Saturday, 27 September 2014

Roll with It

So shortly after I published my last post I heard the audible chime over the ship's pa system that indicates an announcement is going to be made: "Dolphins on starboard side". I had my camera this time so I got up there and got some pictures to share!

As of yesterday we are in some rougher seas. I was feeling pretty strong but I think a combination of lack of sleep and way too much rocking has caused me some discomfort. Yesterday one of the biggest tilts that caused shelves to topple, furniture to move, and children to slide across floors was 21 degrees. Doesn't sound like much to you? Well consider a treadmill if you will. You start at 0 incline and every level you increase is generally 1%. I don't think it even goes to level 21, does it!?
New ship term: listing. It means tilting to one side or the other. Roll is the actual side to side movement. How many degrees before you don't come back? I'm not sure; I think it depends on the ship. One of the other crew members was talking to her grandpa, who was in the US Navy, and apparently he was aboard a ship whose angle of list got to 45 degrees and the ship manged to right itself. I'm not worried but it does mean sandwiches for lunch and dinner because there is no way the galley crew can cook in these conditions.

Last night I took place in a tradition that happens on all the sails: sock golf! First you need to make your sock into a ball (sock balls are an art so I definitely enlisted some help). Then you throw your ball from the tee box and try to hit the paper that represents the hole. It was pretty hard and the course was challenging! There were lots of stairs involved that made things especially difficult. Good news is we had fun and no one was crazy competitive so I didn't feel bad when I didn't do well.

Arrival in Cape Town is still Monday (September 29). Then we start organizing for all the PR events and taking on new crew members. Busy, busy!

But until then this is what the rest of the sail is expected to look like...

It does have its moments though...

Have a nice weekend!

Sunday, 21 September 2014

Still Sailing

I was just thinking about what to share with you and there has been some cool stuff happening in the middle of the ocean. There have been lots of fun activities planned so people don't go crazy and start voting people off the ship and throwing them overboard! There are movie nights, trivia night on Tuesday (my team is in second place!), there was a mocktail party last night, and who can forget the endless supply of workout classes!
Last Thursday I saw an impressive dolphin display! They were literally playing in the wake of the ship. I couldn't believe they were jumping out of the water and spinning in mid air. I think the ship should have a slogan that speaks to animal lovers: Boycott Sea World, come to Mercy Ships. I also saw flying fish for the first time. Apparently they are a pretty common sighting so people don't get too excited but I think they are soooo cool. Did I have my camera in either of these instances? Nope. However, things happen so quickly that I am not certain I would even have time to take out my camera, turn it on, line it up, and capture the moment before it was all over.
I am keeping it together by having a routine and making sure I don't participate in every single organized event. Also, I was able to strike a perfect balance on Friday when I was volunteering in the cafe and there was an open mic night. So I was there but busy. I really like working at the cafe! I need to figure out how I can somehow work that  skill set into my future career path.
Yesterday I made some cupcakes for one of the kids who was having a birthday party. A friend of mine was organizing it and asked me if I might be able to help her out in the cake department. Luckily I had all the ingredients because a quick trip to the grocery store isn't quite possible right now. To be fair, the Ship Shop really has all the essentials anyway. So the birthday girl requested vanilla cupcakes with vanilla icing (my favourite too).

Yes, there are Kitchen Aid mixers in the crew galley! Not quite the same (or as big) as my pretty silver and boysenberry coloured mixers at home. They are awesome to have though, no matter their size or colour.
This morning I had planned to make tomato sauce but I decided to change my plan based on the fact that I procured some avocados yesterday and I was thinking I could make a mighty nice "cream" sauce with those while they are still good. So the tomato sauce was put on hold. I did have some potatoes and onions that needed to be used so I made Tortilla EspaƱola. It sure brought me back to third year university, learning how to make it in Spain.
I almost forgot to mention that we are now in the Southern hemisphere! That means since I have crossed the equator on a ship I am no longer a pollywog but rather a shellback. Huh? A pollywog is someone who has never crossed the equator on a ship and a shellback is someone who has. There are several other levels of shellback such as emerald, golden, and diamond. However, I haven't been able to figure out exactly what they all mean.
I also wanted to share this photo that I took just before we left Las Palmas. Spectacular!
In case you are wondering where the ship is, there is this really cool site that can tell you. Just type in Africa Mercy and you can see where we are on the live map!
I hope everyone is having a great weekend!

