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Friday, September 28, 2012

Guinea Arrival

At the end of August we arrived in Conakry, Guinea with our advance team waiting on the dock to share all about this wonderful country.
 Nathanael came with his class to wave his flag....
 and of course shouting really loud (see video below)
There was also a band that played us in
 After arrival there are many things that have to be put in place, like all the lines are tied to the dock, the gangway is dropped down and attached to the gangway.  Then we begin an arrival ceremony.  All the crew line up on deck 7 & 8 to be part of the event and it is always special when we see the flag of the country we are in being carried down the gangway.  This time it was done by 3 academy students as we didn't have a crew member from Guinea.
Then there was lots of work to do to get everything set up in 2 weeks to start screening and surgeries.  The screening went well and we were able to work extra hours to get it completed in one day.  Not all the surgery slots were filled, but gradually crew members come across potential patients in the street and so over time the places will be filled.  Here are some pictures from the screening.
 People waiting to be seen
 Nearly all the crew are involved in the screening day, some give out water, others escort the patients, some help with security to keep the crowds controlled, others with the prayer team, there is so much to do.  The planning that is done by our hospital team is amazing and so organised that all the bases are covered.
 People come with many problems, some we can't help, others we can....at the end of day they feel like somebody has listened, cared and given them a hope in Jesus.
 Some are blessed with an appointment card and you always tell who they are by the BIG smiles! 
 Please pray for our time here as more are reach with the love of Jesus. 

Friday, September 14, 2012

Our New Cabin

We are finally (nearly) settled in the new cabin and getting back into a routine.  Nathanael can actually now play in his room with a friend, he has so much extra room.  We can actually walk around both sides of the double bed now and we even have a freezer!  It's the small things in life that make things easier.  So we thought we'd share a few pictures of it:
Our hallway:
Our living room:
 Living room with back to the window
 Our Bedroom
 Nathanael's bedroom 

Wednesday, September 05, 2012


Most of you are aware that there seems to be a few "Guinea's" in this world.  So which one are we at?  As you go down the West Side of Africa (you might need to click on the picture for a bigger view) you will find Guinea surrounded by Sierra Leone, Liberia, Cote d'Ivoire, Mali, Guinea Bissau and Senegal. 
Why Guinea?

According to the last Human Development Index, Guinea is placed at 178, that's in the bottom 10 out of a total of 187 countries.  You can click here to see the latest stats for Guinea and click on each heading for stats

142 out of 1000 children die at birth
680 out of 100,000 women die in childbirth
Life expectancy is 54
43% of the population live below $1.25 per day

There are enormous needs for health care (check out Global Health Facts for more details):

Attendance of a skilled health worker at birth is 46%
1.3 per 10,000 health care workers per person (that includes Nurses, Midwives and Doctors)
3 hospital beds per 10,000 (UK-33/USA-30)

We look forward to serving and partnering with those who work and live in Guinea.

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Nathanael Starts Kindergarten

Where has the last 5 years gone.  In the middle of August the new school year started and this time it was different for Nathanael as he entered into full time school starting in the Kindergarten class.  Before August we were expecting his class to consist of just 2 with his remaining pre-school buddy, Renier, joining him.    
On our return we were surprised to hear that another family was joining the ship and so now there are 3 with Caleb joining them.  The night before school started they opened up the classroom so we can all visit and meet the teachers.  Nathanael is in a bigger room which has been divided into 2 to accommodate grade 2's classroom aswell.
 Nathanael's african pencil case and we love the inventive way of little bags that hang over their chairs to hold their books.  We have some amazing creative people on this ship.
This is Miss Leah, Nathanael's Kindergarten teacher.  Last year she only had one student in her class so her class size has "tripled".  She comes from Australia and she has recently got engaged - so congratulations!! 
Such a small boy for such a big bag!  Going full time also meant he needed a bigger bag for his papers
The first day started off with us all meeting in the International lounge where they were called out by class and taken off to their classroom.  Here is Nathanael with the Kindergarten class.
He's also having to get into the routine of homework each day.

Meanwhile he is loving school and is even getting to learn French, Computers and Science, he has quite full schedule which keeps him very busy.

