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The Man I Respect The Most


In one word… Dad

When I think of my dad there are so many words that come to mind.

Knowledge– Dad you taught me more than you could ever imagine, both through experience and teaching. Thank you!

Integrity– Dad you taught me to do what is right even if no one will ever know otherwise. Thank you!

Love– Dad you taught me to love everyone. To love my neighbour as myself. The way you show love to mom is an example of Christ like love. Thank you!

Perseverance– Dad you taught me the meaning of a hard days work. Thank you!

Wisdom– Dad you taught me to seek God, the provider of all wisdom, in every decision. Thank you!

Faith– Dad you taught me trust in things unseen, even when it seemed impossible. Thank you!

Leadership– Dad you taught me to be a leader and stand up for what is right no matter what the cost. Thank you!

Patience– Dad you taught me that sometimes things take time. Thank you!

Forgiveness– Dad you taught me to forgive always. Even when I may not have been at fault. Thank you!

Thankfulness– Dad you taught me to be thankful for everything, even when it wasn’t what I wanted. I can’t remember a time when you were not thankful. Thank you!

Character– Dad you taught me about morals and to not cave into the pressures of the world. Thank you!

Compassion– Dad you taught me to be compassionate to everyone no matter their lot in life. Thank you!

Discipline– Dad you taught me about obeying the rules and that there are consequences for disobedience. Thank you!

Biblical Principles– Dad you taught me so much about what it means to be a child of Christ and man of God. Thank you! You taught me to read my bible and to grow daily in my relationship with God. Thank you! You taught me to give back to God what is already his by tithing first and I have been blessed immensely for that. Thank you!

Service– Dad you taught me that I must serve others before myself. I find I am blessed and recharged when I exert myself to serve others. Thank you!

Respect– Dad you taught me to treat women with respect and value them. You showed this daily in the way you treated mom. Thank you!

Dad you have been the most influential person in my life. I am so blessed to be called your son. Your influence in my life has had such a positive effect on my life. If only there were more dads like you, this world would be a way better place to live. I can only hope and pray that I will be as good a father as you were and are! I pray that God will bless you as you continue to serve him!

As I sail across the ocean on this ship, thousands of kilometers from home, I am moved to tears thinking about you and the awesome dad you are. I love you!

Your son

Tim Abramoff <>(

Hard at work!

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This last weekend Nathan and I and two dayworkers (Femi and Brice) decided to go to Cotonou, Benin. Benin is west of Togo. Here is a map of the area.

To travel to Benin from Togo we needed Visas, so we applied and payed about 24 bucks and in return we recived two-week mulitple entry visas. We didn’t have any plans except to get off the ship for a day or two. The trip was standard for african travel. Which involves many hours of sweating in cramped taxis in traffic jams on bumpy roads! We left the ship about 7 PM and didn’t arrive in Cotonou until about 1 AM.  The ride was made longer by the fact that we got stopped nine times at military check-stops that were looking for illegal goods. There is a lot more Illegal good traveling the roads at night so that was why there were so many check-stops. A quick check in the cab and then the trunk and we were on our way again. Once in the city we found a hotel. Because we were on a budget we all asked to stay in the same room so they agreed as long as we were out of the hotel by 6 AM we were alright! We crashed shortly after getting into the room.

At 6:30 AM we were walking along the beach listening to the waves crash in onto the shore. It was nice to be able to walk in the sand and feel the breeze blowing on your face. We found a bakery and bought some bread and yogurt. We then found a place to sit and eat our delicious food. This was on the steps to a mosque.

Nathan, Brice and myself eating b.fast in Benin

After breakfast we went to Brice’s aunts place and left our backpacks there. We then headed to the national stadium, for what, we were not sure. But when we got there I noticed they had a pool and I could see the diving boards above the buildings. So as we walked over to the the pool we could see there were a bunch of people there. We walked into the pool area and they were having a big african swim meet. We got seated with all the athletes under a big tent.

Athletes tent

That was kind of strange. Us two white guys sitting with all the swimmers and swim coaches. This was a swimming event like I have never seen. There were kids of all ages and sizes competing. There were a lot of people watching the races. The first heat of kids to race was a group of about six girls maybe 12-16 years old. I don’t think these kids had ever dived off of a pedestal because the one girl lost her balance and fell into the pool. And also the swimmers were all doing belly flops into the pool as opposed to diving in.

Belly flopping in!

Also along the side of the pool were rescue swimmers. Now you would think that at a swim meet you wouldn’t need rescue swimmers but almost every race a kid needed to be rescued because they were drowning. It was quite a site to see.

