Sunday, December 11, 2011

32nd Birthday in 32 pictures

Wow. I just filled 32 yesterday! In many ways it doesn't seem like 32, in many other ways I feel a whole lot older than last year. If you followed my journey in life, last year I went out on a 1 man mission to cross the arctic circle to take a picture of a mountain in the north of Norway called Reka on my birthday. It was a fun adventure for sure and I was afraid it will be HARD to top that.

But stop dwelling on the past, here is 2011. Freetown, Sierra Leone, West Africa, the Africa Mercy just finished a 10 month long field service and is about to depart for the next port of call - Ghana.

I tried to take pictures to record this special day. I selected 32 pictures for you, hopefully in addition to the words they will tell you how VERY SPECIAL this birthday has been to me...

It's Saturday!!! My fav. day of the week! :) I got up around 8.30. My cabin mates wished me happy birthday. One of them commented on the "sad" fact that we are sailing today so we cannot go out to celebrate it properly. Oh well, we made a deal to go out in Ghana for some beverages later. :)

Sign on the hallway in front of my cabin door
Went for breakfast and coffee to the dining room. On the way I saw they decorated the whole ship. It almost feels like Christmas...

It is a custom on this ship to ring the bell in the dining room when somebody has a birthday, then the whole ship sings happy birthday to you. I am really not up for this huge attention so I asked Darren not to do it. He went 1 step further: he placed one of his socks around the bell :) sooooo sweet of him!
During breakfast my darling told me "I got you a birthday cruise. We leave around noon'" :))))
Now I am wondering... does that make ME or HIM a cheap date???
view from the bow
He also asked if I liked my card. What card - I asked back. The one he put on my door. Well, obviously I didn't notice that. So, he sent me back to check it out. There were some other small presents there for me as well. :) I feel loved!!!!
Shortly after breakfast we had another muster drill just to ensure everybody was on board and accounted for.
More people in line congratulated on my birthday. I think I got the BEST gift ever - we are sailing in a few hours!!!

The final finals in Salone. Last goodbye hugs to some people who don't sail with us, last opportunity to throw away trash, last chance to walk on Sierra Leonean land... Very sad moments indeed! :(((

They lift the last landrover on board and suddenly the dock seemed empty...

Last minute arrangements to secure everything for the sail: need to put down everything on the floor in boxes from the shelves and desks. I quickly finished my room and ran down to the office to do the same. Had a short chat with my family, too on the phone! :)

Then the captain made the overhead announcement: we sail in 10 minutes. The deck team, the divers, the engineers and many others started work today at 5.30 am. By the time we go up to the open decks they removed the fenders and doing some last minute lifting.

Thanks to the engineers who fixed our bow thrusters, we are now slowly drifting away from the port. It was great being in Salone, however I cannot shake the excitement: I have been waiting for this moment for 10 long months!!! :)))

The pilot leaving the Africa Mercy. Off we go now!!! :)

A VERY dedicated boat men came all the way out to wave us good bye! These people truly are the most friendly people in Africa! I will really miss them!!! 

Special BD greetings from our Nepalese gurkha guards. Min and Ganesh always make me smile!

Life boat drills for the emergency crew. It's good to check them, they were not used or lowered for almost a year.

Deck 8 is pretty full with all our land rovers and other cargo.

It's getting really hot outside so I go back to cool down in my cabin. This is the most wonderful view I could have!!! :) The OPEN SEA!

We had some difficulties locating some boxes of crew mail, but miraculously they turned up last night. Carol worked on them till early morning, but she sorted everything. So, it happened that I got my new camera ON THE DAY OF MY BIRTHDAY!! Yay!!! :)

Showing my new Canon to a friend
Darren got me a very nice lunch: omlet with bacon and some fries (apparently I am not allowed to call them "French fries" :) Again, very sweet of him to surprise me with a nice meal for my birthday! :)

I spent the afternoon uploading pictures to my blog and facebook on our... wow, I still cannot believe it: we got engaged!!! :))) I checked my messages and was super delighted to find over 100 kind words on my turning 32! Wow, i feel loved again!!!
The Ring with open sea as the back drop :)

Dinner time came and I thought it's safe now to go to the dining room. Several people said happy birthday to me already on the corridors. I got my close friends (a.k.a. Nerd Herd) around 1 table to ensure none of them would go to ring the bell. About halfway through my meal I heard the bell go off. Darren was grinning at me saying "I didn't break my promise, I didn't ring the bell". Well, I should have known... Ryan, my dear interim boss used sheer force on the bell and made sure everybody knows I went into great lengths to hide it, but apparently I wasn't good enough to fool him. Soooo, eventually everybody sang the famous Happy Birthday song for me...

After dinner they made the announcement, the bow is open for the crew. It took us about 2 minutes to storm out...

The glassy Atlantic Ocean...

The guys brought their guitars and had an impromptu worship session.  

Awesome colours by the sun!

Sunset over the Atlantic Ocean... :)

Us. :) Just enjoying the breeze, the fellowship and our new adventure together.

Just because I didn't have enough blessings already today... we had a FULL MOON!!! :)

Around 8 pm we gathered in the Davies family cabin as we normally do every second evening. We finished this awesome day with watching Firefly with oh-so-sexy Nathan Fillion on the big screen:)

And just when I was about to miss having a birthday cake... Shelly surprised me with a wonderfully delicious Strawberry cake!!! It was heavenly!!! :)))

This is how I turned 32. It couldn't have been any more perfect in any way!!! I am so very thankful to God for every blessing He poured out on me over this last year. He has taken me on a brand new adventure in Africa; living as a missionary again with all the ups and downs that comes with such a life; He managed to break me, mold me, lead me, teach me in ways I never thought possible; and He gave me a partner for life. As I said before: I FEEL SOOOOOO LOVED! :)

Thank you!

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