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Friday, January 09, 2009

Our Christmas Time

Being away from home at Christmas is not quite the same for all of the crew and so we try and make it home here with a little help from each other. Over the Christmas period there have been many things for everybody to get involved with. At the beginning of December we started off a series of advent services each Sunday night, which has been a special time as we focus on the birth of our Saviour Jesus which Christmas is all about.
As most of you at home would be enjoying all the Christmas markets, craft fairs etc, we had our own! Throughout the year many crew members are busy making things for this event so they can sell and maybe raise some Christmas money or missionary funding for themselves. The smell of Christmas spices and sweets filled the cafe area, people decorated their stalls and everybody went Christmas shopping and ate a lot! see below to see what you missed.
Ever heard of St Lucia Day. I hadn't until I joined Mercy Ships. St Lucia Day is a big part of Christmas in Scandinavia and as we have many crew members from Norway, Denmark, Sweden and the Faroe Islands on board we joined in their celebration. Maybe you might think it's strange to see a lot of people dressed in pointy hats and gingerbread men and then a girl taking big risks by putting 5 candles on her head (non drip, I may add), but they did it and somehow it was moving to hear the songs sung in their mother tongues. If you want to learn more about St Lucia, click here
On the sail we had the BIG cookie bake, which Nathanael loved. Some friends lent us a cute apron and chef's hat so he looked the business. We had 1kg of sugar dough and 1kg of gingerbread. Everybody had to roll, cut and place them on a tray and deliver them to the cooking station. From there it was taken to the galley to be placed in the oven and returned back to our table when it was cooked. Next we had bags of red, green and white icing given to us to ice and take them home. We actually saved the icing until we got back to the cabin as it was a bit of a bumpy sail that day and sitting in the dining room at the front of the ship was not the best place for our stomachs, believe me! It's a shame you're all not here to share these cookies with us as there are lots still in the freezer waiting to be eaten.
Inbetween all these goings on there were film/movie nights, Christmas decorating, school Christmas play, kids craft nice, decorating door competition and more food!
(Our "fun" cabin door)
On Christmas Eve we had our big Christmas meal (so the galley staff weren't having to cook over Christmas!). The Galley really did a good job, they decorated all the tables and there was turkey, ham, green bean casserole, breads, cheeses, fruits etc. Our faces were aglow, having been in Liberia for 10 months this food was luxury to us. This was followed by a Christmas Eve service.
Then that night there was the sound of shuffling feet along the corridors. Everybody on the ship puts one of their shoes outside the door and then we all go around and put small gifts in. It may only be one chocolate, but one chocolate from many people makes up a nice selection, better than any celebrations chocolate box. Some are very creative, we even had one present wrapped up like a sail boat. This is a picture outside our door before we went to bed......and as you can see, when we brought them in, in the morning, many more had come while we were sleeping. We were so amazed at everybodies generosity.....thank you so much Africa Mercy Crew!
(Nathanael bringing in the shoe gifts) (So many sh0e gifts!)
We all enjoyed a great brunch and then some family time as we celebrated Christmas together and phoned home. We pray that you all had a blessed Christmas.
Of course it didn't stop there. On New Years Eve there was a ball arranged....we didn't quite make it after a day out and getting back late but we heard the fireworks and all the ships blowing their horns. One cruise ship actually blew it's horn at 11pm, we figured that it must still have been on another time zone, having arrived that day....we bet their faces were a picture when all the other ships blew their horns an hour later (hee hee). On New Years Day we took part in an open house night where people opened their homes up for a couple of hours so others can visit and have some food and fellowship. There were about 12-15 open cabins so it would have taken quite a challenge to visit them all. It was kind of difficult to plan on numbers as so many crew have gone home or are out enjoying Tenerife life. We did a chocolate fondue and pinacolada (without the "lada" bit....non alcoholic pineapple and coconut drink)...you missed out on a treat. We had about 60 come by our cabin which was nice. So that has been our life over the last few weeks and another reason for being quiet on the blog entries for while. Meanwhile we are enjoying Tenerife for a bit, visiting the parks and enjoying icecream whilst Tim is busy with the technical work that needs to be done on board the ship. It's been raining a lot over the last few days but it's a lot lighter than Liberian rain! May 2009 be a blessed year for you all.

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