Christmas on the ship was not the typical Christmas, but a memorable and eventful Christmas indeed. We had plenty of events that led up to Christmas…and then the actual merry holiday itself:
Story Telling Night
Every crew member was welcome to participate in the door decorating contest, and boy did people get creative! The winner ended up being a cabin that made an angel out of pictures of people from the ship. It had to have taken them forever and a day to complete the door & I’m pretty sure that they ended up including every single crew member on it.
The Star of Bethlehem
One night, they played a DVD called “The Star of Bethlehem.” If you haven’t seen this video, I encourage you to go online and buy it right away…I knew God was amazing, but this video just blew my mind. It basically proves that the Bethlehem star was really there when Jesus was born, along with all of the prophecies & crazy planning that went into it. Whoa, I just got chills again. Really, you need to watch it.
The school on board of the Africa Mercy put on a play for the entire crew. Instead of the “Polar Express”, they renamed their play the “Bethlehem Express.” It was so much fun to watch the kids (kindergarten to 12th grade) perform.
Winter wonderland basically consisted of tables rented out by crew set up all around the midshipman’s lounge & the Starbucks area. Each table had things for sail on them…unique in their own way. Some people were selling hats, others popcorn, and others ice cream and jewelry. It was just a fun time for people to get a little Christmas shopping done and help out their fellow crew mates. If you’ve ever been to the Southern Christmas Show (my mom, aunt and I manage to go every year), it was similar to a miniature one of those.
Christmas Eve Small Group Brunch
Aimee prepared a brunch for us younger girls (about 12 of us) so we could all feel like we had a family on Christmas day. Kendall and I helped her make it in the morning…I made hash browns, Kendall made eggs, and Aimee made her famous pancakes. Like Thanksgiving, we had a family style meal in the Queens Lounge and Aimee made the table beautiful and home-like. Thanks Aimee!
Immediately after Christmas Eve brunch, I went down to the dining hall and helped decorate it for the dinner that night. By the time we were done, the plain dining hall looked like a story page in a Christmas book.
The Service & Dinner
We all dressed up for Christmas Eve service, then after the service, we hung out by Starbucks and waited for the doors to be opened in the dining hall. The Christmas dinner was AMAZING. I think I may have eaten my weight in food : /
Christmas Eve night, we all put our shoes outside of our doors as a tradition on Mercy Ships. And by morning time, every single person’s shoe was filled with candy and gifts from friends around the ship!
I ended up working in the dining hall for Christmas…no need to ask why. But it ended up being a lot of fun & Christmas brunch was simply delicious (thanks Ernie!).
My Adopted Family
So after cleaning up from brunch, we opened our stocking gifts that our old roommates put in our stockings right before they left. Then, Aimee, Kendall & I all opened our gifts from each other (obviously nothing too expensive…I mean, we’re paying to work on a ship!). After our room celebrated Christmas, Kendall and I headed over to the cabin of a couple who had adopted us for Christmas. It started out as just a joke, but then we really did get to spend Christmas with them. There, we just told stories, opened MORE presents that our “adopted mother” gave us & enjoyed some treats that they had prepared for us. And afterwards, I headed back to my cabin and called my real family.
After working the dinner shift, I came back to my cabin and we opened up our room for Open House. It’s basically where anyone is allowed to come in and look at your cabin. Most people haven’t seen the eight berth before (we are the only one on the ship) so we had lots of visitors coming in and out.
Immediately after the open house, I went with my friend Patrick (from Ghana) to a classical Christmas concert. The majority of the crew attended…seeing that it was free entertainment. And there were even fireworks afterwards!
So…all in all…it was an eventful & memory filled Christmas that I will never forget.