Fuel in the Tank

Before Mercy Ships will visit a country, we must get an invitation from the country’s President and minister of Health so that we can work with them to provide what they want and need, based on what we can provide, as a partnership.  One of the ways that the country will support Mercy Ships is by offering ship space in the port, a dock, and sometimes some warehouse space that can be used by Mercy Ships staff and crew to set up our hospital tents and organize our fleet of vehicles, etc. Another thing that the country sometimes provides is fuel or money for fuel, so that we can fuel up the ship and vehicles to carry out the work that is planned. The ship runs two massive diesel generators that provide 24/7 electric power to the ship, allowing high quality, consistent, constant power to the ships’ hospital and facilities. In countries ravaged by war, political trouble and economic hardships, it is not uncommon for the local power grid to blackout for hours on end, multiple times per week. Needless to say, one of the perks of having a hospital ship is having high quality electric power grid when you need it.

We had such an agreement in Cameroon, but for various reasons, for six months the fuel shipments were delayed or didn’t show up at all. Normally when the fuel tanker trucks arrive they come by themselves or maybe two come at the same time, and we rejoice that they showed up at all. So, after a visit from the Minister of Transportation last week, not one, not two, but 12 huge trucks showed up in the evening, filling our meager dock space/parking lot back-to-back with fuel trucks. Everyone here was rejoicing. For the ship, finally having full tanks of fuel takes some pressure off of our engineering team, and is like a big sigh of relief. This was a huge relief and a huge blessing not to have to worry about the lights or the AC going out on the ship.

Briana and I have been volunteers now for 17 months. In 2016, before we left, we fund raised, so that we could come be part of this amazing mission of Mercy Ships. We also brought the savings that we called ‘our own’ but to be honest, we would have run out and gone home long ago if we weren’t also getting support. The truth is that none of this money is ours and we’d be fools to consider otherwise. Everything we now have has been possible because friends and family from home have paid from their own pockets so that we can live, eat, and serve on a ship half a world away across the ocean.

To be honest, when we came I looked at our “fuel reserves” and saw that I didn’t think we were going to have enough for one year on board – or at least that it would be really tight. We figured out the monthly contributions, did the multiplication, and decided that our savings would probably barely last that first twelve months. So, we constructed a budget plan and were careful about when and how we spent it. Thankfully, we are both “savers” and grew up learning how to live contently on just a little – (thanks Mom and Dad Morrison and Keafer). At  about eight months when we were asked to consider extending to the full two years, I again was a little skeptical about how it was going to work. One of the benefits was that the crew fees that we pay for room and board were reduced significantly for crew staying on board this long. But, still in the back of my mind, the gears were turning and I was calculating that our budget would still have to be stretched a little thinner still. Additionally, we discovered that our second country Cameroon was quite a lot more expensive than the previous one had been. However, month after month the donors have stayed true to their words, and people have kept supporting us. I can’t tell you how much it means to us that you have supported us these last 17 months. Thank you from the bottoms of our hearts!

Now that we are dependent on others for our support to be able to work here on the ship, it is a strange and challenging feeling for us to reexamine our attitude of independence. It is an opportunity for us to learn that we can do big things if we work together and ultimately trust God for our provision. We must let go of the thinking that we can provide for ourselves or figure everything out on our own. We know that God has called us here during this time to be where we are. He has called us to continue sharing the stories of Hope & Healing that happen every day on this ship. He has called us to fix the internet, servers, and network problems, support and install new technology. He has called us to teach classes and support the crew. Beyond good stewardship, we must fully trust that God has us in his hands and will provide just in time, just like he brought the fuel just in time.


If you have any questions about donations to us or Mercy Ships, please let us know.