15 June 2013

what a reunion! homecoming 2013!

A stop by immigration at 4 in the morning, a landrover ride, 3 airplane rides & a car ride...and, just like that we're across the ocean - home in Columbus, GA for a few weeks of rest, refreshment, catching up & continuing to connect (the word "reconnecting" came to mind...but, thankfully, with most folks the connecting has remained - we just get some face-to-face in person connecting!)
Here are some pictures from last night at the airport (all photo credit goes to Yaya's camera):  
Aunt Amy singing Eli their song.  Caroline showing her loose teeth. 

More loose teeth talk with Aunt Amy

Quite the smile for having only slept about 3 hours in the almost 24 hours of traveling

Grandaddy & Caroline...still talking about loose teeth

Kevin (Amy's Fella) holding a bag full of Cali & Tito's Empanadas...some of the best food on earth.

Dianna & her daddy


Papa & Emma

Eli & Yaya

Yaya, Papa & Emma

MaMa & Caroline

Caroline & Yaya
Happy Kids & Parents& Grandparents & Aunt Amy's (and sisters!)....what a joyful, joyfilled reunion! It's good to be home.  Yes, the ship is home...but here is home, too.  Glad to be in this home for this time.

Surely there will be more to come. 

08 June 2013

Camels...and other glimpses into our Saturday

We straight up rode camels today.

We heard there were camels on the south end of Grand Canaria that could be ridden...so we set out with two other families to find them and ride them.  We were met with success. 

After a walk to the bus station, a beautiful hour long bus ride (sweet way to see the island) and another walk (which included an impromptu picnic-ish lunch by the ocean), we found the camels, paid our euros and rode those beasts - those calm, cooperative, docile & obedient beasts. 

Fun fact: Camels have AMAZING eyelashes. 

We rode for about 40 minutes in a National Park called the Dunas de Mas Palomas -- it's full of sand dunes (feels a bit desert like).  The most interesting parts were when the camels stood up...and then when they knelt back down.  Quite the excitement!  The ride itself was pleasant - it's fun to make a memory!  Rumor has it riding elephants are on the agenda for the Congo...

Some other glimpses into our day:
Taking a little ride on the escalators during a detour through the mall.

Enjoying the grass.  We've missed grass.  It was a bit scarce in Conakry.

Throwing rocks in the ocean. 

Street performers.  Nice illusion. 

Couldn't pass up a photo op with a Homer Simpson Sand Scuplture...

We found Auburn University's Beach.

Climbing a tree.  What a simple pleasure!
So grateful for a fun day together. It seemed to hold surprises around every corner. It was a wonderful day of touring a beautiful island -  enjoying God's creation and one another. 

Surely there will be more to come.

05 June 2013

leaving Guinea...sailing....

We left Guinea on Saturday.  Friday night Caroline said "Tomorrow is the last day I'll wake up in Guinea...unless we come back here someday." Fun fact: we were scheduled to leave on Sunday but since pack up went so smoothly, we were able to leave a day early which was actually really good for the security side of things! 

We had plenty o' drills and stow away searches...we had the pre-sail briefing and took all the breakable things down from the shelves (aka: securing the cabin).  And then, around 1:00 on Saturday, the engines were started, the mooring lines were pulled in and we pulled away from our dock spot in Conakry.

In some ways it feels like Guinea is already a million miles away...
The Gangway being unhooked, lifted up and loaded onto Deck 8. 

One of our favorite moments of the leaving process: the Captain praying over the loud speaker for Guinea and for our voyage.

Looking back at what was our home for the past 10 months. 
Waving Good-Bye to Guinea
A few fun sights as we were leaving the dock/harbor:
Try to say the name of this ship 5 times fast (or even just once)
The photograph doesn't capture the fact that this man was standing in the middle of the lot waving goodbye like crazy all by himself.

This was my favorite boat to see coming and going from the port! Thankful to see it one last time
We've experienced God in Guinea - there's no doubt about that.  He was at work before we arrived.  He continued to work while we were docked in Conakry.  And He will most certainly continue to be present and to work out His love, life, hope & healing long after we're gone.

My dad asked if it was hard to leave Guinea. In some ways, yes...in some ways, not as hard as I thought it might be. We've talked alot about how we (as a family) feel that God has called us to Mercy Ships and specifically to the Africa Mercy for this season of our lives...so, in some ways, it doesn't matter where the ship goes or when. We agree with the song lyrics: "Where you go, I'll go. Where you stay, I'll stay.  When You move, I'll move. I will follow You." We will go wherever He leads - and it just so happens that His leading has a lot to do with the movement of this ship.

We've enjoyed this city and this country.  We've been blessed here...challenged here....strengthened here...grown here. 
A favorite from Guinea from each of us:
  • Nick -- getting to see so much of the country & live in a village on the upcountry dental trip
  • Dianna -- praying through our running route (close 2nd: Riviera's Hummus & Port Cokes)
  • Eli -- going to the Island
  • Caroline -- the Cultural Tour Field Trip - getting to braid hair and wash clothes
During one of our Community Meetings, Ken Blackwell - an American Missionary who has been serving here in Guinea with his wife & family for 20+ years, said the following:
"May a splinter from Guinea remain in your heart...don't forget Guinea and what God is doing here."
Our heart has certainly been affected - our splinters are firmly in place.  We will not be forgetting what God has done and is doing in this nation.  We won't forget what we've seen and experienced.  We are grateful to have been here and grateful to have the privilege of praying for Guinea for years to come.   
Please join us in praying for Guinea:
  • for the missionaries working here
  • for the President & other leaders
  • for peace
  • for Christ's love to saturate this land
God, will you please bless Guinea?  Will you pour out greater blessings than anything we could ever hope for, dream of or imagine?  Will you help the seeds that have been planted to take root, grow strong and produce much fruit?  Will you continue to heal those who passed through the Africa Mercy -bodies & souls...will you heal them?  We trust you with these people and with this nation...thank you for giving us the delight of being here these past 10 months. 

And now we are sailing...getting closer to the Canary Islands each moment.  This sail has been the epitome of smooth.  At times it hasn't even felt like we're even moving!  Yesterday it was downright COLD out on deck. We loved it!!!  We are considering it our Fall, Winter & Spring. 
There has been a treasure hunt and an Open Mic Night...there's the Mercy Ships' tradition of Sock Golf tonite.  We've eaten multiple bags of popcorn (really good popcorn!!) and delicious food cooked by the Gurkas.  We've worshipped on the bow and rested in our cabin.  We've seen dolphins, flying fish, turtles and whales....(photo credit is due to others...not even sure who...just not me...)

The view from our cabin (this is from the other day...today it's much sunnier!)

This shows where we were earlier this morning...
Here's website that you can go to and see exactly where the Africa Mercy is -- be warned:  it's in Dutch.  You'll need to change it to English (Grandaddy, we thought you might like this...sorry it's so late in the voyage!).

We're definitely enjoying the sail. Smooth waters.  No seasickness. Beautiful weather.  We'll be in Grand Canaria soon enough...and then on to the great state of Georgia next week...but for now, we'll seek to enjoy the moment and enjoy the gifts God is giving today. 

There's something so special about God's ocean.
Surely there will be more to come.