30 July 2013

First Day of School 2013-2014

Today is the first day of the 2013-2014 school year for the Mercy Ships Academy.  Yay for routine & schedules!!

Last night there was an "open house" of sorts - we were able to go around to all of the classrooms and "meet" teachers.  The kids got to see their desks and new supplies.

Eli was super excited to see his name written in cursive!
Caroline & Baxter the Bear - he moved up with the class from first grade
Here's the official "First Day of School" picture.  Emma was a good deal more excited about her first day of school than the picture portrays (btw: Eli is trying to turn her head for the picture...he's not hurting her!).

Emma is a preschooler.  Class size: 2.  Teacher: Mrs. Herma (same as last year!)

Caroline is a 2nd grader.  Class size 6.  Teacher: Miss Moriah (same teacher Eli had!)

Eli is a 3rd grader. Class size 2.  Teacher: Mrs. Denise (precious new teacher!)

To begin the school year there is a short gathering for the students and parents.  Our principal, Nikki, shared a few words and prayed over the school year.  One of the things she is feeling drawn to is this line in the Academy's mission statement:

We're excited about that!

The students were then called up to the front to stand with their teacher and then they walked out together to begin their school year.  It's really a neat and simple way to ceremoniously start the new year!

Please pray for our children and their teachers (and the rest of the students & teachers in the Academy if you are so inclined).  It's going to be a great year of growth & learning.  May God have His way in the Academy and in the lives of our children this year.
First day of school Stroopwaffles
Surely there will be more to come.

28 July 2013

living in community - nick's blog post

Nick wrote a post on living in community....

...thought it was worth sharing here: nick's blog.  Click through, enjoy a good read and be on the lookout for the spine tingling sequel (feel free to peruse past posts...there's some good stuff there! -dc)

Surely there will be more to come!

26 July 2013

Please Pray & #SailWithUs

  • bunkering
  • abandon ship & security drills
  • muster station
  • securing the cabin
  • water restrictions
  • sea sick meds
  • pre-sail briefing
...phrases that we hadn't heard prior to June 2012 (or at least hadn't heard in the context of living onboard a ship!) have become pretty normal parts of our vocabulary!  We're sailing tomorrow!  Please join us in praying.

bunkering = taking on fuel.  another ship pulls up beside us and fuel is transferred...no need to go to the gas station, it comes to us.  

Prayer on Leaving Port*
Be with us, O Lord, on this voyage, to cheer us and keep us safe**.  Let nothing afloat or on shore cut us off from you.  May we please you in everything we do. Bless all on board, whatever their responsibility. Enable each of us to do his duty. Help us to be good shipmates and bring us in safety to our next port, through Jesus Christ, our Lord. -Amen-
*this prayer was on the "Apostleship of the Sea of the USA" website...we know nothing about this organization and are in no way "endorsing" it - we just like the prayer! 
**changed the original wording just a bit

Also, be on the lookout for the hashtag #SailWithUs on facebook, twitter & instagram.  It's a social media campaign of sorts that should lead you to a plethora of amazing pictures, posts and stories from the pat 35 years of Mercy Ships' history (plus plenty of "what's going on on the sail" posts).

A few of the faces God brought into our lives in Guinea....can't wait to see who we get to meet in the Congo!
So long Canary Islands.  Congo here we come.

"Let nothing afloat or on shore cut us off from you.  May we please you in everything we do...."  Yes, Lord.  May it be so.  

Surely there will be more to come!

20 July 2013

honored to share our lives...traveling pictures

We consider it an honor to be able to share life with you...whoever YOU are...family, old friends, new friends, people who have just "found" us, people who have known us all of our lives, people who live here on the ship with us, people on the other side of the ocean....whoever YOU are, we're grateful that you care enough about us to keep up with us through our blog. 
We wanted to share some of our pictures from the airport/journey back to the ship last week...some of them are intimate, some are silly....all are us...living this life God has called us to live.  Saying good-bye wasn't easy....but it's worth it - He is worth it.   "He is worthy of total abandonment and supreme adoration." - david platt

Beautiful crowd of family who came to see us off

Aunt Amy with her nieces and nephews!

Caroline, Amy & Emma

Yaya, Caroline & Grandaddy


Yaya & Caroline

Yaya & Eli

Sometimes you've just got to be silly to keep from being too sad

Big Jim/Papa/Dianna's Daddy & Dianna

Papa & Grandaddy...no doubt love & wise words are being shared

Saying good-bye was especially hard for Eli. He's got such a tender heart.

One last hug

Amy & Emma

We made it through security (after having a nerf gun confiscated  (that's another story for another day) and  losing caroline's jacket)(we think it was left in the bathroom pre-security...)Waiting in Atlanta for flight numero uno.

