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Family preparation

Our family is years from being able to leave our current home in Texas and joining the crew of Mercy Ships. I am curious to know from families onboard, if you had years to prepare your family for what you are doing now what things would you focus on? Learning a foreign language? Learning about west african culture? Spiritual preparation? Physical preparation? My husband is a family physician and I am stay at home mom, home educator, and registered nurse. I am trained in wound care as well and would love to be able to serve the wards in any capacity. Being out of nursing for several years I feel that there might be some things medically that I need to brush up on as well. I do not want to waste time here at home with the distractions of first world life and miss out on what we should be getting ready for. I hope that makes sense. Any recommendations would be amazing!


  • Jeremy BrewerJeremy Brewer Posts: 82

    Hello.  Thank you for your desire and support to serve with Mercy Ships.  I'm Jeremy, a recruiter here, and I'm happy to assist you in whatever way I can.

    The questions you are asking are great questions as you look to serving in the future and you have certainly come to the right place to find answers.  myMercy is an excellent tool for networking and connecting with other volunteers, future, present, and alumni, to get tips, advice, and guidance on what the journey of serving with Mercy Ships looks like.

    I know in regards to volunteering in a medical capacity, Alyssa Rowe‍  (our medical recruiter) will be a great contact for you and she can assist you with role-oriented questions.  

    I look forward to seeing what advice our alumni volunteers offer to you here regarding the preparation of taking your family.  One family that recently joined the Mercy Ships team is the Brunenkants.  Justin Brunenkant‍ and Jennifer Brunenkant‍ may be able to help you.

    Please let me know if there is anything else I can do for you.

    Grace and peace,


  • Hi Rachel,

         It is amazing that your family is considering joining us and that you are thinking so far ahead!  Our family did not have much time to prepare, as we were on the ship about 6 months after we applied, but that is definitely not the norm.  I will try my best to give you some thongs to focus on.

         One of the things that helped us prepare, and was especially helpful for my kids, was watching videos about Mercy Ships.  You can just go to YouTube and there are so many to choose from!  The ones that helped us the most were posted by Carys Parker.  She grew up on the ship and is back this year.  She has posted great videos almost weekly talking about life on the ship and focussing on some great things that we are doing here.  Here is her YouTube channel,  This was great for the kids because they got to see their school, some teachers, a few cabins, and it overall made them more comfortable with the move.  They were no longer worried about living on a ship and instead they got really excited about it.  

         We also started to learn some French.  This is a primary language in most of the West African countries that we work in.  My husband, oldest son, and I all started using the app DuoLingo to learn French.  If you have more time, taking classes or getting a more intensive program like Rosetta Stone, may be helpful as well.  The more comfortable you are with the language, the easier it will be to interact with the patients.

         It is very important to make sure all of your licenses and certifications are up to date and in order if you expect to work with the patients.  I am a teacher and I have to keep my credential up to date in order to work in the Academy, the same is true of the doctors and nurses on board.  So if you have any extended education to take care of, that will be very important.

         Starting to downsize is always good, but I'm not sure what you can do a few years ahead of time.  We had a lot to go through in a very short period of time and it would have been easier if I had started getting rid of things earlier on.  My basic rule of thumb was, if we haven't used it in the last year then we don't need it.  I would say by the time we moved, we had gotten rid of most of our furniture and more than half of our other belongings.

         It is most important to let the kids be part of the discussion and decision to move.  Pray together about it and know that the calling to live and serve here is not just a calling God has on your and your husband's lives.  It is a calling on your children as well, so they need to be okay with it.  As a family, we started praying for the ship, the workers, the patients, and Mercy Ships in general before we were even accepted.  This helped align our goals as a family and made room for God to speak to each of us individually and give us the reassurance that we were on the right path.  We also read a lot of missionary stories together to get excited and inspired to be on the mission field.  I think praying and discussing the transition that your family will be going through is very important.  There are family workbooks that you can use to talk about transitioning.  These may be more helpful closer to the move, maybe six months before.  Of course, getting other people to pray for you and with you is also very important.  It is very helpful when you have a strong community behind you who will pray for you and encourage you along the way.

         I hope this was helpful and I hope to see you on the ship someday!  Please let me know if you have any other questions for me.

    Many Blessings,

    Jenni Brunenkant
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