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.

Saturday, 31 January 2009

Thank you, Tenerife

Thank you, beautiful island of Tenerife, for the welcome you have given us over the past six weeks. Thank you, Santa Cruz Port, for the pilots, tugs, water, security and garbage disposal. Thank you, shops and restaurants, for your hastle-free facilities . Thank you, beautiful mountains and beaches, for the fun you gave us. Thank you, Loro Parque. Thanks, Ken & Caroline, Bill & Ros, Mo & Sue, and everyone else at Silencio Christian Fellowship. Thanks, everyone at Aqua Marina. Keep up the excellent work, everyone at The Living Room. And thanks again, Stella, for the sausage and chips. We will miss you all, our home from home! Maybe this time next year...Olly

Sailing to Benin

Saturday 31st January: We sailed out of Santa Cruz de Tenerife today at around 1pm. Next stop: the port city of Cotonou, Benin; a city with clean running water, mains electricity, lamp-posts without bullet-holes, and crushing poverty. The last time we were there was early 2005, when we lived in a tiny cabin on the Anastasis, and there were only 4 of us. I just enjoyed trawling through the ship's photo archives, where so many faces from the past reminded me of just how special that first Mercy Ships Outreach for the Peet family was:

Above: 2004, the screening at Cotonou's Hall Des Arts, when over 5000 people came seeking surgical attention.

Above: 2004, the Anastasis Academy's Christmas Play with Anna (3) and Noah (5). Every other child in the photo has since left except Wesley, to the left of Anna.

Above; 2004, Beninoise day-workers cleaning and painting the Anastasis.

Above: 2004, me up a telegraph pole stringing power cables and water pipes to the dock.

Above: 2004, Sally and me taking ballroom dancing on Aft Deck.

Above; 2004, our first American Thanks Giving. Olly

Friday, 30 January 2009

Liberia faces second worm wave

BBC: The UN has warned Liberia could soon face a second wave of crop-destroying armyworms as the pests reproduce. Liberia's President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf declared a state of emergency this week and appealed for international aid to fight the insects. Some 400,000 residents in 100 villages have been affected by tens of millions of the insects, the UN says. The worms - which are actually caterpillars - are among the world's most destructive agricultural pests. It is the West African country's worst infestation of armyworm for three decades. Both Liberia and neighbouring Guinea, which has also been affected, have been carrying out aerial spraying against the insects. For full article click here.

Why

Why do drugstores make the sick walk all the way to the back of the store to get their prescriptions while healthy people can buy cigarettes at the front?
Why do people order double cheeseburgers, large fries, and a diet coke?
Why do banks leave both doors open and then chain the pens to the counters?
Why do we leave cars worth thousands of dollars in the driveway and put our useless junk in the garage?
Why do they have drive-up ATM machines with Braille lettering?
Why does the sun lighten our hair but darken our skin?  
Why don't you ever see the headline 'Psychic Wins Lottery'?
Why is 'abbreviated' such a long word?  
Why is it that doctors call what they do 'practice'?  
Why is lemon juice made with artificial flavour, and dishwashing liquid made with real lemons?  
Why is the man who invests all your money called a broker?
Why is the time of day with the slowest traffic called rush hour?
Why isn't there mouse-flavoured cat food?  
Why didn't Noah swat those two mosquitoes?  
Why do they sterilize the needle for lethal injections?  
You know that indestructible black box that is used on airplanes? Why don't they make the whole plane out of that stuff?!
Why don't sheep shrink when it rains?  
Why are they called apartments when they are all stuck together?  

If flying is so safe, why do they call the airport the terminal?

