Friday, July 29, 2005

Friday 29th July

The Prayer & Fasting was focused about the STEPPER OverNight (2 nights) trip away from the ship. We will be going out in groups of 5, so three groups. The only ones praying were STEPPERs, Our STEP-Mum, and possibly some of the SPs of STEPPERs.

SP stands for "Social Permission" or "Special Permission" or "Special Person". Ship policy is that we are not to engage in (for lack of a better term) romantic relationships in their first year of being with them, this is so that they can focus on God instead, and, if God does want them to get married, they will anyway, and are by then less likely to be distracted and over-attracted by possibly cross-cultural traits which are not fully understood in the first year.

After a year, couples can apply for SP from the personnel office, which means they are allowed to pursue a more in depth or possibly romantic relationship. Some of the 2 year Douloids already had fiances (spelling?) or girlfriend/boyfriends, and some of the STEPPERs in our group (about 4!) came on the STEP firstly just to see them, a 2 year absence is quite a lot... So they all have SP, (the personnel office has the policy of 1 year, but is not inhuman).

Anyway, enough about SP, already. Today we will be leaving on the OverNight. I think we have got 5 church services planned for the time, and will all be doing preaching, praying, singing, acting, and other stuff like that, as well as probably some practical work in the village or wherever we get to, and other things like that. People who come on board for 2 years generally get to go on 4 "A-teams", that is, week long or more trips away from the ship, with a small group of others, to do various work.

As well as A-teams, there are other random OverNights which pop up, whenever people are available, or have 2 E-days next to each other.

We had another drama training session with the Creative Ministry team yesterday, they showed us how they perform the Chair Drama, but said "learn it like this, but when you perform it, do it however you want. Improvise! Change stuff! Go mad!" So that's cool.

At the end they were talking about the different things, and one of them said "I hear you are going on an OverNight, which is why we were asked to do this session with you. If you have a theme which you cant think of a drama for, come to us, and we will tell you about some others. We have one for every thing you could want."

So OF COURSE, I had to ask a question. Dead serious face, oh woe is me, I know not what to do, I am but a puzzled confused young STEPPER... "Um, we have a pastors conference on our overnight, and have been asked to give a session, can you think of a good drama for Pre-Millenialism...".

I also went to the puppets workshop again this week. It is very very cool, and I enjoy it a lot. The people are all quite mad, and puppets are so fun. We were particually working on voices, and character linking, at the end of it, I was asked by one sister who partly runs the workshop "So, when will you be coming back for 2 years? I'm leaving at the end of next year, and you must come back so I can use your voice ...". That was rather nice.

Anyway. I am quite looking forward to it. We leave at 3 or 4 in the afternoon, and I have many things to do before that. We will be going out to the town this morning, to go to the market and possibly the supermarket as well, so I will try to get some more local money at the ship-kiosk, we have a group meeting at 8am.

I want to borrow the sail-makers thimble (or whatever you call it. It's a large fingerless solidish leather glove thing) and thread and try and repair my backpack which is still rather torn (I have not used it since the flight), I have to pack, pray some more, prepair food and suchlike, and ask my Big Brother to collect my clothes that I am not taking from the Laundry (our sections wash day is today, so collect tomorrow). And many other things about which I have forgotten.

I'm hungry, and it is breakfast time.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

27th July

Pasta and Basmati rice are the things I am missing most. When I get back, I hope we have pasta. Or Lasagne. Or Spaggetti. Or all of them ;-) And Cheese! Lots of Cheese! And Parmasan! Mmmmm....

To get rid of all the anti-biotic rubbish Deets (one of my cabin mates) suggests a 2 day fruit fast, or similar when I get home.

The fast finishes today, and I am not feeling too hungry or anything. I have not taken the anti-malarials, as I guessed after a month, my system should be fairly well swimming in them (as I have been faithful to them), and I have not gone off the ship the last 2 days, and there are no mozzies on board, and I shall go back to them tomorrow when I start eating again.

(Has he found another hoodie?)

Not yet. I haven't had a chance to go out yet, and charlie is pretty well empty. We had deck cleaning today, which means being up at 6 on the deck to work... very very cold. But that wouldn't really be solved by a hoodie, as we wear deckie overalls. They have the A.C. down quite low, always. And even at 18 or so which is what it feels like (rationally... it really feels about 10, but I know it can't be), it is cooold.

(Did the doctor say anything about the churning stomach?)

No, I haven't had a chance to see him yet, but will try to arrange an appointment once we get back from the overnight. Or tomorrow, it depends. It also depends on if it starts churning again tomorrow.

