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’.