Hi everyone, thanks again for clicking the link & reading our update.
We've waited a while to give you all this update, and we might as well start with the big news...
Three is becoming four...
The big news is that we are expecting baby number 2! Louis is going to be a big brother!
Amy is 16 weeks pregnant today, and has been a little bit unwell through the process in recent weeks, but is hopefully through the worst of it. Not easy when chasing a 2 year old around, as some of you will have experienced, but she's doing remarkably well. She has had some form of cold / chest infection, too, which wiped her out a bit.
Mercy Ships has a sensible rule that pregnant ladies need to leave the ship at 24 weeks, so that means we're returning to the UK in November, until Summer 2020 at least. Leaving in 8 weeks is a very daunting prospect, not least as we expected to be here for the whole field service (although we weren't actively trying not to be pregnant, if you get my drift...). We are trusting in God's timing of it all, and with no home, little money and uncertainty over what that means for work, we believe we will be well looked after and that this is all part of a beautiful plan.
We are actively looking for somewhere to live as a family in the Portsmouth area; we have Amy's parents in Portsmouth, and my parents up the road in Guildford; we have our church there; Amy is still employed at the main Hospital (on a career break); and Portsmouth has one of Ally's favourite micro-breweries!
Joking aside, we have had some help already from our friend Hannah in the Mercy Ships UK office knocking on some doors of churches in Portsmouth to see if they have anywhere with extremely low rent, or no rent, for such a time as this.
Question is: do you know anyone?! Anyone who has such a place set aside? Anyone who has thought of doing a round-the-world trip but needs some very reliable, friendly house-sitters?! These things have happened in the past, so putting it out there. We don't know if we will be able to find paid employment while we're back, so exploring all possible options.
For now I am working on who can cover my role on the ship while we're away. There's plenty of things I can do from afar, but there's day-to-day things that need to be taken care fo here, and support for each of the people I work closely with. Praying about that, too.
We are also considering the future. We don't feel like we're finished with Mercy Ships and are keen to return next Summer, all being well with the new baby and if we can raise some support for the extra expenses that new babies bring! We are grateful that our financial supporters have agreed to continue supporting us to help cover some of those costs, and our future service, and welcome anyone who feels like they want to help as well!
Sharing the news with our friends on board has been met with excitement at the prospect of another little Jones (as if three isn't enough already around here) but also with some sadness that we will be leaving, especially as we know that some of these great people won't be here for the next field service. But, you never know where and you know never know when we will see these great people again. We had also stated building some great friendships with some new Crew members, which will have to build back up again if and when we are able to return.
So that's that out of the way!
The rest of this update might as well take the form of photos...
On August 22nd we celebrated my birthday with some friends and a meal out by the beach. These Guinean musicians in Senegal serenaded me in lots of different renditions of Happy Birthday. We had a lot of fun! We enjoyed a meal out with some friends by the beach, just a week after arriving in country.
Not sure there's anything cuter on the internet right now... our Hospital team put on an Open House, where the Crew could walk around the Hospital before we opened and admitted patients. This included opening the Operating Rooms before they were cleaned and sterilised. Louis got to play surgeon and put a surgical cap on and pose for a photo! I used this photo in a presentation to all of the Crew which Louis saw, and as soon as he saw himself he wanted to repeat the occasion by putting his underpants on his head! We have since determined that Louis believes that Surgeon's wear their underpants on their heads when performing surgeries... could be a thing.
I have completed two dives under the ship here in Dakar. Visibility is much more promising than in other countries, and we actually got to see some fish!! A rare sighting in port waters with poor visibility. All is going well, and I completed my twentieth dive since being qualified. Mercy Ships also put me through the Rescue Diver qualification in Las Palmas over the summer.
One thing I've learned this evening is that I don't really take any photos of Amy... we'll see if we can get some photos of Amy in the next update!
Anyway, that's probably all for now. Please keep us in your prayers as we look at what it means to return to the UK for 8 months or so. We really appreciate the support, and hope we can catch up with as many of you as possible while we're away from the ship.
Peace and love,
Ally, Amy, Louis & little bean xx