Friday, August 28, 2009


Here are some more pictures of the ship, dock, and road to town.

This is my home :)
Me in my driveway (the gangway) :-p
Ta Da!!
This is the view down the dock toward the road. The ship was right behind me as i took this pic.

This is coming out of the dock gate

Up close picture of the shanty town that greets us outside the dock.

this is turning left. from the shanty town. the road to town.
this is the way I run in the mornings with a group of ppl. it actually gets paved with pavers a little further ahead and around a turn. ;-p
This is the galley or cafeteria where we eat.
thats me by the toaster oven and fruit punch.
this is the crew dining. where i was standing in the previous picture with the food line and all, is directly outside the left bottom corner of this picture. The dining area is again as big as what you see if you keep going to the right.
Thats all for now!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Jesus Film

Yesterday was my first day alone on the job at reception. Thank you to everyone who prayed for me! It went really well. :) i was very happy.
Tuesday night I went with a team to a Jesus film showing in a village an hour away called Gboje. It was a really neat experience. The team was mostly African, which is awesome! They speak the language, understand the cuture, and will be the ones to follow up and carry on once Mercy Ships leaves. So after the interesting ride there in the mercy ships jeeps, (The traffic is hillariously chaotic!)
As it got closer to dark, the team set up he screen and the African pastor and some others began singing. Everyone got into it and the kids all started dancing. Chris, a big southern guy from our team, joined in with them. SO funny! Then we played the movie. I think it was in Fon, the local language. As it went, the crowd grew until by the end i'd say with everyone standing behind us in the streets and other dark areads watching, the number probably reached well over 100 if not 2.
Through the movie I made little friend. A little girl was lookin for a place to sit so I offered my lap. shyly she took my hand and came to sit with me. After a while she fell asleep. later I learned her name is Claudia.
After the movie they did a little preaching or explanation and gave an invitation for people to come forward. Many did. Then the pastor and some others prayed, with response from those who came. Afterward there was more singing and me and another girl danced with little girls who would grab our hands giggling. Then it was time to pack up.
On the drive back I was surprisingly much more awake than i had been coming. And then one of the african men in the back of the jeep began playing his guitar that he had brought. And another joined him in singing. They worshipped jesus together all the way back to the base. I joined in as much as i could follow. It is such an encouragement to see the love of God in brother's and sisters all over the world!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Ward Church!

Today we went to ward church. This is where we have a church service in the ward with the patients. The crew sits on their beds with them and the service is mostly led by Beninese. They also did music African style! it is so much fun! I sat with a mother and her six month old little girl. The little girl is here for cleft palet surgery. Right now they are trying to get her weight up before they do the surgery. She is absolutely adorable.
Yesterday Me and the Jacobsons family went on a walk around town. It was really fun! Tons of scooters, Brightly colored african clothing, people selling Fan Ice (a popsickle/icecream treat) and other things. "Gas stations" consisting of a little set up on the side of the road with a bunch of different sized bottles and containers (coke bottles and whatever else) filled with with different gases. It was quite comical :)
Today is my last day of training. I'll be on my own at reception on Wed. I have a couple days off Mon. and Tue. I'll do some more exploring and hopefully go out with some mercy teams on different projects. life is a funny day your living in Florida going to school and working at a restraunt, and the next your living and working on a Ship in Benin, Africa! What?! crazy! I love it! I'm so glad God has an adventurous character :oD

Friday, August 21, 2009

I've arrived on board the Africa Mercy!!

