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Sunday, January 29, 2012

Forever in our Hearts, Nan

  This week we said goodbye to Sharon's Nan.  Sharon and Nathanael were able to fly out to be with family and friends as they joined together to say goodbye last Thursday.  We know that she has invested so much in our lives that we wouldn't be the people we are today if it hadn't been for her influence, so we wanted to share her life with you. 

Gladys May Powell
24 May 1919 - 16th January 2012

Gladys was born in Bath on 24th May, 1919 & had a strict upbringing with her younger siblings, Kath & Dennis.  Her mother always said that she was different to the other two & had ‘big ideas above her station’.  She was in serious trouble when her father once caught her dancing with a chair!  She passed her 11plus, but her parents couldn’t afford the uniform for her to go to the grammar school & Gladys was too proud to accept the help offered by the State, so she didn’t take up the place.
 On leaving school she went into service with the Maw family of Bath & took care of their 2 children.  The house rule was that if the children didn’t eat their meal it had to go back into the larder & Gladys was instructed to bring it out every day until they ate it, but she couldn’t bear to do that to them & used to eat the leftovers herself in secret so that the children always had fresh food.  The family kept in touch with her for many years & invited her to their weddings.
She met her husband, Cyril, at the drill hall in Bath & they were married on 22nd November, 1941.  Cyril wore his army uniform & Gladys wore her W.A.A.F. uniform.
 Within days of the marriage Cyril was posted abroad to serve with the Desert Rats, while Gladys continued to serve with the W.A.A.F. as an equipment assistant, spending long periods not knowing where Cyril was.
 After the war they settled in Bath & had 2 children, Jacqueline & Kenneth.  When Jacqueline passed her 11plus, Gladys was determined that she wouldn’t let her miss the opportunity of attending grammar school & took a job cleaning a tailor’s shop to enable her to afford the uniform.  She later worked in various grocery shops in Bath, then eventually took a job as a home-help & enjoyed helping the clients by often doing extra tasks that weren’t part of the job description, such as taking washing & ironing to do at home. 
Gladys was always proud of her family & welcomed Jane & Bob on their marriages into the family.  She was particularly proud when Ken went to work at the British Embassy in Washington DC.  But, her proudest moments were on the arrival of grandchildren Sharon, Sally, Kimberley & the much longed-for grandson, Michael.  She was delighted when Sharon followed in her footsteps & joined the WRAF, and then Sally worked as a nanny.
Gladys was a life-long member of The People’s Mission Church in Bath & her life revolved around the Church, both spiritually & socially.  She served on various committees, taught in the Sunday School, & had very few friends outside the Church, enjoying many holidays abroad with other Church members, particularly a trip to Israel when she & Cyril were baptised in the River Jordan.  She & Cyril eventually moved to Radstock & when Cyril’s eyesight started to fail they started to worship at Westfield Methodist Church as the journey to Bath became too difficult, but at every opportunity Gladys joined her old friends from The People’s Mission.
During the 90’s Gladys began to show signs of dementia, although Cyril was quick to cover up for her.  One evening in 1998 she was walking to a ladies’ meeting at the Methodist church when she was knocked down by a car & sustained injuries to her head, eye & leg.  The shock accelerated the dementia & Cyril‘s sudden death in April 2000 caused another setback.  She managed to continue to live in her own familiar home, but became increasingly confused when she began to have hallucinations.  In 2002 she was admitted to hospital after staying out all night & was sectioned, so in June of that year she moved to Heanton Nursing Home where she was cared for until her death.  Although she met her great grandson, Nathanael, she couldn’t comprehend who he was, but she & Cyril would undoubtedly have been very proud great-grandparents.
Gladys was known to be very house-proud & had a very good sense of humour & told many amusing stories of her life in the W.A.A.F. but her references from the W.A.A.F. & Ifoulds grocery store probably sum her up very well:

‘This airwoman has reached a superior standard of efficiency in her trade.’

‘We have found her faultless in every possible way – always reliable, keen, energetic, punctual & most important of all, completely trustworthy.’