(Is there any juice or squash to take ginger in for queasiness?)

Yeah, we can buy fruit juice packets (1 litre) from the shipshop, and also there is revolting koolaid type stuff in the canteen. I had been taking it just with water, on the voyages.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Tuesday 26th July

I have not been able to find yoghurt, other than occasionally with breakfast, but then that is probably not local, but doulos yog. Sometime I must try to get some local. Many individuals are buying masses of cheap African fruit, but I don't think that the ship officially can do so quite like that. I don't know how all these things work, what with regulations and all.

About Sunday's day in the AOG church....

On the board was listed our group, and the time to meet up and discuss what was happening at 5.30pm on Saturday. I did not manage to get there, though, but when I spoke to the team leader later at supper, he said no-one else had either, so no big deal. We would meet up at 8am on Sunday morning, and then leave at 9.

So at 8am I went to the room we were meeting at, and no-one was there. Eventually, at about half past, the rest turned up, gradually, and we said what we would do, the numbers
presentation (a whole bunch of cards with numbers on them, one of them the year the ship was build, one of them the number of visitors so far (18 million!), one with the number of book titles, one with the number of nationalities, etc), one girl would give her testimony, we would do a drama, which one of the others had just written (very simple), and one guy would preach. Cool.

So we all then went and waited for our lift at the gates. At the gates, we found another team who had been waiting since 8am
there for theirs. Ours turned up after about 8 minutes, suprisingly, and was an escort, not a lift. Very tall thin smartly dressed suit-and-tie-and-glasses type. He spoke good English, and made witty jokes occasionaly, as we walked though the city.

After a 10 minute walk, we then took a chappa (local bus). A typical 11 seater type mini-van. With 19 in it. The pastor/escort said he wanted us to experience local transport. Cool.

So we bounced along for quite a while, and eventually got to the
destination. A big main street of the city. No pavement, no sidewalks, but brown/red Troodos-coloured dirt. And a big road too. About the width and lenght of Larnaka's main street, I would guess. Then we walked for another 10 minutes, I guess, through various back allys and sidestreets, made up of mud-brick and concrete bungaloes/houses, with corricated iron roofs. Loads of kids playing out in the streets, and quite a lot of people greeted the pastor.

Eventually the house! We went in through a swing door, and into a tiny courtyard/ally, and then from there into a small room, with quite nice furniture, an ancient computer (about 25 years old or so), and a table/kitchen area at the far end. We sat down, and then were introduced to the 'real' pastor,
who did not speak any English he said (not quite true. He did speak some. And understand more.)

So we sat around in silence for a few minutes, after
attempting conversation, to little avail. And then we talked amongst ourselves for a bit. After a while the first guy came back again, and translated a bit, and we talked some about the weather of Mozambique, and Maputo in particular.

Then the owner of the house came in, the widow of the previous pastor of this church, which still met here, they said. She was very cheerful, very frail, and said she felt a bit ill, so instantly, one of the team, who for some reason always makes me think she just jumped
(literally) right out of 1980-ish Spring Harvest, said we would pray for her. So the widow sat down on a chair, we all gathered around, and prayed. Then we stopped, and she got up, said thanks, and hobbled off.

About this time we started hearing lots of singing from just outside, which we guessed was Christian, from the occasional 'Alleluya's, and 'Amen's. This went on for about 20 minutes, as we sat and made small talk with pastor 2, the guy who had brought us there. Then for no apparent reason he stood up, and said, "I think it is about time for us to go in now."

So we followed,
and went outside into a covered yard area, with 10 hand-made wooden benches in rows, and 7 medium-comfy/plastic seats at the front, a small table with a table-cloth, and a pulpit. There were about 15 people on the benches, who all were singing, a few children and babies too. We were led up to the front, and sat on the chairs, facing the congregation, and listened to their singing.

Once they had finished the song, the pastor stood and said to them to pray, (we got a translation from pastor 2 for
everything) and then everyone began praying, quite loudly, at the same time. After a few minutes, pastor 1 was the only one still praying, and so after continuing for a while, he stopped too, said "Amen", which was echoed back by the faithful.

Then he said that they would welcome us, and so everyone sang a song, and then came up while singing, and dancing, to shake us all by the hand, smiling at us a lot. Then they sang more and more songs, some of them coming up to the front to sing and dance for us, some just starting off songs from wherever they were sitting. All a capella, so no written music needed. Pastor 2 told us that some songs were in the local language, some in portuguese, some in Zulu, and others in other moderately local languages.

