Frances Clear is a nurse who first volunteered with Mercy Ships in 2008 in Liberia, and she now lives on the Africa Mercy full time with her husband, Stuart, and her two sons, James and Joseph.

What’s it like living on the ship with your family?

One of the best things is having so many people love your children and look after them. It’s also great to expose them to a different way of life, in the countries that we serve in, but also because we’re such a multicultural community. A con is that there aren’t any soft-play centres to take the kids to! Also, family and friends are missing seeing the boys grow up which can be hard.

Do your children like living onboard?

James is three and an extrovert, so he loves it. Joseph is 14 months and has been here since he was four months old, so he has no concept of a different way of life. He’s a very happy boy and loves parading the dining room, entertaining everyone with his new skill of walking.

Is there one experience that stands out from your time with Mercy Ships?

One patient springs to mind. He had a massive mandibular and maxilla tumour. I was the nurse assigned to take him to the theatre. He and his mother were well aware of the risk of bleeding to death during surgery, but as he would die through asphyxiation if he didn’t have the surgery, they agreed to it. I couldn’t comprehend what his mother must be feeling as we delivered her precious son to the theatre staff, knowing it might be the last time she would see him alive. Back on the ward she broke down, along with me and one of our translators. We hugged each other, crying. It was an incredibly powerful moment. The surgery was performed without complication and the patient made a good recovery, praise God.

If someone was thinking about volunteering, what would you say to them?

Do it! If you want to see life-changing transformations, you will see it here, regardless of your job title. If you come and serve, you will receive so much more in return.

We need you – join our team!