19 October 2015

Pictures from MSA Picture Day!

Our entire school! Mercy Ships Academy 2015-2016
The Lovely & Courageous Caroline, age 9, grade 4 (purposefully first since the middle one hardly ever gets to be first)
How we all actually feel about picture day. 
The Kind & Thoughtful Eli, age 10, Grade 5 (well done, Justine, in getting him to smile)
The ever adorable & giggly Emma, age 5, Kindergarten

Miss Remy with Grades 4 and 5;
6 students + 1 teacher from 5 different countries
Miss Remy has mad jumping skillz...just one of her many, many talents.  Another talent?  Keeping her area neat and tidy.  She's one special lady.  

Miss Katie & her 2 girls; an All-American class;
3 of the sweetest individuals on the entire ship.
The few, the proud: MSA Teachers.  So much excellence, experience, awesomeness and love on display in this picture.  

If you know our childrens' middle names you are more than welcome to create your own portfolio of pictures...print as many wallet sized photos as your heart desires (and any other size).  You can even create your own package - custom made to suit all of your Cash Kid School Picture needs...(the Facebook conversations about School Picture Packages and the point of wallet-sized photos has amused me).

Story time:
On the morning of Picture Day I happened to see the kids and teachers walking along the dock to the back of the ship where the pictures would be taken.  As I watched from our cabin window, the elementary classes each came out - lined up nice and neat, walking calmly with books under their arms (our teachers think of everything - even something for them to do while they wait for their turn in front of the camera!).  And then the Junior High and High School students came out...not quite so neat and orderly - but neat and orderly enough.  Some were carrying and/or riding the vehicles that can be seen in the pictures.  AND THEN I saw something I hope I never ever forget (I am so so sad that I didn't get a video...or even a picture).  I saw our science teacher, Mr. MacGregor (who happened to be wearing his lab coat as he so often does)(he wears it well!) riding along on one of the tricycles.  But the even better part?  Ms. Robinson - our most tenured teacher - was running behind him, pushing him.  The lab coat was flapping in the wind and both had looks of utter JOY on their faces.  What delight!!  What a beautiful reminder to enjoy life, to make the most of every opportunity, to be silly sometimes, to laugh...

We are so very blessed - so very blessed - day after day by the Academy here on the Africa Mercy.

Surely there will be more to come.

06 October 2015

Tom's Testimony: Seeing God at Work

One of our Crew Mates, Tom Waechter (who happens to remind me of my dad!), shared a very meaningful testimony a few weeks ago during one of our Community Gatherings.  He also shared 2 pictures that have proven to be 2 of the most impactful images I've seen lately.  May you be blessed as you read his words....
"Good Evening.  I will admit that I am much more comfortable in my role as Maintenance Coordinator than I am as a public speaker, but if you will please bear with me, we will see how this goes.
Please join me in prayer --- God, I pray that you would be big and I would be small and that you would be glorified by what we will be sharing tonight.  I pray that the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart would be pleasing in your sight.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.
This is a bit different than a lot of testimonies that you have heard because Patricia specifically asked me to share ways that I have seen God working here, since our arrival in Tamatave.  As I prayed about it, a sermon came to mind that I heard many years ago from the head of Wycliffe Bible Translators.  He had three points to his message that have stayed with me.  They are as follows:
  1. We can’t do any task that God has called us to do, but God can do it.
  2. We won’t be able to succeed if we try, but God can succeed through us.
  3. We have to do our part.
With those three points in mind, let’s talk about some of the things that have happened over the past couple of weeks that perhaps we have just taken for granted, failing to see God working in our midst.
Each of these examples required some or all of us to do our part, and often that part involved long hours and lots of hard work.  But, don’t let that cause you to miss seeing God’s faithfulness and His hand in each of these examples as well.
Let’s start at the top – actually, let’s look at three of the top positions of authority on the ship --- the Captain, the Managing Director and the Operations Director.  What would you think about replacing all three of them just before the field service begins with 3 people from three different countries, none of whom have actually functioned in their newly assigned role before?  Does anyone think that would be good business or that it would work?  But it does, as all three are working hard, doing their part and allowing God to do His part.
Let’s take over a third of the ship’s crew and have them report aboard the week before the hospital opens and surgeries start, while we reassign several of our experienced crew members to new jobs that they have never done before.  Does anyone think that is a good idea or that it would work?  But it does, as everyone is working hard, doing their part and allowing God to do His part.
How about bringing our supplemental day crew aboard less than a week before we open for business, with over 30% of them being new to the job.  Does anyone think that is good business or that it would work?  But it does, as our day crew have risen to the challenge and are doing their part and allowing God to do His part.
Let’s take the Hope Center, make it bigger than ever before and assign all new facilitators who have never been in that role before to oversee its operation.  Let’s have it open for business less than a week after the ship’s arrival, then to make things a bit more interesting, let’s have them coordinate with an outside organization (Operation Smile) who will bring in over 100 of their own patients the week after the ship arrives and see how it goes.  Does anyone think that is a good idea or that it would work?  But it does, as everyone, both facilitators and Hope Center day crew, are working hard, doing their part and allowing God to do His part.
I have an idea --- let’s bring in 12 new nurses from all over the world and assign them to an OBF clinic that we have never attempted to run before in our history.  Let’s expect them to be open and ready to receive patients three weeks after our arrival.  Does anyone think that is a good idea or that it would work?  But it does, as this amazing team of people are working hard, doing their part and allowing God to do His part.
I could go on – the examples in our (what I hesitate to call “Normal”) everyday lives are endless.  This place is anything but “Normal”.  Ann-Marie and I went to the prayer time for the hospital before it opened and joined the smaller group of people who went down with Harry and Pam Porter to pray specifically for the pharmacy.  What they were facing was overwhelming --- boxes everywhere, wards needing to be stocked before they could open, containers to be emptied, the pharmacy itself needing to be stocked.  It really blew my mind and I thought that there is no way that this can be ready in time.  But it was.  Harry and Pam and Jenny all did their part and worked a ton of hours and God took care of the rest so that the pharmacy was ready when needed.
I will give one last example of what I consider a true miracle.  I got a call from Emmanuel in Bio-Med two weeks ago asking if I could help deliver a pallet of sensitive electronic equipment out to the Dental Clinic from the warehouse.  It was the new sterilizers and transformers for the Dental team.  Emmanuel told me where the pallet was and mentioned that it had gotten a bit wet during its transport on the container. 
When I went to pick it up in the warehouse, I couldn’t find it --- all I could see was this pallet:
It would not have been more soaked if it had been sprayed down with a fire hose.  The boxes were totally saturated and there was water everywhere, inside and out for each of the sterilizers.  I thought at the time that it would take a true miracle for any of them to ever work again.  But Emmanuel went to work and did his part and God did His part.  Here is a picture of them today, all of them fully operational and working.  
I would like to close with a few verses from II Corinthians, the fourth chapter:
“For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.  But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.”
I encourage each of you to see God at work in your “Normal”, everyday experience here, to diligently do your part and allow Him to work in and through you as He accomplishes what He brought us all here to do.  To God be the glory."
Amen!  Our God is at work...may we see Him....
Surely there will be more to come.