Then we were told that someone had a gift for us, and they gave us (collectively) a beautiful handmade woven basket, which her husband had made (but was working and could not give himself). We all 'ooh'ed and 'ahh'ed at it, and it was indeed well worth 'ooh'ing and 'ahh'ing. Very strong, solid, and good. There is something
about hand-made stuff.

Anyway, then after that, they sang another song, and brought up traditional local head scarfs and wrap-about skirts for the 2 ladies of our team, and put them on them (on top of their other clothes), and then all the church 'ooh'ed and 'ahh'ed, laughed, and smiled a lot. Then we did our program, which went over quite well.

I had been not really expecting a small church like this, when we talked about it before we went. For some reason I always think of AOG churches as being quite large. This was fairly structured, though.


After our program,
one of the pastors talked a bit, and showed them all some tickets for various Doulos events, and said he would give them out afterwards to people. Then was the offering, and everyone danced forward to give some coins, and I was expecting to do the same, and had brought with me the appropriate kind of ammount (At port orientation, they tell us what kind of ball-park figures, too much and too little being rude, of course), but then as none of the rest of the team went forward, and we had forgotten to discuss it before the meeting, I guessed that perhaps the leader was going to give something from all of us, or something like that. Which he then did, and some more tickets.

The pastor laughed and said "ah. Your offering comes strait back to you" and everyone else laughed too, me feeling rather uncomfortable about the whole thing. -- Really, the whole "money" issue is really confusing for me. Also, like when people ask you for money, on the streets, or while sitting in little canoes off the side of the ship... I dunno. It's the whole "If we give, then we just encourage begging, and
reliance on rich foreigners, and if we don't, then we are selfish." It's complex. I still don't have a satisfactory position.

Then they prayed some more, sang some more, and then began to walk off. Then one of the women brought some presents for us men: 2 wooden hand-made brooms, and a small hand-made purse. I was given a broom. Very cool, and very nice, but I have NO idea how, if at all, to bring it home. Hm.

We then had lunch in the first room, with the 2 pastors, and some of the ladies bringing in
food for us, serving it, and then walking out again. Before we ate, one of them brought around a bowl and a kettle full of warm water, and a towel, to wash our hands in.

The first dish was a lovely soup of cabbage, carrots, onions, possibly potatoes, and other bits like that, then after that they brought some cooked chicken, and chips. I had kind of been expecting them to bring meat, and so for the past 2 days had been praying a lot. I had decided that I ought to eat it, as it would be insulting not to. So I ate it, tried not to think about it, and felt really weird and
slimey inside for the rest of the day. I don't like meat. It was very good, I think, for chicken, but I just don't like it any more. 3 years without meat will do that to you, I guess. Blah.

Hey, random future STEPPERs who read this. Yes, you will have to eat things you don't want to. At least it wasn't as bad as what Rusty had told us in our first week that would would eat. (hint... huge roasted catapillers... yum...). Blah again.

We also had coke and fanta. Ditto for me with the chicken. I mean,
I am glad it was not local water, about which we had been warned, but coke and fanta now are for me bad as well.

Speaking of weird drinks, I have started drinking tea since I joined the Doulos. I never did before. Well, I did, once, I needed caffine while setting up a performance at the theatre, years ago. It was foul then. Too much sugar and milk and stuff. So I tried the tea black here. Not black-black, because just one teabag, and only for a few mins. I acutally rather like it.

So, back to the heroic saga...

Then after a little while sitting around, we got to wash our hands
again, and then a while later, after looking at a few photos, and talking with the pastors about their lives, and what they would be doing, we left. We walked out through the same way, with the pastors, and one of their church, took the chappa, and got home safely.

So thus endeth mine tale good friendes, family, and all.

On board we STEPPERs are STEP-sisters and brothers. Also we have a STEP-mom and STEP-dad. Who, by the way, are not married. The STEP-dad is married to someone else though, so we have a "STEP-mom-2" as well. All of them are crazy fun people.

Right now, I'm fasting. Today was good actually, I didn't really feel hungry at all. Perhaps due to going out for a "last supper" with the other STEPPERs to a wonderful chinese resurant. Lovely lovely Chinese food... Lovely lovely Chinese tea... Mmmmm... Anyway. I am begining to feel a bit hungry now, it being 7:22 and I have not had anything all day (except water), but I have been working quite hard, and have not really had much chance to think about food. I am glad I have not been faint and energy-less though. Fasting is a strange practice. I want to investigate more. After a good meal.

