27 November 2013

Thankful....Thanksgiving...Thank you.

'Twas the night before Thanksgiving and all through the cabin...the children were falling asleep, the husband was making a pie and the wife was updating the blog.  

We just sent a thankful email...but we know there are people we are thankful for who are missing from that list. Thought we'd add a little bit to the email (mainly some pictures and telling you about Thanksgiving on the ship) and share it here.  We're not sure we can ever say "Thank You" enough...

We've had a thankful tree in our cabin these last few weeks...the tree has slowly grown lovely leaves - one of my favorite parts was when people who had stopped by our cabin to visit or play or for a meal added a leaf to the tree.
A Sampling of the leaves:
cheese...friends and family...indecipherable jibber jabber (but, boy, is emma thankful!), blue bunny, cheeseburgers...you know, the basics.

There were plenty of other wonderful thanksgivings....God, Jesus, Mom & Dad, packages, other indecipherables from Emma, peaceful mornings, grace, accepted apologies, sunsets...

We have a plate here in the Cash Family that we use on birthdays and other special occasions to celebrate a certain person and/or their accomplishments.  It says "You are special. Especially today."  
In light of Thanksgiving, we want to say "We are thankful for you.  Especially today." 

There should be a leaf with your name on it hanging on our tree.

Thank you for loving us.
Thank you for sharing friendship with us.
Thank you for giving financially to us.
Thank you for praying for us.
Thank you for being a part of God's work through the Africa Mercy.
Thank you for letting God use you to bless us again and again and again. 

We are indeed thankful for generous people.  We are thankful for you - whether "you" are here on the ship or far across the ocean...whether you've given us one of the above gifts or all 6 (plus more!).  You have invested in our lives in so many generous ways and we are grateful. 

We are thankful for you.  Especially today.  

We love this time of year - we are certainly missing family and fall weather and changing leaves and the food we know everyone is going to enjoy tomorrow...but we are still SURE that we are right where God wants us - and that's a good place to be!

Thanksgiving on the ship is....alot like most other days.  Since we are an International Community, the ship doesn't celebrate holidays that are specific to one country -- we'd be celebrating something pretty much every day!  (which might not actually be a bad thing....but it would probably get in the way of getting any work done!).  If people want to celebrate a certain holiday, that's certainly permissible - but we're still expected to work and the kids go to school "as usual."   

Tomorrow evening the Galley and Dining Room teams will serve a delicious "Thanksgiving Meal" - turkey, dressing, stuffing, etc....Our plan is to take our meal to the Queen's Lounge -- it's a meeting space here on the ship...a queen really did lounge in it before the ships' name was changed from the "Dronning Ingrid"to the "Africa Mercy."  We'll share our delicious meal (that we didn't have to cook) (on plates that we won't have to wash) with some American friends.  Everyone is bringing a special dessert (now we're talking!!!) - Nick is putting together a Chocolate Chip Pie as this is being typed (complete with a home made crust!)(I'm kind of really impressed by him right now).  

It'll be different...different from what we grew up doing...different from what so many of our friends and family will be doing in Georgia...different...but good nonetheless. Our God is good and so deserving of all the thanksgiving we can pour out - no matter what it looks like! 

A friend (who we are very thankful for!) shared this blogpost with us.  It has a few printable verses about thankfulness....thought you might like to see them and possibly print them off for your home (they're applicable all year round...not just the 4th Thursday of November) - here's a picture of one of them hanging on a door in our cabin (and a fun blast from the past picture of Eli playing in leaves in our backyard on 19th Ave!)
We are praying that you enjoy your Thanksgiving Day...may you connect well, laugh lots, eat just the right amount & ENJOY those around you.  May you take some time to truly give thanks... 

Surely there will be more to come. 

24 November 2013

Soccer Club! (including an exclusive interview with the coach)

I started this post months ago (2 months ago to be exact)...and just realized that I never finished it and, therefore, never posted it.  Time baffles me....specifically, I am baffled by how fast two months can go by and something can remain undone (reminds me of a certain blog post about being intentional). Maybe we'll pontificate on that another time...for now, a much lighter subject: soccer club!!!

