It's October already. Time goes so fast here with so much going on. The days and the weeks fly by, which means we're staying busy but also sometimes hard to catch your breath.
This update is somewhat of a sequel to the last update - September 2019: What's Three Plus One? - where we announced that we are expecting our second child in March 2020. We have spent the last few weeks processing what that means for us, as it will mean leaving the ship for a period of time.
One answer we now have is that we have decided not to return to the ship next year. In fact, we have decided that unless we have the right opportunity and confirmation that it's the right thing, we are not planning to return to Mercy Ships in the future. We have told the leadership that the door will always be open to the idea, but we are planning on moving back to the UK on a permanent basis. One reason is the number of transitions that we would go through as a young family, which didn't feel right. We have the most peace about moving back to the UK and staying there.
So, the search is on for a job, a house, a car...
We have had some help from our friend Hannah in the Mercy Ships UK office to find somewhere to live which has been great, as it might take some time for us to find our feet. I've updated my CV and have started looking for jobs online. Amy is in discussion with her employers at a Portsmouth Hospital (she's on a career break) as to what it would look like for her to come back, so it's all systems go.
Finding a job that suits me after all of this experience is an interesting one. People on the ship have been asking me what I would like to when I get back, and right now I have no idea! I'm open to suggestions! In all seriousness, if you know of opportunities, having read all you have read about what we've been up to these last few years, please feel free to pass on any leads you have. I won't go as far as attaching my CV to this update... but I thought about it!
So we have an answer to where we're going and where we are going to be (or want to be, at least), but many more questions now which will get answered with time. Time to be patient.
Senegal has some nice beach spots...
Meanwhile, in Senegal....
Work continues here, and was calming down a bit until this week. Our setup was complete, with just minor kinks to work out (but honestly we spend the rest of the field service working out those kinks). I was optimistic about the field service even with me leaving, until a couple of things happened that rocked the boat a bit (pardon the pun). Two of the managers that report to me have left or will have left by the end of the year, and we had a huge storm last week that caused some damage to a few things on the dock and added some complexity to the week.
The managers are leaving for different reasons, but threw a couple of spanners in the works. I'm confident in the plans we are making to mitigate the change, but added some complexity to me leaving which was unexpected.
The huge storm was the biggest storm that some of our Day Crew have ever seen. Winds reached approximately 95mph, right across our dock space. Some things moved around and got damaged, but it could have been a lot worse. We spent the next two days cleaning up and assessing the damage, and it's clear that God was protecting us and the equipment. Nobody was hurt, and everything that was damaged can either be repaired or replaced without too much effort. The whole Crew chipped in to help get order restored, and the whole two days were very moving. As a leader you hold the responsibility for working out how we are going to get through 'storms' like this, but I was so blessed by the Crew who showed us exactly how we get through these things: together.
The Guineans have a saying "Wontanara", which basically means "we go together". I definitely felt that the days after cleaning up, and am again amazed by the Crew of the Africa Mercy. I'm definitely going to miss moments like that.
Louis and Amy
Louis is growing up still!!
Major achievement the last few weeks has been swimming. He had some lessons last field service from another Crew member, Tammy, but never really wanted to wear his arm bands or anything. He loves the water, but seemed to be holding back a bit.
Since the pool has been open again on board he has just been going for it!! He saw a friend of his wearing arm bands and jumping in, then Louis decided he wanted to do it too! So now he shouts "cannonball!" every time he jumps in, and has got so confident he now swims across the pool all on his own.
He & Amy have been a bit under the weather recently with a flu virus thing that has been going around. Amy has been blowing her nose for about four weeks now, and last week Louis had a high fever for a few days which was hard going. They're both feeling better now, while Amy continues to have some pregnancy related sickness most days.
Taxi ride back to the ship with Louis feeling rubbish - beach trip cancelled :(
I'm not sure there's much else to update you on now. When we know more we will share more. For now, if you have questions, feel free to ask! And we would love as much help as possible setting up life back home in the UK. We might set up a "return home" fund for those wanting to contribute to something like that. If that's something you'd like to do, just get in touch.
Peace and love,
Ally, Amy, Louis & little bean xx