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  • Jordan Avery

5 Ways to get involved in your community

Most people think about their community in terms of the place they live, where they work, and the people they interact with on a daily basis. When you live on a ship, there is no distinction between these three things. The people I live with and work with are the people I interact with on a daily basis. This can be intimidating to some, including myself, because it means that the whole community knows who you are. The way to counter this intimidation is to head straight into the belly of the beast. Fully immerse yourself in the community and accept the fact that everyone on the ship knows you. These people are your family now. Why not get to know them a little?

Getting involved in the community comes in many different shapes and sizes. It depends on your personality and the type of community you are a part of. On the ship there are several good ways to get involved but the main goal is to get to know your new family. The easiest way to get involved is to just start! Any way you choose to do it will suffice! The most important step to take is the first one!

That being said, it does help to have a few starting points to get you off your feet! That is why I have put together this list. My hope is that it’ll help you on your way as it did for me.

1. Start with Co-workers

The simplest and easiest way to get to know more of your new family is to simply start with the people you see and talk to everyday. They don’t have to end up being your best friends or anything but they will introduce you to others and it will grow from there. In my case, I ended up becoming best friends with my coworker but that may not be the case for everyone.

2. Find your favorite game and invite people to play

If games are your thing then this is a great way to meet like-minded people! There are tons of people who like games on the ship! Bring your favorite game to the midship, or find one in the cupboard, and ask people if they want to join. More often than not they will say yes even if they are doing other things. Midship is like the equivalent to a living room back home. This is where people come to just hangout and relax. Most of the time they just don’t have anything to do so they come up here. It honestly doesn’t hurt to ask if they want to play. The worst they can say is no. You have to start somewhere and this is a great place to start.

3. Attend Sunday Service (and the following gathering)

Sunday service is great for meeting people because everyone gathers after the message in the café for free drinks and pastries! You can find a table with some people and get to know them! During my first few weeks I met 9 people through Sunday service gatherings alone. I simply sat with someone I already knew and people joined. We laughed and talked which opens the door for you to deepen the conversation another day. Plus who can say no to free Starbucks and desserts?!

4. Attend Thursday Community Gathering

Every Thursday there are Community Gatherings. They start as a meeting in the international lounge with updates and then everyone goes to the café. There is ice cream served by one of the departments and then everyone just mingles. It’s a great way to get involved with the community and to get to know your new ship family.

5. Eat with someone new once per day

This was a great piece of advice that I got in my first few days with Mercy Ships. It has served me well and is a great way to get to know the people around you. At one meal per day take your plate and find someone eating alone. Ask them to join and nine times out of ten they will say sure. People make it very obvious when they actually want to be alone, or they will go elsewhere to eat, so don’t feel afraid of disturbing people.

By doing one or all you will find that you are fully immersed in the culture and your new family on board the ship. Over the last month on this vessel I feel more at home with every event and gathering I attend. This is my home now and this is my family. I love them and want to learn all about their interests and passions. The only way to do this is to just get started and meet new people with everything that you do.


These weekly posts are focused on what I am learning as I spend the next six months on the Africa Mercy Ship. If you are interested in my daily life and how I am doing emotionally, check out the daily series #MyDay. I try to post everyday about what I was up to that day and/or how I am doing emotionally. Click the link below to be taken to the series' page.

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