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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.