Last week the three of us - Udo, Keith, me - met with Don, gave him our final proposals. Final copy, all polished up. He was leaving the next day to meet with the Board. Twenty-one men and women who would decide what to do with the Caribbean Mercy and the Anastasis. Today, we received an email on how to communicate the Board's decisions. It read:
1. On April 6, 2006 Mercy Ships will commission the flagship of our future, the Africa Mercy. Due to a significant increase in the hospital and community development capacity, the Africa Mercy will double the amount of people served by the Anastasis and Caribbean Mercy combined.
2. It is our belief that the Africa Mercy will serve some of the region’s most needy for the next 30 years.
3. Both the Caribbean Mercy and Anastasis are over 50 years old. International maritime regulations indicate significant additional expense should the two ships remain in service. The Africa Mercy is the first ship of a new era of Mercy Ships hospital ships and part of the long range plan to bring hope and healing to the world’s poorest people.
4. The Anastasis and Caribbean Mercy are both to be retired after serving as effective tools in bringing hope and healing to countless of the world’s poor.
5. Many of the crew from the Anastasis and Caribbean Mercy are considering service on the Africa Mercy.
I'm sad. I knew to expect this decision, but I guess I still hoped. Now there's a lump in my stomach. Even if I didn't go back on crew, I still liked the idea of it existing, thriving, serving, still being intact. A beautiful little ship with inlaid wood on the walls and inlaid carvings not found in ships ever again. Tiny cabins that still were able to reflect the personalities of their inhabitants. Noisy dining room that served as the social hub of the ship, usually buzzing with conversation and laughter. Unless it was early Sunday morning, and then there was a sleepy silence to be savored and enjoyed over several cups of coffee as friends trickled in and joined you for seconds on breakfast before church. A small Aft deck - our definition of a backyard - a place to catch a cool breeze, escape a crowd, watch the ship kids run around and play, look out over the town in which we were docked and dream. I'm going to miss being able to come out of my office, step through a door, and be on the water, lean over the side and listen to gentle waves lap at the hull while seagulls screech, then go back inside for my next class. I'm going to miss the brilliant reflection of sunshine bouncing off the water, sun rises (when I caught them), and sun sets (which I caught regularly), friends to eat meals with, and always new people to meet or to get to know better. I'm going to miss walking up the gangway to my home. And I'm going to miss the view out of my porthole changing.
It's late. So I'm stopping. sigh.