This blog is about me (Tim Benson) and my time spent on the Africa Mercy working as a volunteer for the organisation Mercy Ships in West Africa. Everything here, however, is my personal opinion and is not read or approved before it is posted. Opinions, conclusions and other information expressed here do not necessarily reflect the views of Mercy Ships. For information on how to support me please click here.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Diver Rescue Training

As most of you know I am one of the lucky people that get to dive underneath the ship and help to clean out and maintain the intake vents for the ships salt water cooling system that keep the generators and air conditioning running.

A few weeks ago we had a drill to practice what would happen in case of an emergency with a diver been injured under the ship and how we could get them out of the water and treated best. The drill went really well and it was a good learning experience for everyone envolved as it was something new to almost all of us. Here are some pictures that show the events of the drill.

Getting ready for the drill

Jumping in

Waiting for the drill to start

Captain briefing everyone on what is going to happen

Brave volunteers jumping in to help out

Me pretending to be unconscious

Getting positioned in the rescue basket

Taking off my dive gear, ready to pull me out

Getting lifted up by the fork lift

Almost out
And safely on land.

Unfortunately not too much more than a week after we had this drill I found myself diving to save the piece of equipment that had saved me during the drill. There was a bit of an accident and our forklift ended up going for a swim. I got to be apart of the rescue effort as 2 of us dove in the murky water to find it on the ocean floor and attached a crane to it so that it could be pulled out. Needless to say its back to the drawing board on what we will do in case of needing to pull a diver out of the water.

(No Persons or animals where hurt in this forklift accident)

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Update from Brisbane

Well I guess I have been meaning to write an update to you all pretty much the whole time I have been home, but I am just getting around to it now. First off I want to say thank you so much for the prayers and support my family and I have received over this time, it has really made all the difference in the world.

For those of you that might have missed my last update and were unaware I have been back in Australia over the past 5 weeks after leaving the ship suddenly due to the much unexpected passing of my father. Although coming home for a reason such as this it has still been good to be able to catch up with old friends as well as family members that I haven't seen in a while.

So what have I been doing for the past 5 weeks or so you might ask. Well first of all we were very busy organising the memorial service for my Dad which ended up going very well and a lot of people where able to come and share the day with us. Since then I have been doing my best to try and help my mum out with all the different paperwork and government departments that she had to notify of the death as well as transferring and unsubscribing from all the memberships of different things my Dad had (who knew someone could be a member of so many different things). Also I have been trying to catch up with as many people as possible in my time home and that has been good. I am also going for my motorbike drivers license this week to hopefully make things a bit easier if and when I want to look at getting a bike to get around on next year. One of the bigger things I have been working on while home though is I have actually become a part time travel consultant with a christian travel company called Integrity Travel. The idea behind this is I can work from on the ship when I have spare time and also be there to help my friends and fellow crew members on the ship when they need to travel somewhere. Also it is a chance for me to hopefully earn a little bit of commission and help support my stay on the ship. So if anyone needs any help with travel somewhere or even if you want to book a holiday or something like that let me know and I will do my best to help you out. The website for the company is and my email address for travel bookings is

So I will be heading off back to the ship this coming Tuesday the 28th at 6am, which has really come up fast on me I thought 6 weeks at home would be a little while but it has just flown by. I will be flying to Durban in South Africa as the ship sailed just after I left it and is now down there in dry dock getting the main power generators replaced. For those of you that remember I mentioned it before that the ship would be doing this. It will be in South Africa for the rest of the year as it is a big job and a hole has to be cut in the side of the ship to allow the old generators to come out and the new ones to go in. In other news with the ship, I have actually just been offered a new position on board. They have asked me if I would be willing to take on the role of Staff Purser. For those of you that don't know what a purser does on board a ship, he is the person in charge of all supplies coming to and from the ship as well as all customs and immigration for all the crew, also looking after all arrivals and departures from the ship (and for our ship that is alot). Also on our ship the purser oversees the reception area of the ship that takes care of answering the phones and email as well as monitoring the fire panel which is the ships warning system for fires. So needless to say its a big job and involves much more than I have just said here, so I am taking my time to decide. I am leaning towards taking the position after thinking and praying about it as well as talking it over with some friends, but I am not going to make my final decision until I have a chance to chat with the guy I will be taking over from back at the ship.