Rescue swimmers

This was a big event because there were police and security with machine guns all over the place. The minister of sport was in attendance as were a bunch of other dignitaries. There was live music with people pounding on al types of musical instuments. My favorite was this one guy who was beating on a piece of steel that was balanced on this head.

By the time we left there it was about noon and we were getting hungry and thirsty. We walked for a little bit until we found a place to eat. We opted for authentic African food. We ate the traditional fufu and peanut soup with goat meat. Fufu is basically some type of mashed yam that is boiled then pounded into a paste similar to the consistency of Play dough. Fufu doesn’t have much taste but the soup has lots of flavour as well as spiciness. The meat on the other hand can be pretty interesting. The animal is not really sorted like you get back home.  What you get here is basically goat…. meaning muscle, organs, skin or any combination of the above! You name it could be in the soup. Some of it was pretty tough and chewy, but I am getting used to it. I have eaten it three times now. Before you start eating, a large bowl along with soap and water is brought to the table. This is used for washing your hands. Oh did I mention you don’t use utensils to eat this dish. Basically you roll a small ball of fufu up and dip and roll it in the soup. Eating is done with your right hand because traditionally your left hand is used for bathroom duties and since toilet paper is expensive…. well you get the picture. Once you have eaten all the fufu and meat you can use your three fingers as a ladle and scoop the soup into your mouth. This is harder than it looks. Thankfully the bowl of water is left at the table to clean up your hand and face and any other part of your body or clothes that may have gotten in the way!

Right hand spooning action!

After lunch we headed to one of Mercy ships previous day workers shop. He owns a small welding shop so we stopped in to to visit for a couple hours. I got to try my hand at street welding. The welder was a homemade unit, it only had two setting if you were welding small stuff you use the one wire if you want to use more heat you hook up to both terminals. I used a welding mask but when I asked why the two employees didn’t use a welding helmet. I was told that, “that was how they had learnt and that they had tried the mask but couldn’t figure it out.

No gloves, No helmet… No problem, “I’ll just squint”

Three cute little boys running around playing!

We then took a quick tour into the market area. This is one busy city! The pictures don’t do it justice.

Motor bikes, called zimijons, are everywhere! They are a fast and cheap way to travel in the city.

After that we went back to Brice’s aunts house and had some food that they so graciously prepared for us.

We headed back to the ship after supper. Five more hours of riding in a cab and seven military roadblocks later we arrived at the ship; tired, dirty, and hungry but safe! It was great to get to see another country and we sure packed a lot into one day.  Hopefully I will get back there some day to do some more exploring!

Me Vs. Angle Grinder


I got to spend some time in the crew clinic today! So there I was using a wire wheel on a grinder to remove some rust when it decided to kick back and then proceed to rip up my arm towards my face… I’m not sure but I think the grinder may have been jealous of my mustache! When I felt the grinder kick towards me, I instinctively ducked because I was in a bad location and was worried about the grinder hitting my face and destroying the artwork I had put so much time and effort into. By the time the grinder stopped it was all wrapped up in my shirt, about 5 inches from my mustache! Wow that was a close call.

The damage to my arm was not as bad as it looks. The wire wheel basically took the first layer of skin off my arm in two places.

So I’ll be back to work tomorrow to face the grinder again!

Here is a pic of me sitting in the crew clinic!

Here is a close up of the forearm

 

 

Sorry for the graphic content but TIA (This Is Africa)

Until next time, Be safe and Have fun!

 


These are just a few pictures of some of crew that keeps the ships crucial systems running. There are a lot of very talented individuals in the Engineering Dept who are using their God-given talents to help serve those who are less fortunate in Africa. Everyone of these individuals has a unique and special story.
 
 
 

Morning devotions on deck seven in the fresh air!

 
 
 
This is the cast end plate that was all rusted so I spent a few days rebuilding it by grinding all the rust away then filling it back up with weld. Then I painted it with a two-part epoxy paint that should help it hold up to the salt water.
 
 
Lifting the end plate up into place while Femi gets ready to bolt it up.
 
 
Putting all the bolts back in and tightening it up
 
 
Montez (one of our air conditioning guys) working on a unit on deck seven.
 
 
Coffee break in the Starbucks cafe!
 
 
Another coffee picture
 
 
Benjamin rebuilding the air starting valves for one of our four main engines
 
 
Alan (electrician) fixing a light in the midships area. Bowie (plumber/fitter)helping Alan with some mental support.
 
