Tuesday, August 30, 2005

I just realised that I forgot to post about my trip back to Larnaka...

I spent most of the day that I left in packing, wandering around slightly disconsolately, wondering what I had forgottern, sorting out other peoples stuff which they had left in the cabin, and finishing off packing stuff myself. I had already agreed to take presents back for 2 people on board to supporters or friends in Cyprus, and 2 other people brought stuff to me randomly during the day and said "would it be OK for you to take this back with you? I know this guy in Cyprus who I met while in port there and would love to send them this gift..." Anyway. I also had random things to clear up, like I took some old sunglasses up to the Creative Ministries Office, they always want more sunglasses as props and costumes, and all that. I had a childrens activies/crafts book which I had be loaned before Sabbath Week which I needed to take back, and so on and so forth. So many things to do.

The last of the STEPPERs ate together with our STEP mum for our final meal ( lunch ) on board. The 2 SP-STEPPERs, one Swiss girl, and myself. Our Albanian STEPPER had somehow managed to go on overnight, and had been gone the last 2 days or so, and none of us knew when she would actually arrive back to Doulos, or when her flight was!

Anyway, we were told what time the minibus would leave. At half an hour before that time, I had most of my stuff packed, but not all, and was slowly going about the cabin finding other random things to pack, sorting out clothes and things to take to Charlie, and so on.

Suddenly I realised that I was supposed to go to the quayside earlier than that, in order to say goodbye to people! And worse yet, I needed to go to the loo before leaving! So I quickly rushed to the loo, washed my hands, rushed out again, and picked up my bags, and found that I had forgotten to pack my washing bag, with toothbrush and all, so I collected that, and packed it, then saw on my bunk that I hadn't packed some other things, so I packed them, looked at my watch, was shocked, saw loads of things in my drawer that I needed to either pack or send to Charlie, and then heard my name being paged on the info system! So I picked up all my bags, and then thought "Oh, yeah, I'd better phone them back!" So I phoned info: "Hi, this is Daniel, I'm on my way! Sorry!" they started laughing, so I hung up the phone, and struggled out and up the stairs towards the prom deck and gangway.
Thankfully, another friendly Deckie saw me, and offered to carry my bag for me, so I could just cope with my hand-luggage, and with the weighing scales that I had borrowed from info to weigh my bags. Which reminded me, I needed to take them back to info! So I changed direction, and we headed up to info. I gave them the scales, and clambered out of the door to the other gangway.
Someone else had offered to carry my handluggage too, but it was that terrible backpack which I had just fixed with the sewing kit, and I didn't want to take it on and off my back more than I had to. I had a 30 second argument about this with him, he claiming that I would be offending his culture if I didn't let him carry it for me, which was nonsense. Well, perhaps not nonsense. His culture might be offended, but he wouldn't. He had been on Doulos so long that you'd have to punch him on the nose to offend him. And his culture wasn't there to get offended anyway. So I let him carry the scales for me. That seemed to make him happy, anyway.
So I got to the gangway, and all the others were already in the minibus, which was running and the driver wandering around looking distracted "You're late!" he shouted. "I know!" I replied.

All of my Deck team were there, and decided that now was the best time for a group hug, deckie style, which I believe is an ancient ritual inspired by snakes, boa constrictors on acid or something like that. So once I could breath again, I hugged all the other random people on the quayside, creative ministries people, friends, people I had worked with other than the deckie team, my twin (who gave me a red hand-made goodbye card with a canada pin on it), and so on.

The minibus was at the gate and honking by this time, so I took the parcels from the STEP mum for me to add to my bag, and ran over and jumped in. We zoomed out at a terrible speed, I began to wonder if the driver had forgotten that we were supposed to go the airport before lift-off, narrowly missed a container-lorry, and headed for the airport.

It's a 45 minute drive from the Doulos to the airport. I don't think it took anything like so long.
I spent about half of it in attempting to remove my keys from a strip of elastic which I was using to hold them to my belt, in order for the driver to give back to our STEP mum. I could have given the elastic too, but I needed it for a belt-buckle, the belt looking silly and flapping around without it.

I hate belts.

When we got there, my STEP sister - who was leaving half an hour before me - and I checked in, went through to the departure lounge.

While checking in, the guy who checks the passports and tickets and that had never heard of Cyprus, I think, and wanted to know if I had a visa for there. I told him that Cyprus was in Europe, in the Union. Didn't impress him much. I showed him my Alien Registration Certificate of Cyprus, from 7 or 8 years ago, before Cyprus joined, and he looked at my photo, and asked "Is this you?" I said yes. He pondered it for a while, then asked "Why did they put a picture in of when you were a baby?". He asked if I wanted to collect my luggage in Jo'Burg, or if I wanted it to go strait through. I thought strait through, and so he put some LCA tags on the bag. I was a bit worried though, if this guy didn't even know where Cyprus is, who knows where my luggage might end up!

It was odd being all alone, just 2 STEPPERs. We looked at some of the duty-free shops. Very expensive. So we sat down for a while, and talked about going back home, missing the others, and so on. I realised that I was still wearing my Doulos name badge, so took it off and put it in my belt-bag. She thought that was quite funny.
I like her a lot. When we first joined the STEP, she was very quiet, and almost withdrawn, but in the last week or so has been much more outgoing. She even punched me once, when I told a really bad joke. I would never have expected that after seeing her during the first week on board! It just takes a long time for some people to become comfortable with so many new people, I guess.
Her flight was called, so we hugged goodbye, and said "See you in Jo'burg!" and off she went.
I was sitting there, watching her go, talking to God, and feeling slightly lonely, when these two blokes came up to me, one of them in a black leather jacket, and the other one in a yellow t-shirt. They said they were airport staff doing a questionaire, and would I care to help them? I immediately went into paranoid Who-do-you-think-you-are-go-away-respect-my-privacy-mode, and said "Sure, how can I help you, Gentlemen?".

Actually, I didn't say that at all. I said "It depends" in my most non-committal voice, and moved my bag into a more secure place by my chair. I checked where all the security guards were too, and kept an eye on both of them the whole time, "Just wonderful!", I was thinking, "Get as far as the airport and then get mugged! Great!" I didn't tell them my sirname, and answered all the usual boring "how have you found service of the staff at Durban Airport?" and so on.. then he turned over the page, and the questions began to get slightly surreal.

"What have you learned during this interview?" he asked.
"Well, what have you learned from us, I guess?"
"Nothing really. You just came up and started asking me questions."
"Oh." he said. Slightly baffled.