New Game: Pillow Bumping
Side note:  we don't make our children sit still and be quiet in the terminal while we are waiting to board the plane (we don't allow them to run around like wild chickens either...but they are allowed to be up and active)...I (dianna) always wonder if the people around us are like "oh no...crazy kids on this flight...."  My hope is that they are always delightfully surprised by their calm, sitting selves on the flights (cause that's what they are)(or at least what they have been on every flight thus far).
 Welcome to Miami

 In Miami our flight got delayed....in the midst of the hours of delay, Emma ended up with the camera.  The following (until Madrid) were all taken by her - her 3 year old, entertained, satisfied self.

Side note:  Nick is awesome at silly faces.

 We made it to Madrid

pizza picnic in the Hostal Coronales where we spent the night since the delay caused us to miss our third flight  (the picture on instagram is much better!)

Back in the Madrid Airport Monday morning
Gran Canaria!

Watching for the luggage to come through is one of their favorite things.
Back on the Africa Mercy
Welcomed by sweet signs on the door!

The Cash Kids (and other kids!) playing with the balloons Matt & Sarah blew up for us.  Lots of laughter and screaming filled our cabin...

Flowers & Chocolate...lovely gifts from thoughtful, generous friends.
So we left Columbus a week ago and have had a good week of traveling, moving (down the hall!!)(more on that later!), going to the park (twice), working (nick), and trying to get our clocks readjusted to this time zone. 

Right now (literally!) we're sailing to Tenerife.  We left Gran Canaria around 10 this morning (after a 7:30 drill to muster every and take roll)...we should be in Tenerife in a few hours. The ship will be docked there this coming week and then we're set to sail to the Congo next Saturday, July 27. 

Looking forward to what God has in store for us this week....and the next...

Surely there will be more to come.

11 July 2013

FAQs (frequently & favorite-ly asked questions)

We've been asked LOTS of questions these past four weeks.  It's a good thing we like questions (and we really do like questions!!!!).  

Emma was asked "How old are you?" so many times that she just started holding up 3 fingers anytime a new person came onto the scene.

Here are our answers to a few of the most frequently asked questions and some of the questions that were asked that we really really liked (and a few questions that amused us greatly) (you can decide which is which). 

In no particular order...

#1 -  How's life on the ship?  It's good. We miss our home here in GA but we know that the Africa Mercy is our home now.  It's an honor to get to be a small part of what God's doing in West Africa. We're slowly making friendships and learning what it means to be part of a community in ways that we've never known before.  The kids have adjusted well and really enjoy the ship and especially the Academy.

#2 - How's the food?  It's good!  Surprisingly good!  The Galley really does a great job of fixing food for so many people...it's tasty and there's a variety of mostly familiar foods but there's the chance to try new things, too....and there's always a peanut butter & jelly or grilled cheese option for the kids.

#3 - Do you all sleep in one room on the ship?  No...there are 2 rooms for the kids (one for eli, one for the girls) and we have our room (which also happens to serve as our living room, dining room, play room...)

#4 - What's one of the funniest things that happened to you while you were in Africa?  A monkey tried to pull down my (dianna) running shorts (and partially succeeded).

#5 - Where have you been staying while you're in GA?  With Nick's parents in Maple Ridge.  They have a room for the kids and a room for us!  (we also went to the beach for a week with Dianna's family...)

#6 - How are you doing financially?  God has certainly been faithful to take care of us financially.  We have numerous monthly supporters (many of you who faithfully read our blog also faithfully give to support us financially - thank you!!).  What comes in each month nearly covers our expenses.  There are usually one or 2 unexpected gifts that come in that cover the little bit  that doesn't quite match up.  So, if you're asking if we need you to send us money -- we say (with huge smiles), only if God is leading you to give.  God is going to take care of us...He may want to use you to be a part of that provision...or He may want to use you to take care of another ministry/missionary/need.  Just do what He's telling you....we'll all be ok :)  (if you do happen to feel lead to give, click here to join in God's provision for us )

#7 What's been the best thing you've eaten since being home?  Nick: Steak & Caesar Salad   Dianna: Carrabba's bread   Eli: Chicken Nuggets   Caroline: Ramen Noodles, Grapes   Emma: Macaroni & Cheese!

#8- Are you ready to go back?  a BIG "no" and A BIG "yes" all at the same time.  We are looking forward to being back on the ship - we're ready for routine and we're looking forward to getting back to "our space."  It's strange to think about what "normal" has become...but, regardless of how strange it is, we're ready to get back to our normal!  BUT it is hard to leave here (in some ways it's harder to leave this year than it was last year!). 

