jomah has a heart to see people changed by the power of God and has been going out with our Jesus film team 2-3 times week. It has been great to have this man come alongside our teams and for us to know that any seeds that are sown and any lives that have been committed to Christ, that he will be there to follow up. In our time here it has been estimated that 30,000 have seen the Jesus film and 20,000 have made a commitment in some way.

Pastor Jomah has a muslim background and was the first in his family to become a christian and so his family disowned him and left him to fend for himself. In the war he was with some friends when they encountered rebels. He stood and watched as the rebels shot his friends one by one, but decided to let him go. As he ran for his life, they opened fire, amazingly only one bullet got him in his hand. As a result he lost the lower part of this left arm.

How would you feel if, many years down the road, you suddenly came face to face with that killer? This is what happened to Pastor Jomah. He decided to approach the killer and forgave him and continued to witness the love of Christ to him week by week. Now this man is part of Jomah's ministry in church planting and the Jesus film. Amazing what can be done in the name of Jesus. A couple of weeks ago we had the pleasure of attending a new church plant in one of the villages where the Jesus film has been shown.
We started off with baptism's at a small stream about 2 miles away. That was a bit of a shock as we hadn't thought about embarking on a 2 mile hike through the bush and also our shoes hadn't either!....our 1st African Top Tip, next time go prepared, strappy sandals just don't work!.....2nd Top Tip, we need to buy a toddler backpack so we can carry Nathanael on our backs!.......3rd Top Tip, a good foot soak helps nine blisters!
Click play to hear the celebration start with African singing:

After the baptism, we had the church dedication. The village had amazingly built this mud church in 3 weeks, they even borrowed the tin roof as they couldn't afford to pay for it yet.
(A new church)
(Mud walls)
Many came to be a part of this occasion and under the mud exterior it was surprisingly cooler than outside. Many church leaders from the surrounding area attended and even somebody from the Salvation army came, along with his hat which looked fun against his african shirt.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Sunday Post 2nd Article

Click below to see the second article that appeared in the Sunday Post (Scottish Paper, UK), written by a journalist who was visiting as part of a vision trip.
Tim is featured in this article!

Saturday, November 15, 2008


During our time here we get many visitors that we take a part in hosting. It can range from UN Troops, School kids, Vision Trips to Ambassadors or Presidents. Many come with the expectation of a little ship doing a few surgeries and are often surprised at the size of the ship and go away touched by God in some way.
Recently we have been hosting a lot of vision trips. These are groups of people who have an interest in the work that we do and can either be potential donors or can be a great advocate in getting people involved and getting the word out about Mercy Ships, or on another scale they might already be involved with the work, yet they have never experienced it in reality and visiting the ship gives them a better understanding and touches them in a way that maybe pictures or words can't convey. These trips are really worthwhile as they can come and be a part of community life and see the work Mercy Ships do, face to face. They see the work out in the field, they can sit in on a surgery, they visit in the ward and brush shoulders with the crew at dinner time or in the cafe area.
Recently we had a Sunday Post journalist (Scottish Paper, UK) on board as part of a vision trip, Click here to read his first article on his trip, we look forward to reading the next!
Last week we had the US Ambassador and her entourage visiting for the afternoon. They took a real interest in all that went on here and even chose to sit and have dinner in our dining room amongst the crew. It is really good to have the support of people like this, it makes our work a little easier. (Tim showing the bridge to the US Ambassador)
(US Ambassador with some of the Africa Mercy Leadership)

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Harvest Thanksgiving

Today we had Thanksgiving Day. As we have a number of crew from different nationalities we joined Liberia in celebrating it today. We had a nice BIG meal followed by a celebration harvest/thanksgiving service. The display of local fruits and vegetables was amazing. - For part of the service the school presented a "Living Cornucopia" where all the children dressed up as fruit and vegetables. As Nathanael is part of the nursery it was the first production that he has been able to take part in. He looked so cute in his costume.
(Nathanael as a pea in a pod with his "carrot" friend, Estevam)
Click play to see Nathanael modeling his costume
Click play to hear the school singing.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Remember, Remember.....

