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20 Random Facts About Living Onboard the Africa Mercy Ship

In honour of the twenty years that I have been waiting to live aboard Mercy Ships, here are twenty random facts.

1. We get to have church outside on Deck 7 due to COVID restrictions for singing indoors. Normally it would be inside in the International Lounge or crew members could go to churches in the country.

This is a picture of "Worship on the Bow" when we were sailing from Gran Canaria to Tenerife. What a beautiful moment that was, to be out worshipping God in nature!

2. We have to wear our ID cards everywhere on and off the ship, except in our cabin. We use them to sign in and sign out when we leave the ship. We also use our ID cards like a debit card that is connected to our Crew Bank Account so we can use it like a debit card to make purchases at the Ship Shop and Starbucks Cafe where drinks are usually only $1.00 USD. The Crew Bank also allows us to access our funds in another currency which is usually the local currency of the country that we docked at.

With prices that can't be beat!

3. We have regular emergency drills.

4. We have access to a grand piano, keyboard, drums and guitars that anyone can play and practice with on the ship. We have been invited to help lead worship starting in December, which we are very excited about! This is a picture of the International Lounge, where larger gatherings are usually held.

5. The older kids have a youth group room all to themselves with video games to play. We just started regularly scheduled youth events which we are also very excited about!

6. There is a playground on Deck 7 for both the big and little kids.

7. There is pool on the top deck made from a shipping container.

8. There is an area that the crew can cook their own meals if they so choose. There are plenty of cooking stations to cook or bake from. There is a selection of random food items that people have left for others to use. We made use of these random food items to make Elijah's birthday cake last week.

9. There are ship holidays, usually once every 6 weeks to give crew an extra day for a long weekend. There is also PTO or Personal Time Off for long term crew which they can use to go back to their home country and visit family or just take time off from their regular duties on the ship. Since we are committed to 2 years on the ship, our PTO equates to approximately 30 business days off, I think.

10. There are vehicles to drive for personal reasons such as exploring the country, shopping, going to the beach, etc. You have to be approved to drive with a drivers test, paperwork from your manager and an International driver's license. You have to sign up ahead of time to book a vehicle and the bill for the mileage gets taken out of your Crew bank account.

11. There are larger ship community gatherings like watching movies together and there are smaller group gatherings for more specific interests such as studying the Bible, learn how to sew, playing board games, running, praying or just to provide support for one another. I (Ruthy) am so thankful to have found a running group both in Texas and on the ship. It provides a sense of security in a foreign place knowing that someone could get help if I was injured and the socializing aspect is part of the fun and support!

This is the main staircase in the middle of the ship, called Mid-ships where many informal social gatherings occur. Also where the Starbucks Cafe is located, there is seating available to sit and have coffee and visit with others.

12. There is a crew clinic if you need to see a doctor or the crew nurse. There is also a dental hygienist and dentist onboard as well.

13. There is a dinning room for the crew where meals are served 3x/day during the weekdays and 2x/day on weekends and the food is amazing with awesome variety. Here is a peak at the dinning room menu for one week.

14. There is lots of storage in our small cabin.

15. We have to abide by many international laws and regulations which is very complex. Our ship is considered a Malta ship so when we are on the ship, we are considered under the Malta flag I believe.

16. There is a school onboard called the Academy and we currently have 12 teachers and two principals. We currently have two principals at the moment because one of the principals and some of the teachers will be moving over to the Global Mercy ship which is currently in Belgium, in the next couple months.

Our teachers and students consist of individuals from all over the world. Currently we have crew from Canada, the USA, Australia, the Netherlands, England, Sweden and New Zealand.

17. Mercy Ships is a Christian organization but all denominations are welcome and accepted. It is amazing to see the diversity in the styles of worship.

18. There is a group of hired security guards called the Gurkhas who look after the safety of the crew onboard. They are very friendly and in fantastic physical shape. Today I saw one doing a headstand on the cement dock for 10 minutes!

19. I (Ruthy) am considered a Primary Care Giver or PCG for our kids. There is a wonderful group of us PCGs, which provides a great network of support when you arrive on the ship and need to ask someone how things are done. Most of us are fairly new but some have lived onboard for many years.

20. We have a group of Chaplains on board who provide support and guidance especially during transition and difficult times. I will do another blogpost about that later. They provide a shoulder to cry on, resources and someone to vent to!

Maybe you might be considering a journey onboard Mercy Ships?

Feel free to contact me if you have more questions.

Now Go and Be Intentional!


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