“I don’t think I’ve ever felt so much like the center of attention as this day” I thought as children and adults alike approached from all sides wanting to hi-five, hug me and have a photo take with me. Some kids were excited and happy to see me, others were afraid at first but warmed up slowly. The kids in the kids zone were excited to play with a character known as El Capitano, the captain of the Logos Hope. The cleverly designed suit can be worn by any crew member and you can see out through the eyes and mouth. It is very hot inside the suit though, even in the air conditioned deck. Sometime it was hard to see kids that came from all angles – even from behind – but I tried to give every child a hug or a hi-five and make their visit special. I also went to the welcome area where people come on board after standing in a queue. I welcome them, pose for a photo and encourage and excite the kids and put a smile on their face. My hope is that as they cheer up a little, they’ll be more open to the message of hope that the ship and it’s crew have to offer – the gospel of Jesus Christ.
One thing I have learned from the story of Jonah is that God will use even the most unwilling missionary to acheive his purposes. This week I had the opportunity to reach out to several people in the course of my own affairs.
One thing that made the Dutch Caribbean special for me, was that we were allowed to go onshore by ourselves, and in Aruba we were berthed near a lovely shopping strip. So knowing that my opportunites for such things would be limited in the future, I put on a hat and grabbed my wallet and left the ship, telling only the watchkeeper that I was no longer on board.
Where would I go? What would I do? I didn’t know. I simply walked down the street and begain to look at some souvineers for sale at a stand. A lady was calling out for island tours and another lady – a tourist – was partially interested. I went over to get some more information. The tour seemed relatively cheap and I though to myself “why not” so I agreed to come and so did the other lady. Waiting for the bus to pick us up we chatted breifly, she was from Germany and was holidaying on a cruise ship with her husband. I shared breifly where I was from and the name of my ship – which to her seemed like another cruise ship.
The tour guide took us to these amazing rock formations in the middle of the island for some photos where she took some photos of me with my camera. Then we went to this amazing little catholic church. While we were there she asked a little more about my ship and I explained how I work on board the ship and that everyone is a volunteer and we work for two years without going home – she was amazed – so then I explained what we do in a port, and then the reason being that we want to tell people about Jesus and pass on the blessing he has given to us. She was suitably impressed and said she might come visit one day, since her ship is next to mine.
On the way back to the town, the tour guide pointed out at the ocean and said “That ship there is the Logos, the book ship” – and saying this pointed straight to a very similar looking ship called Freewinds. The Freewinds is actually a vessel owned by Scientology, and is a training vessel. So I helped him to understand that the Logos Hope was actually berthed in the cruise ship terminal. Then he said “we usually like to visit the logos because we can get cheap books, but this government minister has stopped them selling books”. This was true, but 3 days after we arrived we settled the matter and were able to sell again – so I explained this all to him and the others in the bus, so he said he’d come and visit in the next few days with his family.
After I left there, I went to Taco Bell, the famous American fast food chain for mexican food. Having never been there before I figured it a good experience to eat there once. So I ordered a Quesadilla in a combo with chips and ice tea. When they called out my number for my order they called it out in Spanish so I just looked blankly at her until another lady said “That’s your order!” and I took it. We both left the counter together and she seemed friendly so I asked if I could sit with her. She was from Venezuela holidaying in Aruba for a few weeks with her husband and daughter. She was very surprised to hear of someone from as far off as Australia so I was able to share all about the ship and it’s purpose and my time on board again. She was very interested and said she would come check it out soon.
Leaving there I went in search of an internet cafe and along the way purchased a fantastic T-shirt with the map of the caribbean on the back. I found my internet cafe and watched some youtube videos and news videos from ABC – Video is blocked on the ship due to bandwidth restrictions. Then I tought to head to the cinema, though I was a little early.
Along my way I walked past a small museum that I had heard about from the line-up team. I went inside and paid a small fee to browse the museum. Inside I found many historical cultural items and learned a little of the island’s history – especially surrounding slavery and racism.
When I left the museum I was given a free soft-drink by a vendor associated with the museum so I saw it fit to sit and chat with them for a while. They found out I was from the Logos Hope and were excited to hear that it was indeed open for business and they resolved to visit it soon.
Then I headed for the cinema where I saw Avatar in 3D. It was a mind-blowing cinema experience, and I understand why my friends back home encouraged me to go see it if I had the chance. 3D has definately made some advances in recent years, and the cinematic effects in the movie were amazing.