Oh well. To sleep, one more day of fasting,
and work, and then a good meal. Apparently day 2 is much easier, although for me day 1 has not been too hard. Normally it is, they say. Perhaps being vegetarian, and the diet on board has something to do with it. I would not be suprised.


I am tired, all day in the paint raft with a needle gun, electric-wire-brush, and chipping hammer scraping away old paint and rust from the hull and re-painting,
as this port allows us to. Most don't. That is the official reason we are doing it.

The unoffical one, and one I have a hard time totally disbelieving, is that next port is South Africa, and far too many of the ships company (in particular the chief deckie) are South African.

Oh well. It looked bad before, and will be very good when we get the rest of the coats of paint on. Currently it is a rather terrible shade of red. We have 3 coats of primer paint to put on, red, grey, and then white, and then after that we will put on a coat of proper outside paint. Everything on board which gets painted gets the three primer coats.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Monday 25th July

About those 3 people who got Malaria, I don't know how they got it, but as the clinic is still saying, "... so take your tablets!" I guess that means that they forgot, and/or just stopped taking them. Everyone seems to hate them so much, it is not really suprising.

I think mine may be having some side effects, though, too. For the past 2 weeks or more or so I have been having a very churned up stomach feeling, and the last 2 days even more so. I had not thought that it might be the tablets, but thought it was the change of diet on board, or type of bread, or something. But I have tried not eating bread, or the "milk", or tea, doing the proper "isolate 1 food at a time" type of thing, but to no avail.

I will try to speak to the clinic about it tomorrow, when they are open (they are closed on Sundays and Mondays). Hopefully they will tell me something like "ah, just eat more fruit. Here is a paper to tell the galley to let you have more...". That would be really nice... I miss having fruit and cheese aplenty. We ran out of cheese about
2 weeks ago, but today had it again. Fruit is also quite low, with a 1 - 2 piece limit per meal. Next time I get to go out to the city I will try and get some more. We don't have personal fridge space, sadly, although some cabins have fridges (ours doesn't).

Back to Malaria... AFAIK the victims have not been sent home. My Big Brother, for instance, was not. There is a 'hospital' on board, which I have not seen, but is part of the clinic, I think. Anyway, with 1 full time doctor, quite a few nurses, sea air, and so forth, being on Doulos may well be more healthy than sticking someone on an airplane and shipping them home to whatever.

I have not personally seen ANY moquitoes in my entire time on board. As most of my time has been on board, and so in a salt
water area, this is not so suprising, but even on days out, and off-days, I have not seen any. Other people have, apparently, but not I. Odd.

It was not so cold today, nice and warm outside in the sun. Again over the side work, but I was not. I was just sitting on the deck, occasionaly taking the paintbrush from the person over the side on a bosun's chair, and putting fresh paint on it, and giving it back. In the evenings, and pre-dawn mornings though, it is cold. (Sun rises at about 6:30am, and sets at about 6pm). I have not yet managed to get a new hoodie, although maybe I can soon. I hope so.

The whole family atmosphere on board is very cool. Yesterday I was spontaniously declared to be a twin of someone else, because they had always wanted a twin (very-non-identical!).

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Saturday 23rd July

The last few weeks, I seem to have spent almost all my working time sanding off some of the wooden handrails and putting new varnish on them. There are so many to do and it takes so long. We have proper equipment though, so it is at least Good Work, it feels satisfying. Nice big solid power-tool electic sanders. Real Tools for Real Men (People), and all that kind of rubbish. Fun.

We have to keep a thin line from each tool to ourselves, in case we drop them overboard, as they are quite expensive. It is a very satisfying experience, because the wood looks so bad before, and wonderful afterwards.

We end up spending a lot of time getting stuff wrong though, due to bad planning. We spent about an hour lowering a gangway out of the way, as no-one on our team is in the gangway squad, and none of us knew how to do it quickly, so we could get at an area of wood to work on, and then had to move it back again because it turned out there would be lifeboat drills in an hour, and the lifeboats had to drop right past where we had put the gangway.

We arrived 2 days ago in this port of Maputo, the capital of Mozambique, I think. We arrived at 9am or so, which meant that as my normal deckie work, we were doing unloading of the gangways, vans, and so on. I really enjoy this work, it is probably my favorite work of the whole deck dep.

