This Blog serves as two things: a photo-diary of our lives between 2007 and mid 2011, when we saw some incredible things and met some amazing people; and a reflection of our more normal lives since then.

Sunday, 17 January 2016

Diving the Mercy

I've just stumbled across a Vimeo video made by the current Dive Team on the Africa Mercy in Madagascar. Watch it here. Those lucky, lucky divers: they are diving in crystal clear water, with beautiful tropical fish and great visibility - a whole world apart from the sewers I used to dive in, in West Africa. So good luck, guys, when you arrive in Benin later this year and won't even be able to see your hands in front of your face in those filthy, polluted, garbage filled waters. Olly

The Dirty Devil Stampede

My first competitive race of 2016 was the BustinSkin Dirty Devil Stampede that Mr Gates and I ran today at Bovington Tank Range in Dorset. In f-f-f-freezing cold 4 degree weather we ran 10 kilometres in deep mud, freezing thigh-deep water, and up and down tank berms (I think thats what they are called).

Below, me running through the first wet bit:


Below, me running through...another...wet bit, with Mr Gates on the left in the grey t-shirt:


Below, some dude falling over in a muddy bit:


Below, some other dude falling over in a wet bit. Total wipeout:


Below, climbing a tank berm:


Below, more mud:


Below, at the end. Rick got a lot wetter than I did. 




Brilliant fun. Time 56 minutes and 30 seconds, in 62nd place and 63rd place (out of 322 runners - not bad eh). Olly

Sunday, 10 January 2016

2015 UN Human Development Index

The UN published it's 2015 Human Development Index in the last couple of weeks.

Interestingly, Liberia slipped from 175 out of 187 in 2014 to 177 out of 187 in 2015, whilst Sierra Leone climbed from 183/187 to 181/187. Huh.

Click here to get the full report. Olly

Reflections on 2015

So it's been 7 months since I last posted an entry. My bad. I doubt anyone reads this blog anyway, but as I've put thousands of hours into it, I may as well continue with the occasional blog post...

On reflection 2015 was a good year. Lets start with the latest family photo taken on Christmas day:



Meanwhile, the summer started early, and we managed two good caravan trips away before the Great Wet British Summer arrived, which then became the Great Wet British Autumn and is now the Great Wet British Winter.  We sold our old Adria caravan and bought a newer Hymer caravan for a bargain price, in excellent condition and with no leaks!


Our new caravan (14 years old instead of 22)
at it's storage site in Loughborough before we collected it

My running continued, and I ran the Lewiston 10k Cross Country in February, the Yeovil Half Marathon in March (with Barry who we met in 2008 in Liberia with Mercy Ships, below):



...the Martock 10k in May, and the Weymouth 10 Mile in October (with Rick, below):



Noah has followed the "Couch to 5k" programme and is now a good runner, and sometimes Sally, Noah and I all run at the same time. And Libby and Anna occasionally run around the block too.

Sally is brilliant, and still juggles the kid's after-school activities, homework, making packed lunches, cooking dinner whilst I'm at work. Love her to bits.

The kids are doing really well. Libby is 11, in the last year of Primary School, and loves life and is still a handfull. She loves swimming, and is great at the Butterfly, and her ambition is to be in the Olympics one day.


Libby waiting to swim at the Dorset School Games County Finals in Bournemouth.

On 11th November we celebrated 10 glorious years of her being part of our family.

Anna (14) is in year 9, and also full of life and loves singing and acting. She has been in a couple of school plays and musicals, and sings in the Youth Worship Band at church.

Noah (16) is taller than me. He is is the middle of his GCSE mocks right now (very stressful). He also plays keyboard in the Youth Worship Band at church, and is on the AV Team there, and works all-nighters with Revolution Audio in his spare time.

Our summer holidays consisted of a week at New Wine (where it rained, and where we received our spiritual top-up) and a week at a caravan club site in Devon (where it rained). But despite our unglamorous vacations, I am constantly aware that we are amongst the top 10% of the worlds wealthiest people because we live in the UK, and in fact we are amongst the top 5% of the world's wealthiest people because we are home owners.

And God has continued to bless us all, with good health, a great house, lovely friends and family, a beautiful place to live, food, a job for me and a job for Sally, great kids, and good church...we are indeed blessed! And we daily pray for our friends all over the world, especially those close to our hearts who we left behind in Liberia.

Maybe I'll be able to add some photos to this entry once my computer has stopped updating, stupid Apple Updates...

Olly

Thursday, 7 May 2015

Liberia's hydro

One of my favorite memories of our time in Liberia was the day I joined an Mercy Ships Xtreme Expedition to the remains of Liberia's hydroelectric power station, which had been damaged in the war and then looted in the years since, leaving little more than a concrete shell. 

Despite delays due to the Ebola outbreak, work is now well under way to rebuild the power station, as this photo shows. You can see the remains of the building and the old dam wall in the centre of the photo, and all around are the new roads and dams recently constructed to divert the river whilst the old dam is rebuilt. Exciting times! Olly


Great British Election 2015

My mate Rick and I are representing the Monster Raving Loony Party in our school elections. Sadly we have been disqualified at the last minute for being born before 1985...Huh. Olly




Saturday, 21 February 2015

So Rock 'n' Roll!

I've wanted a tattoo for ages, but haven't got one so far because:

1. I couldn't decide on the design;
2. I don't like the permanentness of tattoos;
3. Or the price;
4. Or the pain involved...