Then he introduced himself, and his partner, and told me that I had now learned their names, and then I think he wrote down that I had learned their names, or something like that... Strange... Yellow T-shirt wandered off to get a drink or something. Then black-leather-jacket asked if I was from the Doulos. So I said yes, he brightened up and said that he knew some people from the Doulos, they had visited his church, a few weeks ago.

Oh. Right.

So we talked about church for a while, and about Doulos, and he gave me his number for if ever I am in Durban again. Then his friend came back, a bit puzzled that we were still doing the questionaire. It turned out that we had actually finished it, and he was now asking me questions from the post-interview staff-debriefing paper. That explained the strange questions! So they said goodbye, and wandered off. I sat around for a bit, and eventually my flight was called, so I got on the plane, and left Durban.

One Short Boring Flight Later...

Jo'Burg International! Very confusing airport. I got myself a muffin to eat, and some Biltong for my brother and father, in a sealed plastic container thingy with the last of my South African money, and attempted to find my way to the "International Transfers", apparently different to "International Departures". Some of the signs had it, others didn't. Eventually, the signs pointed me down a dead end.

I went up to a South African Airlines desk and asked where on earth to go. The lady said "Ah, we haven't finished building this part of the airport yet. The signs are all wrong. Just go out that door, and follow the signs for International Departures." Oh.

So I went out the door, and was now outside the airport! Taxi's went past me! This was a bit confusing, so I just followed the signs. I soon entered a large building, with hundreds of people and millions of signs pointing to all kinds of different boarding gates. I had no idea where to go at all. Then a strange man walked up to me and said "International flight?" so I said "yes" and he said "Follow me" and rushed off into the melee. So I followed him, cautiously, half expecting him to go down a small alley, and then for 30 huge men with stockings over their heads to jump out and try to steal my passport or something. Luckily, nothing like that happened, and he did lead me to the right place. It would have taken ages to find it myself. He did ask for a tip though, so I gave him one. I then went through the security checkpoint, and started heading for my gate. I then saw my STEP sister sitting reading! So I went up to her and said "Howzit?" or something like that. ( Howzit is the typical greeting in South Africa, by the way. ) She said "fine" and asked what time I was to check in. I didn't know, so asked her what time she was checking in. She said about an hour. She told me I really ought to know what time I was checking in. So I checked my ticked and told her "About half an hour."
"So you really ought to be checking in about now then?"
"I guess so."
"Well, go check in then!"

So I did.

One Long Boring Flight Later...

Dubai! Dig that ultra Mod-Arab style thing, habibi! Yeah! Texted my parents again, to say I was safe, and waited for my next flight. Duty free food is a lot cheaper in Dubai than in Jo'Burg or Durbs. I got a bottle of water and a Bounty Chocolate/Ice-Cream bar for less than a single US Dollar. Nice.

One Medium-Length Boring Flight Later...

Larnaka! Home! My luggage did arrive safely, which is a good thing.

Small Important historical aside: About 2 weeks ago, I saw this quite cool Indiana-Jones/Explorer type hat at one of the stalls down by the Durban Sea-Front. I saw it and immediately thought "That's just the sort of hat that my father would have always wanted, but never got around to buying because it is just silly and expensive and his mother would probably have disapproved." And they were quite cheap. So I bought 2. One for him, and one for me as they are rather cool.

As I pushed my trolley through the slidey doors of Larnaka airport, I looked left, and there were my family to meet me! My younger brother with his hair cut, Mum with her hair looking approximately like it did in photos of her from 20 years ago, and ...

Dad wearing one of those exact same hats!!!

Quite a strange feeling passed over me. Not sure whether to laugh or cry. I've felt like this a lot recently. So I did neither, but I did pray under my breath "OK, God. Very funny. What exactly are you teaching me this time?".

It's kind of semi-annoying, and yet quite personal and touching when God does this to me. He's been doing things like this a lot. I go to a whole load of effort and get really worked up or excited about something, or do lots of planning, and then He goes right ahead and does something clever and shows me that I needn't have gotten so worked up, or spent so much effort, and that He is in control anyway. So. There are 2 options. Either God is just having fun, and this is some kind of joke. Quite possible. I mean, we're made in God's image, and one of the elements that makes us human is humor... but it's quite a worrying thought. The other option is that He is teaching me something. In fact, I'm sure He is teaching me something.

Hope I find out what, one of these days...

I greeted them quite enthusiastically, and they took that photo of me that got posted a few days ago, and we went home. Good to see them again. And the cats again too. And all of Larnaka.

Later, I gave my dad the hat, and told him where and why I had got it. And he said that yes, he had seen his in a cheap tourist shop and had thought that those were just the sort of hat that he would have always wanted, but never got around to buying because it is just silly and expensive and yes, his mother would probably have disapproved!

Monday, August 29, 2005

Here is a picture of that wee whaley thing we saw from up on the bridge, way back. Cute, inni?

A few people have suggested that I start formatting my blog and filling it out a bit, and turn it into a book, and try and get it published. So I went through and copied all the text into a AbiWord document, went through it all with the spell-checker (which I had to look at sternly and tell not to use American spellings...) and then did a word-count... 26839 words! Wow... I would never have expected that! Subtract a few hundred for headers and dates and all, and well. Yeah. That's pretty good for a start. I'll start tinkering with it soon, and adding anecdotes and all. Just random perhaps interesting stories. Like this one:

While I was on watch, the second time, more people would come and just chat to me, which was nice. It helped the time pass faster. Anyway, one of the guys who came up and chatted was a Project Worker (short termer, not a STEPPER, just came for a specific job or time or whatever), from Finland. We were talking about this one guy some of the ship's company had met, who said he was British, on holiday on Durban, but had had his passport stolen, and now the British Embassy would not let him get a new one, as they had no proof that he was who he said he was. Not a fun situation. Anyway. Apparently, for Finnish people it is a lot easier, you can just walk into any Finnish Embassy, and get a new one just like that! I asked how this was possible, and he told me in his deep nasal voice "You just speak to them in Finnish. Anyone who speaks well Finnish must be from Finland. Nobody else can." Ah. That explains it. Apparently also the government has some kind of way of validating it, perhaps with fingerprints or DNA or something as well... I could probably use this as a good excuse to rant on for a few pages about the horrors of Big Brother Is Watching You And Reading Your DNA. or something like that. But I wont. I mean, most people already have pretty strong opinions about it, one way or the other, and whatever I say will have no effect on them. Or on their opinions. I used to have so many random discussions and arguments with one of my cabinmates, who left earlier than the rest. The American Seminary-student. Man, that was fun. "What is the difference between ignorance and innocence? And which is the more blissful?" "How to respond to leadership, and disagreement-with leadership?" and so on, as well as all the usual ones , Speaking in Toungues, Church leadership structure, responce to disagreement with leadership, basis of faith, various cultural things, and so on. Lovely. We disagreed on so much! And at the same time had a similar view on many things. Yeah.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Here is a picture of the crowds in Nacala (the first port I visited, properly). It's kind of amazing still to me how many people visited, even though it was such a poor port. Mind you, a lot of stuff was stolen at that port. There are normally tables of pens, key-chains, etc, with Doulos pictures on them, and although practically none were sold, the tables were almost empty by the end of the first day. We stopped selling them there after that. That's enough for today. I'm still kind of settling back in to Cyprus, trying to get stuff organized, and all that.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

