Tuesday, March 1, 2011

We Meet the M/V Africa Mercy!

What a day of anticipation we had on Sunday.  The ship was on course to arrive bright and early on Sunday morning, and we were scheduled to be at the dock by 7:30am in order to be part of the welcoming committee.  What we didn’t know, was that the dock workers had gone on strike this week.  This meant that in our berth space, was a large ship, The Caterina. 

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This ship should have been moved on Friday, but here it was, still occupying the spot that the Africa Mercy was supposed to have.  So, with much prayer and efforts, the operations department was able to get that crew to start up their engines and several of our guys were able to learn a new occupation: Longshoremen.  They helped untie these ropes, secure the Caterina in another berth space, and make room for the Africa Mercy.

The morning was quite hazy so even though she was supposedly anchored offshore, we could see nothing at first.  Then from the fog emerged this sight:

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the anticipation on the dock is growing!

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she's getting closer!

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The dock is getting ready with crowds of returning and new crew members, the national band of Sierra Leone, the Minister of Health, security officers, police, pastors, and other officials.

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Dan climbed up the watch tower for some bird's eye view photos

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local sailors and fisherman are still out in the waters on this lovely morning, too

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the parade of officials entering into the port

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The port officials send out a 'pilot boat' with their own pilot who leaps onto the ship and helps navigate the ship to the right space.  This boat is the next boat out, the boat with the public relations folks.

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the band welcomes in the ship with a rendition of Day-O
(Come, Mister Tallyman, Tally Me Bananas, Daylight Come and Me Wanna Go Home)

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It was not just the people on the dock that were anxious, but the crew on board who had been sailing for nearly two weeks, and been onland in South Africa since last summer were also anxious to arrive at Sierra Leone and begin field service here.

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looking for old friends, and expectations of meeting new ones

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the crew eagerly searching our faces as well!

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some of our friends from Gateway returning to the ship, looking for familiar faces
Kylie and her new home!
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our new neighbors, bosses, co-workers, teachers, chefs, pastors, mentors, and friends
doing the happy dance!
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hugs of anticipation and joy
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the newly un-trained longshoremen, helping to secure the ship

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Becca and Kylie, the look of anticipation!

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Members of the Advance team and the dignitaries present awaiting the arrival of the ship's Managing Director to begin the speeches and formalities of the welcome.

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a proud Sierra Leone flag
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view of the ship from the hospitality center where we met every day
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Greta & Savannah both looking forward to their new homes!

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our new home!

From here we had to return to the hospitality center for a couple of hours while the crew on the ship had their immigration forms completed.  Six of our team members went back to get all our luggage from the hostel, and then around 1:30pm we were able to board the ship.

It was an emotional moment for Dan and I as not two minutes after we boarded the ship, a little cluster of girls came down the steps of the "Town Hall" to welcome Kylie and Savannah.  It was a like a moment right out of Extreme Home Makeover, I was expecting Ty to come out somewhere and say, "Welcome Home Bergman Family!"  It had that same sensation in our hearts.  I thought I was the only one being emotional (and was afraid of scaring these sweet new friends away with my tears), but then I looked over at Dan and his cheeks were just as wet as mine. 

We are so excited to be here and be through all the phases of transition it has taken to get to this point.

Stay tuned for some tours inside the ship.

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