But thanks to Anna & Libby's sparkly tattoo pens, I am now a temporarily marked man! Arm with the watch hopefully says Yahweh in Hebrew, and the other arm hopefully says Freedom in Hebrew. 


Olly

Saturday, 14 February 2015

Me as a frog

My role as a school caretaker is varied. When not unblocking toilets or mending desks, I often dress up as a lady frog. Olly


Monday, 9 February 2015

#281

On the Anastasis and Africa Mercy, we could identify our (almost) identical Land Rovers by stickers on their rear and front windscreens showing the last three digits of their chassis numbers...so this weekend, with an abundance of wheelie-bin identification stickers to hand, I decided to do the same to Sally's car:


Ooh how she laughed when she saw! Olly

Saturday, 24 January 2015

Swimming Libby

Just like the rest of our family, Libby is an amazing athlete. She's good at running, is trying at netball, and is a BRILLIANT swimmer. Today we went to the local Time Trials, in which she won 3 out of 4 categories in her age group, and came overall first in Butterfly, even beating kids way older than her.


Her swimming coach thinks she's got a good future ahead of her as a butterfly champion. Olly 

Friday, 23 January 2015

5 months later...

It's been over 5 months since I last wrote a blog entry. Whilst Britain is in the midst of another damp winter, West Africa continues to fight Ebola. About 8,500 people have died, and maybe up to 20,000 people have been infected. The international community has, at last, responded, and Ebola treatment centers are set up all over Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia, staffed by medics from around the world including the UK, the US, and even China and Cuba. The message is finally getting through, and the number of new cases is dropping, and the treatment centers are seeing less and less new cases every day, and more and more people surviving. And as I write this, 300 experimental vaccines are arriving in Liberia, to start the long process of testing to see if the population can be vaccinated against this disease.

I'm reading a great book about the Ebola epidemic in Liberia, that an acquaintance of ours wrote:


In Harm's Way - A View from the Epicenter of Liberia's Ebola Crises, by Nancy Sheppard.

Nancy and her family are long-term missionaries to Liberia, and we were privileged to know them during our time there in 2006/2007. They have been working in Liberia, or with Liberian refuges in neighbouring countries since 1986. Awesome people. Book available on Amazon.

Olly




Saturday, 16 August 2014

Comedy toes

Anna had surgery on both in-growing toenails on Tuesday. She now sports the latest in comedy toes. Bless! Olly


Sunday, 10 August 2014

New Wine

We have just returned from an AWESOME week at New Wine. And what a week! 15,000 people in the glorious Somerset countryside, in quite good weather too, worshipping and learning all about our great God!

Below, view across the campsite towards the massive Soul Survivor marquee which begins week commencing 11th August.



Below, inside The Arena, with 6,000 other people with worship led by none other than Martin Smith.



Below, in Libby's kids club (Rock Solid) with a genuine Series 3 Land Rover as part of the stage...



...and with a gunge tank! The site is the home to the Royal Bath & West Agricultural Show, so there are usually cows on display in these buildings; the army of New Wine kids leaders did an amazing job of converting them into very cool venues for the kids. 


Yeah, it was an awesome week and now we're suffering from that post-festival low that follows such an event. And yeah, we'll be booking tickets soon for 2015! Olly

Saturday, 2 August 2014

"Ebola Out Of Control" says British Press

Although West Africa's Ebola crisis has been around for six months, it has only just hit the British press, probably because two of the Sierra Leone Commonwealth Games Team have just had (negative) tests, and also because a couple of Americans are now infected. 


Today's Mirror has a big article on it's front page - click here to read their online version. Olly

No sex for 45 days?


One of Liberia's many information posters about how Ebola is spread. On the left is Dr Gwenigale, Minster of Health and long time friend of Mercy Ships; a guy who has just about the hardest job in the world right now. Olly

Friday, 1 August 2014

New family photo


We've just come back from a lovely week away in Devon. Here's a cool photo taken on Berry Head, Brixham, of Noah (14), Anna (12) and Libby (9). Olly

R.I.P. Bobby Weah

This is my good mate Bobby Weah. He worked for me back in 2006 when we lived ashore in Monrovia. He always worked REALLY hard, and no job was too much trouble for him. If I remember rightly he lost his family during the war, and was homeless. He had an amazing American rapper accent, which I can only assume he got from watching American music videos.


I learned today that he has died of Ebola. Apparently he was one of the bleach teams at ELWA Hospital, but contracted the disease and died. RIP Bobby. Olly

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Surfing Sierra Leone

There's a great article on the BBC's website about a surf resort that has opened on Bureh Town Beach - where we spent many happy hours on our last trip to Freetown - click on http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/in-pictures-25635626  to read full article. Olly

Sunday, 5 January 2014

Great t-shirt

I stumbled upon this t-shirt on the world wide web, which made me laugh - it says "drive it like it's UNMIL" in reference to the high speed, aggressive and antisocial driving typical of (some) UNMIL staff...


T-shirt made by the African T-Shirt Co. Get them whilst they're hot. Olly

Thursday, 26 December 2013

Kissi Money

Kissi money is the name for an iron currency made in the Kissi country of Sierra Leone that circulated widely between the 1880s and the 1940s in the immediate vicinity of its production among the Gbandi, Gola, Kissi, Kpelle, Loma, Mandinka and Mende and other people of Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea. Kissi money still features today on Liberian bank-notes:


And bizarrely, not long ago my parents bought a box of junk at an auction house in rural west of England that contained 40 pieces of Kissi money! Small world eh?


Olly