26 April 2017

What do you think you'll miss most? (and a little of what we won't!)

When I asked our children what they'll miss most about the ship, each one's first response had to do with their friends.

It goes without saying - but we're saying it anyway - the relationships we've formed have been the most valuable part of this journey.  God has blessed each of us with various friendships throughout our time onboard the Africa Mercy...some left us waving on the dock and some we'll be leaving behind....some friendships started 5 years ago at the beginning of this journey, while some friendships been formed in just the past few months.  

It's true, "the best ships are friendships" - and this ship has provided us with some friendships that are going to last this lifetime and on into eternity. We have no doubt that we'll be hosting people in Columbus and making plans to visit friends in various places all over the globe in the coming years.  
As we've been thinking about what we'll miss most, we've also been thinking of things we won't miss...

won't miss:

  • firedrills
  • having to walk up so many flights of stairs
  • life jackets

will miss most:

  • seeing his friends all the time (how easy it is to get together with friends)
  • amount/variety of food offered at each meal
  • how close everything is (we haven't had to drive to school or church...)

won't miss:

  • the process that is required in order to take a car out into town (looking forward to 2 steps:  get in the car and go.)
  • lack of green space

will miss most:

  • getting to follow Jesus with Christians from so many different cultures (35+ nations at any given time)
  • maintenance needs being so easily and quickly (and freely) taken care of
  • being so close to the ocean

won't miss

  • all the good-byes
  • the loud alarms
  • the cold air conditioning

will miss most:

  • mid-ships and the games on the computers
  • the academy
  • my mom and dad's bed -it's comfortable. 

won't miss:

  • small bedroom
  • getting seasick

will miss most:

  • how close everything is
  • spaghetti in the dining room

won't miss:

  • the sound of the EVAC system
  • having to "get ready" before going to the dining room to get breakfast

will miss most:

  • being able to do 4-5 loads of laundry at one time
  • hearing so many accents
It's all a bit bittersweet - bittersweet makes for good cooking chocolate...but it's not always fun in life.

(and my apologies to the friends who's pictures aren't on this blog...you are loved and treasured just as much as the ones pictured!  These are just the pictures that I happened to have easy access to....)

Surely there will be more to come. 

12 April 2017

numbers and preparation.

Our Group Managing Director, Donovan Palmer, likes to use numbers.  It's become a bit of his tradition to start any time of sharing with "___ (insert number) of days until the new ship is ready." or "we're on day #____ of the Field Service."

In honor of his leadership, character and kindness, some Cash Family numbers:

  • 29 days until Nick & Dianna's 15th wedding anniversary (May 11, 2017)
  • 49 days until the end of the school year (May 31, 2017)
  • 68 days until we depart the Africa Mercy (June 19, 2017) 
  • 90 days until we arrive in Columbus, Georgia (July 11, 2017)

While we are preparing to move back to Georgia, there are plenty of people who are preparing for the next field service in Cameroon.
The Advance Team - some are already in Cameroon; others will be heading there soon
These screening posters that have been distributed throughout the country of Cameroon have been serving as a beautiful reminder that preparation is important and is pretty much continually going on.

These posters have also been reminding me that the work of Mercy Ships doesn't depend on us.  At all. Some of you who love us very much might like to argue that point :)  but the fact is that we've done what God has asked us to do for the time frame He has asked us to do it.  And that is enough.  And once we depart the Africa Mercy, God will continue His work in, on, and through the vessel - and in, on, and through us.

The other night, Emma was quite sad. She was sharing about how hard it is to say good-bye.  In an effort to reassure her and help her sort through her feelings, I said, "You know, when we move back to Georgia, we won't have nearly the number of good-byes that we've had on the ship."

She said, "You mean, we won't be leaving again?"  

"No...we won't...and we probably won't even travel outside of the country for a while."

"But we have to leave again, don't we?"

"No...we're moving back to stay..."

"But Mama...we're missionaries...and missionaries leave their country."

"Oh, sweet girl...sometimes missionaries leave their country....but what makes someone a missionary is that they love God and want to share His love with others....we're going to be missionaries in Columbus, Georgia.  That's where God wants us...the only reason we'd leave is if He says to...and we don't think that will happen - at least not for a long time."
A Papa and his 3 children who all received eye surgeries

A recent Dress Ceremony celebrating successful obstetric fistula surgeries.  (fun fact: the OBF surgeon - Dr. Andy Norman, upper left corner - has roots in Lincolnton, GA!)
It's been a privilege to be here on the Africa Mercy these past five years...loving and serving God...loving and serving others...trying to be obedient to be and do all that He has asked of us....and now we get the chance to do more of the same in Columbus.

For now we'll keep preparing...slowly sending our things back in small packages with crew who have extra room/weight in their luggage...figuring out who on the ship needs what of our things that we're giving away...already in awe of how God is preparing the way for us (a post on that to come!)...seeking to finish our 68 days in this place well (this week that looks like orchestrating and facilitating all things Easter for the crew of the Africa Mercy!).

Surely there will be more to come.