“The more I shop the more empty it feels” – this is what I posted to facebook last week after spending three days in some of the world’s biggest shopping centres (or malls as they are called in Dubai). This past week I have been very blessed to have a week of break time where I could stay in a small hotel onshore – but best of all my parents came to visit me! I have missed them dearly for the last year that I have been away and it was wonderful to see them and catch up on all that has happened.
With my parents came wonderful gifts and cards from many of you and some very generous financial gifts. I am very thankful for your loving support. With the money I have purchased myself a new camera to replace the one that broke in Egypt – it is a Sony HX1. I have really enjoyed taking lots of photos recently and I hope to share many nice photos with you in the weeks to come. I have been able to bless my fellow crewmembers by taking photos of them to send to their families and in their newsletters. I was also able to buy some nice respectable shirts, pants and shoes which I need for the Arab world.
During my break I was able to visit the world’s tallest building and go up to the one-hundred-and-twenty-fourth floor! What an amazing view it was from up there! I also went as a passenger 4 wheel driving over sand dunes in the desert and riding camels. Now I am well rested and ready to return to the ship and make the most of the next 7 months before I return home.

On floor 124 of the world's tallest tower!

Dad and I ride a camel

Welcome to the AP

Sailing south to the Arab Peninsula for the new year brings fresh culture and people. I have been able to walk the city streets and meet the local Arab people and the many foreign workers from India and other countries. I even got to visit the local fishery and see how the fish are prepared after they are caught – I couldn’t take the smell!
On board I really enjoy sitting in the cafe and talking with various people both locals and migrant workers. They tell me all about their work and their home and I can tell them about life on board a ship with people from 51 different nations and visiting many different countries. There are some local fellowships here amongst the ex-patriots and it’s fascinating to hear their stories. One man that I met in the cafe even gave me a lovely lapel pin shaped as the country’s coat of arms. I am really excited about fostering peace between the west and the middle east by interacting with individuals and sharing the positives of our cultures.

A time for Community

With a 10 day long journey from our Christmas port the middle east, on the way to the Arab Peninsula, this year’s new year holiday had some fascinating scenery. Just after Christmas we set sail south where the ship sailed through a man made canal. Either side of the ship there was land and we could watch as the scenery passed us by. With the book store closed and no events on board, the workload of cooking, cleaning and running the ship was distributed evenly amongst the crew for a lighter workload over the Christmas break – and with no opportunity to go off the ship for 10 days we used the time to draw together and connect with each other. On new years eve we had a reflection service where we remembered where we had been in 2010 and revealed where we would be going in 2011. We celebrated new years eve gathered together for a countdown and an irish and american dance hall after midnight. We have spent time learning about the countries we will visit soon, time drawing closer to our Father and time having fun together playing games and watching movies. I feel like I had a great holiday and I’m super excited about the 8 months that I have left. Please remember me this year as I travel.