We're in that part of the field service where everything seems just that little bit harder. I usually call it 'mile 18 of the marathon' - you've come a long way, but you know you still have a few miles left before you're done. Easter usually breaks that up for us as we head towards our departure in June, but as Easter is so late this year it's proving to take its toll a little.
It's the same every year, so encouraging one another, bestowing more grace on one another, and looking after yourself are all very important!
I (Ally) seem to have decided to get out and do more exercise. I got involved in the Sunday Swim Club - just a few Crew members going to a local hotel early each Sunday & some Thursday evenings to use their 25-metre pool (they're very kind and let us use it for free). I hadn't really swam (swum?) much since Madagascar, and training for the triathlon before then, but have enjoyed progressing quite well. I've dragged myself out of bed on the occasional early Saturday also, to join the runners, and have found other places to run too. Working up my fitness has helped focus the mind on the last couple of months here in Guinea.
Above left: Swim Club group; Above middle: running in the "Forest"; Above right: Louis joining me on the run!
We have been asked by the Mercy Ships UK office to come back to the UK and help with the Spring Harvest conferences this month. Amy & Louis are already back in the UK, spending some much appreciated time with family. I leave the ship tomorrow (Thursday). We will pretty much be busy with Spring Harvest (Minehead and Skegness of all places) but will be nice to feel cold for the first time since last April! We will be back on board the ship on Easter Monday. We won't have much time at all to catch up with people, so that will probably have to wait for another day, but will be good to touch down in Blighty for a couple of weeks.
NEXT COUPLE OF MONTHS
The rest of April and then May will be all about prepping to pack up and leave Guinea. In my role as Operations Director, I am tasked with coordinating the whole plan for packing up and sailing out of here on time. Our scheduled departure date stays a secret until we are actually pulling away from the dock, in an attempt to avoid stowaways and protect us as much as possible. It becomes pretty obvious when this large blue & white structure actually starts to move, shifting from its fixed 10-month position. I can't wait to see the open ocean again!!
But there's a lot of work before we get to that point. We have to pack-up the dockside tents (remember them? And the container that finally arrived?!), the canopy covers, load 24 vehicles on to Deck 8, pack-up our shore sites, add fuel, arrange the last Crew departures before the sail... I don't do much of that stuff myself, but someone has to coordinate it all, right?! I will get stuck in whee I won't be getting in the way!
Generally we are doing really well. Louis is going through some growing pains, especially with teeth this week, but he is such a cute, fun little boy. I haven't seen him for 8 days, and can't wait to see him & Amy on Friday morning.
We will be apart for longer during the annual maintenance period in June & July, as I am needed on board, but Louis can't be on the ship while it's in dry dock (nothing against him, but all under-18's are required to be off ship while in dry dock). He and Amy will likely return to the UK in the Summer rather than live ashore in Las Palmas, and I will see if I can get back for a long weekend here & there. Luckily there are often cheap flights from Las Palmas or Tenerife.
But what would a Jones newsletter be without a cute Louis picture?!
Here you go:
Above left: said cute pic of Louis; Above right: Louis helping in the Dining Room!! Loves 'pushing' the carts around!
A chance again to say a huge thank you to you all for your support. We feel very supported and encouraged by you, and really like having those connections back home. And thank you to our financial sponsors who make it possible for us to be here. If you'd like to join that club, you are of course most welcome to go to www.mercyships.org.uk/donate/ to join #TeamJones
And that's it from us for now. Next update will be after Spring Harvest, so until then, God bless and Happy Easter!!
With love from us,
Ally, Amy & Louis