22 December 2007

Merry Christmas!

My older sister Lynn and Rebekah.

My sweet niece Bekah helping with the sugar cookies.

Greetings to my Beautiful Family and Friends!

Well, as much as I hate to begin this letter the same as everyone else’s, it just seems so appropriate to say that I can hardly believe how quickly this past year has gone by. It seems as though it were yesterday I was sailing home from Israel/Canary Islands.

I guess the beginning of this year was the end of a long season in my life. January 2nd The Spirit of Grace ship returned home from a four month long voyage to Israel. Then after nearly three years at Friend Ships I packed my bags and said goodbye to all the beautiful faces I had the opportunity to work alongside. I moved out to Blacksburg, Virginia and was living with three of my best friends in a little duplex out in the country. I lived there for a couple of months and was working at a bakery called Our Daily Bread. I couldn’t have asked for a better setup than what we had at the duplex, but after being in the Friend Ships “bubble” for three years and then just returning from Israel, life back in the “real world” was a very difficult time for me. I was trying to figure out what the next step was? Where did I go from there? And what did I actually want to do in life?

Well, after traveling, sailing and doing missions, I knew it had to be somewhere along those lines, because I loved ever bit of that. But I just wanted to hop on the next plane and head to some foreign jungle far far away, unfortunately that required planning and more money than I had in the bank. So obviously a job was going to have to be the first thing to look into.

I was able to go to the Coast Guard in Baltimore and get an MMD (Merchant Mariners Document), which allows me to work aboard some vessels. Following that I took a trip down to Texas where I did a week of BST (Basic Safety Training) with Mercy Ships. The first couple of days were firefighting classes, then we had first aid and CPR, sea survival, radio communications, personal safety and pollution prevention. You’re required to have BST along with 540 days at sea to get an Able Body-Limited license. I have enough sea time now for that; I just need to do some studying for the Rules of the Road/ColRegs test. Hopefully sometime this next year I’ll get that.

In June I flew to Baltimore and made my way to the Constitution Pier in Inner Harbor where the American Star cruise ship was moored. This was my first job aboard a vessel outside of Friend Ships. And upon seeing the ship what I should have done instead of hopping aboard was to run for my life, but unfortunately I couldn’t see into the future. …I actually shouldn’t say that, because I did meet some amazing people while I was there and was able to further my knowledge in the vessel/sailing area.
American Cruise Lines only hires crew for three months at a time; I thought this a little strange at first, but then came to realize the real reason was that they can’t actually keep crew for a longer period of time. I started as a deckhand, and though I know nothing about the engines was promoted to ERA (engine room assistant) after about eight weeks. We didn’t actually sail with an engineer; so I was able to start the mains, switch generators and do the fuel soundings everyday. They even let me do oil changes! I’m still not exactly sure what they were thinking, but I was happy for the new challenges. After working 12-16 hour days everyday for three months I was never happier to finally reach September 1st. I have so many stories as you have probably seen on previous posts.

Toward the end of September I took a trip up to Idaho to see my best friend Amanda, who’s also my Alaskan salmon fishing buddy. Since we didn’t get go fishing this year and hang out, I had to go up and see her. After spending a couple weeks with A, I flew down to Lake Charles to sail as second officer to Nevis and then Roatan for Medical and Childrens ministry. The trip however did not go as planned and as we were about to make our way through the Yucatan Channel we lost our engines and the decision was made to alter course back to Louisiana. It was a crazy couple of weeks making about 2knots through the water and knowing nothing could be done about it. But there was also a lot of peace about returning even though we never made it to the beautiful islands we were headed to. We had a couple swim calls and were able to put the shore boat over once to go tubing. Being able to swim in the middle of the ocean is enough to put a smile on nearly anyone’s face. All in all it was a wonderful little trip out in the Gulf with a lot of friends I hadn’t seen in a while.

As most of you know already, I will be flying to Africa in January. I’ll be in Xtutulu, Nigeria for four months working in an xrphanage with Xinistry of Xercy. It’s the largest orphanage there with over 200 children. I’m looking forward to all God will show me in these upcoming months and know I will come back a changed person.

I think that’s all for now, I hope each of you have the most wonderful Christmas and the happiest New Year to come. God bless you and love always!

A granddaughter, a niece, a cousin, a sister and a friend,

Danette Bjornstad

21 December 2007

Emma Nicole ~ 15 December

Emma Nicole Mason

My beautiful niece! She was born on the 15th of December 2007, weighs 9 pounds and is 21 inches long.

Proud parents are my brother-in-law Robert and sister Lynn.

05 December 2007

On the go again...

Hello to all my beautiful family and friends,

I hope each one of you had a wonderful Thanksgiving and a great weekend!

I wanted to make the official announcement that I will be going to Africa in January. I bought my ticket about a month ago and had been waiting on my visa to go through. It finally arrived about a week ago, so I am all set to catch my flight and head out. I’ll be in Xtutulu, Nigeria for four months working in an xrphanage with Xinistry of Xercy. XOX is the largest orphanage in Nigeria with over 200 children and youth living there.

I will be flying to London alone, then from London to Xbuja, Nigeria my best friend Amanda’s parents will be with me (or I guess I should say I’ll be with them seeing as how this is their second year). Anyways, after we arrive, Bill and Christy will be living at the school and I’ll be living at the orphanage about an hours ride away. I’m looking forward to the challenges I’ll be faced with being pretty much alone out in the bush, but also very thankful that Bill and Christy will be there if I need them. Hopefully Amanda will be able to join us on this trip, but I wont know for sure until she gets back from Guatemala the beginning of December.

I am so excited to get away from the “American way”. I’m working at JC Penneys for six week’s while I’m in Arkansas with my parents, and though I worked there four years ago, it’s just not what it once was. I used to love walking around with the rest of the crowd in my cute little cloths and clicky shoes, but that’s just not the life for me any more. I guess I prefer hot, sweaty and miserable. :)

Anyways, hot and sweaty is what I’m going to be getting I believe, because Xtutulu is closer to the equator than I have ever been in my life.

I’m so excited for this trip! I know that if I let Him, God will teach me more than I can imagine.

I don’t know how often I will be able to get to an Internet cafĂ© while I’m there, but I will try to keep my blog page updated as much as possible.

I love you all and you're in my prayers,