In the words of one of the Douloids I met "I'm back! Sviss Power! Ja!" The middle bit doesn't really make sense for me to say, about sviss power and all, but the "I'm back"bit and the "Ja" do. This is a photo my wee bro took of me at the airport, with me bag and other bag, which I repaired (and held out for the whole trip back!). Yeah. So, I'll post about the wonderful trip home again soon, and have now allowed comments on the blog for everyone, so PLEASE leave comments! Oh, and I will be uploading many more pictures soon too, and continuing to blog, and talk about the trip and all, so don't stop coming to this page, oh dedicated masses, but remember ye all to visit again whenst ye hath time or even forsooth, if havest ye not.


Tuesday, August 23, 2005

I've been doing loads of laundry... so many guests move in and out of my cabin and they forget to take their sheets to Laundry when they leave, so there was about 20 sheets, 9 pillow cases, and so on. About 20kg in all, I think. I also have given some towels to Charlie.

Anyway, I have added a few more things to my case, and one or two people want me to take things back to Cy for supporters and friends there... so I hope I have room!

Doulos is A.C to about 24 or so, and yet it feels like hard work here! I will go ask about flights now...
I've packed, at least mostly. And the main luggage is about 18 kg, w/o towels (which I may leave), and w/o todays clothes (all quite light, which is why I am packing them and not wearing them. Although I may pack my heavier ones since it is so low).

I have not actually re-confirmed my flights, but was told by someone else that the pursor may have done that. I was going to ask her today, but the office was shut. I hope it all turns out OK. Anyway, if the meals are meat, I shall just eat less (ie, that which is not meat) , and drink more fruit juice, which may be a good thing anyway.

I'm so tired today. We went out to a Zulu village/tourist thingy. Very cool, I guess, but living in Larnaka has made me so skeptical of Tourist things of any sort at all that I enjoyed it less than the others. Oh well.

There was a crocodile park there as well... they have
well over 50 crocs, in various places, and we had dinner there as well. They had this thing they called "The Fear Factor Challenge", which was basically they put out some tables in one of the croc. compounds, and the people who wanted to could sit at the tables and eat crocodile kebabs with nothing between them and the crocs, and 1 guard standing there with a stick to point the crocs in the other direction.

Not really my thing.

So I just stuck to the resturant, and
had a quite nice fresh salad and bottled water. Nice to have truely fresh vegitables, again. Doulos ones always seem to have a slightly brownish tinge to them... Anyway. I justtified not doing the Fear Factor with the following sylogism (if that is the right word):

Premise) The park will not gain a good reputation by having visitors lose fingers.
Premise) If it were dangerous, then visitors might lose fingers.
Conclusion) It is not dangerous.

So, therefore, you pay the extra 40 Rand or so just for a "thrill" which is in fact, not dangerous, and rather silly. And also, if it was at all dangerous, then I quite like my fingers, and find them quite useful, at times, and so risking them for the sake of saying I had eaten with crocs is intensely silly.

So I didn't.

Crocs are such weird creatures. The keeper bloke who was showing us around before hand was down in the compound with them and tapped them, and one of them (100 years old this year) roared at him, and snapped at the stick. They are just so primeval! So totally lifeless until roused, and then totally instinctive until they forget, and then back to domant again. And so big! Weird. Weird. Weird.

Anyway. I'm tired. I'm buring a few CDs of stuff.

Bananas, other fruit, yogurt, just usual stuff is so unusual here. I am looking forward to coming home. And yet I know I will miss Doulos too.

Monday, August 22, 2005

About 10 STEPPERs left today. So it will be very lonely now in my cabin. 10 person cabin, now with just 2 people. Myself, and a German new STEPPER, who does not speak so much English, and keeps totally different hours to me. I am going to bed about 11pm, and getting up at 6, or 6.30am, he is in bed by about 9pm, and wakes up about 7.30 or 8am. So, yeah.

Very good
on board Sunday Service, extremely good talk/sermon/whatever by one of the pastor/leader/teachers on board about the book of Job. Then afterwards I was able to help set up for the Doulos birthday party, and then get into a clown costume, makeup, and all that.

At the beginning of the programme (it was raining, so we were all indoors), we did a small
sketch, which was fun. About 3 minutes. Then after that, I went outside (it had stopped raining) with the other clowns to do some juggling and other entertaining. I spent the whole afternoon out there, juggling, playing with someones very nice poi, and being funny, making people laugh, etc. Clowning is fun. But tiring.

If/when I come back to the Doulos, I would really like to organize or be part of more regular juggling/ circus workshops, or whatever. There used to be some, but now the people who used to do that have mostly left, and there are only 1 or 2 part-time jugglers on board, with not a huge ammount of motivation to practice, except when there is something coming up...

Speaking of coming back... People who join the Doulos for 2 years join in groups, and first have a 2 week or so training time together in whichever port the Doulos will be arriving at. These groups are called "Preships", and people will mostly still introduce themselves for on-board events with something along the lines of "Hi, My name is David from the Istanbul Preship" or whatever. Preship training happens every 6 months. The end of January/Febuary, and in August/September.

The last Doulos Preship to join (the most recent one) joined actually in Larnaka, which was why the ship visited then. They are the
Beruit Preship. The next one will be Richard's Bay (South Africa), in less than a month. This is all kind of technical, I know. But the point of it all, was that people don't really have a whole lot of choice in where they join the Doulos. And I think that if God wants me to join, He is able to provide the money, and also the flight costs, at that time. Some people have said it all tends to be last minute, with crazy things happening, like having people wanting to support them and telling them in their last 2 weeks before they come, all that kind of thing.

Anyway. About joining, the Febuary 2006 Preship keeps coming up in conversation with people here, as there would still be a lot of people I know and have been working with, many of whom are leaving next August, or September 06.

Also the lady who I met in the airport on the way here, and is the Book-Ex manager from Logos told me that the Jan/Feb'06 LogosII preship will be very interesting to join, as it will be right during the LogosII to Logos Hope change over, people would get a year work on LogosII, in time to move to Logos Hope as experienced crew, and be part of setting the whole mood and new Logos Hope scene, which would be amazing.