So yeah that's pretty much me at the moment, just trying to frantically work out what I need to get done in these last few short days before heading off back to my home on the ship.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Praise God in Everything

Well at about 4.30pm my time today I got some really bad news. My Dad had collapsed while on a tour in Iceland and had to be rushed to hospital for emergency surgery to remove blood clots from his lungs. He made it through the surgery and is now in the ICU. My mum is with him, but there is no one else there as they had just taken a cruise to Iceland.

After hearing this news I didn’t really know what to think or do. So I spent the next little while getting in contact with my mum and getting an update and then trying to get in contact with as many other family and friends as possible so that they could join in prayer and support. Then I went to dinner and that must have been the quietest I have been at a meal in a long time (apart from breakfast when it’s early). After the meal I went back to get some more updates and try to contact some more people. Then I went to bible study group I have on board with this great group of guys that are just amazing. It started at about 7.30 and they were so supportive and we just shared and prayed till 10pm and it was just what I needed.

You might ask where the title of this post comes in, well you see I went and made myself a cup of tea after the meeting with the boys and I was wondering around the ship and decided to go outside because it was quite cold inside. I went up to the top deck of the ship and as I was climbing the last stairs something came to mind that had been said by our managing director here on the ship not that long ago. He had said something along the lines of “Praise God in everything” and at the time he said it there were a few families that were going through some tuff times and had to leave the ship and it had really hurt the community, but he encouraged us that the best response to this was to praise God. So after remembering this that is exactly what I did I went to the back of the ship and look out over the water and just started singing praises to God. And you know what it was one of the most amazing times I have had with God in my life just standing there with a breeze blowing and a cup of tea in my hand singing my lungs out to God. Then I got to singing “My God is and Awesome God” and that was it I just started crying my eyes out, but it was strange the more I cried the louder I wanted to sing and it was just one of the most amazing feelings ever.

So my Dad definitely isn’t out of the woods yet by any stretch of the imagination, but I just wanted to let you all know this, no mater what praise God in everything good or bad.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

It's been a while so here is an update

Hello Everyone,

Well it really has been a while since I last sat down and wrote to you all. I have been incredibly busy over the past period here on the ship as 3 weeks ago I took over a second job on board the ship. So I am now not only the sales manager taking care of the ship shop and café affairs, but I am also filling in as the IS manager for the ship. What is IS you might ask well you are probably more familiar with the term IT which here on the ship covers everything to do with computers, printers, scanners and the phone system. So to say the lest the last few weeks have been a steep learning curve for me as I have been working long hours trying to help out as much as possible in our already short staffed IS department.

How did it happen you may ask that I of all people have ended up been the IS manager when I actually have no official background in IT. Well, why I was chosen I am not completely sure about, but the reason someone was needed to take over the position until a permanent replacement could be found is because the old manager had to go home do to health reasons of her husband who was also serving on board. So if you could keep them in your prayers as they are still waiting on some test results now that they are back home.

One thing that has really kept me busy over the past 2 weeks is we are currently working on upgrading the email server for the whole organisation of Mercy Ships. This is a huge project, but one that is really needed as our old email system is an antique by IT terms. We are fortunately nearing the end of it which I am really excited about as it will mean I can hopefully work a little bit less in IS and do some more of my other job in the sales department.

One thing I am really looking forward to is I am going to get to see my whole family together for the first time since 2008. My Mum, Dad, Brother and Sister will all be coming to visit me on the ship at the end of this month. They will be staying on board for a week and then we will all be travelling to Ghana which is the country next to Togo and going up north to where my grandparents, my Mum’s parents used to live as missionaries. This should be a great time for my family together and a much needed break for me as I am going to be ready for a break by the end of this month.

Looking ahead we still don’t know very much about what is going to happen when the ship goes to South Africa in August, but we do know that we will be going and getting the much needed work done to the ship. There are still a lot of smaller details as well as some big ones that need to be sorted out before the ship leaves to sail down there, so please remember this in your prayers. Also the advance team for the ship that is down in South Africa trying to prepare things for the ship could use some extra prayer as they are having trouble meeting with people, because everyone is so focused on the world cup currently.