Let me introduce you to the Fireblazers - the Africa Mercy kids' soccer club (grades 2-4). 
The ingredients for a successful season:
  • love for soccer
  • 3 coaches
  • 9 players (and an honorary first grader who got to play the last couple of games)
  • Saturday mornings
  • the beach
  • 2 goals
  • Tuesday and Thursday evening practices
  • a parent snack schedule
  • end of the season party
  • 8 faithful families
  • team t-shirts
A Few Scenes from the Season:

An Interview with the Coach:
What made you start a soccer club on the Africa Mercy?

Coach Nick: "I suppose the main reason is that I miss the opportunity for our kids to participate in team sports.  It was a way to create a team sport for the kids on board.  It also gave them a chance to learn new skills and have fun playing a great game."

Tell our faithful readers about the Fireblazers' inaugural season. 

Coach Nick: "We practiced twice a week out on Deck 7 teaching fundamentals and scrimmaging with each other.  We had an 8 week season playing a game each Saturday morning.  The ten kids brought both a white and blue shirt to each game and we split them up into 2 teams of 5 - we tried to make them different each week so that the kids could play with and against a variety of people.  This resulted in some games that were closer than others in final score."

What was one of your highlights from the season?

Coach Nick: "The clearly noticeable transformation of skill.  Several of the kids had never played soccer before - in the course of just a few weeks they went from never having played to passing it accurately to a teammate or kicking it into the goal.  They learned to do throw ins and goal kicks...we even had one tied game that went to penalty kicks."

Anything else you'd like to say?
Coach Nick: "I loved coaching.  I hope to do it again in the future."

More Scenes from the Season:
Soccer club was a great success!  The t-shirts made a wonderful trophy, and the pizza the end of the season party was delicious!  

We're so glad our kids got to play and be outside and run around and have fun with their friends (and their dad!).    

Surely there will be more to come

18 November 2013


Story by Catherine Murphy, edited by Nancy Predaina
Pictures by Catherine, Murphy Michelle Murrey and Deb Bell

Bernadette is a runaway.

Three weeks ago, she packed her bags, lied to her mother, and bought a one-way ticket on a train bound for the coast. She said that she would be visiting a cousin, and then she disappeared. But someone like Bernadette does not go unnoticed for long.

The tumor over Bernadette’s right eye pushed her brow to her cheekbone, blocking her vision like an eye patch. As she journeyed from her hometown to Pointe Noire, she would lift it up with her right hand so she could use both eyes to see her steps, her path, and, finally, her destination – a hospital ship.
Now in the hospital ward, Bernadette is a little cheeky, almost rebellious. At about 5’ tall, what she lacks in height she makes up for with spunk. She keeps a match tucked in her hair “in case the inside of her ear tickles” and occasionally erupts with loud, happy laughter. Some days, she jumps up and down. Since the operation, Bernadette’s right hand is free to join her left in clapping, pointing, or trying to knit with hot pink yarn. She says she wants to make a chair cushion. The little girl in the next bed watches Bernadette with shy fascination.

Bernadette had no choice but to lie to her mother, she says. When she had a tumor, no one would touch her – except her mother. People would see Bernadette coming, and then they would go the other way. Even so, if Mama Philo had known that her daughter was traveling to a hospital ship for surgery, it would have made her sick from worrying. By running away, Bernadette spared her mother from fear.
Now that her tumor is gone, Bernadette is looking forward to her future. Some day, hopefully soon, she will sell homemade peanut butter to passengers outside the very train station where her great escape began. Bernadette smiles at a thought: not having a tumor is going to be good for business, she says. In fact, she may expand to selling pastries.
The next time Bernadette buys a one-way train ticket, it will take her home. She hopes that her mother will be too happy to be angry. And if she is mad? Well, Mama Philo will have to forgive eventually, because Bernadette is old enough to make her own decisions . . . because Bernadette is 54.

On a hospital ship in Africa, there is a runaway with a bandage on her head and a match in her hair. And if you ask her, “Are you ever too old to spare your mother from worrying?” she will look at you with two eyes and say, no.