I don't know. We'll just have to see if it is the right time that God wants me back here, or not. If at all. It's still 6 months away, anyway. Many things can change in that time.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Some of us STEPPERs went out today to the largest Shopping Mall in the Southern Hemisphere... "Gateway" ... You can probably find it on the internet (surely).* Huge place. I felt quite intimidated. I think I have more culture shock at places like that than I do from any place in Mozambique! I mean, it is just so BIG. And so posh, and modern, and all of that.

I think I spent about 15 dollars, on getting there and back (we had to go by taxi, and split the cost), and on a meal (veggi lasagna), and a vegetable curry pie. Lovely lovely food. The veggi lasanga was about 7 dollars, the pie about 1 and a half, and the rest was the taxi... It's odd, I feel quite bad about using the money for this, but some of the people did say "use this money as you want to...", and I have not spent a lot of money, comparatively.

Money... strange stuff. Yesterday I was helping on my e-day at that orphanage where they had 50-something kids in a tiny little house, with 2 or 3 kids to a bed, today walking around a Shopping Mall where one single concrete column which is for decoration only, and doesn't even hold up the roof probably costs more than the entire cost of the orphanage building!

The ship did give a gift to the orphanage, but they had to purposely make it small, as a large gift would be overwelming, or something like that, and would actually do more harm than good.

It's this whole relativistic thing. One person's poor is another persons stinking rich, and neither of them is right. Particually thinking of stuff
like say the Doulos P.M (private money). Crew get 20 USD per month as personal money. In Mozambique, that is a huge ammount, which can go a huge way, and still leave a lot to be donated at the end of the month, but in Cyprus, 20 USD is 10CYP, which is enough for perhaps 3 gyros, if you go to the right kebab shops, which if you were staying in Cyprus for a month, and wanted to go out and see the place, isn't much.

Being a STEPPER is a bit different, so many people have said, as we don't have P.M, we have brought money with us to use... Like, one of the others was telling me today, she is American, and all her friends and family and supporters are expecting (explicitly in some cases) gifts and souveneers from her when she returns. So it is a bit hard for her to get all of these and see everything and do everything.

If you are on for 2
years (or more), you can be more relaxed about things like gifts and so-on. I don't know... I've spent a long time today just sitting in the Mall, thinking about all of these things, about what is right and wrong ways to use money and stuff like that.

For instance, if you are living in a richer country, and want to be able to relate to others easily, then giving all your money to missions and to charity, and living on whatever the minimum you can, and never going out to a mall or movie or whatever is not really going to help. And it is not certainly right in the first place.

How can one know what is good or not uses of what God has given us? Things like the lady who spent a lot of money on the perfume for Jesus' feet. Or the banquets which Jesus attended, and so on... It really is a very big can of worms. And not very pleasant worms, at that. I'd never really concidered the whole thing very deeply before. I have the feeling that it is going to be another of those vastly complex issues with no Right or Wrong answers again, but which many people claim do have Right or Wrong answers.

I dunno.

Many of the STEPPERs are leaving tomorrow. That is why we went out today. It will be very strange seeing them all go. Sunday Monday and Tuesday will probably be the hardest days on board for me. I know for Andrew, from the previous STEP, the days after his group all left were the hardest. For me it is not quite so bad, as another STEPPER is leaving the same day as I, and 2 or 3 are staying on for another month, but they are going to be with their S.P.s, so I probably wont see much of them anyway.

Listening to a CD of Grieg, while typing this letter in the Library. Such lovely music. "Death of Ase" from the Peer Gynt Suite... I'd say "sadly apropriate" but don't want to be so morbid.

It's interesting, the group dynamics. When we first came on board, the previous STEP were really togeather, strong, bonded, and all of that, and all of us were slightly intimidated, I think, and most of us are quite quiet people (1 or 2 are not), and so it too a while to get to know each other. But I was rather happy yesterday to actually get punched jovially in the arm by one of the quietest girls in the group, who I would never have thought would punch anyone jovially. If another real STEP had arrived last week, they would probably be rather intimidated too.

I was talking to an Ex-Douloid yesterday, who was on the ship 2 years ago, and I remembered from before. She was saying how she had actually not bonded so much ever with the group of people who joined at the same time as her, but more with her cabin mates, and work colegues.

She said it was very strange coming back to the ship for a few weeks at this time, she was
getting to work in her old department, but so many things have changed, and so many new faces. Enough people still remembered her, but she said she remembered other ex-douloids visiting during her time on board as crew, and they had had no-one remember them at all, as everyone had left, and so had been quite depressed and such by the whole experience of visiting, expecting it to be the same, and yet different, and finding it different, and yet the same. No longer being part of the crew in the same way, being an outsider in a place you had been at home for 2 or more years.

"Abduction and Ingrid's Lament" now playing. Hm.

Yeah. Anyway. I'll go and do some clarinet practice, or something. Time passes so quickly, on board.

* Yes. Gateway mall in Durban, South Africa

Friday, August 19, 2005

Amazing days. Wow...

Yesterday, for e-day, we only left the ship at 6.30pm. We went to a Methodist Church for the homeless meal they have every week. We did 2 dramas, someone told their story, and they sang a song too.

Just as we were eating (good food. A kind of vegetable soup/thing with some rice, and white bread.), all the lights went out. The church was quite hi-tech, and they had spent most of the time before that setting up their computer-powered power-point lyric projection for the songs they (the church) had planned for the evening.

I was quite glad the lights went off, actually, in the end, as it meant the whole program was a lot more simple. We didn't use the music for the dramas, just did them straight. Which IMHO is often the best way. The music does make things seem rather too professional, which in a situation like that, you don't really want. Many of the people there are in fact believers, but many are still struggling with drug addiction, and other problems, which the church is helping them with.

I was able to talk with one guy quite a lot afterwards, his name is Julian, and he had a broken leg. He was talking about his life, moving to South Africa (from the UK) about 30 years ago. He now does not have a job, since he broke his leg he cannot work, but he had such faith, and trust in God, saying "I really am so thankful to the Lord, He has never let me go more than 2 weeks without work." And was in fact going back to work the next day.

As he did not have a job because of his leg, he had not been able to pay his rent, and so had been sleeping on the streets for the past few weeks. Talking to him helped me to understand a lot more of why there is still anger and racism. He was quite a nice guy, but in his talking was not friendly towards the Black and Indian people in S.A. During Aparteid, he had had a job, and had been safe walking around in the city after midnight. Now, any time after dark is too dangerous to walk around, and he has no job. He believed that it was because now that Black people have more rights, they want to be in charge, and to squash the Whites.