What we do is attach slings to the gangways, then the crane op swings it into position, and we then attach it, attach "messenger lines" (a rope which goes from the object being craned to the deck, so that it can be controlled, for instance, if there is wind, or if we put on 2 messenger lines, we can rotate the object) swing them out, lower them down to the quayside, and viola, done. I just like it. Getting to mess around with ropes, pulling stuff all over, it's like real sailing. Almost.

Yesterday I was on the cleaning team, which means getting up for 6am. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. And then scrubbing and washing down the decks, ready for the hoards of people. Then for an hour before lunch, and then the afternoon I was hanging down off the side of the ship on a bosans chair (with a safety strap, don't worry, Mum) chipping off rust by where the anchor is.

A Bosun's Chair is kind of like a wooden swing seat, with the ropes meeting above the swing at less than a metre. You then attach a nice long line from the top of this swing rope to the deck above, with some complicated knot thingy, so that the line is doubled up, and the remainded drops down below you to the sea. You can then lower and raise yourself "easily" by lifting your weight up on one side of this rope, by sheer arm strength, and pulling the other half of the rope though the knot, which allows you to change the length between you and the deck.

Kind of complex to explain in words. Lowering yourself on a bosun's chair is easy enough, but after working for an hour chipping rust off with a heavy hammer, your arms are dead tired, and so it is quite hard to pull yourself up again. Thankfully, they had put a rope ladder down for us, so we could climb up like that. Anyway. Good work, good experience.

The other guy down on a B.C. tried to get his mate with a camera to come and take pics of us looking all manly and clever and such, hanging off the side of the ship on precarious looking complex seaman things, with rope all over the place, lovely hitches, bends, sheepshanks, and whatknot *, holding solid metal hammers and generally looking like some kind of blue collar Tarzan.

But his mate was busy, so I called my sister the Official Photographer and said "hey, feeling bored and want to stop staring at a computer screen and do some field work for a bit?", and she said sure, and so came out with the ships highly posh make-dad-envious-digital-SLR-camera, to take pictures. Hopefully she will send them to me, and I will be able to either keep them and bring them back, or send them to you. I need a few "Make Dad Jealous and Mum totally petrified" photos from this trip... :-)


Today was my off-day, so I have spent a lot of time reading, and not really doing a whole lot, which is nice. Tomorrow is my e-day, and I will be going on a church team, to one of the many local AOG congregations, which should be fun. I have no idea what we will be doing.

3 people on board have malaria, from the previous port. I found out today that 1 of them is my Big Brother! I had not known for a week or so! I knew 3 people did (we all got a "KEEP TAKING YOUR TABLETS YOU SILLY PEOPLE" email from the doctor, but no names), but didn't know it was him. Crazy. Most people on board are on the Lariam weirdo tablet things, and so _everything_ gets blaimed on the tablets. Mood swings, dreams, nightmares, acting strangely, being tired, forgetting someones name, arriving late for dinner, spelling words rong, etc, etc. Odd. I'm still taking mine, and not having any noticable effects, as far as I can tell.

Tuesday and Wednesday are days of prayer and fasting for the STEPPers, optional fasting, particually because NEXT WEEKEND (yeah!) is our overnight, God willing. Apparently it is going to be amazing, very busy, and so on.

Well, goodnight beloved bretheren, sisterin, motherin, and fatherin, felinerin, and anyone-else-rin who listens, reads, or generally comes into contact with this message.

* PS - The spelling of "whatknot" is intentional. It is meant to be a pun.

Friday, July 22, 2005

A brief text message arrived today:

Arrived safely in Maputo. I'm teaching myself to splice rope.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Monday 18th July

I hope to be going out to the town today, it is my off day, and I want to go visit, perhaps get another hoodie, and if possible, some obscure musical instrument :-). Apparently Durban will be amazing for shopping, and the next port (which I have forgottent the name of) has a cool outdoor market.

Anyway. Enough about shopping. Boring subject.

Most of the previous STEP have left now, only 2 left, one of whom is joining us for the next month and a bit. Seems amazing
that time passes so quickly here... 1 guy on the STEP has done half of his time already!

Tomorrow afternoon we will set sail for the next port, sailing time 3 days, inclusive of arrival and departure. It's still strange to me how many people really dread the sailing, and still get seasick. Many of the longtermers do every time. One would have thought that they would get used to it, and for it to no longer effect people so, but apparently not.

I found, in the book-exhibition, 2 greek new testaments, one in modern greek, the other with 1 page of original greek, the opposing page with the same verses but modern. Very cool, and 25 units each (about 25 cents, I
think?). I am still having problems getting used to the currency, something like 35000 meticas to 1 USD... and 50000 meticas to 100 doulos book-ex units... Very confusing.

