Hi Everyone, I've been back for a week now from my trip to Mercy Ships Orientation in Garden Valley, Texas. Mercy Ships has a fleet of 3 hospital ships that take medical care to the poorest countries on earth. They also teach native people how to raise sustainable crops and animals for food. If interested, you can find out more at mercyships.org. I had a really good time and learned a lot. I am interested in serving with them doing agriculture sometime in the near future. This is only the first day, but don't worry when I write about the rest of the week it will probably about this same size for the whole week. Hope you enjoy.
Mercy Ships Orientation -- Garden Valley, TX -- April 25-30, 2004
Sunday, April 25 2004
I started out bright and early about 8:30 Sunday morning from the Benton’s place in Mustang, OK. First I needed fuel so I went to Burger King in Yukon and bought me a bacon, egg, and cheese biscuit. For some reason it tasted exceptionally better than most days. Maybe it was because I was about to embark on a new adventure. I didn’t know what
I was getting myself into. I hadn’t been away from home for more than a few days except for work trips. This was going to be fun. I was finally doing something concrete to get involved in Christian missions. I was going to Mercy Ships Orientation week in Garden Valley, TX.
I drove 3 ½ to 4 hours to Gainesville, TX without incident and decided to take a break at the outlet mall there to call my mom and have her guess who had called me the night before and left a message on my cell phone. She couldn’t guess so I told her it was Kelly, my ex-boyfriend, whom I hadn’t spoken to in 3 months. He had called to tell me he was proud of me for going through on starting missions. (He was the one who first told me about Mercy Ships when he got to tour the Carribean Mercy while serving as a missionary in Belize last summer.) Mom was surprised and asked a lot of questions about what he was doing now. I told her what I knew and we chatted some more and than hung up. I was ready to go again.
From Gainesville, I decided I would avoid Dallas and go through Sherman and down 69 toward Garden Valley, but I made a mistake getting on 75 instead that added at least an hour to my trip. Long story short I arrived in Garden Valley (GV) about 3:30. Now I have to tell you about that area. It is a beautiful lush green forest at this time of year and the “towns” consist of a few houses on a high way road. When I got GV, there were no signs to direct me to the Mercy Ships Campus and I got a little frustrated because I couldn’t find it. I saw a church that had a car at it, so I stopped and knocked on the locked doors, but no one answered. I tried to call MS on 3 different numbers, but it being Sunday all I got was answering service. I decided to pray that God would direct me, then started the car, turned on the first road I came to, and kept driving. A little way down that road I saw a sign that said “Mercy Ships”! God had directed me there! Five minutes later I was on their beautiful campus and parked outside the building with the large “Registration” sign.
That building turned out to be the store where they sell Christian books, Mercy Ships and Texas souvenirs, and snacks. It also has Internet access for volunteers like us. Inside I was welcomed and they gave me a large white notebook filled with the materials we would need on raising support and another book called “Funding Your Ministry—Whether Your Gifted or Not” by Scott Morton. They told me the tour would begin soon so I looked at the books while I waited.
The tour began at 4. Thirteen of us packed into a van without air conditioning and headed out. Ken Winebark and his wife were our tour guides. Ken is a volunteer in the Agriculture area of MS. They took us on a tour of the campus showing us the dorms, dining hall, school, pool, barn and garden and the pastures where they have sheep and cattle.
Then they took us off campus and showed us the other ministries in the area:
A Mother’s Heart: for pregnant unwed mothers. A place for women to go to have their babies and decided to keep them or give them up for adoption. We were told that most girls who go there are not Christian, but come to know Christ through daily discipleship and mentoring.
Teen Mania: For teens to got involved in missions.
YWAM: Youth With A Mission. Also for teens to get involved in missions.
Then they showed us where we could get our cars worked on if necessary and then took us back to campus to get ready for the for the Welcome Dinner.
I went to the womens' dorm and found my room. Upon entering I found that I was the last of the 5 women in my room to arrive. The room is divided into two parts separated by a door, each side sleeps four people and has two bunkbeds. My roommates were Ana Luisa from Brazil, Alberta from Las Vegas, and sisters Jane and Bettye from Forrest City, Arkansas. Since I was the last one to arrive all the bottom bunks were already taken, but I asked Ana Luisa if she would trade with me since I was afraid of falling out of the top bunk. She very kindly did.
The Welcome Dinner was nice, but I don’t remember too much about it. I remember Alberta talking to us and showing a video about who, what, and where Mercy Ships serve. All the new people had to talk to one of their neighbors and then introduce that person to the group. I introduced Jane from Forrest City, Arkansas. Dinner was lasagna. It was good.
After that everyone went back to his or her dorms for the night to get rested to start an exciting week learning about MS missions.
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