Sunday, July 2, 2017

Howdy from Texas!

It's been a busy and exciting 2 months since I left the ship in April. After an amazing 2 weeks in Australia, full of rejuvenation and friendship, I returned back home to Florida. Thank you to all who attended one of my Mercy Ships talks or who I got to meet with in person! It's so encouraging to share what God is doing through our ship and I hope it was an uplifting and informative time for each of you. As I always say, I could not do this without your support, encouragement and love that keeps me going each day along this journey!!

Many of you may have noticed on Facebook or Instagram that I'm currently in East Texas at the Mercy Ships headquarters (called the ISC, or International Support Center) for training. Mercy Ships requires this training for any long term crew members (which is someone who volunteers to serve for more than 1 year). You may be surprised to know that this training is actually 0% to do with my 'job' on the ship :)

Group photo board. We have a total of about 50, including 10 children and 7 ISC staff.
The best way to describe OnBoarding is as a preparation course. Essentially, "How to serve Jesus well in an international community on a ship in a developing country that is not your own without punching someone or jumping overboard". Pretty simple, right?!

Here's the basic rundown:
Week 1: FMS (Foundations of Mercy Ships)- what do we believe, what's our purpose and how do we accomplish that.
Week 2: Faith Foundations- what do we believe about God, how does that effect our lives and how do we communicate with Him.
Week 3: Personal/Interpersonal Development- what is my personality and how does it influence the way I interact with others.
Week 4: Working With Those We Serve- cultural competence, worldview, transformational development
Week 5: Final Wrap-up- crowd management, computer training, final project presentations

Whew, I'm tired already! This is just the surface of the topics we discuss, and there are also many side benefits to this training including meeting a group of crew who I'll be serving with for 1-2 years, interacting with the staff here at the ISC that don't get to visit the ship very often, and having a few weeks of time set aside to focus on learning and growing before arriving to the craziness of the AFM. We've also had a great time introducing a few of the non-American members to the culture of Texas including a rodeo, BBQ, picnic with games and lots of trips to Walmart!

Part of our group at Mabank Rodeo
Honestly, I wasn't really looking forward to coming here. I'd heard mixed reviews about what things were like and being on the ship for nearly 2 years already, I kinda thought I knew it all (that was definitely not the case, I can assure you!). Maybe Lesson 1 was that my pride needed to be knocked down a bit because I've already learned so much and have really enjoyed the time so far! Yes, not every class is mind-blowing, but the overall topics, the people and this beautiful campus have been such a blessing. Texas has been treating us well with some cooler than usual temperatures and lots of rain making everything green! I'm taking in all the grass I can before I don't get to see any again for a year, haha!

Sunset over a field on campus.
2 weeks down, 2.5 weeks to go! Then a group of 30 or so will head to Dallas together and board a few long flights to Las Palmas in the Canary Islands where the ship is in its annual maintenance period. And God willing, somewhere in the beginning of August we will sail to Cameroon! I probably won't have time to write again before we leave Texas but I will try to update again once I'm back on the ship in a few weeks.

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