The last prayer night, the last work day, the last group outing, the last Sunday service and the last time down the gangway. Yes, it was indeed a week of ‘lasts’ for me and for many of my friends and colleges who were to leave the ship or say goodbye to others leaving on September the 19th. It’s time for many of us to finish our two year commitment and fresh new volunteers to take our place. And with this time comes sadness mixed with excitement – but when I trust in God there is also a peace ‘that surpasses all understanding’.
Last Monday I was able to stand in front of everyone and in five minutes tell what God has done in my life on Logos Hope. In short, he has taken a shy task oriented computer nerd and used him for His glory around the world, learning public speaking, drama, people skills, leadership skills and most importantly love – for ‘If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.’ There were many difficult times for me on board, but I feel that out of them I learned something and grew somehow spiritually. I am very thankful for the experience of visiting many beautiful and broken countries, meeting the real people, helping with their needs, helping others to share the love of Jesus with them, and working with amazing people.
On Sunday night we had something called the ‘last supper’. I have been a part of a very close circle of friends – friends who love each other and support each other, not always getting along perfectly, but always forgiving and coming back together. We ate together and celebrated what was likely the last time that we would all meet together at the one time. It was sad in a way, but it was joyous in the same moment. Some of us will see each other again – I will visit Ruth in England for a week on my way back from Carlisle.
Sailing into Penang, Malaysia I though to myself “This will be my last port of call with Logos Hope”. It is a sobering thought. What will I make of this port? Who’s life will I impact? How will I make the days count. Friendships are a priority for me – spending as much quality time with good friends as I can. I have passed on my leadership role to another talented young man named Greg so now I can spend my work time making sure I do the best job possible, and making sure he has everything that he needs to carry on when I am gone. I am excited to meet Chinese, Indian and Malay people in Malaysia and listen to their stories and share mine. I am already enjoying the abundance of cheap Malaysian food. I plan to finish this race well, say goodbye on good terms, enjoy my time and look forward to being home.
This week I was able to visit a Malaysian church that felt just like home – moreso than the Sunday Service on board Logos Hope. Whilst we went there to share about the ship, for me it was a great time of refreshment, rest and good teaching. We were in a big group, and whilst I remained in the main service, Ruth and a number of others taught the different Sunday School classes.
I am excited about the next few weeks in Malaysia finishing my time well. I thank God for an amazing time on board and a bright future.
Sitting in a room with 9 Chinese people and one German friend politely listening to a language I cannot understand is not my usual way to spend a Sunday evening, but it seemed like the thing to do. Over the last few weeks I have taken the time to study and learn some Mandarin – the most commonly spoken language in China – with some Chinese friends onboard. The teacher of the class has a passion for connecting with and sharing the gospel with Chinese people living in the countries we visit, who are often very isolated from the community around them. I came along on this outing to make friends, practice some Mandarin, and to show that it is not only other Chinese people who care about them. Specifically I met one man who enjoyed practicing his English with me and was very encouraged by our visit. Others in the group took the time to share the gospel with them. I hope to learn a lot more so I can actually have a basic conversation with Chinese people, and hopefully my friends on board will help me.
Last night at midnight the Logos Hope – My home – left the last island in the Caribbean on our schedule – Roseau, Dominica. The Caribbean has been my home for 8 months now, though the Logos Hope is where I spend most of my time so every time I walk out the door I experience some culture shock. If I were to use only one word to describe my experience of Caribbean people – I would say alive. Alive in a way that European and even Australian people can be dead. People want to talk to you, to say good morning to you as you pass in the street. People are not afraid to ask you spiritual questions. In this way they are friendly, but in another way they can be rude. Sometimes the staff in the book fair struggled to deal with the demands of insistant customers who asked for discounts, demanded service and rarely smiled or said ‘hello’. Christians here are not afraid to spread the Gospel – and I have learned a little boldness from them. The nations I visited gain their income from tourism, hosting wealthy white tourists on sandy beaches – while their populace often live in abject poverty. The contrast is frightening to me, and it scares me that the tourists don’t see the poverty as they are wisked away from their cruise ships in a taxi to a nice beach.
In the Caribbean I spoke in front of another church body for the first time, handed out gospels on the street for the first time, performed an evangelistic drama for non christians for the first time, told a story to a group of kids for the first time, and started really trying to talk about Jesus one on one with stranges in the cafe. I have become accustomed to introducing myself as Chris from Australia – the land of Crocodiles and Koalas and Kangaroos. I have learned the hard way how to lead a team with love and patience – and discovered in me and weeded out a competitive spirit that doesn’t support the body of Christ.
The Caribbean has been a special time for me, and I will never forget it.
“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.
“Are you really all volunteers” asked the museum curator, “Even the captain” I said. The man was simply amazed that so many people would volunteer two years or more of their lives to serve the people of Bermuda and of the world. He was delighted to see a Christian ministry that really responded to people’s needs.
