25 October 2014

Made it to Madagascar

We arrived safely in Tamatave (aka Toamasina), Madagascar this morning!  

We are so grateful for all the prayers that have been poured into our safe sail and smooth arrival. 

Here are just a few favorite photos from the day:

First glimpse of Madagascar
Jordan's foot sticking out of the pilot's entrance on deck 3
Looking for the pilot boat 
The Pilot Boat!!!  We were most excited to see that guy on the right in the blue and black jacket!!!
A few precious friends waiting for us on the dock
Emma's "I Love You's" to Nick on the dock
KJ & Mirabelle!
2 incredible Dutch Men that we are blessed to call "friends"
2 happy Cash Fellas
Our home.  Tied up to dry land. 
We are excited to be here and excited to be a part of the story God is writing in Madagascar.  We are very aware that He was at work long before we arrived...and He will be at work long after we leave...but for this time, may we be used in any and every possible way to bring hope and healing to some of His beloved creations in this lovely country.   

Please pray for the crew of the Africa Mercy as everything gets into "full swing" this week.  Many screenings will take place in the days and weeks to come as we seek out the patients that will fill the wards and halls of our hospital.

We can't wait to share the stories with you!  

Surely there will be more to come.

21 October 2014


As the ship makes its way to Madagascar one nautical mile at a time, one can sense the excitement...the expectancy...the readiness...

After months of maintenance and months of waiting and weeks of sailing (with a few wonderful PR tours thrown into the mixture for good measure), we're ready....

Ready to see this ward transformed back into a place that is filled with love and recovery.  Ready for the smiles, stickers, games of jenga and coloring pages. 
Ready to see these halls filled with nurses in scrubs and patients taking strolls and VVF ladies singing their songs of joy and redemption.
Ready for these mattresses to be made into beds and filled with patients who are preparing for surgery and recovering from surgery (not to mention their wonderful care givers tucked away underneath them).
Ready to look through this porthole and see the miraculous goings on of the ORs...doctors and nurses using their skills, talents and abilities to restore LIFE, HOPE and HEALING to countless beautiful individuals.
Ready to see patients and crew sitting in this sweet spot under the stairs having conversations and working on their physical therapy.
Ready to be the hands, feet, hugs, smiles and love of God to hundreds of Madagasi people.  

Surely there will be more to come.

18 October 2014

Capetown: Lessons from the Scratch Patch

It's pretty incredible how God can use random places/situations to remind us of His love.

We visited the Scratch Patch while the ship was docked in Capetown (actually, we visited it twice).  We heard a few people talk about visiting this place where you could "pick out rocks and it didn't cost much."  Sounded like a winner.

In the midst of watching the Cash Kids pick out just the right rocks and put them in their little zip lock bag (that was supposed to be able to close), God brought a few things to mind...here's an attempt at sharing them.

#1: At the Scratch Patch - and in God's Kingdom - castaways become treasures. 

The rocks at the Scratch Patch are "B grade" - not even sure what exactly that means in the world of rocks...but in talking with the lady that works there, she said that these are the rocks that can't be used in making jewelry.  For whatever reason, they were deemed "not good enough" or "invaluable" or "useless" -- yet, there they are...being picked out as TREASURES by our children (and by hundreds of others each week).  The very rocks that someone deemed "unacceptable" are sought after, picked out, rejoiced over.

Sounds alot like God and His love.

Sounds alot like what God does in and through Mercy Ships.

#2: "We have to be extra careful with the broken hearts - they have rough edges."

At some point in the search, Emma found a heart shaped rock.  She then proceeded to dump out all the other rocks she had collected and only put heart shaped rocks in her little bag.  She wanted only heart shaped rocks...and, because of her determination and ruthless pursuit, only heart shaped rocks made it home with us!  In the midst of the search, she found a heart shaped rock that was broken off and she said "We have to be extra careful with the broken hearts - they have rough edges."  Oh so true.

There are lots of broken hearts in our world right now.  Many of our friends' hearts are broken over their children (or lack there of), over their marriage (or lack there of), over disease and addiction, over their own terrible decisions or the terrible decisions of one they love.  Broken hearts are fragile...tender...and we desperately need them to be handled carefully.  It is good to know that our hearts are in good hands...our God is extra careful with broken hearts.  May we learn more and more about handling hearts carefully.

#3 It is important to look at the individual, not just the masses

To walk in and see the large number of rocks was really cool...but what was really incredible was to pick up one rock and study its beauty...and to pick up another rock and see its intricate designs.

Sometimes the masses can be overwhelming...but remembering that the mass is made up of individuals - individuals with a story, with a purpose, with their own unique value and beauty - can make all the difference.  It reminds me of Screening Days.  It reminds me of the Starfish Story.

So there ya go.  Lessons from the Scratch Patch.  1.70 Rand well spent.

Surely there will be more to come.

Capetown: Hiking Lion's Head

I (dianna) had the chance to go with a few friends to the top of Lions Head Mountain while we were in Capetown.  It was lovely! A perfect late afternoon of hiking.

On the way to the top: 

you can see the Africa Mercy -- left hand side a little less than halfway up....
Another view of Table Mountain
Views from the top: 
Me and Shea.  So thankful for amazing lady and her friendship.

Heading back down: 

I'm so grateful for the opportunity to be out in our God's amazing creation...and I'm grateful for good friends to climb with (and I'm not just talking about Lion's Head....).

Surely there will be more to come.

13 October 2014

Capetown: Penguins (and other amazing things)

We had one of our beloved Ship Holidays the first Friday that we were in Capetown.  We ventured off the ship with a couple of other families to find some penguins! 

Our day in a nutshell: we walked, rode a train, took a taxi, saw some penguins, played on a beach (played on a beach with a penguin), swam (swam in the water with some penguins), found all kinds of treasures, took a taxi, rode a train, and eventually walked back to the ship. 

On the way to the train 

 Train Ride to Simon's Town/Amazing Views
 Table Mountain National Park
First Penguin Siting
Boulder Beach

Emma and Stacia creating masterpieces (and probably composing haikus)
Train Ride Home/More Amazing Views

We're amazed by the places that God has brought us to as we're adventuring with Him...amazed. There have been so many times when we've stopped and wondered "How in the world did we get here?  How is it that we're here, now, enjoying THIS?"  We don't really have any answers...just seeking to enjoy Him and enjoy the gifts He is pouring out.  

Surely there will be more to come.