My Dearest Mom,
My Mercy Ships On Boarding experience is going tremendously well. We actually don’t begin official On Boarding until tomorrow morning, but thus far, there isn’t an isolated item that defers my expectation(s). I am content, but wanted to take a moment to share with you salient points about my journey.
You would want to know specifics about my whereabouts.
It’s not so much that the Mercy Ships International Support Center is located in the middle of nowhere, it’s better expressed that it’s not planted adjacent to anything that jars my familiarity.
El Paso, Texas born, we lived in Ft. Hood in the mid-1970s. Remember Mom? Childhood memories aside, I am now housed on State Highway 110 in a small town called Lindale enroute to Africa to pursue a new charitable mission.
You would want to know where I lay my head each night. I live in a lodge called Leeward that rests in the midst of manicured grounds and abundant forestry that beckons all God’s creatures including vultures, snakes, and lizards. Relax Mom, none of the animals are afraid of me! Leeward is a lovely abode and home to female crew members.
We are God-fearing, civilized and lively women who fully understand that learning to live in this temporal community precedes life aboard the Africa Mercy. We commune better than well I must say!
Items are provided for us to prepare on our own breakfast including fresh fruit that is stocked upon request, coffee/teas, bagels/cream cheese, oatmeal, etc. For protein’s sake, eggs are boiled and delivered in ziploc bags. We keep them refridgerated, but we seem to always have enough boiled egg inventory to host a potato salad festival or deviled egg palooza!! But don’t get it twisted, we are grateful for eggs.
The accommodations are quaint, and the room configurations vary.
I am in a four-suite that is privately separated into two rooms. My suitemates are from Britain and New Zealand while my direct roomate is from Illinois, by way of California.
She is Dr. Kristin Larson, a psychologist who will join the chaplaincy team. The roommate contigency from across the sea includes Islya Robertson (New Zealand) and Katheryn Dungsworth (Britian). Each will serve as teachers in the Africa Mercy K-12 Academy.
I’ve learned humerous jewels from them. For instance, in their vernacular, mosquito attacks are “itchy bites” and popsicles are “ice blocks.” From my fellow Americans I’ve learned: “It’s a ship, not a boat!”
Bunkbeds abound; however, no one has a top bunk mate, and it’s a simple blessing we all appreciate. You would want to know that consistent with my personality, eclectic-necessity is expressed by hanging “stuff” on my bed. Among the stretch for an interior aesthetic are African fabric headwraps, hats hanging high like straw prisoners and a hand towel Kelsey bought me adds seafarer warmth: “Home is where the anchor drops.”
Truth be told, the “Hakuna Matata” towel discretely hides my frumple of an unmade bed or it’s an embarrassing indicator of my fourth grade capacity to still build forts. My closet is huge. A valued luxury considering how I’ve had to scale down packing and wardrobe.
Speaking of schedules, each day we follow a winding sidewalk across campus to classrooms and meals in the “Oasis Dining Room.”
One of the route’s many benefits is that last week, magnificent Meg made muffins — a shameless alliteration! It was a beautiful gesture and a blessing in due afternoon when I stopped by her office to pick-up what was left of her homemade blueberry goodness.
You would want to know that our dietary schedule is finite: 12:00 noon lunch and 5:00 p.m. dinner. One hour each. Weekdays, a salad bar is available in addition to hot meals, and I’ll be doggone if that salad bar doesn’t also have chopped boiled eggs!
Mom, you would also want to know that I am in the midst of a bevy of new friends who have each enriched my existence like Dr. Sarah Kwok (pictured below). She’s an Asian anesthesiology supervisor from Britain who owns the most delightful accent. A recent Kwokism: when one is grossly tired, “They’re shattered.”
All this time I thought she meant drunk as in “Smashed!”
Maria Thomas, of Indian and Philipino descent, hails from Canada. Fluent in French, she will serve as a media liaison. And then there’s Sarah from Alabama who retained her British accent from her formative years. Her laugh is infectious and she ignites the hour. We are an informal, midwestern gathering of the United Nations, and I love it!
I sleep with the equator and eat lunch with the globe.
You would want to know that it is well. All things are exactly as I imagined.
Penny Dickerson 2019
Although I am currently serving with Mercy Ships, everything communicated here strictly reflects my personal opinions and is neither reviewed nor endorsed by Mercy Ships. Opinions, conclusions and other information expressed here do not necessarily reflect the views of Mercy Ships.
Sunrise photo credit: Dr. Kristen Larson