I am finally here!!! I can't hardley believe it. We arrived about 9:30pm on the 19th. We arrived at reception and filled out embarkation paperwork first thing. Then we went to the cafeteria to eat a late supper. Then we were shown to our cabins. I'm in a 4 birth (meaning 4 persons). My roomies are great! Suzanne, Sandra, Stacey. Then the very next day I began training at 2pm-9pm in reception. I'm so excited and learning a ton. I really enjoy the job. Today was the second day. I am feeling much more comfortable now with all the duties. This morning I was trained on fire panel with some other people. This is the alarm system for the ship in case of emergancies. This is Receptions most important responsibility. I've enjoyed the meals in the cafeteria and finding my way around the ship getting familiar with everything. I've already hunted down a piano and enjoyed that several times. The community on board is so great. it's like a little community. there is always something to do or someone to hang out with. And there are tons of opportunities to go offship on mercy teams. This weekend I am hoping to go to a Psych clinic to visit the patients. And then Tuesday i'm planning to go help with a Jesus film showing. I'm very excited at how this adventure is beginning. And i'm already getting used to a home that rocks constantly. It is so weird to feel yourself always swaying slightly back and forth and looking out the window to see the water come and go with the sway of the ship :) It is all so exciting! I can't believe i live on a ship!!
On arrival abourd ship, we were greeted by Christina, Danae, Jamie, and Kelly screaming and running down the gangway to meet us! I was reunited with all my "Gates Family"! the people I trained with (this is me and Danae). Such a blessing :)
This is me and my room (cabin)

This is what you see on entering our cabin. There are two rooms on the right, each with a bunkbed. I'm in the first. then at the end is a little living area.
Here's the living area...
And from a different angle ;-p
Here is our bathroom (washroom). from left: the white curtain is the shower, toilet, sink. and thats it :D hehe
My room (birth). I'm top bunk :)
my bed
some of the reception crew! I'm already on day two of training!
From left: Heather, James, Me, James (yes another one), Hannah. Such a great team! One of my favorite practices in reception is at the end of each shift. The receptionist who is going off duty prays in the receptionist going on duty. It is so neat!

Pictures of Europe adventure!

The Eiffel tower in Paris!
From left: Christina, Heather, Elliot, Julle, Becca, Me

The Alphs in Switzerland! The most amazing thing i've ever seen or experienced! God's creation is unbelievable!
I actually got to touch snow in August!!

This was the map of our hike in the Alphs. We are in our hostel. So cute!

Gotta have goofy fun!
On the road with all our baggage.
The view from under the Eiffel Tower. with a paper flower ;)
Notre Dame!
It is gorgeous! the buildings and archetecture are incredible!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Europe road trip! planning loosely!

