Friday, December 23, 2016

Joyeux Noël - Christmastime on the Africa Mercy

Christmas on the Africa Mercy is a time of sharing traditions from around the world.  

Did you know that our crew of 350-400 volunteers come from about 35 different countries?! Most of us are far from home and family, but Christmas is a very special season here on the ship as well.  

All the public areas of the ship are very christmasy! Even the gangway has garland going down both sides. 

We share traditions from home- these photos are from our Scandinavian crew member's Santa Lucia celebration.  It is beautiful every year!

Nick and I participated in the gingerbread house making competition - here is ours!  We really had a great time doing this, and we were so impressed with some of the other creations. (See pics below)

Our team:  Nick, Suzanne, Faya

For the last month or so, I've had the privilege of teaching a dance class for many of the young ladies here on the ship.  They danced to the song "Come and Worship" (Here's a link if you want to hear the song), and they shared their dance in our Sunday evening service this past week.  It was such a lovely evening, and I had a strong sense of love and celebration here with our Mercy Ships family.

Another tradition, "Carols by Candlelight" is hosted by our Australian crew.  In the states, we don't really associate Christmas with barbecues and outdoor events, but our Australian friends are right at home with warm weather Christmas celebrations.  

We set chairs up out on the dock, pass around candles and sing together.  Nick's addition to this event is to organize "The Wiggles" (West African Version) to make a special appearance.  They are completely full of silliness and sure to put a smile on every face.  :)

The last scheduled day of surgery for 2016 was this past wednesday, 22nd December.  The following day, some OR staff members got together to make cookies to bless other teams.  Few can say no to a warm chocolate chip cookie.  :)

This morning, a few members of the Ponseti team headed out for a christmas lunch at a local hotel (I got to tag along as well) :)

Here's Nick,  Ulysse, and Melchior.  Melchior and Ulysse both work for the local physical therapy clinic which Mercy Ships is partnering with here in Cotonou.  They are both excellent therapists who are enjoying using the Ponseti method. They are also great company, and Nick is very happy to be working alongside them this year.  

Also in this photo is Marina, who is working for the Ponseti program as the Ponseti Clinic Assistant- she is from Switzerland, and she is a fantastic addition to the Ponseti team!!!  We are so thankful for her!  She has captured some great moments out at the clinic, and if you have a minute you should check out her instagram page for some great pictures!!

Rubics cube 101 with Nick. 

More updates coming soon.  Nick and I are both well - this has been a season of very fulfilling work for both of us in our roles on the ship, and also lots of goodbyes as quite a few people we have known for a long time left the ship to head home.

Please keep us in your prayers!  Also, if you would like to consider helping us out with your end-of-year giving, we continue to look for long-term supporters or one-time gifts (anything is really helpful!).  We will be continuing our service with Mercy Ships into the next outreach in Cameroon 2017-2018.  Click here or go to the "support us" tab for more info.

We are wishing you a very merry christmas, from a warm place in the world.  :)