Updated: Jul 22, 2021
Finally! after 20 years of dreaming about going aboard Mercy Ships, my family is leaving on this 2 year journey in just under 90 days!
Why Mercy Ships you might ask?
Why would this prairie gal want to live near the ocean?
I’m sure my parents and in-laws have asked that same question multiple times.
When Ryan and I were first dating, I was very blunt and asked him “What do you want out of life?”
His reply was “A comfortable life.”
Mine response was "A life full of adventure!"
I knew Ryan was the man for me but questioned whether we wanted the same things out of life. I thought, he’ll change his mind or I’ll change mine. However, the truth is that we grew in our relationship and love for Jesus together.
God placed the desire to help people in my heart 20 years ago and more specifically the dream to go aboard Mercy Ships. A dream so strong that I couldn't ignore. Thankfully, God laid this dream in my husband’s heart too.
What is Mercy Ships?
It is the largest non-governmental floating hospital that seeks to bring hope and healing by providing access to free healthcare to people in developing nations. Even though Mercy Ships is a faith based organization, there are no religious requirements needed to obtain their free services.
Mercy Ships provides:
-Gynecological surgeries for those women who have had traumatic childbirths and are left with complications.
-Orthopedic surgeries for bowed legs, windswept legs and limb deformities
-Maxillofacial surgeries such as those for Cleft Palates
-Ophthalmic surgeries including Cataract surgeries.
-General surgeries for tumours that have been growing for many years
-Plastics surgeries for burns
Mercy Ships also provides education and training for African nurses and surgeons in order to better equip the health care systems of each of the countries that they serve. This includes education for ACLS, BLS and Surgical Sterilization. They also include some agricultural training as well.
Did you know?
All of the volunteers pay to work and serve on this ship?!
This is done so that Mercy Ships can direct their main fundraising dollars towards the supplies, diagnostic equipment, procedures and recovery of the patients. The volunteers on board the ship stay anywhere from 2 weeks to 3 months to much longer, including several years of service. In fact, there is even one surgeon Dr Gary Parker, who has been with Mercy Ships for over 31 years! What a commitment! Dr Parker was originally from the United States and met his wife onboard and they have raised their two children aboard Mercy Ships. His daughter has a really fun and cool Youtube channel about some of her experiences onboard the ship.
Check it out! Carys Parker
Mercy Ships Schedule
Their main ship, the Africa Mercy would normally dock in a West African country where they would serve that nation for approximately 10 months. Then travel to the Canary Islands spending 2 months performing ship maintenance and repairs.
However, due to COVID's interruption in March 2020, the Africa Mercy had to postpone many of the surgeries that they had originally planned. Thankfully, they hope to continue their service again from January 2022 until June 2022.
Did you know?
That over 50% of the world’s population lives within 100 miles of the coast? This is what makes docking at a port so effective to reach majority of the population within a country.
Mercy Ships also has a fleet of approximately 30 SUVs to reach those that are inland and have difficulty getting to the coast. Ryan will be in charge of the maintenance of these vehicles. He will also be maintaining the HOPE (Hospital Out-Patient Extension) Centre. The HOPE Centre is an on-dock facility that supports the hospital on board. It aims to provide extra bed space in order to free up beds on board the ship.
Ryan applied for the Maintenance manager role so that we could serve as a whole family together. We were originally only planning to be gone for one year but once we learned that the manager position required a 2 year commitment, we decided to go for it!
What will I be doing?
Mercy Ships asks that one parent be the primary caregiver even if your children are teenagers due to the huge living adjustment. Once the kids are settled, I hope to be able to volunteer part time as a nurse. I am excited for this opportunity to use my nursing skills in various capacities whether that be palliative care, wound care, teaching, ward nursing or helping in the OR.
What will the boys be doing?
There is a school aboard the Africa Mercy called Mercy Ships Academy which is equipped with 12 teachers and a principal. There are approximately 50 kids ages 0-18 years old aboard the ship. The kids will have the opportunity to interact with the patients and learn conversational French. They will have approximately 6 kids in their class. Some of the grades are combined like grade 7 & 8 and 9 & 10. The students also get the opportunity to do work experience and field trips within the various functions of the ship including the engine department, cooking in the kitchen, shadowing the medical professionals, etc.
What does the Community on board the Ship look like?
It is a community of approximately 400 volunteers from over 62 different nations at any given time. Imagine, all these different nations, cultures and languages living together on one ship and all working towards the same goal!
I’m excited for this adventure, because I love helping people and love seeing peoples’ lives transformed. I believe that only the love and peace of Jesus can provide this magnitude of hope and healing!
I’m excited to share a different world view perspective with my children and for them to see miracles performed by our living and actively loving Jesus! Not that Jesus doesn’t provide miracles in rural Alberta. He has and still does.
I’m going to be writing more blogposts expanding on how we plan to work towards this dream of leaving our home, our jobs, our extended family and our lives for 2 years to go aboard the Africa Mercy.
I hope that you’ll journey along with me and my family.
If you feel lead to provide any financial support for our journey, please have a look at our Fundraising Page.
Now Go and Be Intentional!