 
Renier (chief electrician) in the generator control room
 
 
Brice (day worker) cleaning and painting up our milling machine
 
 
Ray (instrument technician) working on our Public Address system
 
 
Nathan (Mechanic) working on engine #3
 
 
Nathan grinding the valve seats on a main engine head
 
 
Denis rebuilding Main engine #3

Investing In Africa


Brice, Femie and Paul practicing their horizontal 7018 welding position

Femie getting ready to strike an arc

Paul and Brice posing for the camera

These are a few pictures from today when I had the chance to teach three young men from Africa how to weld. Brice and Femie both are day workers. Our day workers are crucial to the operation of the ship.  Monday to friday they and about 150 locals come aboard to help out in every department from engineering to the hospital and everywhere in between. Paul is a crew member, like myself, who works in the engineering department as a motor man. None of these guys have welded before and for all of them it is a good skill to learn since any type of education in Africa is a possible way to earn income. After about 3.5 hours of burning rods (welding) they all had a pretty good handle on the basics of welding. We will be doing more training as time allows.


Thursday night the M/V Africa Mercy safely sailed, under a Togolese Naval escort, into the port city of Lome, Togo. This will be our location for the next six months as we begin to prepare for the hospital outreach in Togo. In 2010 Mercy Ships were at this same location. As we pulled up to our berth on the pier there was a celebration for the Big White Hospital Ship. We received a very warm welcome from everyone on the dock.

Here is a little information on Togo

Togo, officially the Togolese Republic Listeni/ˈtɡ/, is a country in West Africa bordered by Ghana to the west, Benin to the east, andBurkina Faso to the north. It extends south to the Gulf of Guinea, on which the capital Lomé is located. Togo covers an area of approximately 57,000 square kilometres (22,000 sq mi) with a population of approximately 6.7 million. Togo is a tropicalsub-Saharannation, highly dependent on agriculture, with a climate that provides good growing seasons. While the official language is French, there are many other languages spoken in Togo, particularly those of the Gbe family. The largest religious group in Togo are those with indigenous beliefs, but there are significant Christian and Muslim minorities.

Happy Birthday Jesus


Happy birthday Jesus!

I just wanted to wish everyone a merry Christmas. I pray that God will bless you and your families this Christmas season! I am defiantly missing all of you but I know God has called me here to Africa for the time being. So for this Christmas, I will spend it with my new Mercy Ships family as we celebrate the birth of JESUS… The Name Above All Names!

May God’s love and peace comfort you this Season.

Tim Abramoff
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Worshiping while working


Working on board with a faith-based organization is a cool experience. Everyday the entire engineering department meets on deck seven in the fresh air for our morning devo’s (devotionals). The devo’s are always encouraging and uplifting when the Sierra Leoneans lead worship with their drums and very upbeat and expressive worship style. It is a great to be able to work side by side with a mostly Christian crew. There are about 20-25 of us including the management, electricians, plumbers, mechanics, welders and about 10-15 day workers who are split up among the engineering dept. Some of the workers do basic welding, cutting, cleaning, painting, housekeeping and general labour duties. The day workers are locals that are hired by Mercy Ships to work for a small amount of money to help support their communities. It has been a blessing to have the day workers onboard while we are working.  As of now all the day workers are done working on the ship. We will be hiring a new group of them once we get to Togo, Africa. I had the opportunity to work side-by-side with three day-workers; Augustyne, Leonard and Florence. They were all from Freetown and had the opportunity to work on the ship with us. It was a bit strange to see a lady come to work in her authentic and very colourful African dress and headpiece and then throw on some coveralls and fire up a grinder or welder and get to work. On her last day here she shared at our day-worker party how blessed she was to be able to work on the ship. She also received a big applause when she told us all that her and her husband were expecting a baby!  That was a surprise to us, as no one knew that she was pregnant but she just kept on working and praising God as she went! She always had a big smile even if she was doing a less than desirable job like chipping paint! That was an encouragement to me to keep praising God as I work even if I don’t feel like it and the work is hard and I am sweating!

I have really been challenged to worship God in whatever job I am doing. Sometimes I have felt like “man it would be cool to be a doctor or some other medical profession”. It seems like those are the people who are doing all the missions work on board. I know God has called me to work aboard the Africa Mercy to be a welder and that I am serving God just as much by welding as opposed to doing life saving surgeries or procedure. Working in the Engineering department is a job that is not very glorious but without the whole department the ship could not function. I am blessed to be part of this team and I know God will and does use me to love those who we are serving in Africa!

Freetown Friday Nights!