Thursday, 29 January 2009

Loading again

We started loading the vehicles today in preparation for our sail to Benin. Time of departure is still unknown - either Friday evening or Saturday lunch-time, unless some real show-stoppers come on the scene before then. As a family we are taking every advantage of the local park, and treating each trip as the last one in case we sail before the kids get to play again. Olly

Tuesday, 27 January 2009

Libby's first wig

Wigs (or "weaves") are important for many Liberian ladies. They are often worn for special occasions such as Christmas, graduations, Independence Day, etc. Not wanting to break with Liberian tradition, today Sally bought one for Libby, who wore it to dinner. We had many varied responses from our startled crew mates! Olly


TV interview

Last Friday, Sally & I were interviewed by Safe Worlds, a British Internet TV channel, about life as a family living aboard the Africa Mercy. Noah, Anna and Libby played quietly (ha ha) on the jungle gym in the background, and then had some very nice photos taken by one of the the ship's photographers. In the background is the Thompson's cruise ship Celebration. Olly


Liberian leader declares state of emergency over insect plague

Monday, 26 January 2009

Holiday snaps

Here are a couple of images of our holiday in Costa Silencio:

Above, Noah on our balcony overlooking the pool (what a great setting!).
Above, Sally's Mum (Wendy) with Noah, Anna & Libby.

Above, Noah and Anna showing the tile that Sally broke WITH HER ELBOW when she slipped on the steps in the rain...(elbow still bruised three weeks on). Olly

Sunday, 25 January 2009

New cabin

On Wednesday we took possession of a new and bigger cabin. Located on port side Deck 6, (right above the website address above the gangway) the cabin has a lounge/dining room/kitchen; a kids bunk room which Anna & Noah share, another kids bunk room which Libby has all to herself, and a bedroom for Sally and me! After three and a half years of living on Mercy Ships we have a proper bed to sleep on, instead of a sofa-bed. Praise God! We are well chuffed... So far it has taken us 3 days to move, but the end is in sight...Our new cabin number is 6430 (please ask for this number if you phone us). Olly

Above, lounge/dining room/kitchen facing aft.

Above, lounge/dining room/kitchen facing forward.

Above, Libby jumping on our fantastic big and comfortable bed! No more back aches for me!

Monday, 19 January 2009

Diving course

For Christmas, Sally gave me a SCUBA Diving Course as a combined Christmas and 40th birthday present. Last week I attended a diving school in Los Christianos for 3 very cold and exhausting days. I was challenged mentally, and challenged physically...BUT I am now a qualified Open Water SCUBA Diver! Hooray. It has been a life long ambition of mine to dive (in warm waters), so I will be very happy to continue diving in West Africa. I hope to join the elite ranks of the Africa Mercy's divers who regularly are called upon to remove blockages from the ship's cooling water-intakes, scrape the propellors etc. Olly

We're back

Today we came back to the Africa Mercy after a week on holiday in South Tenerife. We were again blessed with the use of John's appartment in Costa del Silencio via Ken & Caroline, and enjoyed living in a real house, with a real kitchen and a bath and a genuine double bed! Our kids were happy to have access to British TV for the week (and started each day with Channel Five's Milkshake) but we managed to avoid watching anything else. Sally's mum was with us for the week, so whilst I attended a three-day SCUBA Diving Course (more about that later) in Los Christianos, Sally & Wendy and the kids spent time on the beach, or pottering around Los Christianos, Medano, Fanyabae and Las Americas. On Sunday we had the pleasure of the company of Wendy's neighbours, Robin & Jackie from Dorset; on Monday and Thursday we spent time with Roy & Jackie from Bristol (ex-Anastasis crew mates), and we spent Saturday with John & Eileen from our home church in Luton. The sun shone all week, and the kids went into the sea and a couple of swimming pools several times (although they felt the cold immediately afterwards). What a lovely holiday! We now have less than two weeks to move cabin (to a bigger one, with our own double bed instead of a sofa-bed); finish buying supplies for the next ten months (toilettries, clothes, etc); and say our farewells once again to the good folk of Silencio Christian Fellowship. Olly

Sunday, 11 January 2009

Rain

Tenerife ("where sunny skies and warm weather reign supreme") is in the middle of its wettest winter in 20 years. It has rained on-and-off for 3 whole days, but this evening the rain set in for real, and it hasn't stopped raining for hours. All the bone dry stream beds are running furiously, and the outside restaurants and cafes are abandoned. Thousands of holiday makers from northern Europe are having a miserable time; tomorrow we leave the Africa Mercy for a week at John's house in Costa Silencio, for a real holiday, so we hope it will dry up overnight! Olly

A wet and abandoned outside restaurant.

