Monday, September 3, 2018

Field Service & Family Life!

Mercy Ships is back in Guinea for their fourth visit! Early in the morning on the first day of screening, many people had already been in line for hours. Most are waiting to see a nurse and hopeful for a surgery that could change their lives forever. By the end of the day, volunteer nurses would evaluate over 6,000 people.

It takes many volunteers to make this happen(not just nurses). Crowd control, security, chaplaincy, offering water...feeding the crew.

Both of us have been to screenings in the past. It can be overwhelming. We have seen mothers lift their babies over their head and passed forward until they are at the front of the line. They fear their babies will not be seen! -- Sometimes the screening reveals issues we cannot help. Those are gently told "no" and offered counsel and prayer.

The whole screening process is enough to break your heart. It's physically, emotionally, and spiritually exhausting.

Family Life! 

Tytus and Ezra have settled back into school. Ezra is in kindergarten this year and he is doing well! Tytus is excited to see his friends from last year and also welcome new friends in 2nd grade. His reading is improving along with several other areas.

In the midst of starting field service, work, screening, opening the hospital, and the boys starting find time to enjoy the "moments". 

Recently we had a Pizza Night for the boys! 
  • pita/shawarma bread bought locally,
  • cheese, 
  • tomato sauce, 
  • pepperoni smuggled  back from the states in our luggage (nothing illegal)
  • And bits of toppings saved from meals on board.
We baked them in the Crew Galley (public kitchen for crew use) laying the bread directly on the racks in those tiny ovens!

Another great thing about the hospital opening is Open House! We brought the boys down for some fun & games(and often snacks!).

Thank you so much, every one of you, for partnering with us! Bringing hope and healing in the form of free surgeries and sharing the Gospel!

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Sunday, August 19, 2018

I know a couple of things...(Stephanie)

Docking in Conakry Guinea
So, here’s the thing. This is our second field service on the Africa Mercy as a family and I feel like I know a couple things. I know what food to buy and freeze from Las Palmas to keep our family happy. And I know that I can not approach this new field service the same as last year.

While we were home I read Katie Major’s second book “Daring to Hope”. Her first book documented her life as she moved to Uganda, founded a ministry, and adopted 13 girls. I thought her second book would follow suit and document her falling in love and having a biological son. I read her book on the beach, in coffee shops, and lounging at book stores.

I was exhausted from the 10 month field service. I navigated parenthood amidst 450 people while being a contributing member to community, and overseeing the crainiofacial program. I left Cameroon depleted.

During my “me time” I sat in comfortable chairs as I dove into Katie’s book. I was thinking it would be a light and fluffy love story, I was very wrong! Instead I found myself weeping at the aforementioned beach, coffee shops, and book stores as I read an authentic story of how to find hope when life is hard. 

While reading her book I was trying to make sense of the hardest year of my life. Her book was littered with stories of crying out to the Lord pleading for healing of a friend or neighbor. She referenced Habakkuk 1 where he goes to the watchtower as his people were being annihilated. He waits to see what the Lord is going to do. This resonated with me. I don’t approach hard things in my life like Habakkuk. I plead, sometimes beg God, to give me what I think is best for my life. I am tired of this approach.

I am trying something new this year. Instead of using my energy to convince God my way is best, I am trying to align my heart to His and want what He wants, even when it looks like pain or even death.

This year our freezer is stocked with Spanish bacon and cheese. My heart is ready to try to align to Him. Maybe at the end of this field service in Guinea I will leave a little more full and hopefully I will have learned a couple more things.

*We are now in Conakry Guinea setting up for field service. Here are some pictures and video we put in a new album Africa Mercy in Guinea 2018-2019 and visit our page on Facebook

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Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Back On Board! Shipyard.

Back on board! We have been back on board for awhile now. If your wondering how it is during *shipyard, well, its a contrast!

On one hand we are in a shipyard where all that is going on is hard work. It's not like a nice port downtown or dock by the beach. Dirty filthy work going on everywhere. Work that needs doing.

But on the other hand we are in Las Palmas in the Canary Islands. And it's beautiful!

Shipyard is full of challenges and projects that need to get done. We have had no AC for a few weeks and maybe not for a few more. We have had scheduled times of...
  • no water
  • no electricity 
  • no internet (which is important for work)
  • undrinkable water (we have plenty of bottled water and the main water can still be used for showers, teeth brushing, toilets...) the salt content was too high for consumption.
For Tyrone they have had many challenges in Food Service. We sometimes cook our meals for the whole crew in the crew galley(or the public kitchen). Which is about 1/6 the size of the galley we usually use. And last Friday we had the pleasure of prepping food and chopping vegetables by flashlight last Friday. (no window in the galley)

Currently we have many projects going on in the galley and dining room.
  • new equipment getting installed
  • drains getting fixed
  • pressure washing
  • preventative measures for pest control
  • work on our big freezers and refrigerators...
What can you do when there is absolutely no way to cook? Order PIZZA! What else? HAHAHA - And we have also brought the boys to a pizzeria where they could watch the chef's make their pizza from scratch! 

Stephanie has been working on getting ready for the field service and school for the boys. Working on "summer work" in preparation for school. Taking the boys out for fun times at the parks and beach here on the Island.

One of our favorite parks is about 20 minutes walk from the ship. It has a small outside cafe where we can sip a "Leche, Leche" while watching our kids play. This drink is a coffee mixed with steamed milk sitting on top of condensed milk. Or if you like it a bit stronger (like Tyrone) you get the "Condensada". Which is strong coffee sitting on top of condensed milk. Either way ($1.25), you mix it together...Mmmm. Unless of course coffee isn't your thing. Then fresh squeezed juice? -- Did I mention Tytus and Ezra playing nicely at the park?

Every year we are in shipyard we have our own projects team AND port workers. The port we use is Astican. Towards the end of our stay the Astican Port invites us to what some would call lunch. But it's more of an event. What happens is this:
  • They pick us all up from the ship in coach type buses and head to the destination
  • Our soccer team and their soccer team play in a real stadium style field. 
  • Afterwards there is lunch for everyone
  • Fun water games for the kids
  • Live music and dancing
Have your kids ever sat with friends and clinked "wine" glasses together as they all yell "cheers" with Fanta soda spilling out? Yes, both funny and scary as you wait for glass to break! -- Oh yeah, this year our team won!

*Shipyard is the preparation and repair time for our next field service. Guinea!

The Barton Family

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Sharing the Good News!

By the time you read this, we will be in Huntsville Alabama. We spent some "down time" with family in Florida before returning to my (Tyrone) hometown in Alabama. The boys had a special treat from Grandma and Grandpa. Tytus and Ezra went to Lego Land! (We stayed behind to rest!)

During our time in Alabama, we will be sharing with friends and family about our work on the Africa Mercy. We appreciate all of you and wish we could visit with everyone across the globe!

WOW! How do we share a year of family life in 20, 40, or 60 minutes? It seems an overwhelming task. But we are excited to bring the stories, events, and lives that you have been a part of!

For those of you who are on Facebook and/or want to hear more frequently about the work that is being done, join our facebook page...
Please, like and share the page, or any of the posts. It's public.

Next field service, starting in August, we will be in Conakry Guinea. Please continue to pray and partner with us this coming year! Free medical care and sharing the Gospel with every patient!

Become a financial partner! Your Gift is Tax Deductible

Sunday, April 22, 2018

The Ship is in a Time of Transition

Mount Cameroon in the background!
The ship is in a time of transition as the end of this field services is coming. The energy has changed from being full steam ahead to wrapping things up. We have 4 weeks of surgery, 5 weeks of the hospital being open, and 6 weeks until the ship leaves Douala. And then we (The Barton family) board a plane to the US for a time of restoration. It feels weird. My patient, Adama, still has a lot of healing to do in 5 weeks but our family is also very ready for a break!

