It began as a small, gnawing feeling. Then grew to the point where it could no longer be ignored. Like clouds on the horizon, a change was coming.
As we became aware that the Lord had a new assignment for us, Mercy Ships came to the fore. After turning in our applications we were conditionally accepted to be part of the Gateway training program in the Education Department.
Asked to participate in Gateway ourselves, we arrived on campus June 5th, ready to begin a new adventure. We were immediately impressed with the 400 acre campus of the International Operations Center (IOC), but even more so by the staff. They worked hard to make us feel welcome.
Once we got settled into our new dorm-style room, we began to explore the IOC to familiarize ourselves with what might become our new work place.
The IOC is the main support location for the hospital ship, the Africa Mercy (AFM), and any future ships that Mercy Ships may have. It’s here that much of the behind-the-scenes work takes place that enables the Africa Mercy crew to do what they do: touch lives in western Africa.
Here at the IOC donations come through the warehouse to be shipped on containers to the AFM. The Finance Department carefully tracks funds to keep Mercy Ships accountable for the donations it receives. Marine Operations keep the AFM safe and in compliance with maritime regulations, while Human Resources and Programs bring in the right people to bring hope and healing to the forgotten poor. It takes a great deal of work to keep a hospital ship healthy!
But there is more to Mercy Ships and the IOC than a hospital ship. There’s even a working farm on the property that the agricultural staff use for developing ag practices appropriate to help farmers in western Africa. We quickly learned that the IOC is a pretty amazing place!