Greetings to you all at the beginning of a new year 2010!!!
I am writing to you from on board the ship while in Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Canary Islands – islands owned by Spain but only 100 km off the African coast near Morocco (see the map below). You may ask, “What are you doing there?” The ship is required to go through various inspections, obtain various certificates, etc and this is the closest place a ship of our size can go to for these services. Without the required certificates, we would not be permitted to sail. Mercy Ships has had a long term relationship with our agent and vendors here which all help in our dealings with them. There are many ship repairs that need to be done when the hospital is not in use and when the number of crew members on board is lower (as many long term crew take vacation during part of this time). We are not required to go into the drydock as that is when they take the ship out of the water – in those cases all the families have to move off for safety reason, but the singles and couples remain living on board with limited services. When I asked “What are some of our main projects happening this time?”, our Captain Tim shared the following: annual checks, lifeboats serviced and certified, water tanks (see photo) and other tanks cleaned and surveyed, hull surveys, work on the anchor chains, modification on the upper deck 8, modifications in almost every area of the hospital on deck 3, and general maintenance and smaller projects.
Personally, I am not involved in the technical work, though they have asked for volunteers from the general crew to assist with crawling into the tanks and doing the cleaning. I have been working intently on all the required final Benin ’09 field service reports and in particular on each of the 14 final project reports for the hospital and the activities off the ship. I strive for integrity and excellence with our reports, including our statistics and financial reporting on these projects. In addition, I continue to serve as the advance team liaison on board as our team is in Lomé, Togo. I am also working on preparations for our next field service in the nation of Togo (sailing date of January 31st).
Last Sunday, I was invited to a local evangelical church (Iglesia Cristiana Fuente de Paz y Esperanza) here on the island. My friend Clementine had met some of the people from this church last year and invited us to return. I was given the privilege to share in their morning service; I chose to share in Español and thought I will watch their faces to see if they can understand my Español. My language skills have not improved since I am not using it regularly except in correspondence with friends in Central America and with the few crew members on board who speak Español also. One recent slip/goof at a store was calling a lady here ‘Madame’ and saying ‘s’il vous plait’ (please in French).
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org – using this email account for personal correspondence