Remember, remember the 5th of November.
For most Brits this is a big tradition in the UK when the 5th of November comes along and everybody ventures out with their hats and scarfs, eating hotdogs and waving sparklers for Bonfire night.
So when you're in Africa there are certain things that the Brits miss, so we all huddled together on the dock around a pretend bonfire eating custard creams. The fireworks flashed in the sky (actually it was lightning, but it worked just aswell) and we did the customary ooooh's and aaaah's that we all do when watching fireworks in the UK.

Monday, October 27, 2008


In a country without adequate health care your survival beyond the age of 5 makes you one of the "lucky ones". You've overcome the odds. Then one day at 16 years old, you discover a small button tumour on your face. It grows rapidly over the next 8 years. You are helpless because there is nothing you can do and no one can help you.

This is the story of Alimou Camara from Conokry, the capital of Guinea in West Africa. Alimou was born in 1984 and schooled in a catholic mission, despite his Muslim background. His parents died when he was young, and he was left with his 3 brothers and 2 sisters. Today only two of his brothers are alive and both are married.

At 16, Alimou had to stop school as the tumour grew in size and became an unsightly spectacle. His siblings supported him, but his friends abandoned him. People just laughed and rejected him.

Soon he was unable to work or eat, and he began losing weight. His nephews and nieces grew afraid of him, his sister-in-law feared contamination and ordered her children not to drink from the same cup. He began to seclude himself, hiding away from a judgmental world.

After 8 years his tumour, which hung from his lower jaw, had grown to the size of his head and had become a strain on his neck. His bottom teeth became embedded and displaced as the mass enlarged. He experienced headaches and a continuous watering of his eyes. Puss would seep from his mouth where the tumour protruded. Alimou would wipe it away, but the smell was overpowering. For the last several years he was unable to chew and forced to push the food to the back of his throat to swallow. Without medical attention benign tumours will slowly cut off a persons airway as they grow, and in many cases prevent the passage of food through the mouth. In hope, Alimou was not willing to settle began going out in public to various hospitals seeking help. Wherever he tried, no one was able to help him. In a last desperate attempt he sought help at Radio Familial, a local station known for it's humanitarian work. From there he was refered to John Erickson, a chaplain in the town of N'Zau who worked at the hope clinic. John told him about Mercy Ships that was currently in Liberia and a screening team was due in Guinea 1 week later and he was welcome to stay until then.

The Mercy Ships team determined that he was an ideal candidate for maxillo-facial surgery and he was able to fly (his first time!) to Liberia for free, thanks to the world food program. The 8 hours surgery involved removing the 3kg (6.6lb) tumour, his lower jaw and all his lower teeth. The surgeons removed the tumour and fitted Alimou with a titanium lower jaw. It was like dismantling a malfunctioning machine then reshaping it together to make it whole.

The hour finally came when Aimou was conscious, without a mass on his face for the first time he was handed a small mirror, he examined his face quietly, in awe, tears slid down his cheeks, he was unable to speak due to the tracheotomy, but actions spoke louder than any words. He was amazed.

He spent 10 days recovering on the ward and he summed up his thoughts on the care of the nurses, doctors and the surgery itself "It was Jesus who helped me because He is here". He still had no lower teeth or chin and had to continue to keep his food very soft. The remaining skin that stretched over his tumour needed time to shrink back and so he was booked for a return surgery later on in the year to have bones taken from his hip and placed around his prosthetic lower jaw to form a chin. These will naturally graft to the titanium jaw, the swelling will recede and he will be able to function better than he has in the last 8 years. His plans now: he wants to go back to school for accounting, he is also interested in economics. Given the obstacles he has already overcome in his life, we're sure he'll achieve his goal. Praise God for Alimou's life and pray for him as he returns and gets used to what normal life is like.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Walking to Benin