The port here is very boring. Containers as far as the eye can see, and one must take a shuttle bus to get to the port gate, and then 10 minutes walk from the gate to get to the town centre.

There is music everywhere on board, quite a mixture. From CONSTANT worship CDs in the book-ex, to michael w. smith in the foc's'cle, occasional dire straits, P.O.D, other various Christian heavy/death metal bands, trance, rap, classical, rock, and so on. Oh, and light piano jazz from fire station 3 at all hours.
Sunday 17th July

[re: emails arriving in the wrong order]

Yeah... Very confusing. My user on the network also has now gone haywire, all the settings lost, loads of error messages, etc. I talked to the I.T. manager today, and he said he thinks many people have had this, and that the server may have a faulty disk. This would not be the same as the email server, and should not effect anything like that, but quite annoying, and a bit worrying that it may lose all my pictures and mail... I hope not.

I have copies [of pictures of the whales] on my personal network space (each has one) which I got from the shared network space. Very cool.

[are there official photographers?]

There is. One. She is on my STEP, has never been a photographer before, did one year media studies which includes digital photography, is rather scared of the whole thing, but loving it totally because she gets to play with a fantastic SLR digital camera. Dad would be extremely jealous... The normal official photographer had to leave 2 months ago, didn't have a replacment, and so they just picked the STEPper with the most experience :-) Funny.

Anyway, I want to go, play music or something. I even slept for 20 mintues this afternoon... very tired. Long day. On Deck Cleaning team today, which as Sunday is not so bad, normally that means starting at 6am, but Sunday at 7.

This morning, most of the previous STEP group left, so the one guy who is from them, and extending to join our STEP decided to play some practical jokes. He is ALWAYs doing that. He even got "hired" by another department to
play some jokes for them on someones birthday.

Anyway, this morning, at 5am, he had borrowed a trumpet from someone, and woke us new STEPPERs up, and then one of us began banging a couple of metal dining room trays together, and he began to play the trumpet loudly, and then shouted "bye! we'll miss you!" or something like that. Crazy crazy person. 10 people in our cabin last night, tonight only 4... will be so quiet...

Sunday, July 17, 2005

(A message arrived this morning, in reply to one I sent earlier in the week. Answers to a few questions are included. If anyone reading this has other questions for Dan, please do write them in the comments section and I'll pass them on to him via email)

Saturday 16th July

Today was I-Night, or rather, "Doulos International Festival", because it was held at 3.00pm (African time, so started at 10 to 4...).

I was on the
prayer team, so we left at about 11ish, to the Catholic University which was kind enough to let us use their hall. Biggish hall, too echoey and windows along the top of the walls with no curtains... kind of made the projected material a problem.

We did quite a lot of praying, and in the
end the day went well, I think. Sadly, not so many people went, about 150 people in the audience, I guess. An ex-Doulos now-pastor from this country preached half way though, for 15 minutes. And he actually did 15 mins, too, which is quite amazing in ANY part of the world.

I can't get used to
the style though. He was right after the "Tales" drama, which is fantastic, all mime, basically the whole story, Father and Son make world, people, angels, an angel turns away, tempts man into sin, Son becomes a man, other men kill Him, and through His death, He defeats the turned angel, and brings back people to him. Very beautiful.

Then this preacher
gets up and, basically, shouts for 15 minutes solidly. I'm kind of sceptical, I mean, I know "there is no 'right' and 'wrong' ways, culturally, only different" and all that, and I know my personal culture doesn't do this kind of thing, but through the whole drama, everyone was riveted, as soon as he began preaching, people started leaving, and carried on leaving through the whole thing. I dunno.

Also, from a
beautiful, flowing, poignant mime-drama, suddenly into full bore hell and fire preach (I don't speak Portuguese though, so I don't know if it really was). Anyway. I can't judge, and I guess he knows what he is doing, and God can use anything. Oh well.

We got back about 7 o'clock, it's now 10 to
8. Quite cold too, for me. Other people complain it is too hot still. Strange people.

[re: stars in the Southern Hemisphere]

On sea watch, boy, it was amazing. No light polution or other polution for 40 miles in ANY direction, on a dark unlit deck... You wouldn't believe how many stars. I saw the milky way too! fantastic. Different stars, it's lovely. I got to see whales too on watch!! I have got photos of many things from the "scratch" sharing drive.

[ re: Scottish Dancing - were all the STEP team involved?]

