Our financial need for Mercy Ships is just over $3000 a month.
Click here to see the budget.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Just Pack Lunches (Mom's Point of View #2)

My how things can change in a few weeks! The boys have settled into a routine at school and in ship life in general. They are learning to navigate friendships on board like little pros. It is very different on board than at home. Almost every day they are asked to play at someone else's cabin. Often they get more than one offer. They are cool kids!!

The boys have a couple of options of where to play on board. They like to play outside on deck 7 on the swings. Deck 8 has a larger open area they can ride bikes in circles and a small climbing structure. And up one more flight of stairs is a pool. We usually take them up to get their energy out after dinner and there is usually a bunch of kids up there.

It has been awesome to see our prayers answered in a couple of areas. The boys are so healthy and are off all their allergy medicine they were on in Huntsville!! Woohoo!! I have been working in D ward Monday thru Friday 8-12 and it brings LIFE to my soul! Each morning I am a second set of hands for the nurses. I help with complicated maxillofacial dressing changes, draw labs and start IVs, or help in the ICU. This is a great fit for me. I get to know many patients and I get to be available for the nurses.

I have been able to be a part of some sacred moments on the ward and feel so privileged because my job is made up! What I mean by that is this position has not existed before and it is unfolding as we go.

Before we left Alabama I was reminded of a sermon I heard 5 years before at a youth leaders conference. Perry Noble spoke about the story of Jesus feeding the multitudes from a boys lunch. Perry's focus was not on the boy, the crowd, or even Jesus. He asked the question "Who packed the lunch?" That has stuck with me. The lunch packer has an important part to the story. Thru their faithfulness a miracle was performed. I clearly heard the Lord tell me "Just pack lunches." For me, that looks like being present for my kids. It means supporting and loving the nurses well. It's taking time to "see" our patients on the ward. It's paying attention to the unnoticed, just like the lunch packer. So for me, I will keep packing lunches that feed the souls around me. ~ Stephanie

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Sunday, September 3, 2017

Moms Point of View #1

The Hospital had an Open House with fun activities!
My theme the last 2 weeks has been "It's not about me". I am not here to utilize my skills but to bring glory to Him who called us here. I have said this phrase over and over to remind me not to get wrapped up in myself and keep the main thing, the main thing. Last Sunday I was sitting in church and the title of the sermon was "It's not about me." So there's that.

Living on a hospital ship in Cameroon with a family and 400 other people... is weird and wonderful. I am still in the transition phase and often catch myself thinking "Is this my life?" Some days I say it in a dreadful way and other days I say it with awe.

We have been away from the only home the boys have known. 12 weeks in transit & training, and now another 6 weeks on the ship. Most days go by in a blink and others drag on for-ev-er! The boys are beginning to settle in and I am learning how to be a mom on a ship with 800 eyes on me.

What has surprised me most is the incredible support and encouragement I have received from the
Ezra practices giving Tytus a shot (of apple juice)!
other moms. We had to make a decision about Ezra's schooling. We took him out of kindergarten and put him in half day preschool to get more foundational skills. They rallied behind me, they prayed with me, wrote me cards, and listened to me as I processed the options. These women are the real deal!

The hospital is ready and surgery will start on Tuesday. Our family cabin overlooks the patient "waiting tent". Anytime Tytus sees kids he wants to go down and play with them. He looks them in the eye and shows real compassion. It is definitely the proudest I have ever been of him. We are excited to meet the patients on the ward as a family.

Tyrone tries his skills in a patient bed making race
Last week was nursing orientations for the hospital and we got our ward assignments. The wards are divided by specialty. I will mostly be working in D ward (max-fax, cleft lips and palates, tumor removals, etc). This is the ward I worked on most the last time I was here so it is like home for me. I am privileged to be able to work alongside the nurses with this special group of patients.

Here we go... stay tuned for more updates.

If you have any questions about life on the ship email us. We want to share this journey with you. We are now putting together an album with various pictures of this journey that we have taken along the way(more than we post on the blog)...you can find that HERE --> Mercy Ships 2017

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Douala, Cameroon!

We have arrived in Douala as of Wednesday and our internet is now back up and working well! Our trip was very easy sailing. Come to find out, Ezra actually had a stomach virus passed by the children on board. So after about 3 or 4 days sickness he enjoyed the rest of the sail . (last update we thought he was sea sick)

We also sailed a wider (further out) path on the way to Cameroon. A preventative measure to "steer clear" where pirates may be operating. We skirted well west and south, so no safety issues. We had a Cameroon Navy escort for about the last 175 miles.

We crossed over the 0 latitude and 0 longitude mark. What does that mean? We are now Emerald Shellbacks. The rarest Shellback status is that of the Emerald Shellback (USA), or Royal Diamond Shellback (Commonwealth), which is received after crossing the Equator at the prime meridian. I thought maybe I had crossed it before on another ship, the Anastasis. But in any case, mark one off the "bucket list" we didn't know we had!