I was able to tell him that it is not just S.A, and nothing to do with people's skin colour. Like how we in Cyprus are getting increasing crime and less safe, particually in Lemesos, and that there is now resentment in some Cypriots against Russians, because they believe it is them bringing in the crime. There are elements of truth mixed into all of this, but blind hatred and racism isn't the answer, of course. We just have to treat all others as we believe Jesus would, and pray about what we cannot.

Anyway, it was quite encouraging to be there, and talk with them all. We had some sweet hot drink at the end. It was so sweet, that I still don't know if it was tea or coffee. We got back about 10.30pm.

Then this morning, we met at 6.30am, and after praying, went to a hosptial waiting room. Not quite what I had expected. It was like a bus station, or train station. Outside, metal roof, london-style benches. There was someone singing when we arrived.

We then did a programme, talked about where we all were from, and then we did the sticky-chair drama. I really enjoy doing that. I did it last night, and this morning. Both times I got to play the main character, which is so fun. Simple, but fun. It is a bold and clownish story, and so you need to overact and be funny. I think I can manage that. So many drama classes and working at Antidote... I can see now why and how things like "The Frog Prince" were useful...

Afterwards in the car, one of the guys said to me "Wow, that was amazing, I've seen the chair drama before, but never quite like that!" And both of the English 40+ year olds on the team called me a "Dark horse", whatever that means. I so enjoy doing drama and acting, and it's cool when other people appreciate it.

After someone told their story, and someone else told them about the good news, one of the guys then prayed with and for them, doing the whole "Sinner's prayer" type of thing, and afterwards, the lady who had been singing when we arrived asked for all those who had accepted Jesus to raise their hands. My goodness. You'd never do that in the UK any more! Or Cyprus.

Anyway. About 7 people did, which was quite a shock to me, and then they gave them copies of John's Gospel, and told them to come back on Sunday. Every Sunday at 10am, they have a church meeting in that waiting room.

Then we got into the Doulos minibus, and went to an orphanage. It was in fact a small house which a lady lived in. She had taken in a few children from the street about 9 years ago, and now had 50 or so children, from 6 months to 13 or so! We helped to carry in some new beds which one of the churches had just brought, and talked with them a bit.

One of the helpers at the orphanage was Deaf. She was very good at lip-reading, and could speak a little. As we were all hanging around afterwards, waiting for some of the others talking about photos, I asked her (in American Sign) if she knew Sign Language. She signed yes! She told me her name D-O-L-L-Y, and told me that her mother was one of the other people working there. I introduced myself, and said I had learned a little bit of sign. We did not have much time to talk after that, but it was extremely cool to be able to sign to someone all the way out here in Durban!

Anyway. We got back to the ship at half ten, and now will be leaving again at 12:15, so I must rush off to get something to eat. This afternoon we are going to a school to teach some students some dramas and things.

Very exciting days!

Thursday, August 18, 2005

The last few days have been kind of stressful, and kind of funny. I don't know wether to laugh or cry, a lot of the time. I figured laughing is more socially acceptable, so have tried to stick to that.

I have had my last 2 working days in Deck, and did hardly any work at all, it feels like. The day before yesterday, we were going to be doing some varnishing on the Starboard prom deck, just outside the mess. However, after devotions in the morning, all the lifeboat teams got called to safety training, and so that meant we didn't do any work for about an hour. STEPPERs are not envolved in lifeboat or safety training.

Then when we got there, we discovered that it had rained on the previous days layer of varnish, which another team had done, and it looked terrible. So as we were not sure if it would rain again on top of whatever we did that day, I suggested putting up some poles and hanging a canvas over it. We could not just hang a canvas without poles, as the deck above stops right above the railing, and the canvas would be hanging on the railing.

So the (acting) team leader told me, "Good idea, you do that and the rest of us will go and get the varnish and other cleaning stuff for the rails." So off I went. I found some roller extensions, which would work fine, and also got some rope from the foc's'cle. Then I set to work, perhaps not in the easiest way, but in the most straitforward that I could think of at the time. I fixed all of the poles sticking out horizontally from the ceiling out to about a metre beyond the edge of the railing, and used the rope to keep them all from falling out. Just using simple hitches all the way along.

When I had finished putting up the poles, which took about half an hour, I went to find the others, who were still not there. They were all up on another deck, varnishing that one. I told the leader that I was finished with the poles, and asked where I should get the canvasses from.

He said, "Well... I hate to say this, but I think this whole thing is just taking too much effort, and if it does rain, we're screwed anyway, because this rail we are working on now will get wet. So, if you could just take down the poles, and instead pray that it doesn't rain."


OK. Well, no problem. So I took down the poles. I was just finishing that, when they all trooped down, to get ready for lunch break. As they were walking past, the leader looked at the ceiling, and asked what on earth the splashes of rather messy water were on it. While attaching the rope, I had unfortunately let some of it hang onto the wet deck below, which was still wet from the cleaning team swabbing it. When I pulled the rope through the loops to make the hitchesto hold the poles in place, it had splattered the surrounding locale with droplets of muddy water. Oops.

So he got out the firehose, and sprayed it all down, laughing his head off the whole time. Which I guess is better than being angry.

Anyway. We spend the afternoon in varnishing that railing, and then we painted the same deck's gunwhales black again.

At 2.15pm, I had read in my email that I was supposed to go for a final STEP evalutation meeting with our STEP-mum in the dining room. So I got permission from the leader, and went off at 2.15. No one was there. So I checked her office, still no-one. Then I phoned the info desk, and found out that she was not even on the ship! Quite a strange feeling. So I went back to work. After we had finished, I cleaned up all the brushes and rollers and things. Still no sign of STEP-mum.

Then yesterday morning, after breakfast it was lifeboat drills, so again, Deck STEPPERs get an extra 45 minutes off. So I went to her office, and found out it was actually 10.15am I should have been there. I do not know WHY or HOW I managed to misread that, but oh well.

She didn't mind, and we had the meeting there. Just usual questions "What are some of the challenges you think you have faced during your time on this STEP?" and so on...

She then prayed for me, and I went back to my cabin to practice knots and chill out for a while. Most of the team leaders of the Deckies are doing EDH training at the moment, that is like so they can become qualified deck hands, and so they are all off at training all day, which is why it is a bit disorganized at the moment.

Anyway, so there are knot books and ropes lying around all over the place, and everyone discussing knots in the mess. There are some really facinating knots about. Amazing things.

After drills, our team went and moved down the parts for the quayside stage, as we have a programme on Monday (Doulos' 91st birthday!) and there will be many things which need a stage.

Then after getting that down, we waved and hugged goodbye to another STEPPER, and one of the 2 year people who had just finished, and then we got the brushes and things ready to do some more varnishing, and went further down the prom deck, to where another team had been working the day before, or perhaps before that.

