Saturday, July 10, 2010

Stories from the Anastasis

Kathy is a wonderful story teller, and after her 7 1/2 years with Mercy Ships, she's served on the Carribean Mercy, the Anastasis, and now the Africa Mercy. Yesterday during devotions one of the girls commented on the plastic cockroach she had tacked to the wall next to her desk. She told us it reminded her of the Anastasis, and proceeded to tell us about its last voyage.

The Anastasis alongside the Africa Mercy in Monrovia, Liberia (swiped from Kathy's desktop background!)

The Anastasis was the first Mercy Ship put in service in 1978 and she was only retired three years ago when the Africa Mercy  took her place. She was constructed partially of wood and became a haven for the cockroaches brought on board with the cargo stored at the beginning of each outreach.

The Maltese maritime authorities kept giving liscense extensions for the Anastasis until the Africa Mercy was finished, but everyone knew that when the regulations changed in 2010, she would have to be retired because of her wooden construction. So, in May 2007 the Africa Mercy sailed to Liberia and met the Anastasis in the middle of her last outreach. The crew had 6 weeks to transfer everything over to the Africa Mercy and then surgeries began aboard the new ship. On July 1st, 2007 the Anastasis began her final voyage to India to meet her end and be used for scrap metal.

Kathy said that it was a bittersweet moment when the Anastasis sailed out of port--and her engines broke down before she was even out to sea! To reduce stress on the engines, the airconditioning was shut down and the cockroaches came out of the woodwork (literally) as she sailed farther south and rounded the Cape of Good Hope.

The journey was to take 23 days--it took over 40! By the time she reached India, the crew were so glad to escape the cockroach infestation! She was run aground and the skeleton crew climbed down the rope ladders into the lifeboats and came ashore. The engines were shut down, the power turned off... and all the alarms triggered by the power failure started blaring. Kathy told us that the crew who were there said it was a bit like the Anastasis was screaming in protest to her demise!

Yes, she was just a ship. An old one that was patched up many times in her last years of service. But she was a home to many crew, a bringer of hope to so many, and the first of her kind as a floating charity hospital. She was just made of wood and metal... but God was there!

*I love Kathy's stories!*

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