But wait, wasn’t this articled called “A week’s rest”? Well yes. Upon my arrival in Hamilton, Bermuda my parents came to visit me. I welcomed them to my new home and showed them around. My Mum worked in the galley (the ship’s kitchen) helping prepare food for the crew, and my Dad worked with me in the Audio Visual team. It was great having them around, sharing meals together and giving them a taste of the life that I am living.
After a week of experience, I then took a week break from the ship. My parents and I stayed together at a local hotel and enjoyed some rest and relaxation – a long shower, a big bed, buffet breakfast – and some sightseeing. I really had fun that week and enjoyed reading from my favourite novel and reading more of the bible.
Of course along the way I met many friendly tourists and locals who would ask me which ship I came in on – tourism being primarally via cruise ships not via airoplane. This was an opportunity I often used to tell them that I was a crew member of the Logos Hope. For tourists I explained to them what the ship was about, and for the locals I answered more detailed questions like how long I was staying on board, and to all of them I could explain why I was serving on board, because of Jesus. It was amazing how many people I was able to chat to and plant a small seed of the gospel. I thank God for using me even on my holiday.
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.
Last Wednesday was my 26th anniversary of the day I was born. Every birthday I have had from my first to my 25th have been spent with my beloved parents, my extended family and my best friends. In recent years I have enjoyed going out for dinner at a resteraunt in town with my friends and family. This year was different.
15,750km from my home in Australia, I awoke in Georgetown, Guyana in my little bed on the top bunk in my little cabin with 3 other guys. I had missed the opportunity to go out to dinner with a group the night before since I was not feeling well, but thankfully on this day I was feeling almost completely better. I made my way to my office where I received a call from the bridge. My parents called and were on the line. I rushed up to the bridge to take the call. Over the great distance and the bad connection there was a long delay. “Hi Dad” I said. After an eternity of seconds. “Hi Chris, Happy Birthday” came back from my Dad. It was so wonderful to hear his voice. I spoke with Mum and Dad for some time and was really encouraged.
Next, one of my team called me and asked me to come to the office to fix a problem. I was quite happy to respond to such a call. When I arrived and sat down the rest of the team burst in with cake, singing Happy Birthday to me. It was so special to have them do this for me. We ate some cake and moved on.
When I returned to my room I found stuck to my door a collection of birthday cards from people on the ship, including my wonderful AV team who made me a long card with lots of in-jokes. There were also little chocolates taped to the door. I found the birthday card my parents sent that I had stashed for today.
At lunch time I sat at a table with a group of people who are my ship family. We are assigned a couple as parents and other singles as brothers and sisters and learn to love and support each other. They had set the table for me and were there to wish me happy birthday and eat lunch with me. After the meal – which was small because I was still not feeling great – there was cake for all and a hand-made birthday card signed by the whole family. I felt so blessed.
When I checked the Internet I had received countless Facebook messages from all my friends at home.
At dinner time a friend got the whole dining room to sing happy birthday to me.
After dinner Philipp (who I’ve known since 2008) and I watched Bruce Almighty together, which was hillarious.
Since then I have received a great influx of birthday cards and letters from friends and family via airmail.
Thankyou so much to everyone who made my first birthday away from home so wonderful.
As I walked through the market that afternoon my senses were overwhelmed. People were calling out to each other, some selling, others greeting each other and others still were arguing. The street was crowded with people, though every now and then a car would push it’s way through. The streets are made of loose asphalt and the gutters wide and filled with stagnant water and garbage. There were good smells and bad smells rising up through the air.
I was handing out flyers for the ship that afternoon with a group of young guys and girls. There were thousands of these flyers so the object was to simply hand out as many as possible. In Europe or Australia this would be quite a challenge. Personally I’d never accept a flyer for anything as I shop, but here in Guyana it’s different. I had no trouble handing out flyers, especially when I mentioned the ship (also I was wearing a bright blue ship tee-shirt). Some people even got off their bike or stopped their car to ask for a flyer, and if I missed someone they’d call out to me. I got in a conversation with one lady who said they really like white people in Guyana and I told her a bit about the ship and she said she’d come on Sunday. One girl from our team got in a number of deep conversations and I made sure to keep an eye on them while handing out flyers.
It was a great opportunity to venture out into the town and invite people to come to the ship and hopefully there expereince God. Many people did in fact come on that Sunday:
Since then I have been out wandering a few times just for fun.
Today I was approached by two girls from the ship who needed a guy to go to the zoo with so I went along. I really loved the zoo and all it’s strange south-american animals, including this eagle which is absolutely huge.
On our way back I had to keep my eyes pealed as whilst most people are friendly to us and wave and get our attention just to say hi, some people are not so respectful towards women and often make advances. We had been told that there were dangers in going out and that girls can’t go alone off the ship, and this made me think that everyone in the city was bad but it’s obvious now that like anywhere there’s a few people who are ill-intentioned for whatever reason.
However I may have felt about Guyana when I first arrived, I think now it is an alright place with some really great people.