Posted by on Jul 12, 2012 in Blog, News & Updates | 2 comments

There’s kind of a big announcement buried in all of this, so bear with me. I’m also writing this on night shift… so bear with me double if you would.

I joined Mercy Ships around two years ago to do my training in Texas and Haiti. A couple of months later, I flew to Africa for the first time to join the ship during a shipyard phase in Durban, South Africa. I would spend the entirety of 2011 (minus 3 weeks) in Africa. The ship was hot, sticky, and mostly torn apart when I joined. There weren’t many nurses on board, in fact the predominant gender was male by a long shot, and the main goal everyone had was to heal the Africa Mercy rather than patients (this was an all around misleading start to my time aboard the Africa Mercy). I also found this giant jug of ketchup that was at least 20 years old at the Bosch:



We’re in shipyard again. This time I’m even getting to experience the dry dock phase, a fascinating experience when you’ve lived on the ocean for 19 months straight. There are a lot of projects to get done so that we can go into our ten-month field service in Guinea well prepared. They’re ripping apart the galley, for example, which has provided the unique challenge of cooking for the crew from the crew galley (basically a kitchen meant for personal cooking, not commercial-level stuff). A/C units have been taken out of the ship, which requires cutting holes in the side. The underbelly was sandblasted and painted, the propellers cleaned, and all this while we sit perched atop long lines of wooden blocks.


It seems fitting that as I came in while the ship was in a transition of this scale, I should make a major transition myself during this one. Mercy Ships has asked me to extend my time with them and take a new job. I’ve been telling my supporters, but I figure I should tell the rest of you (and perhaps some of you would like to become supporters). Mercy Ships Creative Pool in Switzerland is the office I’ve been asked to join (if you read this previously I misstepped in naming the particulars). I’ve been asked to join the team as their copywriter/editor. I don’t have an actual job description yet, but essentially I’ll be helping write and edit copy for materials that will be translated into multiple languages and sent around the world.


It’s a really cool opportunity to put my creative strengths to use in getting the word out about Mercy Ships. The Creative Pool is based out of our Swiss national office, and I’ll be moving to Paris in two months to work with them. The reason I’m moving to Paris is because, as an American, it’s really difficult to get work visas in Europe. Eight months ago I applied to teach English in France for the second time. I wasn’t really sure what I was doing or how it would work out. In the end, I was offered a position to teach 11h/week in a French high school at about the same time I was asked to join the Creative Pool. It’s actually part of what made me an attractive candidate for them in the first place.


It’s been really cool to see how God has opened the doors along the way, and it’s hard to believe that He hasn’t been orchestrating this entire turn of events from the beginning. For starters, what was I thinking when I applied for the English teaching job? Then I got it. Then I wound up talking with Bryce (Swiss director) about working with him, and the Creative Pool came up. And when I started looking for apartments in Paris (and was starting to realize just how many scam artists really are out there) some friends contacted me out of the blue to ask if I would be moving to Paris soon/if I needed an apartment. Not only did I get an apartment that day from people who didn’t know I was looking, but it’s with a Christian guy going to the church I was planning on attending anyways who’s vouched for by friends.


The teaching job covers rent almost to the Euro, which means my average level of support should be enough to keep me going in spite of the significant increase in the cost of living. The timing on the ship is perfect, with job and relationship transitions leaving me ready to move to the next place. The whole idea of living in France again only makes my heart sing, as it’s where it (my heart) belongs. The French people are among the least-reached in the world, to the tune of less than a half percent Christian. Actually, the French government considers most forms of Protestantism to be a cult, and they usually work towards stamping it out (something the average slashdot commentator would probably appreciate).


To top it all off, I found out today that I’ll be in Sarcelles, not Versailles. The train that runs to Sarcelles stops right by my apartment, and the commute time will be less than half what I had expected in traveling to Versailles.


So all of a sudden I find myself with a job I’ll love, telling people about an organization I believe in, living in the country for which my heart breaks. And plane tickets dipped dramatically for the time periods I needed to fly in… I forgot to mention that. Not just periods, but the days exactly. Like, less than half the price of the days surrounding them. I also forgot to mention that I will hopefully get the chance to work on special video projects like this video done for the Gstaad Open:




So as the ship gets cleaned up and ready for her next adventure in French-speaking West Africa, I’m getting shuffled off to Texas to get my visa for French-speaking France. And I can’t wait.


Please leave questions in the comments below (or hot tips, like my buddy Mike’s that CHIPOTLE JUST OPENED IN PARIS!), and if you would like to come on board to support me you can do so here. You can also email me at

Also, it was pointed out to me that I never highlighted my up-front needs in my emails over the last two weeks. So for those of you who might be more interested in a one-time gift to help get me on my way (you can use the same link to do that too), here are some one-time costs I’m looking at in the coming two months. If you’re interested in helping cover any of these needs for my transition, in total or in part, let me know by emailing me and I’ll cross it off below.

  • Airplane tickets from Tenerife, Spain to Dallas, Texas (for my visa) – $1,019
  • Airplane Tickets from Dallas to Paris – $532
  • Apartment security deposit – $900
  • GSM, unlocked smartphone – $500

Let the madness that has been my adventure with Mercy Ships continue!

Jay Swanson – headed to Texas on August 15th, then Paris on September 9th.