Just me. They have a notice board on the way to the dining room and all groups put a notice up like "All Scottish dancers meet in forward lounge at 8pm" or something. And so I went, they said, "oh cool, another man. we need you to dance with us in 2 days time, ok?". Funny. Other people are with other groups. Swing dancing, tiniklin, irish, etc.

[How does music and drama work on the ship?]

A different music person leads each week, and they pick whoever they want, and know about for that particular week. A couple of the guys on the STEP play drums and guitar, and one girl plays piano. Perhaps we will lead one week, just the STEP. We have also
had our own impromptu (and promptu) worship times too.

The drama
team is for long termers only, but they teach everyone shorter dramas (the table drama, the chair drama, the window sketch, the balloon drama, etc), and also ways of sharing the gospel using 3 bits of string, or a square peice of blank paper, and so forth.

[re: thick socks, which he said he was lacking in a previous message]

I don't really need any, and I will try to look in Charlie (the spare clothes place), or at the market on monday (my off-day).

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

11th July

In Beira now. Amazing city. Yesterday was my last day of watch, I was so happy! I was expecting to sleep in today, and did. I woke up at 8am. Shocking.

So I got up, had breakfast, and then read for a bit, before some of the other STEPPERs asked if I wanted to go out to the town with them for the day, this being monday, and so the off day for most of the ship, including, thankfully, me.

So we got into the Doulos minivan, and drove out to the port gate. People are not
allowed to go to and from the port entrance (about 9 minutes by minibus) by foot, and so ALL visitors to and from the Doulos, and all Douloids (strange word. better than people calling us doul-oy though. Silly ungreek pronunciation...) must be shuttled by the Doulos minivans. Amazing. Very tiring for the drivers though.

We walked about the city a bit, and after waiting about 45 mins for one of us to finish changing some money at the bank, we went to get lunch. We split 3 going to a cafe, and the rest of us to a "resturant". which turned out to be just a bar which sold food. Not very good. We had to wait almost 2 hours for the food to arrive, and even then it wasn't very nice. I had spagetti and tomato ketchup. Yum. We then met up with the others, who had spent the same as 2 of us for all three of them, and had had mountains of really nice food. Junk food (hamburgers, etc) but really nice, they said, anyway. And lots thereof.

anyway. We went then to the cinima, and watch "The Pacifier" with Portuguese sub-titles, rubbish typical Holly-wood junk, but nice cinema, HUGE, but only about 15 people in it. Big stage, round concave screen, and so forth. Very old. Then we walked back, some people wanted to go to the supermarket, and so did, the rest of us got back in time for dinner on board. And now I'm here, reading email.

I want to go now, perhaps see if I can get some clarinet practice in. I played yesterday for the Doulos Sunday service, people keep on saying how much they liked it... they only normally get "usual" stuff: drums, guitar, piano, bass. The pianist is really cool, jazzman, music school trained, and keeps on sticking in weird jazz chords in the middle of songs. A bit disturbing at first, but once you get used to it (normal harmonys don't work! You have to use jazz ones :-) ) it sounds fantastic. He even wrote out some instrumental clarinet/piano solo intro and break stuff. Funky. We did "The Spirit of the Lord is within my heart" (I will dance as David danced) in a very cool latin jazz / samba type way.

PS - computer time is unlimited, providing that not all the computers are in use, and that no-one is waiting for yours.
PPS - Internet connection at 33k this port.

Friday, July 08, 2005

July 8th

We are at sea currently, as I write this, which means it wont get sent until we have docked, if it even does then, but nevertheless, I am writing this while sailing. I have only 2 more days left on my 4 til 8 watch (yeah!) and then 1 off day before back to normal deck work.

Watch is a lot more fun at sea. We go up to the bridge, and do sea watch from there. There are more people about then, 1 Officer, 1 Cadet, 1 Lookout, and 1 Helmsman. And me as well, in training/learning.

It was quite exciting to me to be able to say for the first time "Daniel at the Helm, steering course one-eight-zero."! Yes! I have had the privilage of steering the Doulos! Very cool. I imagine it begins to get less fun and more boring after the 100th hour or so of it, but I have only been at the helm for 3 hours now (I think.)

Being on watch is cool too. This morning, we saw whales! For about 2 hours, every 15 minutes or so another whale would be spotted, and we would sail past it, as it splashed, lifted it's tail, sent up a spout, etc! Extremely amazing. They are HUGE.