Hi everyone! I haven't written in a while. Well let me fill you in on what has been going on. God gave us a blessing in disguise by putting us under quarentine for 2 weeks after training in the Dominican. With the swine flew scare, Benin will not let us in until after "quarentine." At first we were all really bummed and frusterated. Then we ended up deciding to spend 8 days of that time in Europe, going as cheap as possible and using our own money.
What an adventure!! We started in paris, after great flights thanks to everyones prayers except for the one we almost missed due to an intense game of phase 10. :-p when we got to paris we met some friends who are now on the ship, Kelly and Jamie and her friend Doug from south africa. Then me and my traveling buddies, Becca and Christina took off to see as much as we could in four hours. We did pretty good! we saw Notre Dame and the Eiffel tower. We quickly realized that Europe is Incredibly expensive!!! So instead of paying for buses, we decided to rent a car and drive to Germany, Switzerland, and back to Paris where we fly out to Africa. For our entire Trip . We had so much fun making things cheap as possible. we walked places as much as possible and never went out to eat. We found grocery stores and proceded to live on PB&J, and water for the most part. Every Hostel that served free breakfast was an opportunity to collect some more crasants for then next day ;-p
In Germany, we stayed in Munich and saw Dachau the first concentration camp. It was so interesting. totally worth it. it was quite heavy but i am so thankful for the experience and opportunity to learn some amazing history. We also met some great girls who roomed with us in our hostel. We had some great conversations. I have become very thankful for free bathrooms, as we quickly learned that you have to pay for the restroom in Germany and in many parts of Europe! hahah
So we continued on in our little French car driving through places where no one speaks english making all kinds of hillarious memories as we tried to communicate. As we drove we came by a sign that said Aus Faurt. We all had a huge laugh as we realized it came regularly and realized it meant exit!! We decided to name our car Aus Faurt :-D
the night before leaving Germany we decided to switch our plans and drive to Interlaken, Switzerland, where we spent a whole day hiking 7 hours in the Swiss Alphs!!! It was Incredible. I believe it may be the most beautiful thing i've ever seen! Talk about bein in awe of God! we got to touch snow too!
On our way to the Aphs we were snapping pictures every minute, and decided to stop once on the side of the road for some good shots of this amazing view over a lake. So we pulled the car off into a little open space on the side of the road, unsure it was legal but noting it was big enough ;-p then Christina got the idea that she could get an awesome picture of us if she climbed on top of the car. So she did and after Becca climbed up to get a pic of Christina and I. In the middle of this completely normal happening, a police car pulls up... we all start to freak a bit. when renting the car, Becca found that her license had expired on her birthday just a couple weeks ago. This forced Christina to become the driver. Well Becca had been driving, so they were both making sure the story was that Christina was driving and Becca slowly got off the top of the car as we all turned to meet the policeman expecting some repremand. Instead he said "I take a photo for you?" :-D We all Died laughing! and then made him get in the picture with us. we were all relieved.
After the alphs we went to Stay with some friends of Christina in Geneva. This time was such a blessing!! The Bensons are an incredible family and generous beyond measure! Mrs. Benson cooked us meals fit for royalty and we couldn't have been more excited to have real food and live in a home again with a family. We had a blast playing Dutch blitz and taking a walk around town that night seeing the sights. We quickly felt like family and when we had to leave we were actually sad. It is amazing how God places such incredible people in our lives in the most random ways in all kinds of places!
Now we are back in Paris with more mercy ship friends. Today we got bikes and went riding through the city seeing all the incredible buildings, and then stopping at the Eiffel tower for the second time later. Tomarrow I'm not sure of the plan, but as we have come to see, plans must be made in jello and that is just fine.
What an adventure already and an incomprehendable blessing. On this trip, I have become so close to Becca and Christina, we have shared some great talks and had some awesome time learning more about the Lord together. We chose to fast one day, partly so we didn't have to buy food and partly for the ship and all that is happing. On that day we began reading a book we were given in training called Practicing His Presence by brother Lawrence and another guy. It is the story of how this man decided to try and experiment where he determined to think of God every hour, then every 30 min. then every 15, 5 all the way till he was trying to bring the Lord back to mind every minute, so He would be with him every minute. It inspired us girls to try. So being conveniently stuck in the car, we began trying to think of the lord or say a little sentence to him every 15 min. but soon became anxious and lowered it to every 5. Now the rest of our trip, someone has their watch set for every hour and when it beeps we all know its time to bring God back to mind. It has been an incredible book, awesome excersise. In adition to that, God drew us to aswesoem people everywhere. and some of our conversations where so interesting. God has really gone with us on this trip and surprised us in incredible ways. He is so good to us! I'll try to post pictures later. Love you guys! sorry for the book this update turned out to be. I hope somehow God will speak to you through our experiences and your own. I love all of you. I'm beginning to fall asleep even as I write this, so i better sign off. Pictures are to come soon hopefully. Once on ship we will have training and have to get acclimated to the ship. in the mean time I'll be thinking of you. And i thank you SOO much for all your prayers!! Please continue to pray for health and safe travel and then just our focus on Ship to stay strong and God centured. Thank you!!

more dominican pics!

The Girls club helped paint several houses. they looked great!!
These are two of the teachers, both named francis :-D I worked with them a lot organizing the school rooms, sorting through piles of stuff.

This is our absolutely darling cook. She is Sandra's mom and this is her tiny little kitchen. She does miracles there!! It was fun helping her several times with her cooking. She would let me help cut things for her ;)
This is where we ate our meals. It was a childs classroom table. So it was the most hillarious things seeing the guys in these tine chairs trying to fit under this tiny table. It worked though!!

So our hotel room toilet had no seat! So we got really good at squating and by the end we just sat right there.
There is so much more but there wouldn't be room here for it all. I hope you enjoy these pictures. Stay tuned for more pics from Europe.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Pictures to the stories!