It was a mess. Terrible! Varnish far too thick on, so it was running and had formed bubbles and drips, and bits running down the side of the ship! So we got the sanding machine, to sand off some of the worst, but as it was so thick, it was still not fully dried, and it just made a worse mess in the place we tried.

So we called the carpenter, and he said "Yuk." or something along those lines, and we took some deck knives, and also some scrapers, and began to scrape off some of the worst of it. We then left that to dry even more over night, and did some varnishing further along where it was not so bad.

Then it began to rain.

Not a lot, just spitting. We did a bit more work, but the rain meant we did not want to do too much more varnishing, as it really messes it up. Of course, everyone said "Hey, perhaps we should put up some canvases over the top!". Hehe.

We then cleaned up, painted some more gunwhale, and stood down. I was just half way through eating dinner, when I heard my name being paged. My goodness. They then told me to phone gangway, so I did, and was told, "Hey Daniel, did you know you are on meal relief today?"

No! oops! so I quickly ran to get my security uniform on, and then went on watch again for another half hour while the gangwayman could go and have dinner. Thankfully, she did not mind at all, and spent most of the time by the gangway anyway, eating hotdogs from the stall just across the quay, run by some Christian hotdog salesmen, or something.

Then I went back inside again, to find out I had missed 2 e-day meetings, one at 5.30, and the other at 6.00, as I have 2 edays now. Today, and tomorrow. Weird deckie-schedule. Anyway. They said it didn't really matter, as most people had not turned up anyway, and we would meet today to figure it all out.

So... I went to bed at about 9ish, feeling exhausted. Some days are good, some days not so good. I have 2 e-days now, which should be good, as I think I will be getting to play clarinet, and do some acting and drama and stuff. Then on Monday, I have been asked to be a clown and do some juggling and stuff for the Doulos birthday party! That will be a lot of fun, I think.

Yesterday we had our last extended deckie devotions, and all the STEPPERs said a short bit about how we had found life on deck, and what we were planning to do after. Then they all prayed for us too.

Oh, speaking of which, the farewell was not too bad, I managed to change the really corny music for something silly, which was not so bad. (The techno-trance version of the Sesame Street Theme... quite funny). I told an obscure joke, which a few people laughed at, and others muttered about for a few seconds, and then laughed at, some muttered at, and a lot just looked blank at.

"I have learned on Doulos that there are 2 ways to do everything. The Easy Way, and the Hard Way. These are also known, respectively, as the Obvious Way, and the ISM* way..." Oh well. Not so good, as jokes go, but yeah.

We have prayer night tonight, which is to be led by the STEP group. Should be good. I have not been asked to do anything, which may be a good thing, as I think I may be out tonight with the e-day. It is all really confusing for me, just this last week, what with finishing watch, not having done deck day work for 2 weeks now (Sabbath week before), loads of people leaving, all the extra STEP things, trying to get done many of the things which I need to before leaving myself, just general tiredness from having a weird schedule with all my e-days and off-days moved around, and so on.

All in all, I have really enjoyed working on deck. Even if it does take a long time to learn, and even if I have messed up a few times, and needed to re-do things. Very cool people, and I will miss the daily deck devotions, singing, and all that before work. I'll just stop now before I get all emotional and soppy.

Oh. Funny thing happened this evening. I got paged again, went to the gangway, and found this English bloke there. He said:

"Daniel? Hi! Christos Andreou said to say, 'Hi, Keep safe', and to check up on you."

Pause. Christos Andreou? There's a name I wasn't expecting to hear. So I started chatting to the guy, and got steadily more confused. I said that Christos and I had been playing in the same town band in Larnaka, and that his dad was my clarinet teacher. He said "Oh, I thought you had just met when Christos visited the Doulos..." What? Why hadn't he said hello then? He said Christos was staying with him in S.A, and had been for 3 years. What? Then he asked "You methim just last week while on gangway watch, right?"

Oooooh. The light dawns slowly across the face of Daniel. That Christos. A bloke had come up to me on watch last week, and asked "Hi, I don't suppose you have any Cypriots on board do you?" So I talked with him a while about Cyprus, he was a Cypriot South African, studying here. I found out his name was Christos, but I didn't remember the Andreou. Funny.

So, after this English bloke and I laughed about that for a while, he told me he had been a sparks in the British Navy for a while, and wondered if he could see the radio room... So we went around to the tours desk, and found that the offical tour would go up to the bridge, but not the radio room, so we went on that. Interesting for me to finally go with an offical tour of the Doulos. The guy seemed very happy about all of that, and afterwards said how much he liked being on a "real ship" again, not a floating hotel, like so many of them were these days. Yeah. So, quite a funny end to that day.

I'm off to breakfast.

*The ISM is the International Shipping Manual. It has a whole lot of rules and so on about the correct way to do stuff. Some of it makes sense, and some of it is just plain obscure.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Lots of people are feeling a bit low. But also most people are really excited to be going home. I am too, of course, but they are excited to be leaving the ship. I'm not.

I am really looking forward to being back in Larnaka, seeing family again, and so on. And I have so many things which I want to do. I want to learn to cook, for instance. If I come back to Doulos, then I want to be able to cook myself some pasta or calzonies or something occasionally. There are pantries which anyone can use scattered about the ship (I think we have 4 or so...).

Part of my feeling depressed though is not to do with leaving, or with missing other people,
because generally I'm quite good about that. Because I have been on the Doulos twice before, it's not a"never see Doulos again" thing, either, which some of the people have (the ones living in the USA) a bit. And as I want to come back again anyway, I hopefully will see quite a lot of the other people again anyway.

I think part of why I am feeling depressed is because I feel like I have not really acomplished anything much. I have had so many wonderful experiences, these last 2 months, and met so many amazing people, and seen such fantastic things (I'm running out of adjectives here), and yet feel as if I have actually contributed very little.

Our STEP-mum says that that is quite normal to feel a bit like that, but not to worry, as (a) she is quite happy with me, and (b)
*when* I come back for 2 years, I will have much more chance to be envolved with the Drama Group, music, and so on, as well as more chance to contribute in other ways too... But yeah.

Rebekah is still recovering from malaria, she is fully better, but is still weak, and she lost a lotof weight, and flying is never the most stressless experiences anyway.