#9 - Is there anything you need? There's nothing we need per se' - at least not that we know of/can think of.  At some point this year the kids will need new shoes (but we've already had a generous offer from someone so those are taken care of).  There are plenty of things we "want" (but can certainly do without!).  For a list of those things (and instructions for how to send them to us), click here: things we like/wish we had in Africa  We do need you to pray for us (see below)...and to continue to love us...and to send us mail (ok..I'm getting into wants again)

#10 - How can we pray for you? (secret:  this is our favorite question) safe travel is always a good thing to pray for...(we'll be flying this Saturday and Sunday).  Please pray for friendships and for our community on the ship.  The Africa Mercy houses so many wonderful people...we want to connect well and invest well.  We want to love the people that God puts in front of us -  deeply, whole-heartedly and with a willingness to take risks - whether that person is in front of us for 2 days, 2 weeks, 2 months, 2 years or 2 decades. Please pray for us as we parent our children and help them to be who God created them to be.  For other ways to pray, click here: ways to pray

We've really had a great time these past 4 weeks.  It's been such a strange mix of feelings, emotions and experiences...blessings & challenges, sadness & joy, rest & exhaustion, full & empty.   

Thanks to so many of you for making our time here so special....thank you for sharing life with us and being a part of our journey. 

Surely there will be more to come. 

04 July 2013

Confessions, Surprises & Snapshots.

Here are a few confessions, surprises & snapshots (and even a few unsurprises)...all thrown together into a lovely smorgasbord of a blog post.
Snapshots:  a few from our time at the beach (just in case you were wondering:  no, we don't get enough of the ocean even though we live on it/see it everyday...it never gets old....and there's a bit of a difference in being at the ocean in a vacation spot on the East Coast of the United States vs. being at the ocean in an industrial port on the West Coast of Africa ):

Confession:  we have not  taken nearly as many pictures as one (namely me)(dianna) may have hoped that we would take. I don't have a clue why the camera was not used more often.  The pictures above and below capture only a smidgeon of the wonderful moments we've had and a few of the amazing memories that have been made these past few weeks.

Confession/Surprise: being "home" is a strange mixture of AWESOME and surprisingly challenging.  Not sure if the thoughts will ever come together to fully be able to explain this...maybe.  We'll see.

Snapshots:  Caroline got her ears pierced!  She is one fun/brave/excited/tough cookie.

Surprise:  after spending plenty of time talking about what foods we were most looking forward to and pretty much mapping out our meals (not really....but kind of), it was shocking how "not hungry" I was for a few days.  In some ways I'm just starting to really want the foods that I've missed the past year...

Unsurprise:  God has blessed us with so many delightful friends and it has been a joy to spend time with so many of them (so many of YOU!).  I wish it was possible to spend a few hours (or better yet, a few days!!) with each and every one of you who make our lives so rich and full. 

Confession:  My plan has been to get an "extra" Polynesian and Chick-Fil-A sauce from CFA every time we've gone so that I have a little stockpile to bring back to the ship.  So far I only have one of each...there's some work to be done (is this completely unethical?!  I really like their sauce....)

Snapshot:  Emma and the bear that Grandaddy & Yaya helped her make at Build-A-Bear.  The bear's name is Squooshy (though no one is quite sure how to spell it). 
Confession:  there are a few things we'll do differently next time around.  We'll make sure we have cell phones lined up to use (so grateful for Nick's dad and aunt's willingness to let us use their's spur of the moment)...we'll hire a professional events coordinator to plan and schedule all of our get togethers and to line up our transportation (not really...but man, that would be nice!)...we'll actually put our clothes away instead of having them strewn all about our rooms...

Unsurprise: we love questions and don't get tired of answering them!  It's fun getting to answer your questions and talk about the past year of our lives....feel free to ask anything you'd like!

Snapshots:  fun at the Chambliss' house/pool


Surprise:  it's amazing how comforting familiar smells can be.  Not sure it's this way for everyone...but there are certain smells that bring comfort to my heart (and sometimes tears to my eyes).  Christ Community's "smell" has that affect on me....as does certain people's perfumes (Pam, Janet...did you know you fall into this category?!)...as does certain people's homes (here's looking at you, Molly)  So grateful for familiar smells. 

Confession (unsurprise):  we have consumed entirely too many cherry cokes while we've been here. 

Confession: it's hard knowing something we've looked forward to for so long is almost over....we are equally dreading and excitedly anticipating next Saturday when we'll board the plane and head back to the ship.  In some ways, it's nice to think about getting back to our "normal" on the ship (crazy to think that this time last year our "normal" was so very different than it is now).  In other ways, there's no way I'm ready to leave this place. 

For now (as Sarah Young wrote in Jesus Calling), we'll try to "look neither behind nor before...instead we'll focus on the One that equips us fully for whatever awaits us on our journey...."

AND we'll seek to enjoy ALL that He has for us in the coming days - there are plenty of meals to be eaten, sleepovers to be had, conversations to be shared and memories to be made (and hopefully pictures that will be taken!!). 

Surely there will be more to come.