"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, December 28, 2014

Involoina Parc Zoologique

On Christmas Eve we had a ship holiday and visited the local lemur zoo with some friends - Tracy, Stacie, Davi and Roses. We were also blessed to have a local crew member - Charlie from the dental team - who works as a guide at the lemur zoo escort us. The boys loved him, especially Harry and Mark.

Some of the lemurs are in cages, some are wild but live in the park. There were all different varieties and the boys got to hand feed a couple of the wild ones.

There were also many radiated tortoises and spider tortoises. These are not native to the east coast of Madagascar and are animals that have been intercepted whilst being illegally exported. And of course there were chameleons which we got to let walk all over us.

After checking out all the animals we went for a walk to the small waterfall and had an impromptu swim which was very refreshing and great fun.

Lake at lemur zoo

Jack feeding a wild lemur

Stacie with chameleon

Charlie showing the boys the tortoises

Mark with a chameleon

Mark checking out a tortoise

Mick with the chameleon

Jack with the chameleon on his head


Charlie helping Harry into the waterhole

Charlie, Harry and Mark

Charlie, Harry and Mark

Mark and Harry showing off their balancing skills

Mark with a six pack

Mick cooling off

I can fly

Mick rode there and back

What you missed this morning...
While some animals were born in the forest, most of the animals at Parc Ivoloina were donated, exchanged with other zoos, born outside the wild, or seized by the Malagasy government from illegal operations. Parc Ivoloina has never been involved in animal sales or trafficking.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Sunday Night

Whilst we were in Congo a film crew from Channel 7 Australia came to record a story onboard. They followed us, a surgeon - AJ Collins - and a nurse - Rinnah Fry - for a week. Anyway, the show finally went to air on the Sunday Night program on 14 Dec 14 - our 18th wedding anniversary. Neither of us ever imagined that we would be living and working as unpaid volunteers on a hospital ship with our three kids when we tied the knot 18 years ago. The story can still be watched online at:


Some screen shots.

Interview in our cabin

Teaching African crew how to rebuild a centrifugal sewage pump

Showing African crew how to remove old wear rings from centrifugal pump

In the workshop

Teaching African crew how to rebuild a centrifugal sewage pump

Tammy off to give blood
Jack in class taught by our friend Gretchen

Lunchtime in the cabin - Mark practicing sax, Harry playing in his box
and Tam in the kitchen

Mark and Harry

Interview in the cabin

Catching a bus to La Cite Supermarche

Au revoir

Thanks to Diane, James, Jeff and Jason for telling our Mercy Ships story so well.

Friday, October 31, 2014

"Fair winds and following seas" my friend

This field service I have started a new job Onboard - I have moved from the training department into Human Resources as a Transition facilitator. This means that I get to help people settle Onboard and also debrief them as they leave.  It's a great fit for me.

It's wonderful to meet new people all the time and see the energy and enthusiasm they bring to the ship and it's mission. I love helping them find their way - whether it's showing where an office is, who can help them or advising them on what to bring and how much space they'll have.  I particularly enjoy connecting them with others when they get here and watching them develop friendships until they feel at home. I get a warm fuzzy feeling every time I see groups of new people sitting together in the cafe, chatting away, looking relaxed and happy. Best job satisfaction ever.
Then again some weeks, it's really hard. Sometimes I feel I've given out a bit too much. Perhaps I haven't taken enough time to exhale and process.  But the main reason I feel like this is when someone I've really connected with is leaving. 

Tomorrow Ellen and her family are starting their long journey back to Norway and my heart hurts. We have only know each other for two months. But it has been a tough time that we have walked together through. We have shared in many birthday parties, rough seas, Mums bible studies, cups of tea, laundry rage and many frustrations together. We have celebrated our safe arrivals, enjoyed a lovely dinner out in Cape Town and thanked God that our cabin furniture did not attack us! 

I struggle to even articulate what made us click - the only thing I can think of is that we were open to sharing in each other's lives during these few weeks. And perhaps that is all you need to make a friendship. Then the more you share, especially if you share your vulnerabilities, the deeper the connection.  Kind of like this verse:

Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. (Galatians 6:2 NIV)

So tonight I'm hurting - but I'm only hurting because I know what I'm losing and how precious that is.  By investing the time and love in a friendship with Ellen, and she with me, I know that I now have a Norwegian sister. Maybe one that I won't see again on this earth - except on Facebook of course - but nevertheless, a friend for life.

I am not very good at articulating my feelings as I say goodbye to my close friends. I fear that if let my emotions go, I will never reign them back in. So to manage this, I only let them go at the very last minute. So tomorrow morning when I am saying goodbye on the dock at 8 o clock, my tears will flow and my heart will hurt - but it is all worth it. I wouldn't have it any other way. Because I won't be able to express this then, I'm writing it down now. 

"Fair winds and following seas" Ellen as you travel home. I will miss you dear friend. Thank you for being such a blessing in my life.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Tour de Tamatave

We made it yesterday and had shore leave today. This morning we went out for a family bike ride and this arvo I went out for a solo exploration on the MTB. The bicycle is king here - certainly in terms of numbers if you include "poussez-poussez". The roads are a dichotomy - either great or not great with not much in between. Having spent a great deal of my career in Asia I felt very at home. It reminded me very strongly of Indonesia, Malaysia and Timor-Leste. Below are some photos I took from the bike. We can already see why we have been called to serve this nation even after only one day ashore. Very excited!

Monday, October 13, 2014

The importance of rest

We just spent the weekend away from the ship. We had our holiday mid year and came back rested and refreshed. But somehow, in the midst of the changes, lengthy sail and planning over the last few months, we found ourselves back in that depleted state.
Solution: stay ashore for two whole nights and explore some of the Cape. 

  • Stay in a home with greater area than 72m square

  • Cook steak on a braai (BBQ)
  • Spot ostriches in the wild - look for the black feathers!

  • Have lunch with a seal

  • Give way to a baboon
  • Walk from Cape point to the Cape of Good Hope

  • Chat with a penguin at Boulders beach

  • Drive a car on the left hand side of the road
  • Have a glass of wine with dinner and lunch

  • Eat breakfast on a balcony overlooking the ocean, in pyjamas
  • Cook braai with taser handy in case of baboon intrusion
  • Spot Dassies on walk
  • Climb inside tallest lighthouse in South Africa

  • Selfies at the Cape

  • Allow Mark to have a double sleepover with Eli where no one has to sleep on the floor
  • Have a bath!
  • And so much more.

We are back Onboard. And we are ready to sail.
Thank you Lord for a restful weekend.