Surely there will be more to come.

10 November 2013

2nd graders + obedient teacher + Deck 7 + patients = beautiful

this post is copied and pasted from Miss Moriah's Blog (Caroline's teacher)...we are so grateful for all of the ways she invests in our children - and the way she allows them to invest in others.  Hope you enjoy this sweet little poem and lovely pictures (and, more importantly, we hope you enjoy reading about some students' requests and their teacher's obedience)

What happens when 2nd graders and a hospital collide… 
“Miss Moriah!” they begged
“Miss Moriah!” they pleaded
“Can we PUH-LEESE play with patients?”
And then they proceeded…
 “It would be quite fun!”
“It would make our hearts happy!”
“Let’s play in the sun!”
“It would make us less snappy!”
 I still wasn’t sure.
I still had some worries.
Are 2nd graders mature?
Would they want to get out of there in a hurry?
 What would they do?
What would they say?
Do I send them out two by two?
Do I trust they won’t stray?
 And then a small thought grew.
God convicted my heart.
These 2nd graders have a role on this ship too!
Let them play their irreplaceable part! 
So the day finally came.
The children were all very excited.
They learned each patient’s name.
Everyone was delighted.
 They colored pictures and read stories.
They played games and pulled wagons.
Of course God got all the glory
For what happens when He makes me listen to my students’ passions.
 …take a look for yourself!
All photos were taken by Michelle Murrey, a ship photographer and friend!
Surely there will be more to come!

06 November 2013

"I Love You Because You Are You"... the AFM Version

Way back when, for Eli's first Christmas, Aunt Amy gave us a book (she gives really incredible books!)....
...and it's about this Mama Fox and her sweet little boy fox and how she loves him no matter how he is/what mood he's in -- happy, cheerful, sad, playful, frisky, angry, etc...she loves her little one.  The end of the book says "I love you any way you feel, no matter what you do.  I love you any way you are.  I love you because you are you. "

One night, as I was reading that story to our children, I felt like God was saying "I want you to share this with the crew of the Africa Mercy."  So I tucked that tidbit away for another day....

Long story short...I was able to share the story with our community a couple of weeks ago in our Sunday Night Church Service.  God wanted to remind us of His tremendous love for us and how nothing can separate us from His love.  In the end, I also shared an "Africa Mercy Version" of "I Love You Because You Are You" that God prompted me to write.  After a few requests, I've decided to share it here on our blog...enjoy!

2 things to note:  
  • yes, some of the pictures were staged (most were not)
  • the "line" referred to is talking about a barrier that is put up across all of the entrances to the dining room while the floors are being mopped...quite a few people onboard find it an inconvenience when they want to go in to get tea or coffee and find the line up (and some people take the liberty to go underneath the line which is not permissable!!)  

I Love You Because You Are You,
 the Africa Mercy Version

I love you when you’re cheerful and in the best of moods.
I love you when you’re whiny and complaining about the food.

I love you when you’re laughing, grinning ear to ear.
I love you when you’re frustrated, and wonder why you’re here.
I love you when your heart is breaking, listening to the cries.

I love you when you’re on the dock, saying hard good-byes.
I love you when you’re serving, giving all you’ve got.

I love you when you’re playing, entertaining quite alot.

I love you when you’re cleaning and picking up the bits.

I love you when you’re sad, and just want to call it quits.
I love you when you’re resting and need to take a break.
I love you when you’re at the line and thinking “oh, for goodness’ sake.”
I love you when you're singing and making people smile.

I love you when you're working, going the extra mile.

I love you any way you feel, no matter what you do.

I love you any way you are, Africa Mercy Crew…

I love you because you are you!

He does!  And I am grateful.  At our best...at our worst...when we're getting it all right or all wrong or somewhere in between...when we're at our highest...when we're at our lowest...He loves us.  Oh! How He loves us.  

His love for us is not dependent on us or on our performance - and I, for one, am so very thankful.  He does love us - so very much...and nothing can separate us from His love.  Hallelujah!

Surely there will be more to come.