Well that’s about it for now, sorry it’s been so long. Please feel free to write to me and tell me how you are doing I would love to hear about your lives as well.


Thursday, May 6, 2010

Giving Blood

So just last week on Thursday Naomi who works in the lab on board passed me in the hallway just before lunch time and says “Oh I’ve been looking for you do you have time to pop down the lab and give us a unit of blood” (or at least something like that). You see this might not seem like a very normal thing to ask in a passing hallway conversation or even a very casual way of asking it, but you see it’s just how life here on board is. I know that if it’s been more than 8 weeks since the last time I gave blood, that at pretty much any time they might contact me to come and give a unit of blood. The way it works on board is we don’t actually have a blood bank or anything of the sorts. So what we do is if a patient needs to receive some blood then the lab tech will look through a list of people willing to donate and find a match for that patient and the blood will be taken straight from the crew member and given to the patient just minutes later. Sometimes the blood is for a patient who is just on the ward and might need a transfusion to just help them along a bit, but most of the time it seems that blood is needed for a patient that just currently in the operating room/theatre been operated on. This was the case when I donated last Thursday. The person I was donating to is a 19 year old girl who was having a major plastics type surgery and was loosing a lot of blood. I was the first person to donate to her so that was all the more encouragement to bleed as fast as possible so that they could get the blood into surgery as soon as possible. I am not sure how much blood she ended up needing, but when I had finished donating they were saying that she might need up to 6 people to make donations for her to be able to make it through the surgery.

So as the sales manager on board the ship I don’t get too involved with what goes on down in the hospital as I am busy with my other work, but its good to know I can still be involved in such a crucial way like this and it helps make me feel connected to what is going on downstairs in the hospital.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Election Day

Well today is the day of Togo's national election. So for all of us here on the ship we have spent the day inside without leaving in case things go bad the captain wants to be better safe than sorry. As far as we have heard today there has not been too much to report on the election so I assume that means its all been going well which is good news as we have been praying for this for a while now. One of the main reasons we are been so cautious is that the last national election Togo had didn't go so well and there are still refugees in neighbouring countries from that time. The real test of how things will be is going to be in over the next week as it come up to the date that the results are due to be announced. So please join me in praying that this will be a quiet and peaceful next week especially when the actual result is announced. Don't worry about anyone here on the ship though, we have alot of plans in place and are taking the safest approach to this time possible so if something does come up we should be fine.

Anyway just letting you all know what is happening here in Togo at the moment so please just keep the whole election process in your prayers.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Becoming a Diver

As some of you may remember I have previously talked about wanting to become certified in diving so that I can help out in performing cleaning and maintenance tasks on the bottom of the ship. I have decided that now is the best time for me to do this as 1. There are lots of diving schools here in Tenerife and 2. The dive team is going to be a bit shorter on people this next period while the ship is in Togo, with there been only 3 divers left on board and all 3 of them have other full time jobs as well. I am not yet sure how often divers will be needed to be used in Togo as we will have to wait and see the port and how bad the water and rubbish situation is. While in Benin though divers were needed to be used as much as 2 or even 3 times a week (Togo should be better than this).

I have contacted some local dive schools to see what sort of price they could offer me to get my PADI(Professional Association of Diving Instructors) certified open water diver certificate. This is a lifetime certification and allows me to dive anywhere in the world pretty much. I was shocked at the response I got from one company as they replied to me offering me the course for 183 Euros which is down from their regular price of 395 Euros. I feel like this might be a little hint from God telling me that I am doing the right thing.

I don't normally like asking for money, but this is something that I never planned for in my original budgeting and thus I didn't budget for it (funny how that works). So I was wondering if there was anyone who would like to sponsor me for a part of the cost of my diving course.

For information on how to support me go to

Or if you would just like to put money directly into my bank account on the ship go to

I am planning on doing the course sometime in the next 1.5 weeks before the ship leaves Tenerife. There are a few other guys who also want to do this course and help out with the dive team on the ship, but they are having trouble working out the best time to do it as they have to work around their work schedule to get the 4 days to do the course. So please pray that we can find a way for them to also have time to do the course before the ship leaves.