We lost the Gladys we knew many years ago, but the memories will always be there.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The Nail Biter

Isatu was crying hysterically as she and her three-year-old daughter, Hawanatu, accompanied a friend to the home of his neighbor, a Mercy Ships day-worker named Bassey. Despite the fact that it was 6:00 a.m., the three were invited in.
But Isatu’s crying prevented her from telling Bassey what she wanted. She held out a large envelope. Bassey took it and pulled out an x-ray showing a 2½-inch nail lodged inside the little girl.
 Isatu had seen her daughter put the nail in her mouth and had tried to grab it before she swallowed it, but the youngster was too fast. A quick trip to the pharmacy had cost quite a bit, but had not produced a solution. Isatu bought some fruit, which she thought would help. She planned to take the little girl to Freetown the next morning to get a medical opinion. But her focus was turned unexpectedly to her husband, who had a serious automobile accident that morning and was taken to the hospital in critical condition. The next day she found a doctor, but after listening to her story, he told her, “There is nothing I can do.”

Pregnant and with three other children to care for, she had reached her emotional limit. So, she took Hawanatu to the home of a trusted friend who lived in Bassey’s neighborhood. Bassey showed the x-ray to the medical team onboard the hospital ship, the Africa Mercy. The child was immediately authorized to see the admission nurse. A second x-ray revealed that the nail was taking its natural course. The little girl asked to use the rest room, and the nail came out naturally without piercing any organs.

There were shouts of joy from everyone involved.

“Everyone here who saw the x-ray has been making an effort to help. I’m very happy and very relieved!” said a grateful Isatu.

Story by Elaine B. Winn
Edited by Nancy Predaina
Photos by Debra Bell

Tuesday, January 10, 2012


We just wanted to post our newsletter for those who haven't received it.  If you would like to receive it by email please send us your email using the "contact us" page and we'll add you to the mailing list.  Please click on picture below to open.

Monday, January 09, 2012

Catch Up

At the moment we are playing catch up, so over the next few weeks I will be sharing what has been going over the last month - since the last time we wrote we are now in our third country.  We left Sierra Leone at the beginning of December.  As usual we hosted many thank you events, 2 of which were small lunches held personally with the US Ambassador and the British High Commisioner, both of which have been a huge help in our stay here.  Plus we held a big thank you event to all that have helped our stay in Sierra Leone go smoothly.
Then we had the day worker thank you event.  Each year we employ around 200 local people to help us out with extra work, translations, skills etc and they become part of our family for the 10 months we are in a country.  Saying goodbye to them is hard.  I must admit, the Sierra Leoneons topped it in the celebration category as they attempted to lift certain crew members up in the air and carry them around our international lounge, Tim included.  Now I've searched and searched for photo evidence but all I can come up with is the initial push and lift - the carrying around the room, you'll just have to imagine and have a chuckle to yourselves.
So you lure him in with a bit of African Dancing 
Make him comfortable with dancing and surround him 
then grab and lift! 
We have some very strong people!

Sharon and her friend also said goodbye to our tailor friends.  We were able to get them a new iron and bibles to remember us by and our picture is stuck on their wall.
Saying goodbye to Foday, Osman and Omar, wearing one of the skirts he made
Nathanael said goodbye to Tenzing, a friend he made at the US Embassy.
Then there was the saying goodbye to everybody who has come across our path during our time in Sierra Leone.  The sail wasn't too long because we were just going to Ghana for a few weeks of downtime before heading straight to Togo.  Our schedule is changing this year so the dry dock can be done in the summer so we are fitting in 6 months in Togo as we only gave them a short time the year before!  The sail saw many dolphins and we will tell you more about Ghana in our next posts.

Friday, January 06, 2012

Message in a Bottle

Back in 2008 Joyce, one of the children on the ship, decided to send a message in a bottle.  At that time she was docked in Monrovia, Liberia so she released it into the sea.  Little did she know that one day somebody would find it.  In 2011 a dutch archaeologist was working in the Caribbean when he found the bottle.  He deciphered the message and contacted the Mercy Ships Holland office.
The story was aired on Dutch TV in December during a National News Program.  It may be "dutch" to you, but hopefully you will get the idea of it.  You can watch it at this link: