*** CURRENT - 2020 - If your interested we're making some REALLY TERRIBLE videos based around food and family over at tyronebcookin.com . Our plan is to get better as we do more. LOL!***
[JULY 2019] THANK YOU for following our journey these last two years as our family served with Mercy Ships! We appreciate your prayers, encouragment, financial support...We are so grateful for you partnering with us! -- We are now back in Alabama trying to transition back into our community. ~ The Barton Family

Sunday, July 28, 2019

The end is just the beginning!

Thank you! You have prayed, gave, encouraged, and/or showed your support by being there to listen.

For the last two years, we have been with Mercy Ships serving in West Africa as a family! A  year before that we prayed, made plans, completed tons of paperwork, and had several medical appointments (and shots). You made that possible.

We are thankful that we were able to complete our original commitment. But we know that our time is over with Mercy Ships for this season of life. We shared (earlier this year) Ezra needs some educational help beyond what the academy can provide.

Transitions are hard. We came back to Alabama in June sad that we could not continue but in some ways happy the decision was clear. Continue to pray for us! We struggle with all the changes in returning to the states and all the changes still coming. Our family was living in a community with a 500 square foot cabin. Eating meals together in the dining room, bumping into each other in the halls, at work, fighting for a spot on the list in the laundry room...But now, we are struggling to find a good balance again. Thank the Lord for family & friends!

God has answered prayer BIG! That's something we continue to learn. Because our minds are limited, we often limit what we think is possible with God. That's a mistake.

Remember the last newsletter list of prayer requests? Every one of those ANSWERED, and WOW were they answered.

We would like to describe a few answers to prayer:
  • Securing employment - The jobs we secured? Wow, great timing and seem a great fit for us.
  • Finding Residence - We are so happy to be skipping the apartment and going straight to a house. Why? It removes another transition which is healthier for all of us.
  • Buy a vehicle - Truth is, we didn't actually buy a vehicle. A family gave us one for free!
Once again, thank y'all for partnering with us! Continue to pray for our family as the transitions are very hard on our boys and we are feeling the struggle as well. Big feelings, big emotions, uncertainty...nothing is "for sure" to them anymore. BUT having family, friends, and returning to a place they used to live for most of their young lives helps. We all process in different ways.

Please feel free to ask us any questions and/or share your feelings with us! We would love to hear from you! - There are future plans being made for a few local "shares" as soon as we can stabilize our lives a bit and find some routine.

Monday, May 13, 2019

Important Information - Please Read!

As our 2-year commitment with Mercy Ships comes to an end we need to share some important information with you. We will soon to return to the USA. We will be back in Alabama in June. [if you get our newsletter then you already received this information - Thank you!]

Our support processing will continue until July 17th. We humbly ask that you would continue to support us until that time. **

If you don't currently support us and feel that you could send us a one time gift, this would be a great time to do it. This will help us with extra expenses during our reentry/reintegration.

When we came to Mercy Ships we sold our house and gave away most of our belongings.

At that time we had no idea how long we would stay! Those of you who have moved before know it takes a modest amount of money to get started all over again. Including the price to fly a family of four home from Africa. -- When we leave from Conakry Guinea we will leave with our luggage allowance, 2 bags a piece.

Continue to watch for our newsletters as we finish our time with Mercy Ships. There is a lot to process. A lot to do. It seems surreal the time is almost done. Here are some points we would love you to pray for:
  • Finishing well and safe travels home
  • A time of rest to process before jumping right back in...
  • Securing employment when we return
  • Finding Residence (House/Apartment)
  • Getting the boys registered in school
  • buy a vehicle
  • The general costs of setting up a household starting over
Thank you for your continued prayers and support! We appreciate you so much. Stay connected we're not done yet!

Much LOVE from our family...
Tyrone & Stephanie, Tytus & Ezra

** For those who have the money deducted, Mercy Ships will stop deducting as soon as our account deactivates on July 17th. For those who send in each gift by check and the "one-time" option online, July 10th would be a good time to send the last gift. Then it will process before our account is deactivated. **

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Mama Bear (Stephanie)

I have a mug that I drink coffee in every morning. It is the perfect size, the handle is sturdy, and in white letters with a pink background, it says "Mama Bear". I ordered it almost 2 years ago when we first got to the ship. It was a time when I needed to advocate for one of my boys in a big way. I felt the Lord guiding me and giving me discernment for when to allow other people to lead my son and when I needed to stand up as a Mama Bear. I love that mug!

In January I met our precious Crainiofacial patients in screening. They were born with abnormalities in their skulls/face. Four of our 14 cranial facial patients were born with part of their brain, fluid, or meninges outside of their skulls.

I have gotten to know the 4 patients very well. They all have had ups and downs. Two of our patients have had some complications and have spent the majority of 10 weeks post op in D-Ward.

Zanaib (Zaza) was barely 4 months old when she had her first surgery. She was tiny, frail, and had a large sac of fluid and brain tissue protruding out the back of her skull. Her mama came here from Sierra Leone to save her child's life. She has loved her baby so well. 

Zaza and Mama
I have watched her take the good news with smiles and 'thank God". And the bad news with a bit of mama bear protection. She has watched me draw blood from her baby and do so many necessary things to her baby that caused baby Zaza pain or discomfort. As a mom myself, I get it!! At times she would be visibly upset at the discomfort I was causing her. When things are settled and her baby is doing well she smiles shyly and plays sweetly with her now chunky 6 months old. 

Precious little girl!
Zaza needs your prayers! Her healing is not over. Please pray for her this week especially that the team would have discernment of exactly what to do next for this precious daughter of the King. 

Please remember Zaza in your prayers! Her healing is not over.

Sunday, April 7, 2019

The Food Service Department is like "Controlled Chaos"

I thought a picture of delicious dinner rolls from the bakery
would draw you in! If you're reading this, it worked!
Wow! We apologize. We let the whole month of March slip by without an update newsletter.

For those of you who have been praying for us, it has been a good month! Everyone stayed healthy, the boys had great days at school, and our jobs went well. The hospital and hope center has been moving right along. Helping people in and out of surgery, recuperating, and chaplaincy sharing the Gospel.

Stephanie has recently been working more because a patient, baby-girl (not her real name) had some complications. It's tough when anyone struggles so hard to live, but the babies seem extra hard. -- We also had a fellow crew member that was ill with an unknown problem that needed testing and medical attention we can not provide on the ship. Pray for that family, please.

Whether it's patients we work with or fellow crew members on board there are privacy issues to respect. BUT that doesn't stop us from praying for the best outcome! The Lord knows...he is the great physician.

Living on board a ship of believers has its advantages in situations like this. We have our own "small group" of prayer warriors about 450 strong. Sometimes we are called to pray through ships email, community meetings, and/or the overhead Public Announcement system. I can't imagine many people back home having that happen at work?

Funny family things...Tytus and Ezra recently dressed up as animals for a Friday Jubalini day. The videos are short and funny.

One of the Cameroonian friends we have here on board, Martha, brought the boys some jackets. We picked them out a little big since they won't really be able to use them till Fall. But they look great!

Look at those handsome boys!
IN Food Service we have crazy loud music, impromptu dance parties, and sometimes a lot of what I like to call "Controlled Chaos"! Every year gets crazier and different BUT I wouldn't trade it for anyone else's job. The picture below is only a quarter of my full crew. We have uniforms but we like to find local fabric and celebrate on Friday showing our unity with matching clothes. This has a set of flatware, knife/fork/spoon in the pattern with bold colors. If you look close everyone has their own style. A Pullover shirt, chef coat, zipper shirt, button down with collar...different ways they used the pattern or had the shirt styled. It brings us together but also shows each persons individuality. I serve with 40 other people in my department. Most of them are from Africa.

Being the Food Service Manager I often have or build great relationships with most of the 40 people that are rotating in and out, long term, and day crew. -- Some people on the ship may think I (Tyrone) am probably anti-social or introverted outside of work. I assure them THAT is not the case. I, we (my wife and sometimes even the kids) have great relationships with people in our department. And when we are off work we carve out time for our family. Sometimes in this setting its hard to invest time in everyone. (this is where one of those "setting boundaries" and/or saying "no" books and training comes in handy) Community can be hard y'all! But we love it!

Potato Patrol

I have a shirt that matches this hat too!

I have known John since 2007-08? When we were in Liberia...he's still here serving on the ship!

Had a nice dinner out with some of our crew.

Can't remember if we were going Rastafarian or Pirates this day...I needed dredlocks either way. 

OH MAN! I forgot about this video...I posted it on Facebook a while back but if you haven't seen it you might find it entertaining. One of the rotating cooking teams decided we should do a gift swap (around Christmas) and we drew names. I drew Jemima from Ghana (interesting fact, her older brother was my best man in my wedding back in 2006). In the video, I played that classic *trick where I put the actual gift inside something, inside something else, then inside a package to wrap. My wife will probably "kill" me for sharing this but...

Yeah, we have fun like that!

*[gift certificate dollars inside my old sock, inside an empty coffee creamer, inside a Ziploc bag with rotten plantains and peels, inside a nicely wrapped box - in case you were wondering. LOL]

I'll end this newsletter asking that y'all pray for my wife BECAUSE I plan on taking all these shirts home and wearing them ALL. THE. TIME!   (oh yes, I have plenty more!)

**If for some reason the videos have not worked for you, let me know.

Sunday, February 3, 2019

New Year, New You?

We are a month in...How is everyone doing with their new year resolutions? I (Tyrone) have never been one for new year resolutions. Usually, I try to install change right away when I see problems or improvements I want or need to make. My one sentence advice (I know you didn't ask for it...) "Try not to make the same mistakes this year that you did last year and we will all be better for it!". 

This is the time of year that Stephanie is busy with the craniofacial program on board. At one point, in the beginning, they weren't sure if she would be able to work in the hospital. Being a PCG (or primary caregiver) is a full-time job in itself and can restrict any "outside" work potential BUT YET...

Her ID is labeled "PACU Nurse" but her title is Craniofacial Coordinator. How's that for being the PCG? We exercise a lot of flexibility (with each other) as her job requires more work and availability. But we have always been a family, a duo, that can jump in and do what it takes. Sure, they still want their mama more, but that's usually how it goes, right? -- I am very proud of my wife! It's important to me that she finds fulfillment in what she does.

Hospital Chaplaincy shares the Gospel with the patients. Incredibly 80% of the world, cannot or does not prefer to learn from reading. We are an oral society. Considering this Mercy Ships loves to use Simply The Story.  In addition, we use sim/secure digital/memory cards (for use in cell phones) loaded with audio Bibles and Gospel songs spoken/sung in local and tribal languages. -- Let's say you're in a country with many local and tribal languages. That doesn't mean you can read or write every language. The one electronic device that everyone seems to have in Africa is a cell phone. What better way to share the Gospel than to offer free resources to utilize this tool?!

It's hard to keep up with EVERYTHING but if you go to our Bartons On Board facebook page we post updates on everything from patients to prayer points!  https://www.facebook.com/BartonsOnBoard

For those who love all the details we also have the field service statistics PDF:
Mercy Ships Africa Mercy Statistics Guinea 2018-2019

Thank you for your continued support! We appreciate that you motivate, encourage, send personal notes & cards, and pray for us! You are such a blessing!

Become a financial partner! Your Gift is Tax Deductible

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Year End Giving?

If you are considering giving at the end of the 2018 calendar year, we would love to have you partner with us as we continue to serve by bringing hope and healing to the world’s forgotten poor on the hospital ship, Africa Mercy.

Click the picture, use our donation button, or click the link at the end of this post for more details!

To read about our progress in Guinea CLICK HERE for a full report!

We hope you had a very Merry Christmas and an exceptional year! As we get ready to go into the New Year we are so thankful for your prayers and support! Whether it was a financial gift, a word of encouragement, and/or the occasional email or letter, we appreciate you so much!

Thank you for partnering with us!

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Who you say I am

Sometimes I feel like I can see my life from almost an outsiders perspective. The few times this has happened it has a theme and I feel like it is a gift. Let me explain. Everywhere I go on the ship I hear Hillsong's "Who you say I am". It has so much truth! "In my father's house, there is a place for me. I am a child of God, Yes I am!!"

These words have echoed in my head for the last month. A month that consisted of hard meetings that have decided that we will go home after this field service. A month that many patients had complications and outcomes that are less than desirable. A month that had so much sickness in our family. Friends this has been a HARD month.

But it also has been a month of God reminding me that I am chosen and not forsaken. When things are hard I can remember who I am. Simultaneously my boys are obsessed with a Pete the cat song called " Just gotta be you". They listen to it a lot. Hearing them sing "You'll never be happy being somebody else no matter how hard you try. Walking around in another cats clothes will only make you cry. You just gotta be you!" Ezra likes to walk to school listening to this on my phone. One day he restarted the song and sang and danced his little heart out in front of his 3 classmates and teacher. I have never been prouder.

No matter if we are a patient with a tumor, a mom, or a child in school shouldn't we live in light of who He says I am and just gotta be you?

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2020 UPDATE: We are back at tyronebcookin.com doing cooking posts on our blog and our Youtube channel Youtube.com/tyronebcookin.