Friday night was beginning a little boring so a few of us decided to go into town. It was 8:30 pm and the sun had set hours earlier. The night was very dark. The air was hot and humid as we checked out off the ship with the full time Gurkha guards and walked down the gangway onto the pier. Smells of smoke from the locals burning grass and garbage fill the air. The sea has a distinct smell and it is wafting through the night air. Once we walk through the perimeter security gate we are surrounded by row upon row of shipping containers that tower into the sky! My eyes take a while to get accustomed to the darkness. We begin our walk up from the port. The locals are out and about, just chilling. We blend in to the scenery until the headlights of a car of motorbike reveal our whiteness to everyone. Once that happens the kids always yell “hey-low, hey-low” (hello). As the car passes we are back to being just part of the night! We continue to walk up the road to a busy intersection. We decide to cross, and head up the hill. We have to dodge cars and motorbikes and poda-podas. Most of them honk as they approach. Usually you just take a step of to the left or the right as you hear the honk and see the ground light up from the headlights. The odd time if the street is real busy you have to kind of jump/push yourself out of the way. It’s not uncommon for you to feel the wind coming off the mirror of the car or bike as it passes you! It’s usually a close encounter! We find ourselves walking down a less busy street and all of a sudden we come to an intersection and hear a bunch of music and see a bunch of people coming down the road. It looks like a parade… kind of… by parade I mean a cart, being pushed by 3 guys. A few big house speakers, a generator, a100 watt light bulb, a CD player, and about 100 people mostly younger teens and kids dancing and having a great time!  They turn onto the street we are walking down… we figure since we don’t really have an agenda, we should join them. So we blend into the mix of shadows and kids! It’s cool to just be in the center because for the most part most people don’t know we are white because it is so dark out. The few kids that do notice we are white just hang on to us and dance though the night street with us. We walk though a few blocks with the parade and decide to head back to the ship now that we are completely soaked in sweat! Getting back to the port the ship is parked tied too is always a good feeling. I know there is cold clean water and air-conditioning at the top of the gangway!

Burnt feet at Burra beach!


November 13th

I got invited to the beach by one of my roommates Maraud. He is an Egyptian born pharmacist on board the ship. I meet up with four other crew mates in reception and we headed out to Burra beach for the day! The five of us caught a poda-poda, which is a van taxi about the size of a North American mini-van that runs certain routes in town. After waiting for about five minutes for a poda-poda with enough room for the five of us to all get into, we all manage to cram in. These things are tiny. And there are 20 of us all packed into the thing. The sun is shining down in West Africa by this time so you can imagine the smells in this van, as I am sure the five of us from the ship are the only ones who have showered in the past week.  We make a few stops along the way to drop a few random people off at different locations along the way. But as soon as we drop one person off another person gets on. So we are doing the poda-poda shuffle on these little metal benches as we let one person from a row out then slide down the row and another person jumps in. lets just put it this way, there is no personal space in the poda-poda. I was literally stuck with sweat to both the people on my right and my left. Oh yeah did I mention there is no seat belts… just a really loud stereo! From all the shuffling around the five of us are pretty well mixed into the van. I feel like I am in a row in a box of Oreos except there are way more black parts than white parts in this box!  About 45 minutes later we arrive at another market. It feels good to get out and stretch since I have been hunched over due to the fact that my head was hitting the roof on the poda-poda the whole time. We make our way over to some type of taxi stand and Maraud starts finding us a taxi and the best price to get to the beach. We all hope into a small red car, three of us in the back and two plus the driver in the front seat. It is nice to have a little more space and by a little I mean my nostrils were not being assaulted by body odor. We were still all stuck together. It’s a good way to get to know someone who you have never met before. Sit next to them until there they are stuck to you and you can feel their heartbeat!

The beach is amazing. The sand and the waves make me forget about the adventure we just had getting there. It is totally worth the smelly cramped rides to get there. The water is warm and the sand feels so good beneath my feat. It’s hard to believe I am still in one of the poorest countries in the world. There are palm and orange trees along the beach throwing just the right amount of shade. The water is so refreshing. We spend a good amount of time playing in the surf as it crashes into the beach. We order up Barracuda and rice cooked with onions. I was a little worried as I have recently, last two or three years, developed an allergy to some types of fish. My mouth, lips, and tongue go numb with certain types of fish.  I found out after I ate all the fish that I am not allergic to Barracuda. YAY! We go for another swim and Maraud and I go for a walk down the beach and onto the black volcanic rock. The rocks are so hot on our bear feet that we are literally dancing on the rocks trying to get to the water. I end up burning the bottoms of my feet, which I would say is a first for me. As we are walking back we find a little river running into the ocean and we decide to walk up it a little bit to a small lagoon. There are small crabs everywhere that take off running on the sand as I walk up to them. After catching a few and not get pinched I return them to the sand.  We walk back down the beach and lay in the hot sun for a while before going for one last dip in the ocean before heading back to the ship. What an awesome day! Minus the sunburn and the burnt soles of my feet! Nothing a little aloe wouldn’t fix.