52 Days, 5 Countries, and Countless New Friends.
Updated: Apr 11, 2022
Wow. Just wow.
That is really all I can say right now. This past month has been a whirl wind of activity, emotion, and exploring. So much has happened! I don't know where to begin!
I suppose the first thing to touch on is the job! That's the reason why I came all this way. The reason why I gave up my new family on the Africa Mercy. Well to be frank, the job is simply amazing! I just love every aspect of it. The beginning was rocky through Christmas but there was hope. I can say with certainty that the hope I had wasn't misplaced. The role has morphed a bit over the last month but it's at a place where I am really happy.
I can hear you asking, "But Jordan, what do you do?" To answer that very good question, I am the Executive Assistant to the Program (the Program is just the fancy term for equipping the ship for service). The Senior Project Manager, Justin, is in charge of getting every aspect of the ship ready for service in Africa. This is everything from getting the CT machines for Radiology to making sure the phone system works. It's both in and out of the hospital. Although most of what we're working on at the moment is hospital related. And whatever he or the rest of the team need support with, I step up to be that helping hand.
The role started with just being Justin's assistant but now, and the foreseeable future, I am the assistant for the entire program. I am helping the Project Managers that work for Justin, and also a Vice President in the company. The cool thing with the VP is he asked for me by name! How cool is that! I was in a meeting about the Africa Celebration coming up at the end of May and at the end he said, "I'd like to get a Navigator Page (navigator is our internal information base). Jordan, you did a wonderful job with the Rotterdam Events. Are you able to help me with a similar page for this event?"
Needless to say I was floored, I didn't event have a chance to unmute myself before Justin piped up and answered for me. Normally someone answering for me would've bothered me but you could tell that he was just as excited for me as I was for myself. After that Justin kept telling everyone who would listen that a VP asked for me directly. Out of the thousands of people within Mercy Ships, he asked for little ole me!
Anyway! As you can tell the role is amazing and I just adore the work. I may not be in Africa yet but I am working hard, along with the rest of the team, to get this vessel up to snuff for the people of Africa. It is more rewarding than I could've imagined. Right now I am working very closely with the hospital so it certainly helps that I am so close to where the action is going to take place.
Now, I thought long and hard about it but I've put in for an extension! My commitment was initially supposed to end March 21, 2022 but I have absolutely no intention of coming home then. I just don't feel like my work is done here. God still has more for me here so I've committed to an extra 373 days. March 31, 2023 is now the day I'll return back to Canada and I'm so excited to see what God has in store for me!
5 Countries and Countless Friends
On the social and community front I have had quite the adventure! Initially the transition was extremely hard because I felt lost because it felt like a hole was ripped in my chest. I left little pieces of my heart behind and I struggled to fill those voids with community on this ship.
Though as more people have come to the ship in preparation for the current Rotterdam Events, the community grew and became more inviting. I met a few key people who I bonded with and that cascaded into more and more people. I essentially was adopted my an extrovert and they pulled me out into the community till I felt comfortable to go out on my own.
Said person is Meriam. She is a receptionist on the ship and she gave me no chance to be introverted. She said hi to me and sat with me when I was too intimidated by the people on the ship. She convinced me to join her with some other girls on a trip to Portugal for a weekend. Which is where the 5 countries part of the title comes into play. Porto, Portugal was the first and it was simply amazing! I'm going to upload some pictures onto the gallery section of the site for you to peruse.
We left the apartment before breakfast and didn't return till well into the night both of the days we were there. We really just walked around the historical center all day seeing absolutely everything we could. The last morning before the flight we took the tram out to the coast and explored the beach. At this point yours truly reverted back into a child and began scouring the sand and shoreline for crabs, shells, and clams. The others sat back and enjoyed the sun (which was probably the adult thing to do but what fun is that!) watching me let out my inner child. Once we got to the airport we were sad to go back but I think all of us were satisfied with how much we actually got to explore. I know I was!
The following weekend I went to Dusseldorf, Germany with a fellow Porto traveler, Robyn, where we spent just the day meandering about the promenade. We found a book store which I was absolutely fascinated with! It was a hidden gem and it had the German version an autobiography of my favourite graphic novelist, Art Spiegelman. I swear Robyn had to drag me from that shop because I just kept going back in.
We found bubble waffles and then just wandered around. When the time came we got back into the van and started driving back to Antwerp. Well, I don't know where I went wrong but somehow we ended up driving much more north into the Netherlands than we needed. Eventually Robyn got us going back the right way but my unintentional detour added an extra hour onto our trip! We made it back with 5 minutes left in dinner time so at least we were able to get food!
I also took a day trip with several wonderful ladies into Luxemburg. Several of the ladies I met on the AFM (Africa Mercy) and we again just wondered around. Once we were in Luxemburg we sort of split up but I ended up hanging out with a mother/ daughter pair serving together. We walked across a fortress wall that taken over in 963! It's not even know when the original fortress structure was built. There are parts that are estimated to have been built by the Romans in the 4th century! Needless to say it was crazy old, obviously, but it looked impeccable! It just blew my mind that I was standing on something that existed well over a thousand years ago! Napoleon Bonaparte himself walked on the same structure I did.
Before we departed Antwerp I also took a walking tour with Captain Taylor (current Captain of the Global Mercy), Charles (a project manager that I work with and the son of Don Stephens, the founder of Mercy Ships), and my boss Justin. One of the Port Authority employees was generous to give us a tour around Antwerp. She showed us some of the amazing points throughout the city. I was in awe of the city and incredibly thankful to be invited to such an amazing event.
It was on this walking tour that I learned that Captain Taylor met and married his wife on the Anastasis (Mercy Ships very first ship) the same year that my Grandma served. It just makes serving on the newest ship with Captain Taylor all the more special for me.
Finally last weekend we sailed overnight from Antwerp to Rotterdam, Netherlands. I unfortunately can't go ashore (immigration issues) but I can say that it is a beautiful city. All my friends have been telling me all about the night life here and how amazing it is. I am a little disappointed but at the same time I'm not. This city feels very American in nature so I don't feel like I'm missing too much. It's sad why it feels so American but the simple explanation is that the Nazi's cleared the slate allowing for very modern architecture. There isn't much of the classic Dutch architecture in the city at all. It is still beautiful but it's not what I think of when I think of the Netherlands.
I think that's all for now. I still have so much to say but this post is already on the long side. I am going to be prioritizing posting more now. It took me a while to get my bearings but I've got them now.
Thank you for being patient! I am going to start fundraising again to help support my journey for the next year but I'm not sure when I'm going to have time to do this. We'll be sailing to the Canary Islands next week so I'll make some time then to plan something out.
I love you all and I thank you for the prayers!