"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Jeremiah 29: 11

Sunday, October 29, 2017

August 2017 Update - Better Late than Never

We wrote this update in August but never got around to posting it on the blog so here it is. As they say, better late than never.

We finished the Benin field service in early June and sailed for Las Palmas, Gran Canaria. The sail north was smooth sailing but challenging work wise for Mick. We had a number of difficulties with the port shaft control and clutching and had to operate much of the port shaft and associated engines in manual override. Our fuel economy was terrible primarily due to the fouling on the hull after 10 months sitting in port. But we made it safely only for a large seawater line to fail 10 minutes after finished with main engines was rung down from the bridge. The ship was then blacked out for 5 hours however God is good. We were safely moored at a shipyard.

We departed on holidays 2 days later flying to England. We spent 2 weeks in England being spoilt by Mick's cousins, aunt and uncle before heading to Germany where we spent a weekend with Tom and Angelika Kern who used to live in Newington and occasionally attended Bayside. Whilst in England we also got to catch up with Tim and Sharon Tretheway and their son Nathanael.

Hanging out with cousins

Catching up with Tim and Sharon Tretheway

Harry and Nathanael reunited

We then picked up our motorhome and spent three weeks adventuring in France and Switzerland. This included white water rafting, canoeing, canyoning, zip lining, acrobranch, mountain biking, hiking, visiting the start of Le Tour de France, velo rail, rail museum, Swiss Army knife making, chocolate factory and for Mick road bike riding up Alpe d'Huez. We also caught up with our good friend Myriam in Geneva. Fortunately Mick had received a small inheritance from a great aunt that allowed us to take such an awesome holiday. Overall we had a great time and returned to the ship thoroughly refreshed for another year.

The boys with Myriam in Geneva

White water rafting on the Isere River

Alpe d'Huez

We rejoined the ship in Las Palmas as shipyard was finishing. A very special event then was the visit by Tam's parents to the ship as guests for a week. We had kept it as a secret from the boys for 5 months and they were thrilled to see their grandparents. Shipyard never quite finishes on time and work continued right up to when we sailed on 4 August which was on time. We are currently on passage to Douala, Cameroon and have crossed the equator today - back in the Southern Hemisphere! We arrive in Douala on Wednesday to start our 5th field service. Amazing.

Boys with Nana and Bapa in Las Palmas

Harry is now ten and can roam the ship unaccompanied. Jack turns 16 tomorrow and is now 163 cm tall - 3 cm shorter than Mick. Mark turns 13 next Monday. School has started (yes, at sea) and the first week has gone well. The Academy is fully staffed again this year which is another blessing.

We have made the big decision to commit to a further 3 years with Mercy Ships. We discussed this throughout the summer and prayed about it. The boys are all very happy onboard and this was what they wanted. This will allow Jack to complete his schooling onboard. Then it will be seven years and we think we will take a break and come home. Of course with Mercy Ships building a new ship in China we do not know where we will be for those three years. We will leave this and the finances to God.

So that's about all the news. Mick is still Second Engineer and Tammy is now the Creative Coordinator in the Communications Department. Thank you for your prayers and support.


Mick, Tammy, Jack, Mark and Harry

Monday, October 23, 2017

Itinerant Bike Rider

Anyone who has followed me on Facebook or our journey on our blog would know of my passion for cycling. So over the last 5 years I have been lucky to borrow bikes most places we have visited thanks to some generous friends and family. And I have had the opportunity to ride in many of the countries we have visited. Here are a selection:

My trusty Focus MTB purchased ex-hire from Bikepoint in Tenerife in 2013.
Ridden in Canary Islands, Congo, South Africa, Madagascar, Benin and now Cameroon.

Murray Crawford's parents helped me find my
Africa road bike in Cape Town in 2014 for a bargain price

Borrowed this one from Jim Sibson in the summer of 2014.
The family rode from Bath to Bristol

Jack Parker's deadly "treadly" folding bike in 2014.
He should use it as an anchor for his canal boat.
Deadliest bike I have ever ridden.

Tom Kern borrowed this one from a friend for me
to explore the forests and mountains around Heidelberg in 2014.
Had a blast.

Ed McLeod from South Shields Velo Cycling Club lent me his beautiful
Bianchi whilst I was studying at South Tyneside College in 2015-16

My trusty trundler for getting about South Shields in 2015-16.
35 quid at Chichester Op Shop

My mate Peter Faase who always lends me his lovely Cervelo when we are home.
I think he likes to leave his Garmin on it, especially when I ride hills.

Riding in Mada in 2015.

Our good friend Viv who took me out riding Glenbrook to Waterfall
when we were home in 2015.

My trusty Cannondale Scalpel at the Highland Fling back in 2012?
Now hanging in Simon Moore's shed waiting for me to return.

Perhaps the nicest bike I have every ridden. I hired a bike
 to ride up and down Alpe d'Huez in 2017 and got an upgrade to a
new Scott Foil with Di2.

In summer 2017 we hired mountain bikes (Velo Tours Terrain) when
we were in the Vosges Mountains. With Jack and Tracy.

Riding VTT with the Unity Velo Club in the forest at Dibombari in 2017.