God sometimes does special things just to encourage you. this week I was able once more before I leave the ship to participate (doing av for) my favourite school program The Greatest Treasure. The cast was made entirely of people who joined at the same time that I didover two years ago and they put their all into their final performance before they hand over the baton to newer actors. I thoroughly enjoyed to push the buttons that make the sound effects and lighting sequences that make it such a mind blowing experience for the kids.
“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.
“Just one moment Madam” I said calmly and politely as I scanned the many rows of buttons on the cash desk. Where was the button called “find product”? Finding it, I realised it couldn’t help me either! “Head cashier!” I called, then turned and smiled at the lady waiting to pay for her books.
A few days prior I had participated in cash desk volunteer training, since I figured I could help out when things got busy, and now I had been recruited to put my training into practice. But in the heat of the moment all of my training had left me. Most items presented have a barcode that will scan but every now and then there’s a product that doesn’t scan and you have to go searching for it in the system. Thankfully the head cashier was very helpful to me. To be honest I figured that the job of cash desk was fairly simple compared to my highly technical AV job but having experienced the stress of an impatient customer and a mystery product – I have a newfound respect for the cashiers.
I hope to have many more opportunities to help these people because like me they have busy times when there are just not enough people to do the job, and I’ve always wanted to try a retail job. I also quite enjoy that most orders come to over 2000 Jamaican dollars, which is like $40 Australian, and there’s no such thing as cents!
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.
After this the director and the captain gave out gifts to all the children on board from beneath the Christmas tree.
After church we all went to the bow to have a photo taken.
And we ended the day with a Christmas Barbeque (just like Australia) up on the top deck.
New years celebrations were also amazing with a special video with pictures from the year that passed, music and dancing and fireworks.
When you hear the word ‘Rehab’ what do you think? Bad people? Addicts? Attitude? Prison like places? Sometimes I think about a shirt that my good friend Paul has that says ‘Nintendo Rehabilitation Clinic’. But seriously I had no idea what to think when I was told I was going to a rehab centre. I’d never been to anything like that before and frankly I was a little bit scared. I was also scheduled to spend some time on the public deck of the ship in the morning, but that morning the organiser found me and said that there weren’t many visitors so I’d be going to a rehab centre in the morning too. Two in one day!
The first one that I went to was for people who were sentanced by a court to be there as an alternative to a jail sentace, so there were many iron bars and security cameras and guards, though it was a lot more homelike that I would immagine a prison. We had no plan, only some materials and the Holy Spirit, and we were only two in number. A staff member gave us a tour of the facility and then decided to take us to the detox wing to give our presentation. These were the people who had just arrived and were off the drugs for the first time. I was now more scared than I was earlier, but I put on a brave face and put my trust in God as we passed through an iron gate into the ward. Could you imagine my surprise and releif when I met such a friendly, courteous, attentive bunch of gentlemen! They were very interested in our ship presentation, my testimony and our gospel presentation. They asked lots of questions about the ship and asked us to say a special prayer for them. It was wonderful to talk to these guys who had really hit rock bottom and encourage them.
The second rehab centre I went to in the afternoon was completely different. It was really just like a big house, though it had a very big fence around it with some barbed wire, inside everyone was free to move about and interact. They all lived together and did chores to keep the place clean and tidy, and that it was! I’d be ashamed to invite the clients there to see my cabin or my office! Our group was much larger this time and we had two Dutch speakers with us (Dutch is the official language of Curacao). Each of us showed our flags and told our names, where we came from and what we do for work. This time I gave a ship presentation from memory using a helpful song I learned from an Aussie girl in my first week in Trinidad. Others gave their testimony in Dutch or in English translated into the local language – which is a mixture of Spanish, Dutch, English and French. We also had the opportunity to chat one on one with the clients after our presentation and I enjoyed chatting with one guy about the ship and my faith in Jesus.
At the end of the day I was really surprised at how God can use me in situations I have no experience or talent in. Thanks God for working through me, and working in me.
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:
The queue for the book exhibition in Georgetown, Guyana
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.
A Harpy Eagle
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.
