After getting settled in our room and exploring the campus, we got down to business with the start of the classroom phase of Gateway. The purpose of Gateway is to help new, long-term staff, to understand the “heart” of Mercy ships (the vision, faith and core values of the organization) and to prepare them for their time serving with Mercy Ships.
This is reflected in the layout of the four weeks of class time. Week one is Faith Foundations which touches on the character of God, Kingdom principles and communicating with God. Week two is Personal Development and looks at personal growth as well as working together in community. Week three is Working with Those We Serve, discussing world views and their affect on people, including us. Week four is Basic Safety Training, a reminder that the staff going to the Africa Mercy (AFM) will be serving on a ship and must follow maritime regulations and safety. After the classroom phase finishes the class then goes on a field service for 2-1/2 weeks to try and apply what is learned in the classroom.
The classroom phase involves a lot of information, but it also includes small group time to help process things. Eating dinner next to the pool with our small groups was a pleasant introduction to each other.
The input during class can seem like drinking from a fire-hose, so being able to get away and decompress a little can be helpful. One of the on-campus spots to do this is the coffee shop.
Another spot is the pool, which not only provides exercise but a cool escape from the summer heat.
Gateway provides good input for serving cross-culturally and, more specifically, within the scope of Mercy Ships. Although there is a lot to learn during Gateway, it isn’t simply about information, but relationships and transformation. Helping to shape people not only for service in Mercy Ships, but throughout life.
The fourth week is Basic Safety Training which covers basic first aid, fire fighting and water safety. The change of pace is nice!
Getting out of the classroom was like having recess!
We traveled to the local Community College to use their pool for the water safety drills. This proved to be as much fun as the fire fighting drills.
Sue rocked the house when she flipped the twelve man life-raft!
Afterward the staff took us out for a Chinese dinner. It was a delicious way to wrap-up our four week classroom phase with Gateway. Next up: Abomey, Benin, W. Africa!