There’s something very challenging about living on a ship in the middle of west Africa 7,193 km from home. Surprisingly enough, though, it hasn’t been the distance, being homesick, or missing anyone like I anticipated. And it also hasn’t been making new friends, adjusting to showers under two minutes, or not having a Chick-fil-a nearby.

The biggest challenge for me in the two weeks I’ve been here is actually how much I’ve been learning. Being in a new place away from everything familiar makes you oddly aware of your own habits, thoughts, fears, weaknesses, and things that make you happy. You also learn a lot about life and how different it can be once you step out of your comfort zone.

Here’s a list of things I’ve learned in the last two weeks:

  1. We use a very stupid form of measurement in the U.S., and I am now having to learn how to convert everything. I am also having to learn how to write dates with the day, then month, then year. Honestly, America makes things way more complicated than they need to be, and I am single-handedly determined to change the U.S. unit of measurement to the metric system.
  2. After messing up something really important for my new job, I realized letting people down is one of my biggest fears. (Not sure how it wasn’t obvious before, but like I said, a new surrounding makes these things stick out).
  3. You get close to people FAST when you are stuck on a boat with them almost 24/7. I found this out first when I had to say goodbye to my incredible friend Lydia, who I met only a week and a half before she left. It felt like I had known her for months. I don’t expect a single goodbye to be easy while I’m here.
  4. When making friends on a boat in Africa, conversation is much less small talk and much more in-depth conversations (unless you’re talking about whether or not it is acceptable to eat pineapple skins). And, surprisingly enough, you don’t talk a ton about your life at home at first- more about yourself, which is kinda cool.
  5. I really really really love playing guitar in my free time. This may seem like a weird thing to have finally learned after playing guitar for over six years, but I never really let myself have free time at home. Since the day I got here, I was itching to play, and I was SO excited to find out they had an extra I could play.
  6. It’s REALLY hard to remember to keep up with everyone back home. (My poor family…) Some people may find it easier than me, but I am honestly having a BLAST here and time gets away from me. I honestly don’t think to call or text anyone unless they send me something first. In addition, you make new friends quickly, and a lot of time is spent with them.
  7. Promising yourself you’ll start new habits or routines “once I’m there” is a terrible idea. Just don’t do it. Don’t put it off. It makes it a billion times easier to keep up with things if it’s already routine to do it.
  8. I have a desire to be wanted and appreciated (don’t we all?). But more so than I realized. Being in a new place with new people has given me a freedom I haven’t allowed myself to have back home. I can allow myself to be ME a lot easier here than back at home.
  9. I am a hugeeeeeee fan of traveling. This one was honestly a little weird for me because I knew I loved seeing new things, but I always feel like I miss home too much to enjoy it. Turns out, when you know you’ll be gone a whole year, you’re a lot less focused on getting home, and can enjoy the time you have in each place. I am so sad to be leaving Guinea this week, but I am SUPER excited to make it to the Canary Islands.
  10. Watching the sunset is an excellent use of your time. Do it as often as you can.

The last few weeks have been sooooo much fun. I’m loving every minute of this trip so far and it’s definitely beginning to feel like home. I’m so thankful for everything God has been doing since I made it here and all he has taught me since.

This is gonna be awesome.

My awesome work team

He Is Good

Usually I have a plan for the topic of my posts several days before I write it (or weeks if I’m lazy), but tonight it’s a little different. Instead, this is just more of an update about how my first week on board Mercy Ships has been.

I am currently working my second night shift for Reception this week (of five) and it is about 2 am. It’s strange sitting here without the noise of people talking, laughing, and walking around the ship. I have much more time on my hands than I am used to and don’t have a bunch of people to talk to, which is a little hard for me. However, I have found that it’s a great opportunity to sit, rest, and especially to spend time with the Lord.

Last week when I boarded the ship, almost all the rooms (including my cabin) were full of people. This week, there are only three people total in my cabin instead of six, and one more will be gone this weekend. We have had over thirty departures this weekend alone, so it has been a bit odd to meet so many people only to say goodbye less than a week later.

However, I have met many incredible people who will be around for a little while yet. God has been so good in this area, and I have had an amazing time getting to know these new people and spending time with them. I’ve really enjoyed meeting people from all over the world, and I love being part of a community where everyone is loved and accepted. Every person here has been so welcoming and has helped me feel like I belong and that I am home.

Learning all about my new job and life on board Mercy Ships has kept me busy, but I have had time to explore Conakry a bit. Visiting the local market was definitely a highlight of my week. I’m hoping I will get the chance to visit a local church before I leave (but if not, in Senegal for sure). Unfortunately, I haven’t gotten pictures, because many places in town don’t allow it, but seeing Conakry has been an eye opening experience. It’s a crazy, different, but beautiful city.

Another highlight was getting to see the sun set over the ocean. Although I have seen a sunrise on the beach before, I hadn’t seen a sunset over the water before. I was able to eat dinner up on the deck and sit and watch as the sky transitioned between beautiful shades of yellow, red, orange, and pink.

Honestly, this whole week has been amazing. I cannot believe I am actually in Africa with Mercy Ships. This has been an actual dream come true, and I am so thankful God guided me towards this opportunity. I am absolutely certain this whole experience will be absolutely life changing. I am SO EXCITED to see what God does over the next year.

He is so good.