We have come to the Africa Mercy to serve as a family. Our son is here as an independent adult in his own right, serving as a deckhand. We have two older daughters at home. Having all done short term mission (i.e. two weeks or less) we wanted to commit for a longer period of time and the opportunity to volunteer for Mercy Ships was right for us. It was important that our son came at the same time because we could not have left him in the UK for the length of time we had applied to serve for. We are hugely grateful that this has been possible and it is an amazing opportunity for him and he is learning so much.
Having Matthew with us onboard, but serving in his own capacity as at 18 he is an adult, is a rather unique experience. Matthew had never expressed an interest in going to university and the Africa Mercy has offered him an opportunity to learn so much more than he would have done at a university. As a deckhand, he is working hard outside in the sun alongside local African day crew. He is enjoying the challenge and there have been high and low points for us all. The most amazing thing is that there is so much loving support around when things don’t go so well. Matthew will also have the opportunity to work in other departments within the ship if the deck department is not for him, but so far, after 10 weeks onboard, all is going well.
If you are thinking of volunteering for Mercy Ships... Do it.
We are constantly amazed at how ordinary our fellow crew are. No one is superhuman. They arrive here from ordinary life situations, facing familiar family issues just like us and our friends back home. The desire to serve is tangible among everyone.
One of the memories which stands out for us is from just before Christmas when the ship was doing six weeks of paediatric orthopaedic surgery. One of the conditions being treated was for bow legs and a young child was coming on board with their father. The father also had bow legs and, even though he could not be treated, he was delighted that his child was being given the opportunity for life-changing surgery and was beaming as he came onboard.
If you are thinking of volunteering for Mercy Ships… Do it. At the heart of the mission is the desire to follow the 2000-year-old model of Jesus, by joining you are actually taking part in healing the sick and making the blind see amongst the worlds forgotten poor now and giving hope for the future. What can be better than that?