Hey everyone! Here are the pics i promised of the DR. I only have like 15 minutes before we leave to fly out for Europe! WOOT! hehe The trip was amazing! God taught me that Relationships are by far the most important part of anything! whether there is a job to be done or not, people are the first priority. Also He stretched me to learn a new culture and the way they work, totally different than Western culture! we are task oriented, they get it done but when is very tenetive ;-p He taught me lots of patience too. and to love through frusteration and confusion. I was also very blessed with and incredible team which God has molded into family. Most of all, I learned God is bigger than me or anyone or anything and he is in control. He know's what he is doing ;)
Sorry if these pics are a little scattered. I'll try to give you a description or short recap of the story behind each.

we helped with a feeding program for elderly and children in Villa Ascension. Mostly Haitian's. There is quite a bit of racism from the dominicans against them.
This is Susanita. the most beautiful little 2 year old Haitain girl. I wanted to take her home with me. The missionaries who work in villa Ascension with the feeding program also have a baby ministry. This little girl is one of five children, the oldest of whom is only 13. There mom is not around and their dad works all the time, so basically the 13 year old takes care of the family. When the missionaries, Jim and Sue, found susa(nickname) she was skin and bones and a total blank wall. they nursed her back to health at their home. she came around and was bright, and happy and smart playing like any child shouls and lining up her toys just so. it broke my heart to see that after I knew she had been a normal happy child at jim and sue's, now back with her family, she may be physically healthy, but for lack of love, or attention or stimulation she barely responds to you. I never did get her to smile. I wanted to adopt her and give her all the love she needs.

on the bus with the team and the boys club on our way to the mountain hiking trip! so fun and LOUD!! hahaha
This is No,No. yes you read right and for good reason. i've never seen a little kid get into so much trouble! but he is the sweetest thing ever. his mom isn't around and by the end he was calling me and another girl momma ;)

Me and Becca in our room on our First day in the DR!
There is so much more. this isn't even a start. but my ride is here. love you all!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

17 days in the Dominican Republic

Hey everyone!!
I´m sorry i havent been able to write sooner. We have been quite busy. Im still here in the Dominican Republic. We leave at 1pm on Wed. We will get back to the IOC late that night. So what have we been doing? I dont think i have a whole lot of time(im at an internet cafe at the moment) but ill try to fill you in. there are 11 of us on the team. I absolutely love our team. we get along great and work well with eachother. we have become like family and have had a lot of fun together. weve been working in a couple different villages. one named aguas negras(black water). There we are working with a dominican lady named sandra. She has a school, church, boys and girls club, clinic, etc. she is amazing. the boys and girls have been helping us build walls in the girls club, take one out of the boys club, build some shelves for the class rooms in the school, etc. We´ve also done some different painting projects. Sandra´s mom has been cooking our meals for us. she is the sweetest funniest old lady. shes one of those cute ones that still acts young. we have also helped her fix up her tiny kitchen. weve also worked in another village called villa ascension. weve helped with a feeding program where they serve a meal for kids and elderly 4 times a week. we helped serve, feed the little ones and clean up. it was chaotic but fun. we also helped deliver rabbits to certain families for this program for them to raise rabbits to sell, eat, etc. I had the experience of riding a motoconcio (motorcycle) while holding this guys rabbit to help him take it home. It was So much fun! and quite the experience navegating the dirt and rock roads and then going through a shallow river. Last weekend we went on this crazy hike up a huge mountain with the boys club from the other village. it was quite an adventure. we got lost and it ended up taking about 3 hours. Several people ended up getting stung by nettle and other plants. By some miracle I didn´t end up with more than a couple scratches from the rocks and roots. several times we climbe completely strait up on the mountain and the tree roots sticking out. Besides the frusteration of the situation it was So much fun. I love that kind of stuff. it was a challenge. but it was rewarding to finally get to the top. This weekend we went to the beach and me, Becca and Elliote swam out to a reef and took turns with beccas goggles looking at awesome fish and sea urchins. Then a managed to get extremely burnt. :( so i am cherry red but doing ok ;-p it doesnt hurt as much as it could. today we went on a nice little walk up another mountain, crossing a couple rivers and then swimming at the top after having a little service. It was very fun and relaxing. I joined the dominican kids and some of the team jumping off rocks into the river. and i made a nice jump from about 20 feet up a rock or more. So much fun! so tomarrow we go back to work and will work thru Tue. then its pack up time and we´ll say goodby to all our new friends and the dominican republic. It has been a great trip and God has stretched me and taught me. I feel very blessed to have had this opportunity. I feel it is also extremely relevant in preparing me for work in africa with mercyships. I will write when again when i get back summing up what i´ve learned from this trip. Hope everyone is well! missing you all :)