Monday, September 03, 2012


After the UK, we returned back to the ship which was now in Santa Cruz, Tenerife finishing off the last project work from the shipyard.  For us it's a time when we replenish the cupboards.  During the year we create a list of things that we REALLY miss/need during our time in Africa and we try to stock up so we can have a few luxuries along the way.  Unfortunately for the shops it must be a mass clear out as 200-300 crew are also doing the same.  At times Sharon found herself nearly emptying the whole shelf contents of a product into her supermarket trolley so we can have something like tinned mushrooms, good salted peanuts or cheese for the freezer for the year!  Fortunately we know Tenerife very well so it's not always too difficult finding most things, like the little tea shop that sells different kinds of tea, or Sharon's special tupperware seller, shoes for Nathanael and of course IKEA, what would we do without IKEA.

We were also treated to a day out a Loro Parque which Nathanael got very excited about.  He was amazed at the dolphin and whale shows.
Also enjoyed a nice afternoon in Candelaria eating paella and visiting the church and beach.

It wasn't before long before we were off again on our travels to Guinea, our next port of call in West Africa.  The sail was pretty smooth, one advantage of changing our schedule to the summer months.

Sunday, September 02, 2012

Our Summer

It's been a busy time for the Tretheways since May. The Africa Mercy finished well in Lome, Togo but unfortunately without us.  Click HERE to read the statistics from our time there.

We on the other hand were heading towards the USA.  Tim needed to attend an ECDIS course (Electronic Chart Display and Information System) so it seemed the ideal time for us to all go and spend some time with Tim's family.  Whilst Tim was in the classroom for the week in Seattle, Nathanael and Sharon headed up by bus to Abbotsford, Canada to stay with friends, Renee and Jamie that she hadn't seen for 7 years.  It was a special time of catching up.  Nathanael loved being with Caleb and Owen and tears were shed when we had to leave.
THANK YOU Fox family for a wonderful time.

In Olympia we enjoyed the simple pleasures of life, including much rain.  We delved into the storage unit to retrieve the bike we had bought a few years ago at a yard sale and it fitted Nathanael perfectly.  So he enjoyed riding a bike for the first time.
He got to watch his cousin's baseball games.
 and even had a go himself with his Aunt Carolyn
 Got to play dentist and more at the Children's museum in Olympia
 and of course we always have to fit in a visit to Cabella's! 
 Nathanael joined the little starfish swimming course to help him become more comfortable in the water.
We enjoyed seeing family & friends near and far.
On our return from the USA the ship was just arriving in the Canary Islands for a short time in the dry dock so we all stopped off in the UK for a bit and Tim continued back to the ship 3 weeks later.

Again it rained, but we did enjoy the 1 week of summer that they had, so we hit every attraction going to make up for the sun.
Jumping in the sand dunes
Went to see the Scott May daredevil and monster truck show 
(this is Nathanael and his Grandad REALLY enjoying the tricks!)
 Feeding the ducks near Braunton
or the Wallabies at Exmoor Zoo

Buckland Abbey (click here to see more)
Dunster Castle (click here to see more)
There was even time to learn the simple things in life that Nathanael doesn't always get to do on the ship like going to the post box or hanging out the laundry!
Then there were rainy day activities like visiting the paint your own pottery shop
or dress up in old clothes at the Torrington 1646 (click here to see more)
and of course baking with Granny.

All in all it was a nice time to catch up with family

During our time away we had the privilege to share about the work of Mercy Ships at two venues.

Our friends in the USA live at a big retirement village (Panorama City - www.panoramacity.org) in Olympia where they even have their own auditorium.  So through Arleens conversations we were invited to speak and we had a lovely time with them all.  There was even a lady in the audience that knew Tim when he was a boy.  They very generously donated a gift for the work of Mercy Ships

Thank you so much Panorma City!!

In the UK, again through a friend of friends, we were invited to speak at the Barnstaple Rotary club, which turned out to be more than just Barnstaple as many more attended from various Rotary Clubs within the district.
We were treated to a delicious carvery meal followed by an array of desserts.  (We based our dessert choice on what we thought we probably wouldn't eat for another year whilst we are in Africa!!).  As a result they raised a huge amount of money for the work of Mercy Ships.  The Rotary Club has a special place in many Mercy Shippers hearts as we see the countless times they have raised money to support the various projects of Mercy Ships.  Every week we are reminded of that as we hold our meetings in the International Lounge on board, which they sponsored during the ship conversion.

A big thank you to all at Barnstaple for making us feel welcome and for all that you do to support Mercy Ships and a special thank you to Brian Ross for organising the event in such a short timeline