Academy kids made their own Cameroon flags!
What is there to do while sailing? There were fun activities while at sea. Sock Golf with 18 holes. Up, down, all around the ship. Yes, golf with a sock balled up. Rules are like putt putt or miniature golf. The Wii bowling tournament was a huge hit. Almost everyone participated on a team or cheering their favorite on. So funny seeing people "bowl" on a video game with physical motions. There were also Movie Nights. -- We have plugged into a small group already, so we are looking forward to praying and studying the Bible together.

Our community times were very good as well. We spent time together for worship and even worship on the bow. We had a debriefing about Cameroon history and culture. Learning from the team that was there for the past 6 months.

Soon the population on the ship will double. Meals, space, noise, use of facilities, and "busy-ness" in general.

Medical services will start on Tuesday at the Hope Center. Over 100 going for pre-procedure work and review. Then September 4th the hospital on board will open and then Stephanie's life will get pretty crazy as well...

Mercy Ships has a big Food Service department on board the ship. During field service we feed over 600 people 3 meals a day. It's broken down to galley and dining room on two different decks(or floor levels if you prefer). Since it is a volunteer organization we usually have positions open all the time. Keeping a full staff is hard to do. 250 of the 600 are local Day Crew that we hire to work on the ship with us. Saturday was a busy day! I gave a basic orientation to 15 new local Cameroon people who will work in my department. They start on Monday, coming to work alongside our volunteers in Food Services. 

Much more to come, so we'll continue later...

* We would love to hear from you! Email, Facebook, comments on our blog...click the MAIL link above to find out how you can send us snail mail!

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Sunday, August 6, 2017

Sailing to Cameroon! (not Cancun, Katy...LOL)

Hello! I hope you are enjoying this fine day. As our time is about 6 hours ahead, you may be getting up when I write this!

We are currently sailing to Cameroon. My niece Katy once said we were going to Cancun on a mission trip! LOL Can you imagine the thought behind the persons mind? "I am sending them to a well known vacation destination spot?!" No. Cameroon West Africa. :-)

Internet is limited as we sail. Most priority goes to work. I was able to post a few pics in the "my day" feature of Facebook messenger that you can access. Or request to friend me (Tyrone).

The boys are doing well with sailing. Although Ezra has an upset stomach this morning he is not complaining of the sail. We are on day 3(or 4?). -- Correction, Ezra is definitely sea sick, but he is doing much better on the medication. We started him on the medication but thought that maybe he would be like the rest of us, medicine free and doing fine. But no, he needs it. But he is getting back to himself again!

School starts for the boys on Tuesday! We have an "open house" Monday night. Both Tytus AND Ezra are excited to start. We have already met their teachers because they were in our on boarding class.

Our cabin on board was very nice. The previous "owners" have been in it since the ship first sailed as Africa Mercy. They left us a "ton" of useful stuff that made it very easy to get comfortable and settle in. And of course we brought very selective stuff for the boys (superhero things) to make it "homey". Later we will receive our "home-bins" from the container arriving in Cameroon.

I, Tyrone, am having a challenging time with work straight away. BUT it was not unexpected. There is always more work and ways to improve in any area of food service. It is not uncommon. 

Think about this:
  • The dynamics of international short term and long term volunteers...
  • Skilled and unskilled people in the Galley (kitchen) and Dining Room...
  • Cultural and Theological differences...
What do you get? A great group of people who love Jesus trying to make it all work, despite ourselves, and with Gods help!

Stephanie has been very busy with the boys. Also connecting with Medical staff to see where she can be most effective in helping out in field service.

Our arrival date for Cameroon is August 17. Pray for safe travels and no sea sickness! So far the sail has been calm, relaxing, and without incident.

Feel free to write back questions, email is the fastest way to communicate right now. And facebook messenger seems to work OK as well. But not Facebook. I can't even get Facebook to load!

Thank you! We appreciate you so much!

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Come Fly Away...

Suggested Reading List
THANK YOU for your support through this training time! We appreciate the prayers and encouragement!

Would you like an idea of the content of training that's not overwhelming? Our suggested reading list will give you an idea of the materials covered! (click on picture to read if it's not big enough)

Training and class schedules suffered at times. Tytus was sick for a few days and both were extra cranky! It's expected. Our boys have gone through a lot of transition lately. It will be good to get settled in our cabin and establish routine and stability. A small place to call home on the ship.