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Set sail

I have been holding off on posting any new information because we were instructed to keep the location of our field service off of the internet out of respect for country next and the people in charge of releasing the news through the right channels. I was happy to oblige! They were supposed to make the official press release on Thursday of last week but then decided against it out of respect for September 11. Now that we are really on the open ocean and heading south it is about time I let you know what is going on. We got permission to tell the world yesterday so here it is... we are going to Madagascar!
Mercy Ships decided that the Ebola outbreak in West Africa is very volatile and the risk of exposure is far too great. It seems like God really set this whole thing up well though. The brand new managing director of the ship has a personal relationship with the president of Madagascar and was able to get the protocol signed within a week. Apparently the process to get the protocol signed (the document that outlines the agreement between Mercy Ships and the country in which we are serving) can take MONTHS! So all of these changes have presented many challenges but this seemed to be a huge hurdle that was overcome relatively easily based on that already established relationship. Talk about taking advantage of your resources!
So the plan is that we are at sea for approximately 18 days (we left Las Palmas on Saturday around 5ish) heading to South Africa. Once we are in South Africa the hope is that the ship will be able to receive the necessary repairs before we head to Madagascar. The way the problem was explained to me is that most ships can only go forward and backward, but our ship has the ability to control side to side movement as well. However, that side to side action is not working, which is only a problem if you are going somewhere where they don't have good tugboats that push and pull you to the dock. As far as I know Madagascar may not have tugs that can handle the ship and so that is why the problem needs to be fixed before we arrive. I also believe that our stop in South Africa will be used as a publicity/recruiting opportunity. It could also be a good chance for volunteers to meet the ship because it is easier to get a flight into South Africa than into Madagascar. So that is the plan for now, I expect it will change because that is just how things go around here. I have heard many times that "the only constant on the ship is change" and it is very true so far.
I appreciate everyone sticking with me through this whole waiting period and now it's go time!
Yesterday morning I saw a whole bunch of dolphins swimming around the ship. Did I have my camera with me? Nope. Will we probably see some more dolphins in the next few weeks? Let's hope so!
No seasickness so far but the whole rocking to and fro has not been helpful for sleeping. I have heard a few people say the ship rocks you to sleep but I cannot concur with that statement. Hopefully I will get used to it. Also, Sunday night was fajita night (which is the best dinner on the ship) and I just felt the need to share that with you because it is the simple things in life that are exciting!
The internet is like 1995 over here so please excuse the lack of pictures; it takes FOREVER to upload anything.
This is the view for the next two weeks!

Friday, 5 September 2014

You're how old!?

I thought I might be able to have some exciting news to share with you on this exciting day but, alas, I'm not allowed to tell you where we are going yet. This is because it has to be confirmed with governments and port authorities before it can be made public knowledge. What I do know is that we are postponed...again... until September 13 and that we are not going anywhere in West Africa.

In case you were worried that I wouldn't have anyone helping me celebrate my birthday on the ship, this is what I woke up to outside of and on my door.

Shaun T., yup that's him wishing me happy birthday!

For the past few days I have been thinking about what this day means and what the past year has been like for me. Clearly there has been at least one big life change in the past year and although I thought I would be in Africa by now, I am still pretty excited by what I have managed to accomplish in this year. I have become acutely aware of how much God is working in my life, and in the lives of my family and friends. 
Every year I always seem to ask my mom the same question about what she was doing the day before I was born or the day of. I don't remember the day before story (maybe because she doesn't) but the day of story is one I tell often. At the time, my mom was working for my dad back when Gage was still a baby business, less than two years old. She was having some discomfort all day but because she is a trooper she worked through it to make sure things got done. Also, because my mom had some experience in these matters of child birth, she wasn't worried. She knew it would have been useless to go to the hospital and have to wait for there to have enough progress to do anything about it. However, towards the end of the day I guess she made a face, and it must have been a face of pain and my dad noticed. Well as soon as he caught wind that she had essentially been in the early stages of labour all day he went into LET'S GET TO THE HOSPITAL mode. This is where it gets good. Since my mom knew that after she had given birth they wouldn't let her have a shower for a while after, she wanted to go home first and have a shower and then go to the hospital. Well, at my dad's urging he decided to forgo the shower (and if you know him you know that he would never skip a shower) and head straight to the hospital . Well it was a good thing because once they got to the hospital it was a challenge for my mom to walk. At that point it was too late for the epidural and I arrived 20 minutes later! 
I was also thinking about what I was doing that day while all this was going on. I figure I must have been with grandma just waiting for that perfect moment. I'm not one for speculating or guessing so let me explain myself. Although I have never met my grandma on this earth I miss her in a way that could only be explained by having a relationship with her, one that could only have been forged in heaven. I mourn her loss and keep her memory close to my heart. Not having her here makes me so much more thankful for my own mother and how much she has had to overcome losing her mom so early in her life. It also makes me so thankful for my Nonna and the amazing woman she is and all the time I have had the privilege of spending with her over all the years of my life so far. 

If you feel compelled to get me a gift here are some ideas:
1. Pray for West Africa - I'm not sure what the news is saying at home but Ebola is not getting better. So please just keep that in your mind and just because the news may not be highlighting it anymore it is still a crisis.
2. Tell someone about Mercy Ships! The more people that know about it the better!
3. Click the GIVE tab at the top of the page and help me alleviate some of the stress that comes with fundraising enough to serve the time I have committed to here on the ship. 
4. Tell someone you really care about that you love them or thank someone for who they are or what they have done for you. Appreciation is not overrated.

I have a some wonderful cards and a gift that my mom sent to me in July to make sure I had something to open and I opened one card to tide me over but I am waiting for later in the day to open everything else. I wasn't born in this time zone so it feels wrong to open them now when many people are still sleeping and I wasn't born until the evening (5:09 to be exact).

Other than that, have a great day and when I am allowed to disclose our destination I will do it right away.