It's kind of weird being in one outreach and yet preparing for the next outreach that will follow within approx 2 months of this one ending. Our next outreach in 2009 will be in the country of Benin. Already, French classes have started so we can at least get by when we're out and about. Now we're walking to Benin.......ok, not literally, We know for sure Tim won't be as he has to sail the ship there!
Crew members have been challenged to get into teams of 6 and walk the 908 miles it would take to get from Liberia to Benin. It has been calculated that walking from the end of the dock to the port entrance gate and back is 1 mile so every evening their is a continuous stream of crew members clocking up their miles. Each week the teams total their miles for the past week and hand them into the organisers who are plotting our steps on a map.
Sharon has decided to join a team, plus it gives her a good excuse to shed some of the extra pounds she has gained since eating the good food that is cooked up by our chef on board the ship! So each evening she sets off with Nathanael in the stroller to walk or run 2-3 miles, listening to her favourite podcast or GCCC (Tim's church) latest church sermon.
Sharon's team is named the "Charlies Angels" due to the fact that it's one guy (named Charles) and 5 women and last week we clocked up 91 miles between us, not bad when it's often pouring down with rain here! Click on the picture below to see a close up of our team in true "Charlies Angels" style!
Charles (top),
Sharon , Patricia (back L-R),
Sally (middle),
Katharina, Annette (front L-R)

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Life Without Limbs

If you have never heard of Nick Vujicic, you need to check this man out at http://www.lifewithoutlimbs.org/ or even buy his DVD. We did a search on You Tube and he is very popular there too, click HERE to see footage of him.
(Tim with Nick)
Mercy Ships had the piviledge of hosting Nick on board last week during his world tour visit to Liberia. Nick was born without any arms and legs and has such a powerful testimony. Some could feel quite uncomfortable when faced with such disability but he has such a natural ability to put you at ease in his company. He shares many jokes like not being a very good time keeper as he has no wrist watch, and his little foot is refered to as "his little chicken drumstick" which he can use to flip his mobile phone up to his ear!! Plus there were many stories where he has had fun with people, like hiding in the overhead luggage compartment on a plane waiting for the next person to open it up, imagine their surprise when there is Nick shouting "BOO". He gave us an evening of laughs and encouragement.
Nick spoke at many gatherings in Liberia where hundreds were expected and 8000 turned up to hear him speak. He was able to identify with many who were in a similar position without limbs and give them a message of hope. At the end of his farewell message the Life Without Limbs Team were approached by a lady carrying her 5 day old armless baby. The baby was brought onto the stage in front of the big crowd. The crowd watched as this armless baby was prayed for by a guy who has no arms or legs. Nick was able to show that this baby has value and not a curse as most Liberians would believe.
We pray that Nicks testimony in this country has brought hope to many lives. Continue to pray for Nick as he continues his world tour in Ghana, Egypt, South Africa, Singapore, India, Hong Kong & China.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Time in Liberia

We have finally finished adding the last of our gadgets, check out our Nathanael clock at the bottom of the side menu

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

New Life on Board

Just before 5am on 17th September 08 a baby girl was born on B ward of the Africa Mercy. The mother was here as a caregiver for her son who was onboard for a surgery to his hand. Though only eight months into her pregnancy, she began feeling pains at 1am. Fortunately we have a nurse on board who is a midwife and so she was called, along with the physician, to see the safe delivery of the baby. The baby arrived at 4:41, weighing 4lb 9oz. (2.08kg).
For the midwife it was a bit of a confidence boost to successfully deliver a baby without all of the tools she normally has when she is at home in Australia. During the ward devotional, the counselors gathered around the newborn and prayed a blessing over her. One declared her name to be Mercy and the mother smiled in agreement. The childs father visited in the afternoon and said it was a very nice name for her. Interestingly, their son was not even scheduled to be on board the ship, He was on a waiting list for an operation on his hand and they came on Sunday because another patient had cancelled and opened a spot for him.
As Captain, Tim has many hats to wear, and one of those jobs includes being the onboard birth and death registrar where he must record all birth and deaths that happen on the ship and issue certificates. So although it meant extra paperwork for him, it was paperwork that he enjoyed. He was able to meet and congratulate the parents on their new addition, not something he gets to do everyday!