“72 Kilograms of tinned tomatoes are the main ingredient in tonight’s dinner”. For one afternoon I volunteered to work in the galley – the ship’s kitchen. Food is cooked in large amounts and served buffet style to the ship’s crew, so amazing amounts of food such as 30 tins of tomatoes, giant boiling pots and power tools for mixing come in to play. The end result was pasta with tomato and meat sauce which the crew enjoyed – and nobody got sick!
Volunteering in the galley was my way of pitching in to give others some time off during Sabbath week on board Logos Hope. Every year, the ship’s crew takes a week out from our busy schedule to reflect, recharge and reconnect with God and with each other. Since the ship is closed to the public, those who work in events, book fair and office jobs will work in other departments to spread the load and give everyone some needed rest.
During this week I have really learned the value of forgiving and loving other people. We are a community of Christians from over 45 different nations working together to bring in the harvest. If we work as individuals we will ultimately fail in both our purpose and our example. I have identified people whom I have forgiven – the next step for me is to approach them and tell them.
“Do you recognise me?” Is always a tricky question for me, but always there is a blessing in store when I realise who is talking to me.
Today when I woke up I realised that I needed to spend time to reconnect with God. After reading my bible, I said to God: “I want to spend time with you today and draw closer to you. Please help me connect with you today”. I think God was really quite happy to oblige with that request, and already he had his plan in motion. At that moment I felt like it was finally time for me to go down to the book fair and buy myself a study bible like I had at home, so down I went. As I was browsing through the large selection of bibles that we have on board, a local gentleman asked me that question “Do you recognise me?”. I didn’t immediately recognise him and thought for a moment. “I am the worship leader from the band last night” he said. Immediately I remembered. Often I have little time to speak with visiting worship leaders from events as they come late, perform and leave early – but I had spoken to him breifly. We compared the bibles we were looking at and made decisions, paid and left the book fair. I bought him some popcorn and a soft drink and we sat down to talk. He gave me a first hand account of what it is like to be a descendant of slaves brought to work on the plantations by white people, to not have an identity of your own and to have your history written by your oppressors. He shared many of the struggles his fellow countrymen experience. Then he began to encourage me. The words he spoke from the bible were exactly what I needed to hear. I had been struggling with hardships and difficulties and as a result I had become frustrated and angry. He assured me that any hardship must come through God first, and he allows these things to happen for my growth. He encouraged me to give praise to God and to seek the lesson that is in the hardship. I was so blessed to hear these words, God always knows just what we need if we are willing to seek him for it.
“It will be a new experience” I thought as I cautiously signed my name. Whenever I’ve been stopped on the street by a charity organisation, I’ve tried my best not to be rude – but I do my best to avoid them. Now I would be the one asking people to give.
A month ago, the leader of Corporate Services onboard – the work division comprising of finance, IT, AV, Business services and service desk, a very work orientated department – set us a challenge. We are always so focussed on internal ministry in our jobs that we rarely are directly involved in our Father’s work in this world. He showed us that many school children in West Africa do not have pens and books, and that classrooms have no equipment. We were to put together a stand to facilitate people giving towards packages for school kids, teachers and classrooms.
I was sceptical. It would take away from my work time. It would add extra stress to my team. Yet I convinced myself that this plan was the way of Love, the way of our Father. So I had my team add two screens to the stand – one with a looping DVD of pictures of the dilapidated classrooms and the other for connecting a laptop. But that was only the beginning of the challenge. We were asked to assign time from our team towards running the stand. I would not. I simply encouraged them to sign up themselves. One of my team members put her whole heart into it. She was often there nearly pleading with people to give. I didn’t volunteer.
Many, many people gave. The number of packs for students, teachers and classrooms amazed me and I began to look ahead to walking into those schools and giving out the packages. Another port arrived. I decided I need to assign some team time, so I assigned one person one hour on the schedule (which was filling up) – but I knew I couldn’t ask someone to do something I was not willing to do, so I signed myself up.
I talked with my Father beforehand – asking Him to influence people, rather than me. At first it was scary, asking people if they would like to give. Maybe they would buy one less book for their family. Many passed on the opportunity and I politely allowed them to continue, but many people took the slips to pay at the book fair. Maybe it’s best that they pay for the donation somewhere else – then I don’t know how many people really gave, but I think it was quite a few. I was really encouraged by the experience and would do it again. I really look forward to arriving in port and visiting these schools and seeing the smiling faces.