After the movie I realised that it was already 7pm and I’d need to buy dinner as well, which was fine with me – so I went to a Chinese restaurant and ordered Mongolian Beef. That meal made me very happy and I thanked the owner and waitress for their wonderful food and service. As I was paying they asked me where I was from (obviously a foriegner). I was able to share again that I was from the Logos Hope – and immediately one of them recognised the name Logos from previous visits. They also resolved to visit in the next few days.
Returning to the ship for the night I thanked God for a fun day out, for the freedom to do as I please, but also for the opportunity to encourage people to come and visit the ship and to share with tourists about the work that Christians are doing on the island. I prayed that those people would indeed come to visit the ship and find on board ‘More than books’.
Dressed entirely in white, I stood perfectly still looking out onto the audience of shoppers and tourists, the lights were on me and all was silent. With three others from the ship, I was about to perform a drama called ‘In the light’ in a shopping centre main stage – and I was to play Jesus.
When we had first arrived at the centre we were told a dance group was scheduled to use the main stage and we were to find another place, but since we had only a cd, but no speaker system of our own (expecting to use theirs) this was not possible. We gathered to pray and asked God to help us find the best way to continue. After we prayed the manager appeared and I appealed to him to use the stage before and after the dance group and the water show that also was to happen. I had been to this place earlier to help with a performance so I know what was possible, God had prepared me for this. They agreed and we went on stage right away and performed two dramas, one where I had a minor role – the audience loved it.
During the dance show and water show we made balloon animals and painted faces for kids and some in the team had good conversations with people and we gave our flyers about the ship so people could come visit.
Then after all this finally came the moment for all my practice to come to something real, to perform on stage. Waiting a few seconds for the music to start felt like an eternity standing there in full view, but eventually it did start and everyone acted so perfectly in timing, expressions and movements that it was like a dream. The drama presents a girl who God creates, and who rejectes God and goes her own way and is oppressed by the devil, and another girl who is created and worships God and is joyful and how Jesus dies on a cross and in doing so frees the oppressed girl and defeats the devil. We never explain the drama, but it seems to speak for itself. The crowd loved the drama and applauded loudly. After this a team member shared her testimony and shared about the ship.
I am so glad to have studied drama and practiced long and hard to have performed this drama which presents a message that we would never be allowed to preach in such a place using words. I pray that it would have a lasting impact on those who watched it.
Christmas is for me mostly a time to remember and focus upon the unfathomable miracle and mystery that God himself came in flesh, as a helpless baby named Jesus. He lived amongst us, ate and drank with us, worked, played and slept. And He came ultimately to die for us. Every year this one event in history seems even more amazing and even more relevant to me in this time. Coming second place at Christmas time, though still very special and very important is time with my family. I am blessed to have a very loving family who delight in spending time with me, and I with them also. Whilst last Christmas I may have gone to Church with my parents and seen old friends, then returned home to have Christmas lunch with my Nan and Pop, Uncle and Auntie and Mum and Dad, and I may have visited other relatives and friends – this year was different.
My Christmas story starts with me dressed to the nines, a suit and tie – I even ironed my shirt and trousers. Surrounded by other stunningly dressed ladies and gentlemen, I was ushered to my family table to sit with my ‘ship family’. These lovely people are my family away from home, brothers and sisters with whom I share birthdays and Christmas and meet once a week.
After I was seated the director of the ship served me an entrée. In fact the entire leadership team on Logos Hope was waiting on the rest of the crew. It reminded me of when Jesus washed the disciples’ feet.
After Christmas Eve dinner we went to the Logos Lounge for a special carols service. Like often I am at home, I was on the Audio Visual team for the carols service. I was rather stressed but still satisfied in the end with the production. I think the crew really enjoyed it.
After the service I received a phone call from my parents. It was Christmas day in Australia and they were gathered for Christmas lunch. I said ‘Happy Christmas’ to all my beloved relatives and chatted for a little while. It was so good to connect with my family on such a special occasion.
After the phone call I returned to the Logos Lounge where we randomly exchanged gifts by swapping many times. In the end I received a Hillsong CD ‘The I heart Revolution’ that I didn’t have yet. Awesome! Then off to bed ready for the next Day.
On Christmas morning I received a great phone call from Terry Rochford wishing me happy Christmas. After that I went up to Christmas brunch in the dining room which was a delightful meal.
Then it was time for the Christmas Church Service. The star feature was a christmas play by the ship’s school. Kids of all ages participated in this epic production telling the true story of Christmas – Jesus coming to earth as a helpless baby to rescue us from sin and death.
And we ended the day with a Christmas Barbeque (just like Australia) up on the top deck.