My body is begining to get used to this crazy schedule, but nevertheless, I managed to oversleep and miss lunch today. Luckily, the mess always has spare food about, and I could get 6 or so slices of bread and also there are Marmite and Honig about. You know, if I decide to come back to Doulos for 2 years, I will have to learn some German before I join. So many Germans on board, also Dutch, and South Africans.

There is a shared network drive on board for people to share pictures, documents, etc, and so I hope to get copies of the whale pictures from this morning, and hopefully will be able to make a CD of all of the pictures I have from there now in my documents, from all the times we have been places and I have forgotten my camera.

I still am not seasick -- Thank you Father -- and perhaps that is partly why I am enjoying this life so much.

I have been asked to play with the Sunday service music group, and so must off to practice soon, before my watch, and before it gets too noisy, as we should be arriving in a few hours. I don't know whether it will be in my watch or not yet, the current has not
been so friendly, and we went through both sides of a storm. I had never really experienced a "calm in the middle of a storm" before, but this time, yeah. There was quite a large swell before, then the storm (I was on fireround and so missed most of it, but it was fairly rough, and lots of rain for a while), then it was reaallly calm. For about 2 hours, and then back again to the storm.

But my watch was over then, and I was eating breakfast, and heading bedwards. So, I must be off, many things to do.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

3rd July

I asked if he would be working on the deck for the whole time, or whether they changed areas. Dan said:

Same area for the whole two months, unless I apply for a transfer, but I don't think I will. Kitchen would be cool too, you get such LOVELY smells. We were scrubbing the prom deck two days ago, and the smell from the bakery was what made the whole morning really worth it. :-)

Yesterday was my first e-day (On shore work). Digging a huge 4 meter by 4 meter by 3 meter deep hole for a missionary family here, as a water reservoir. Partly also to teach the locals that you can collect water rather than havign to walk 2km each day for water. Very hard work. I'm so tired. Back ache. Today I am supposed to be juggling and perhaps doing poi in an interval in the quayside program. I can barely bend down though if I drop. Hmm.

I asked if he had been able to play his clarinet every day, as he had hoped

yeah. not every day, but about every other day. there are a few places i can practice, but the music room (isolated from the rest) is only free at 6am each morning...

I have been getting up at 6 though pretty much every day. Next week I am on gangway and fireroundsman from 4 til 8 (both am and pm) for the whole week. That will probably be quite tough.

Anyway. Must go. I want to practice the juggling or whatever and do a bit of stretching.

PS - I am remembering to take the anti-malarials.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

1st July

Today I was on cleaning duty. That means to be up on deck at 6am, scrubbing (with brooms, not handbrushes...).

"I haven't seen a deck this terrible ever" said Glen. Yeah. Nasty. Loads of scrubbing.

Then after breakfast (8.20am) we (the STEPPERs) had our "K-Group", officially a Bible study or something but because it is organized from within the group, today it was basically just sitting around everyone saying "oh, i am so tired, I don't even know what I'm doing today. do you? Oh, you don't either".

Then us new deckies went for sailor-knot and other training, and then went to put out the paint-raft (8 foot by 12 square floaty metal thing... you put it in the water, attach a long rope the whole way around the outside of ship in the water (took ages) and then sit in it, or float around the ship and scrape off rust, put on new paint, or whatever.) until lunch.

After lunch, we went back to the raft, floated around the ship, and started knocking off rust, and then later they will paint it, and seal it again. Endless task.

Then I had to rush off at 2ish or so, get into a kilt, shirt, sporran, and socks, and scottish dance for the hoards of Mozambiquans who are outside on the quayside. Went well, I think.

There are loads of tiny wee canoes which are in the bay, with guys fishing in them, and they keep coming up and asking for money, shoes, or anything. Very friendly, and don't really expect to be given anything, which is a good thing, as we are forbidden from giving them stuff, it encourages them to beg, and try and steal stuff from ships, apparently.

A few months ago another ship in port about 500+ meters out or more had an entire mooring line stolen during the night! They are HUGE! I have no idea how anyone could steal one in a canoe, they are about 100+ ft long, and around 2/3 of a foot in diameter. Expensive, too. Funny, the canoeists seem to speak a little english, but NONE of the volunteers in this port speak any! They have to have translators, which is making it ather difficult for them, working on deck, in the book-ex, and so on.

Tomorrow is my "e-day", going out into the city to work, I don't know what we will be doing. One of the teams today was building a fence for some people. The line-up team here had to buy their house, and build it themselves out of bamboo rods! Very... simple.

The currency here is 50000 to 100 Doulos units, which is about 1 dollar, or so.