I've spent the last 2 months with a small group of people. Day and night, night and day. Sharing food, bathrooms, experiences, laughs, cries, and prayers. When you spend this much time together, you can't help but grow close, become friends, become family. A family that stretches across cultures and languages. And somehow, even though we were mostly female (a deadly combination in many circumstances), there's rarely any problems or disagreements. We meshed well and found a good rhythm together.
Margot is an Australian nurse, the elder of our group, and very tenderhearted. She likes to pretend to be crotchety, but I've never yet seen her fail to be friendly. She's full of great sarcastic jokes, and one of the strongest women around. She can lift heavy blocks with the men and is always looking for opportunities to stay active.
Sophie is Swiss and has been on the ship for a few months before joining Gateway. She's amazing at languages and an interesting combo of diplomatic and brutally honest. I love her heart for God and the little side comments she usually has about whatever is going on. She's also a really hard worker and was right in there with Margot on the lifting!
Kelly is our second Swiss girl. She's signed up as a teacher and has a very soft heart for those around her. She also has 3 languages under her belt, and speaks English almost like an American, thanks to her father who is fluent in English. She was my roommate in Texas, and is always willing to share and looking out for others.
Kari is from Georgia. Her accent is as thick as they come, and her attitude is always positive. She'll be working on the wards in the hospital as an ICU or pediatric nurse. She's a quiet one, but I think she hides a lot of insight and intelligence. She's so gentle with the kids and had a little follower every day we were in the village. She was my other roommate in Texas.
Tori is from California. She's always ready with a smile or a laugh, and can often be the life of a party. No fear of embarrassment, she helps us all to keep a good attitude. She's already completed her bucket list (well, her pre-Mercy Ships one at least), and is always looking for fun, or a nap. She's been great to have around, and was my travel companion on my shuttle trip from the Airport to the IOC where we stayed in Texas.
Amy is from Florida and will be a teacher on board the ship. Amy is one of the sweetest girls I have ever met. She's been very challenged by this trip but keeps trying new things, and is being so brave that I'm bursting with pride at all she's done! She's great for a quiet chat or sharing her many snacks. She also has great taste in movies!
Seunghyeon, otherwise known as "Sing" is from South Korea. He is very smart and talented, always surprising us with a new skill. Everything from random crafts he teaches us to occupy kids, to guitar playing, high jumps, massage, origami... pretty much anything he can do with his hands he does well! And as his third language, his English is pretty good! He's also always pulling little tricks/jokes and keeps us laughing at his body language.
Hoejung (pronounced Hay-jong) is Sing's wife, and also from South Korea. She is very sweet, and initially was very quiet. As her English improves by leaps and bounds, we're learning that she LOVES to talk. She can be a real ham in front of a camera (trust me not to find any great pictures of her), and is quite tenderhearted. She's made a lot of sacrifices to come with her husband, and still has a good attitude. Little by little getting to know her better, but she has a lot of hidden talents too.
Renier is South African and has signed on long-term with the ship, bringing along his family of five. He's always joking around, and loves to talk and share with people.
Evilin is Renier's wife and a nurse. She is very quiet, soft-spoken, and gentle. She is a great mother and is a hard worker.
Michelle is the oldest in the family and is a fun, responsible teen. She spends a lot of time babysitting (especially while we were in class), and really seems to enjoy children.
Caroline is the middle child and is full of energy and enthusiasm. She loves babies and animals and is always up to something interesting, or looking for company in her activities.
Renier Jr is a ball of energy. The boy runs non-stop and climbs over anything in the way. He's very curious and friendly and yet when it's time to calm down (like on plane rides) does surprisingly well.
Candace is from Iowa. She is another nurse, and is extremely sweet. She's been busy growing and learning and searching out God, and I'm so proud of her eagerness to seek His will. She seems really quiet at times, but she can be full of spunk and out there with the craziest of us in front of the camera or entertaining the kids.
Toni is the second Australian, and works as a Dentist. She's small and full of energy, keeping up with Margot as they stay active. She has a wonderful dry sense of humour and an intelligent mind. She's very encouraging and great to have around.
Jillian is from Calgary. She's the crew hairstylist and laughs more than anyone I know. She is loud and talkative, and generally quite positive, though accident-prone. She's fun to have around and joke with. You just can't take her out in the sun too long or she'll burn. :D
Abby is from Washington, and is the youngest (other than the kids) in our group. She's very fun, and talented, especially with the camera. She's usually full of ideas on things to do, and is very friendly all-around.
Annika is from Germany, and will be working on the ward as a nurse. She's got a lovely dry wit and expressive face, and she's the one we turn to when we need someone who can say it straight. She has no problem telling the brutal truth, and laughs at us when we try and be polite but can't seem to get anywhere because we won't say what we really think. She is still working on learning English (though I'd say her English is pretty darned good), and is another one with many hidden talents. She's one of the most fun people to be around and I really value her friendship.
Stephan is American... though He's originally from Germany and still has a strong accent. He's the leader for the group and helped us to better understand the culture and guide us through plans for the days. He's wise and knowledgeable about other cultures, always pulling jokes, but sometimes his organization just isn't there.
Andrea is Stephan's wife, and she's an all-American, southern woman, loving her nice clothes and telling stories about her skills with a shot-gun (killing possums etc). She keeps Stephan organized and works well alongside all of us. She's very sweet and has been a fun leader to have.
Jordan is the middle child of Stephan & Andrea, and has been a fun one to have in the group. He's a great worker, and loves games as well. He's very responsible in helping to care for his brother, and integrated well into our team.
Nathan is the youngest child of Stephan & Andrea, and has kept us all smiling on the field service. He's a really great kid, and tender-hearted towards those around him. He helped with skits in VBS and played football (soccer) with the villagers.
Ryan is from South Africa and isn't officially part of the Gateway group. He's been here in Sierra Leone for a couple months already working with the off-ships construction projects. He was in charge of the project we worked on during our two weeks, and so ended up staying with us at our hostel and integrating into the group. He's outspoken, loud, and hilarious. He's a hard worker and really knows his stuff, managing our team and the locals well, even with lots of strong personalities.
So that's our group.
So that's our group.