The farewell thing tonight has a program of the following:

20:00 Welcome - STEP-mum
20:02 Thank you - Co-Director
20:20 Certificates - STEP-mum
20:30 Step participation:

Parade of Nations (AV-People) - everyone prepares 30 sec of talk - carrying T.A.N.Z.A.N.I.A. S.T.E.P. letters
Slideshow (raffi) Sing a song (nanana - goodbye)
Thank You & read a verse (Jenny)

21:00 End in prayer- STEP-mum

So, yeah. The "Parade of Nations" is a I-night item, where they put on this extremely annoying repetative dramatic music, and all the people envolved go forward wearing their national dress, and get announced by someone far too enthusiastically and everyone claps.

That is the cynical "I'm still depressed and everyone ought to blooming well know about it" version.


I was on watch when they did the meeting about this, and arranged it all, so I have about as much idea about the rest of it as you do. I shall just turn up and do whatever they ask me to. This totally typifies our group though. Some people not at the planning meeting, a few people will not be at the farewell (they missed work and so are not allowed to miss it again tonight), a few people not even sure what's happening, and 1 person already left. As they say on board: Wunderbar.

I found some pictures of one of the previous pre-ship training weeks on the scratch network drives today. Very cool. But I think I will learn to swim before I come back to Doulos too... one of the training items envolves having to un-capsize an inflatable life-raft in a swimming pool, and learning to put on a lifejacket while swimming too.

I went out to the town this afternoon with 2 of the others. One STEPPER who "needed" to buy a few more gifts for family, bf and so on, and her friend, the SP of one of the other STEPPERs, and myself. We took a taxi to the beach front, and there went to a whole load of various touristy stalls, selling loads of random ethnic-looking-probably-factory-made-oh-so-African things.

My goodness. I just read that sentance again. I must be feeling cynical

We walked around for a while, until they ran(d) out of money, (that's a pun) and so we
looked for an ATM machine. We walked until we saw a sign for one, down an alleyway, mostly deserted, heading off into a kind of beach/cafe complex thing.

Very quiet.

Too quiet.

One of
them was just starting to walk down the alley, but I called her back. I just did not feel happy about that alley. It was too far from anyone else, not a lot of people, only a few 20yo men hanging around. First time I have ever felt distinctly unsafe, and refused to go somewhere. The girls were joking about me being their Body Guard, and yeah.

So we walked back, and found another more public road which actually led to the cafe with the ATM machine. It didn't work. Just outside the cafe was a police car, so we went to ask the officer, and he said "Yeah. Well, if you get in the car, I can drive you to a better one. This is not one of the safer areas of town." So I got to ride in a police car!

Anyway. Cool. Very nice guy, he even waited for her at the ATM machine and then drove us back to the seafront. The police here are really good, apparently.

Later on we met a homeless couple, who made complex artwork things out of dried palm fronds, and were selling them at 5 Rand each, because they wanted to make an honest living, they said.
So we bought a few (extremely good), and then later met another homeless couple, who wanted some money to buy some special milk for their age-2 daughter (who was with them) as she was lactose intolerent, they said.

We wern't that naive, and one of the girls said "If we buy you some, and then give it to you, is that OK?" they said sure, so they (perhaps unwisely) found a taxi, and we went off to try and find some. We did, eventually, and came back, and drove up and down the seafront once looking for them but could not, and so, after praying, gave up, and went back.

We missed the gate at the port, and ended up driving much further than needed. Still, the taxi fare was about 5 pounds (10 dollars) in total, for all 3 of us, which is not too extravagent, I guess.

We are not supposed to leave the port except in cars, as it is not safe. Too many people have been mugged in this area. You have to keep cars locked, even while in them, never open windows more than a few inches while in the city, and so on, because of hijacking being so common.

Anyway. We gave the lactose-free milk power to the taxi driver for his niece, who he said was also lactose intolerant. He said he will try to visit the ship sometime before we all leave. Andrew (my cabinmate) finally left later, once we were back. Quite sad.

Oh, last night, as well as the water-gun Fireround, he took 3 or so black-binliner bags full of old scrap paper he had salvaged from the office departments, and then had put through the shredder, and tipped it out all over the floor of the one bathroom in the girls section. A place totally forbidden to guys to enter, but he said that as he didn't really want to come back anyway, there was nothing they could do to him, and he thought it would be worth it.

Many of the girls had seen him shredding paper earlier yesterday, and so it was hardly anonymous. Apparently a few years ago practical jokes along these lines, and even worse, were quite common... but the current Captain and Director don't really appreciate them, and so they are discouraged. (The jokes are discouraged. Not the Captain and Director.)

Things like when a new lot of recruits arrived, after their firedrill training, they would get woken up at about 2am, and told by random people dressed in full fire-gear that there was a drill on, and so when they went to their muster-stations, they would get heartily doused with the firehose. Good, typical, harmless expected types of things. But apparently it might cause people to stop believing real fire drills in the future... I can see their point, but in that particular instance, I don't think it really does. It didn't harm the previous recruits...

Anyway. That kind of thing is up to the Captain and Director, and if they don't like it, fair enough.

Anyway. Us STEPPERs just got paged to go meet up. I think something to do with this
farewell thingy.
I'm feeling more than slightly depressed. It is expected, I know. Less than ten days until I leave.

We have our Farewell evening tonight. The other STEPPERs have organized it. It sounds cheesy and terrible. I hope it isn't.

The last of the previous STEP is leaving in an hour. He has been in the same cabin as I the whole time, is completely crazy, English, and a wonderful brother. I am really going to miss him.

Last night was my last watch, and I was able to arrange to get myself doing the first FireRound of the night (11pm), which is the one in which you find most of the curfew
breakers. So many people have been ignoring curfew lately that my cabinmate (Andrew) who is leaving decided to do a last "goodbye" to the Doulos, and in his small way, to help to remedy the situation.

He bought a water pistol (Super-soakery type of thing. Huge great jets of water.) a
few weeks ago. Fireround last night was really fun. There were about 30 people breaking curfew. They got wet.

Anyway. I'm pretty depressed.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Most of the other STEPPERs are leaving on the 21st, My flight is on the 23rd, though. A lot of them are going to fly down to Cape Town, for a weeks holiday or something like that. The STEPPERs with SP are going to stay on until september some time, because their SPs are finishing their commitment on board then, and so they will fly home togeather (and in one case at least, get married! :-) ).

[If coming back for a longer stint in future] I know now that 5 pairs of shoes is absurd. I think that I would take 2 or 3 less shirts and shorts, and more trousers and another fleece or hoodie. Oh, and 20kg as an on-ship requirement is not so vital. Only airplane limits really would apply. The limit is (I think) just to discourage people bringing like 80kg or stuff.

I am thinking, if God is calling me back for 2 years, then perhaps it would be better to get a Greenline Buffet clarinet, rather than wood. I will need to try a whole bunch and find a good one, but if I am working on board a ship, and perhaps afterwards going out missionarying, then a wooden clarinet is slightly impractical. I don't really know.