The hospital is still going strong. Every day around 10:00 a.m. the day-crew chaplaincy team comes thru the ward. They specifically come to share a “Simply the Story” (oral storytelling method that involves interaction and participation) Bible story in French. 

Our patients hear the gospel every day. Their journeys really are about physical and spiritual healing. One of the things I like to do is watch as the brand new nurses experience this for the first time. As the patients hear the gospel, then sing and dance to the very loud drums, the nurse's eyes fill up with tears and I can almost see a thought bubble appear that says “This is why I am here.”
Tytus ready for a soccer tournament with local kids.
Ezra striking superhero poses as the sun goes down on deck 8

The boys have been very busy as the school year is coming to an end. Tytus has gone on field trips to:
  • the agriculture site (where our crew teaches people how to grow healthy food), 
  • the hope center (where our patients live after they leave the hospital but still need follow-up care),
  • a local orphanage (where the students did skits, sang songs, and did crafts with the children). 
Both of the boys were in the Easter play and had their artwork displayed afterward. The academy did such a great job. I am continually impressed how they do such great things with so little resources.

We are loving our small group that we have been apart of all field service. We just finished a great study on Genesis and now we are looking at the promises of God and how they relate to us.

Tyrone’s teams in the Dining room and galley have worked so hard this year. To show our love and appreciation we took all 36 of them (day crew and ship crew) to a local restaurant for dinner. It was so fun to be altogether celebrating their hard work!! It could have been a disaster trying to feed such a large group in West Africa but with some planning, it worked out great!! 

This weekend the ship participated in an online women’s retreat called Velvet Ashes. It is specifically for missionary women. It was so good for me to take time to reflect and ponder on all this year has brought. They lead us thru times of scripture reading, journaling, and silence. It was a sweet time for me to listen to the Lord as He reminded me that even though this year has been so hard he has used our family in mighty ways, most that we will never know. ~ Stephanie

Thank you, everyone! Your encouragement, prayers, financial gifts...we appreciate you greatly! What a partnership this is! You are positively affecting peoples lives every day with both physical and spiritual healing! The Gospel.

[We have about 6 more weeks here and then we will be home to connect with friends and family during June.We will spend time hanging out and sharing with y'all when we return to the Huntsville/Madison area... Then we will return to the ship in July. At which time we will be preparing for our next field service, Conakry Guinea. West Africa. So please continue to pray for us as we move through these changes. Hope to see you at "Home"!]

PS If you received an email about downloading a free book (pdf version) from us, it's not a hoax or gimmick. Mercy Ships has allowed me to use the pdf version of Ships of Mercy (how Mercy Ships got started) to give away FREE to our partners! It's a short read, 200 plus pages. I think you will enjoy it! Click HERE to download your free copy of "Ships of Mercy"! 

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Birthdays on The Ship!

One week has passed and I think I have finally recovered from Tytus’ Birthday party. It was the first kids birthday party I had to plan and I wish someone had warned me. Birthdays are a BIG deal here.

Tytus’ actual birthday was on Friday, March 2nd. He received little gifts throughout the day. Our door decorated with balloons and banners. Mr. Fred bought him a Fanta (orange soda) at the cafe. Twice serenaded with the "Happy Birthday" song. Once by Tyrone’s
dining room and galley team, and once by the crew after ringing the Birthday bell. It was so fun to see my son so celebrated he soaked it up! His sweet self loved it so much.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

I was told "God is at work!"

Stephanie & Julienne
I find myself thinking frequently about you, our supporters, our friends and family. I sincerely want you to feel a part of this great thing we are doing here in Cameroon.

I want you to know... 
  • Your prayers and financial support is the reason why people are being healed from the inside and out. 
  • Our patients come in broken. The love poured over them and the gospel they hear is as much a part of their healing process as surgery. 
  • Before and after pictures remind me this ship that brings free, safe surgery is a weird and wonderful place to do life and raise our kids!
I also want you to know that the last 6 months have been full of challenges. Let's be honest, it has been rough!!!