We left Guinea in the middle of June. We had grown very fond of Conakry and the people that we met - the Day Crew, the patients, the church we attended towards the end of the field service and our friends from Christian Missionary Alliance (CMA) who we stayed and worked with for our field practice last November. We are grateful that we are able to stay in contact with some of them through Facebook and What'sApp. Although we had not publicly stated our departure day and time, nevertheless there were a good number of people there to wave us off from the dock. The dock had been cleared, the gangway lifted up and we were off, waving madly, holding back tears and some led us in worship as we left.
|Up with the gangway|
|Artwork from the night before|
We enjoyed the sail, Matthew was on two four hour watches each day on the bridge - 12 noon to 4pm and 12 midnight to 4am. He did a great job and we are very proud of our 19 year old being part of the team that steered us safely to Gran Canaria - and here to Senegal.
|Worship on the bow|
Dolphin watching, worship on the bow - oh and some work too - were all good parts of our five day sail to Las Palmas.
|Looking great at night!|
We arrived in Las Palmas and had only a few day there before flying back to the UK a bit earlier than originally planned, for an appointment with a knee consultant for Lynne's knee, but we took the opportunity to look around a little, and take a day trip on the day the ship came out of the water for 'dry dock'. When we returned from our day trip, the only way on to the ship was via 72 steps up a scaffold type tower. We (well Lynne really) was very grateful that the Tower of Terror only had to be negotiated once! Matthew was staying on, on his own for a couple of weeks and cabin sat for us, meaning for the first time in nine months he had his own personal space.
|Night out with friends|
|Las Palmas Old Town|
We arrived at Bristol Friday 21st June - exactly nine months after leaving! Discombobulated (a word we used during our training in Texas and field practice in Guinea) described exactly how we felt for the first couple of weeks! But it was good to be back.
We had an appointment three days later with a knee consultant - Lynne didn't need an operation after all. The meniscus wasn't torn - but there was wear and tear on the knee! The joys of getting older!! After the initial surprise we sought a physio - who was fab - and made plans to be as fit and healthy when we returned to the ship and then took the opportunity to enjoy the extra time we had at home!
Matthew arrived safely home as planned on 9th July, flying on his own for the first time. Was great to attend our daughter Zoe's graduation and greet our older daughter Hannah when she returned from a six month trip to New Zealand, as well as catching up with other family and many friends. It was also great to welcome two friends from the ship, Ian and Sarah, who were on a flying visit to the UK for a weekend.
All too soon it was time to pack our bags again and return to the Africa Mercy which by now had moved from Las Palmas to Tenerife! We had an early morning flight from Bristol and arrived back at the ship by lunchtime. A beautiful island but we only had a few days to explore a little before sailing for Senegal.
| Our view from the ship|
|Our new neighbour - we didn't think we were that small!|
We were due to leave Tenerife around 6pm Saturday 10th August. If we missed our slot our larger neighbour would take it so everyone had to be back on board by midday. All were present!! We left as planned, and as warned, the ship rolled quite a bit that first day - and a bit for the rest of the nearly four day sail. Some of our number unfortunately suffered quite badly with seasickness. We did take medication for the first day or so but were generally okay which we were thankful for. Stuart and Matthew were very busy when we left and during the sail and Lynne had meetings but it was a bit less intense for her. We do enjoy the sailing.
|Securing the gangway for sail|
|Ready to sail|
|Ready to sail|
|Arrival in Dakar|
|Arrival Ceremony in Dakar|
The Advance Team were waiting to greet us on the dock. They had been in Dakar since April preparing for our arrival.
We arrived in Dakar on 14th August. There was a three week set up plan to prepare for the opening of the hospital on 9th September. Much to be done in that time - such a huge job but it was great to be involved in it all and be on the ship for the start of the field service. We look forward to what is in store for us in the next nine months.
"For I know the plans I have for you", declares the Lord, "plans to prosper and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11