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Are your kids going, too?

Dianna CashDianna Cash Posts: 11
As we were preparing to leave our lovely lives in Georgia, USA and come live on a ship off the coast of Africa, it was fascinating to us how many people said "Are your kids going, too?"  Our response was something along the lines of, "Um...of course they are going with us!  There's no way we would leave them behind."

We fully believe that God called our 3 kids to come live and serve on the Africa Mercy just as much as He called me and Nick.  It has been incredible to watch how He has used each of our children to love and bless others, in big and small ways alike.     

Are you a family thinking of joining Mercy Ships?  I would encourage you to invite your children to be a part of the process and the planning. And let us know what questions you - and your children - have.     

Are you a family who has served with Mercy Ships?  What's the one piece of advice you would give to parents who are considering this adventure?  


  • allisonholiskiallisonholiski International Support CenterPosts: 52 admin
    What an incredible perspective, Dianna, that God called your children to live and serve onboard as well. They aren't tag-alongs while Mom and Dad do God's work, rather God is using this time to work in and through them as well. Such an important thing to recognize! 
  • KellyGrizzardKellyGrizzard Posts: 119
    I know when we arrived and would eat in the Dinning Room it was to stimulating for our Daughter who was 2 at the time.  What worked best for us was to do Breakfast in the cabin. Lunch in the Dinning Room and Supper up on Deck 7. 
  • Dianna CashDianna Cash Posts: 11
    I hear you, Kelly.  It's been absolutely essential for us to find the routines and rhythms that work for our family - and to realize that works for one family might not work for another.  We tend to eat breakfast and lunch in our cabin and dinner in the dining room.  
  • Peter KoontzPeter Koontz Posts: 15
    There are so many things that I could say in this forum, but one of the most essential things that we learned during our eight years on the Africa Mercy as a family is that it's okay to look different than other families.  That may sound like a 'duh' kind of thing, but in close community parenting and family differences are magnified.  Peers end up being more like siblings than friends and it can be easy to lose individual family identity or feel pressured to conform.

    One more thing worth noting, you don't have to get involved in EVERYTHING.  While it probably isn't healthy to not regularly get involved in community events as a family, it can be equally unhealthy to try to participate in all of them.  Don't be afraid to set healthy boundaries.
  • Jon FadelyJon Fadely Posts: 8
    Great thoughts, Dianna!  From our eleven years with three children on board two ships, I'd advise families considering serving with us to:

    1. Discern together: Involve your children in the decision-making process of leaving home, family, friends and the familiar, to do "what God is calling us to do", or however you express that concept.  Consider writing up (together) a family mission statement.

    2. Listen to your children. Ask them what they think then listen respectfully to what they say.  You can't force them to see things your way, all you can do is share the experience together.  You all will face certain fears of the unknown; share those with each other and pray for each other.  Take the opportunity to grow together in your understanding of each other.

    3. Be intentional with 'family time'.  Peter's post speaks very well to the dynamics on board.  Community life can absorb each member of the family in a different way.  As a family unit, make time to be with each other, whether on board or ashore.

    4. Plan regular reviews of your family health and welfare.  Don't put your family on "auto-pilot" and figure everything will be fine.  Schedule times (at least once each year) when you take stock of how each member is doing, and what key developments you will be facing in the near future.  Since Easter is such a central part of community life on board, conducting this kind of "family review" in the weeks leading up to Easter can make it an extra-special time of grace and mercy.


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