After a wonderful refreshing time in St. Lucia called Sabbath week, the ship moved on to our next port of call, Guyana. It is a long way from St. Lucia to Guyana so the journey through the rough atlantic ocean took 48 long hours, most of which I’d rather forget. I must have spent 50 hours altogether in my bed (we left port at 8am), and as far as I can tell most of my team felt sick for the whole time as well so I gave them the two days off, all except for Joy who strangely seemed completely unaffected.
When I finally emerged from my cabin I found myself in Georgetown, Guyana. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Georgetown,_Guyana The water in the river is a rich brown colour, the quayside is more of a wooden peir, the ship is tied to some wooden posts and all around is barbed wire and tin roofs. To me it looks like something from Africa. The ship is open only till sundown and we are not to go out at night. We are taking anti-malaria pills and applying mosquito repellant. To me, it seems that this port is very scary. To others, they feel like they have finally arrived at the place where God has called them. Certainly there are some amazing ministry opportunities in this country, and it’s easy to judge a country by what you hear and miss all the good things.
In fact, we are sending out 15 teams of people to stay onshore with local christians and do building projects, dramas, evangelism and other ministries. There is also a medical and a dental team going out from the ship to do some free medical ministry amongst the Guyanese people. I have released three of my five team members to go on these challenge teams while the rest of us keep the onboard events running. I feel very satisfied in staying onboard and working a little harder so that others can go out and spread God’s love in practical and spiritual ways.
I have said to a few people now that I have never felt like a missionary in the traditional sense. I am fully prepared to give an account of my faith should someone ask me about it, as every Christian should be, and I am passionate about helping others to share the good news through the talents God has given me. We are all a part of the body of our Lord Jesus, and we all have different functions, but none is more important than any other.
Last Saturday night I had the privilege of leading an AV team of 11 people in a top notch production. nearly 400 local young people came to a youth event where they were challenged to make their faith count and not to be luke warm. Most stayed for the entire message and listened attentively where normally most people would walk out. It was very encouraging to be a part of it.
From the first moment that I considered serving on board the Logos Hope I have had Audio Visual (also known as Production) in mind. It is a passion of mine to see a message communicated and a time of worship facilitated without distraction and with the utmost clarity and cultural relevance using the technology available to me. To me this means to have microphones on at the right times, no feedback ever, song words always up on screen before you start singing them and clear recording. I have really enjoyed managing production for Grace Community Baptist for a number of years and I pray that it would continue to advance in quality in my absence, but in my heart I desired something bigger, something where my skills would be challenged and where I would learn new things. I have certainly found that here.
We have two main venues on Logos Hope, the Logos Lounge and the Hope theater. The Logos Lounge is our meeting place for internal events for the crew such as the Sunday worship service, worship night, prayer night, port praise and more. This venue has a slightly raised stage and a ceiling around 2.5 meters high. We have two large rear-projection screens either side of the stage and 8 LCD televisions coming from the roof to make sure people can see what is on the screen. We have also 2 main speakers and 8 delay speakers accompanying the televisions so everyone can hear properly. In the Logos Lounge, sound is absorbed heavily by the surrounding surfaces such as carpet, curtains and soft ceiling. We also have 2 huge sub woofers. To help people to see what is happening on stage, we have 3 dome cameras mounted in the ceiling which are remotely controlled from a room at the back. For audio mixing we have a Yamaha ls9 digital mixer which contains all the effects units and signal processors you could ever need. My aim is to learn everything about the technology that I am using and I have been making good headway so far.
The hope theater is an absolutely amazing space for events for the public. It is two decks high so there is plenty of space for a decent stage and some very nice lighting equipment. So in addition to the same lighting desk and some slightly bigger speakers we also have 5 Mac 250 wash and 5 Mac 250 kryptons (which are moving head lights), a number of profiles and fresnels and two massive UV spotlights for UV dramas. The venue may need up to 10 AV people for large events.
This week I had the privilege of doing lighting for a youth event for local youth. It was an amazing experience and it was fantastic to work with such talented people and amazing equipment. I really enjoyed operating the lighting desk and building the atmosphere for the event. I look forward to doing more big events like this in the future.