Today (Tuesday) we have a final presentation due. A 2 or 3 minute project that can be a song, poem, essay, video...About a concept or key take-away we learned during this time. Stephanie and I prepared a video that is quite funny(we think). To keep the element of surprise we will send you a link to it after we have presented. [Sorry for the teaser, but it will give you something to look forward to]

Wednesday July 19th, the Barton family, and about 35 others will be in the air. Traveling from Dallas/Fort Worth to Las Palmas, Canary Islands. There we'll board the Africa Mercy. In August we'll be sailing down to Cameroon, West Africa.

Keep praying! Here are a few points that come to mind quickly...
  • smooth travels for all! (and luggage)
  • adjusting to time differences and...
  • more transitions
Found a scorpion in our bed last week (wifey's pillow)...no one was stung...smashed it. The scorpions in Texas are not fatal but they can be very painful. And they are creepy looking! LOL

*We will send out another newsletter once we settle in on the Africa Mercy. Our communication may increase a bit these next two months as things get extremely busy! 

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Campus Life & Basic Training

Wow! It's been busy since we arrived at the Mercy Ships International Support Center. There have been a lot of dear friends that still work here and new friends we are making.

Our housing is on campus. We share a house with a family from Holland. They are a younger family with three children ranging from 2 to 6. The children have fun playing together! They have 3 rooms on one side and we have 2 rooms on the other. The kitchen, dining, and living room we share. Some meals we have together and some are at the cafeteria. It's a little pre-taste of living in community with different nationalities and culture.

This week I (Tyrone) am training Monday through Friday in Basic Training. There are many exercises, tests, and exams. I will share a bit about the fire training with a few pictures. If you would like to see my full schedule for this past week and an overview of the details, here is the LINK.

Your partnership provides practical training for keeping everyone safe in our working environment. Above are some pictures of my fire training.
  • Full gear and self-contained breathing apparatus, or SCBA
  • Putting out different classes of fires 
  • Going in a burning container with a partner
  • Ambulance service on standby (just to watch and be available just in case...)
  • Buck is our 165-pound dummy we had to drag to safety. He is dead weight. And that's not as easy to move as you think with 45 to 60 pounds of gear on.
  • The temperature in the container climbing above 600 Fahrenheit.

Stephanie is getting the boys acclimated to our new surroundings. Helping the boys navigate the layout of the property. She recently attended a family "meet and greet" orientation. With so many changes we have enjoyed the campus having a pool. Great for a little family down-time!

Tytus wanted to have his picture taken with one of the many anchors here on the campus. Ezra did not want to take part. So I give you these 2 pictures. Ezra is wearing a Batman Robot Helmet he made himself.

Whether it's your prayers, gifts, and/or sharing our story, we are so thankful for you! We appreciate you taking the time to read our newsletters and emails! Please send in prayer requests you have for your family. We are teaching the boys to pray for others!

Our On Boarding training starts this Saturday!
We are currently at 95% financially and hope to close the gap on the other 5% soon.

Sunday, May 14, 2017


Happy Mothers Day! I hope you were able to show moms, extra special LOVE, Sunday! But you better be doing it all year! - Love you, mama! (Yes, she reads our newsletters! - LOL)

June 7th we will be leaving town as a family. Less than a month to go. It will be sad. It will be exciting. It will be one of those times when you didn't know so many emotions can happen at once.

We are at 80%!!! And we are definitely excited about that! We would love to get our last 20% covered before we go. Our biggest need is recurring monthly support at ANY amount, and one-time gifts are always welcome! If you haven't yet, will you partner with us today?

Last Sunday Summit Crossing Community Church (our church family) commissioned us! "What does that mean?" you ask. In simple terms, it means they love us! They love what we are doing, partner with us, and send us to do it. Here is our official letter from Summit Crossing! (click link->) The Bartons
"As their supporting church, we officially commissioned them on May 7, 2017 and are excited to partner with them as they labor for God’s glory in West Africa. We heartily recommend them and encourage you to consider partnering with them as well." - Nathan Jewett, Pastor of Mission Life
It's always crazy to have your kids up front or on stage. Anywhere. You hold your breath wondering how long you can make them stay still. Obedience seems a foreign concept to kids at the most uncomfortable times. Our kids did great! BUT Ezra was all over the place once the prayers started and eyes closed! One time I opened one eye to make sure Ezra didn't run down an aisle or start hitting his brother. He was smiling mischievously while laying across the front row of seats, propped up on his elbow. Just chillin'. LOL
It's busy with preparations and working our current jobs. This past weekend we took a break. We found a good deal on a room and indoor water-park in Tennessee and we took a little road trip. Our kids played for 6 hours straight! It was a great time for our family to relax and reflect before jumping back in. Stephanie used her "Mother's Day" to focus on her children and family. Those boys don't have a clue how great their mama is!

Thank you so much for your prayers! We appreciate you taking the time to read our newsletters and read our emails! Please send in any prayer requests you have for your family. We are teaching the boys to pray for others!