The title of our last blog has been bothering me. "We're going back" is not right. We are returning to the Africa Mercy, but we're not going back. We're going FORWARD. Moving forward into a new season. Forward into new roles. Forward as a family, into a new future that has been laid out for us, despite not knowing what it will hold. It's exciting, daunting, and scary, with the promise of adventure, new challenges, and new experiences.
A LOT has happened in the last three months.
We have been busy moving out of the house we were renting. We have been based at Amy's parents house (still in Portsmouth), but have sold / given away / boxed up most of our stuff. It's a big relief to have done this already, so we can concentrate on equipping ourselves with just the things we need on board. We have sent some boxes to the ship already, on one of the Mercy Ships containers that leaves from Holland.
Ally has been away with work quite a lot, but is on his last trip now, before we leave together for the ship. He is currently in Texas at Mercy Ships HQ, having been at Spring Harvest in Minehead (UK) for two weeks, visited the Africa Mercy in Cameroon for three weeks to get handover for his new job, and has attended other big conferences in the UK for work. That season is coming to an end, and we will be together as a family for a long time!
We also had a week together in Chamonix (France) where Amy was able to take part in a debrief retreat, preparing to return to the Africa Mercy in a very different role (Nurse to Mum). It was a great week to focus on the next season of life as a family.
Amy has a great story (which we will ask her to blog about) on getting a part-time contract at the Queen Alexandria hospital in Portsmouth. It's been a real blessing, and they will be keeping her on their books, so she has a job to go back to when we return again. She's been working two days a week, and we are very grateful for the Grandparents for providing childcare for Louis.
Louis is an amazing little boy. He is so happy and smiley, and has been bringing so much joy to everyone around him. He is doing really well, and we are really enjoying being his parents! We had a few days in North Wales as a three, which was very special.
People ask us how long we're going to be away this time. The first time we signed up for Mercy Ships, we signed up for a year, and ended up staying on board for three and a half years! Throughout that time, we were provided for, and it wouldn't have been possible without a dedicated group of supporters who donated to us regularly, or with one-off gifts.
We have signed up for at least two years this time, but we don't know past that point! But for the next two years, we are (again) looking for anyone who would consider supporting us financially on a monthly basis.
If we can find 20 people who are willing to support us with £20/month, we are set for most of our monthly expenses, including our Crew Fees, insurance, and some personal expenses.
You can also GiftAid your donation, and we get that extra 25% too.
If you'd like to sign up to be one of those 20 supporters, then follow this link - www.mercyships.org.uk/donate/ - or call the MSUK office to set it up (01438 727800). In each case, make sure the donation is labelled with our names.
We still have other expenses through the year (replacing clothes, flights home etc.), so if you'd like to give more, that's fine too! Or you might feel like you would rather give a one-off gift, or fundraise for us by holding an event or something. Anything helps, seriously! You can do either by the same contact details.
We receive every penny, straight into our Crew Bank account on the ship where we pay our Crew Fees from. Thank you for considering joining us on this journey.
We join the Africa Mercy in Gran Canaria on the 28th July. That's this month! The ship has been in Las Palmas for maintenance, and we will join just a few days before we sail to Guinea, our next field-service location.
We are excited to explore a new country, and there will be plenty of updates coming from us in the next year.
Ally has already started his role as Operations Director for the Africa Mercy, and is looking forward to getting on board & getting going. It will be all systems go when we get on board, but will find some time during the sail to settle in to our new cabin, and make it feel like home.
Thanks for reading; we will try and send a final update from the UK before we leave.
Please stay in touch, and let us know what you're all up to!
And keep an eye on allyamyjones.com for more updates, pictures, and stories from our time with Mercy Ships.
Lots of love,
from the Joneses xxx