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.
From the first day I was on board the ship until today I have been undergoing extensive safety training on board the ship, thankfully it has been far more exciting that the week and a half in Holland and the week and a half in Trinidad. I have been chosen to train in the prime group – 25 of the fittest men and women who speak fluent english – to train in lifeboats, firefighting, crowd management and general ship safety. This means I will be a signed on member of the ship’s crew in addition to simply working onboard.
On Monday I donned a sporty looking lifejacket over my long sleves and long pants and joined the other 25 people out on a platform on the port side of the ship (the opposite side to the dock). I approached the edge of the platform – which was around 3 or 4 metres above the water – and prepared to jump. With my heart in my mouth, I casually stepped off the platform and plunged into the water below. The lifejacket is of course quite boyant so I floated straight to the top and floated freely. We all climed into a lifeboat to see what it was like inside. It was hot, stuffy, smelly, wet and I felt awefuly seasick inside. I prayed and tried to keep my eyes on the horizon whenever I could see outside and I made it through, but I certainly wouldn’t want to be in there for long. After this we got out of the liferaft and they flipped it on it’s head, to simulate how it might appear if it were deployed in an emergency and two by two we climbed onto the bottom of it and practiced pulling it back over. Interestingly the raft lands right on top of you and you have to slide out from under it. I really enjoyed that.
Then on Thursday I got to go to a special training ground to learn how to use fire extinguishers (this was following a theory class on fires the previous day). The instructor lit large fires in special fire pits and had each of us try out different types of extinguishers on the fire, noting the different effect that CO2, Dry chemical, Water and Foam extinguishers had on an oil fire. It was quite exciting.
All this training has been fun but also quite tiring and it almost seemed like I’d never get to work in AV with all this training. Thankfully however, it’s over now and I started work today. This morning I did AV for a small event with 1 microphone but with powerpoints and dvds and cameras. I did quite well so I am starting to settle in.
God had a special treat in store for us that morning. Along with the 95 other new crew members we sailed from the island of Trinidad where our training took place to the island of Tobago where the Logos Hope was berthed. A high speed catamaran ferried us to our final destination and it so happened that the ferry would pull up right beside the Logos Hope. As the ferry reversed in I noticed that most of the ship’s crew had come out to the quayside and up on deck and were waving flags and banners and cheering for us. We responded in kind with cheering and our new group chant “Scarborough: can we do it? Scarborough: yes we can!” – Scarborough being the name of the port we joined the ship in and therefore the name of our group.
After putting our bags through customs we lined up to enter our new home. As I walked up the jetty, crewmembers gathered on either side of the line into the ship and said hello and made tunnels with flags. I saw many people who I knew from the last time I was aboard the ship, some who I did not expect to see. I was so delighted to see so many old friends.
The first room we entered when boarding the ship was the Hope Theatre – the only two deck theatre space on board where the big events happen. Last time I was on the ship, the hope theatre was a storage area and a worshop for the carpenters, now it was a fully equiped audio-visual space with lighting and sound that I had only dreamed of. Better still, I looked up to the lighting booth and saw my best-ship-friend Ravi and he saw me and ran down to embrace me. It was so good to be reunited after a year. But not only was my friend there, I was with a group of friends who I had come to know at the pre ship training and I felt like I was exactly where I wanted to be and where God wanted me to be.
It’s 5:50 am, the sun is rising and I am wide awake – I’m suffering from jetlag for the second time. I don some running shoes and clothes and step out of my air conditioned but otherwise humble accomodation onto the large spanish style balcony that reminds me of the movie Zoro, and into the warm, sticky air of the Caribbean island of Trinidad. I descend the beautifully crafted spiral staircase to the ground below where I meet a number of other jet-lagged travellers for the morning run. As we leave the training compound, I notice the gutters on the side of the road are not the slight step up that we are used to in australia, rather a large trench exists on either side of the road to handle massive amounts of stormwater during the rainy season. Driveways form miniature bridges accross these casms from which eminates a smell that is not very pleasent for that time of morning.
Every person that we pass along the way waves to us and says ‘Good morning’ and we respond in kind. In the Caribbean it is very rude not to warmly greet someone you make eye contact with and I’m sure we also stand out as some of the only white people on the island. As we turn a corner onto the main street there are cars honking and weaving around each other, there seem to be very few rules. Every third or fourth car is either a sporty new Japanese car or an older car that has been heavily modified, everyone loves fast cars. In our short journey we make out churches (half the population are nominal christians who occasionally attend church) and a Hindu school (around 40%) are hindu.
Exausted, I am more than happy to return to the training facility to have a shower and spend some time with God before breakfast, but I am excited to be in such a different country and excited to see how God will use me in such a place.
At Pre Ship Training I am learning about local culture, the ship structure, methods of evangelism and spiritual disciplines (like quiet time and bible reading). It is an intensive week that will do well to prepare me for my two years on the ship and with each day that passes I am more eager to actually board this vessel.
As my bus travels along the unlimited autobahn to Frankfurt, Germany for my flight to Tobago, I gaze out the window at the rolling green hills, the occasional picturesque village and most of all, the expensive black BMWs that speed by. A thought enters my mind: I would really love to live and work in Germany and drive a fast, black, shiny car and live in a beautiful village. I would like to get married, settle down, live the easy life and make lots of money. I especially like the cold climate of northwest Europe. But I am on my way to one of the hottest parts of the world and to a life of sacrifice. I won’t have a car at all and I will be sharing a little cabin with three other blokes, eating what is given to me and doing whatever I am told. I have elected to live this life because I believe that God has called me to join the ministry of the Logos Hope.
As I look forward to the trials and hardships that may befall me in the coming two years, I think how hard it seems to go on. And as I think of all that I have left behind and all that I could be aquiring that I have sacrificed, it seems so easy to ‘abandon ship’ and run back towards my old life. It is almost as though I am walking up a steep slope towards God’s plan for my life and I would much rather slide back down the slippery slope towards the things I used to enjoy. But as I consider difficulty to press on, I am reminded of the honour of serving God and the amazing adventures that await me and the ways in which God will use me to reach those who have not heard of Jesus. It is so wonderful to press on in what God has laid before me. And as I think of how easy it is to slip back into old habits, even on the ship, I am reminded of just how dissapointing it would be to abandon the life that God has called me to live.
Sometimes it seems like living the Christian life is too hard and it would be so much fun to just take back a few habits from our old life, but Christ has called us to move forward, not backward, into the life that he has prepared for us and the good works He has prepared for us to do.