Saturday, 10 January 2009

Loro Parque

Today 150 of the Africa Mercy's crew were treated to a FREE trip to Tenerife's Loro Parque, courtesy of generous benefactor. We enjoyed sea-lion, dolphin, orca and parrot shows, and numerous other displays including penguins, tigers, chimps & gorillas. The Parque is immaculate, and the displays top quality. The brightly coloured birds and the mammals that live in the water again reminded me of the wonder of God's creation! Olly

An even BIGGER ship

Today at dawn, the one-month-old MSC Fantasia docked in Santa Cruz. She is the BIGGEST ship we have ever seen, at 133,500 gross tonnes, and she is absolutely beautiful! Her Italian passengers had a day ashore before the ship left at sunset. Here she is, dwarfing the Africa Mercy, as she departed for her next port. Even now, an hour after her departure, I can still see her lights upon the horizon. Olly

Wednesday, 7 January 2009

Flowers

Santa Cruz has some spectacular flower-beds, which are simply a joy to come across. Here's a couple of photos of the Africa Mercy's Crew Services Department in front of some of the arrangements Santa Cruz's Parks Department have kindly provided for the festive season. Magnificent! Olly





Three Kings Day

Three Kings Day (also known as Día de los Reyes, The Epiphany, The Adoration of the Magi, and The Manifestation of God) is celebrated on January 6 (12 days after Christmas).This holiday is observed all over the Spanish speaking world. It commemorates the Bible story of the Three Kings (Melchior, Caspar and Balthazar) who followed the Star of Bethlehem to bring gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh...so on the night of Monday 5th January we joined tens of thousands of people who packed the streets of Santa Cruz to watch the very bright and noisy procession go by, which included carnival floats, marching bands, and the Three Kings on their camels, surrounded by their loyal supporters on foot and on horse. It was quite a spectacle, although it rained nearly all evening! Libby was mostly terrified of every aspect, including the camels, horses, fire-eating jugglers, men on stilts, flashing lights, loud noises etc etc, so I spent a great deal of time way back from the road and crowds where she felt less "scarey" (in her own words). Olly


Trams

Not only does Santa Cruz De Tenerife have a clean, reliable and cheep bus service; it also has an excellent tram service that whisks you quickly and quietly out of the city centre and up the hill to la Laguna or la Trinidad in no time at all. Well worth the ride, even if you aren't going anywhere. Olly


New Years Day

On New Years Day the Africa Mercy carried on the ancient Mercy Ships tradition whereby crew opened their cabins to other crew for light refreshments (and so we can all get to see how everyone else lives). This year 15 cabins were opened, including ours, and we had 46 guests. Here's a photo of us whilst the cabin still looked neat, just before mayhem started. Sally made Mince Pies and baked Camenbert cheese with dips...Olly


New Years Eve Photos

Here are some photos of us having a ball on New Years Eve:

Me and Sally doing the "YMCA" dance...

Me and Libby having a daughter and dad dance...

Anna & Jana...

Anna & Ken.
Noah was there, but just didn't manage to be around when the camera was out. Olly.

Saturday, 3 January 2009

Tenerife sunset

In my blog entry of 20th December I tried to show a typical Tenerife sunrise viewed from our cabin. Here's a breathtaking Tenerife sunset, with the Aida Diva in the foreground. How different from Monrovia. Olly

Little and large

One of the many ships regularly moored near us in Tenerife is P&O's Oriana, a magnificent cruise ship which dwarfs the Africa Mercy, as I tried to show in the photo below. The Oriana's stats (versus the Africa Mercy): 69153 gross tonnes (versus 16572); 260 metres length (versus 152); 10 decks (versus 7); 794 maximum capacity (versus 484). What a beauty! Olly