We always knew this month would be a hard one, no matter what scenario we found ourselves in.
On Friday 2nd March, we just about made our way to Portsmouth & Southsea train station, hoping to get to London. The snow & cold weather makes this difficult for British trains, so we holed ourselves up in the (excellent) Cafe near the gates.
We had timed it so that I could have a Skype chat with my HR boss in Texas (Angie), and the Managing Director from the Africa Mercy (Warrie). This was the call that was going to shape the next couple of years for the Jones family.
On said call, Warrie offered me the position of Operations Director on board the ship, starting from this coming summer. I should add that I had applied for this role, but I had no idea which way this was going to go.
We asked if we could take the weekend to think & pray about it, as this is probably the biggest decision we've had to make so far. This time is different; it's for a minimum of two years, and means taking Louis away with us, away from family, when he is going to grow up & change so much.
In the lead up to this call, we felt no strong pull to either staying or going, which made things that bit harder.
I'm somewhat pleased that our weekend in London failed at this point, as it meant that we could take some time with some friends and family talking it over. I was praying that God would point us in a direction, which he did, subtly and in his own way.
We decided it was a "yes". Why wouldn't it be anything other than "yes"? In some ways it was an easy decision, in other ways not. The more I processed about the job itself, the more excitement built. I had actually written my acceptance email on the Sunday, about mid-afternoon, but I was waiting for Amy to tell me she was ready.
You see, for Amy, this looks very different than before. She often had a busier job than me, even though I was in a Director position. She enjoyed her job, but it drove her into the ground at times. There was a lot of emotion involved when thinking about walking up the gangway again. Plus, this time she would be full-time Mum. No official job. Mum.
What does that look like for her? Is she pleased she got her wish to be a 'General Helper'? Can she be a Mum on the ship without going mad?
It was about 23:45, and after she volunteered to walk late in the evening to the shop to get some milk, she said she was ready. Its official; I sent the email, accepted the role, and the Joneses are going back to the Africa Mercy at the end of July, for a minimum of two years!
I feel enormously privileged to be offered the role of Operations Director, on board the most incredible ship in the world. It's an opportunity that may have never come round again, in a season in Mercy Ships where there is a lot of excitement about the future, as well as a lot of work to do.
We're also excited about our friendships on board that already exist, and the ones we haven't started yet. Excited about Surf Sundays, and encouraging Louis to become bilingual. The ship is an incredible environment for children.
But also a lot of work to do to get us there. Stop renting, sell our stuff, raise some money, find some new clothes that will last two years.
We have developed a new website, to tell the stories already written and share the ones that are written along the way. We will send out newsletters like this one, hopefully on a more regular basis than we did before.
If you decide that you want to start supporting us financially on this journey, you can do so already by clicking this link - www.mercyships.org.uk/donate/ - making sure to write our names in the box where it asks if you want to support a Crew member. This money goes straight into our bank account on the ship, including the Gift Aid (if applicable). You can support us monthly, and even a small contribution will make a big difference.
Amy is in the process of giving her blog a makeover for the new season, and will eventually explain all of this from her perspective!
Go to www.throughaporthole.wordpress.com for her insights.
Thanks for reading, next update soon!
Ally, Amy & Louis Jones xx