The youth thing last night was OK. Not really very approp, though, I think. It was a quite large (300+ seater) pentecostal church (Tabernacle), with wooden pews, a raised procenium type stage, and so on. There were about 40 youth, maximum, from 4 or so different congregations.

We arrived at the end of the church's music group practice, and they were staying on to do some music for us, a "time of worship". So we all sat down, and they launched into a whole load of very upbeat loud songs I'd never heard before (no lyric sheets), during which time I noticed that (a) what a terrible P.A. system they had. I could barely understand a word said, or spoken, (b) the worship leader was speaking in Christianese, and seemed to be having a hard time connecting with the assembled teens, (c) having an eight piece worship band singing and playing with their eyes closed, waving their hands around, etc, doesn't really feel very helpful to connecting.

Even the worship leader had her eyes closed, and I saw her at one point waving furiously for the band to make it louder, and bigger, and she asked questions, during the quiet bits between songs, asking why we all were not really joyful, and things.

Anyway. Not really terribly useful, IMHO. Then for our bit. We certainly demonstrated to the youth that not all Christians are up on a stage, off on some other planet.

It was very disorganised.

The STEPPER who was M.C.ing our bit, introduced each item something like "Um, and thankyou for that, and, yes, next we have, um, Daniel, and he will do a, a drama."

Yeah, preach it, brother! Woo!

About my drama... well, they had put this pulpit/lecturn thingy out in the middle of the floor in front of the stage, and that was where I wanted to act. So I, dressed in my nice black acting shirt, and white Doulos mime-gloves, walked out accross the stage, picked up the lecturn, and walked it off stage, until I heard a crash, and looking down, discovered that it had had a rather nice glass of water in it, which I had just dropped, and smashed to shards, all over the floor.


What a way to begin. So, appologising profusely, I began to pick up the shards, and they helped, and then I got a chair, and did the drama. They laughed occasionly, which was nice, and I think all in all it went quite well, but I still had the smashed glass in my mind the whole time. Man.

After the whole thing, we had some cake and tea and buscuits and all. I burned my tongue on the tea (Doulos tea is never that hot!) Then we came back home.

We may all be going out to do more ministry things on Monday, and perhaps other days too. Last week will be busy, I think.

So, yeah. I'm going to go and get some food and stuff before my watch again this evening. Oh, I think I may be catching a Doulos/SouthAfrican Accent. Kind of worrying.

And we got yahoo messenger support now on Doulos! Woo! I could only remember Tim's user and password, so logged on with that. Cool. I am now chatting with JJ. Fun.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

I'm very tired.

Found out yesterday that tonight us STEPPERs are going on a ministry trip to visit a youthgroup, and tell them how great missions are, and encourage them to do them, or something like that. Anyway, John, who is in charge of it (the one who got mugged) told me that I am going to be doing a drama. The "offering drama". I'd never seen this, or ever even heard of it.

He said "well go find out from the creative ministries people". Ok. So I did, they told me in about 2 minutes. It's a 1 person drama/mime. Very cool story, actually. They gave me a pair of white gloves too. I wish I had brought my black tousers with me.

Oh well. Maybe I'll do it at some point in Larnaka.

So I had then to find a way to get out of being on watch tonight. I SHOULD have been given time off already. About a month ago our STEP-mum sent an email (she said) to each of the deparment heads saying that STEPPERs need to be given time off on Friday nights, and other STEP times.

But last Friday was Sabbath Week, and so no STEP ministry time. The Friday before that, we were on overnight, and so no STEP ministry. And the Friday before that, we were voyaging, I believe. Or if not voyaging, then something else happened, or else I wasn't on watch, or something. I don't remember.

Anyway, so this is the FIRST time that the situation has acutally arisen, and so they had forgotten about this, and so I had to personally this afternoon find another deckie, and them willing, to swap watches with me for next week. Happily, I could find someone, and so that's OK. But it will mean that now I have to do an extra watch next week for one day. :-(

Oh well.

Met more home-educators today. 8-til-12 really lets you meet more people.

I'm thinking about renaming my blog "oh well". What do you think? heh...

One of the previous STEPPERs, the one who left, lost his badge. Yesterday, while we were cleaning up our cabin to allow the other new STEPPERs to move in, we found it. Then one of the other cabin mates took the badge, and pinned it on the notice board with this note:

"Attention Ship's Ladies!
Want a piece of the hunk that is
(name) ? His name-badge is going on
auction with a starting bid of 10 Rand,
please contact cabin (number)."

Then this morning, someone stole the badge from the board! This shocking problem caused my cabin mate to put a new notice on the board:

"Lost! One name badge belonging to (name).
Could whoever has stolen it please return
it to cabin (number). I know he is handsome,
but stealing is wrong!"

Then this afternoon, I saw his badge up on another cabin's door. I told my friend, and he went and got the badge. Now he is going to put a new notice on the board, saying something like

"Due to high demand, the badge belonging to (name)
will no longer be on display, and for security purposes
will be kept safely in cabin (number). Bidding will resume,
at (price), please contact us!".

We have the strangest notice board.

Anyway. I must be off. I am reading "The Practice of the Presence of God", which I found in the Library. Interesting. And I also want to run through this drama/mime thing, and also do some replying to other emails and things.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Still deck work to do, but not for watch keepers. I get the whole afternoon free, which is very cool. I hope to go out tomorrow. I bought some more at the book-ex today. A study bible (slightly 'damaged', it got wet or something while sailing), NIV, basically the same as my old one, for aprox. 2 CYP (equiv.), a new bible-cover, and a book of knots and rope work. I am wondering if I perhaps will run out of space to take things, or luggage allowance. I was under when I came out, right? And I will be leaving some shoes behind. So...

Strange life. Random happenings, on watch. A man walked through the gates, wandered around the quay for a while, went to our book-ex packing equipment, and started pulling a loading-trolley, and heading back towards the gate again. Not a port worker, just a random person. So I went up to him and told him "Please don't take our trolleys", took it from him, and put it back. He wandered around a bit more, and then left.

I met a family of home-schoolers today. They arrived an hour early of opening time, and so I chatted to them for a while. Christians. Very nice people. We talked about schooling, and from there into evolution vs. creationism, and from there into end-times, and he then told me that, by the way, the AntiChrist is alive and well, is English (sorry), 51, grey-haired, and just got married recently (again).

When I looked puzzled, he then told me the name of the AntiChrist, which adds up to 666 when the letters are counted, or something like that, in both English and in Hebrew. He is decended from royalty, and one day will be King of England, if his mother leaves the post. Hmm. I hadn't concidered him before... hmm.

Oh well. I have a hard time taking seriously all this eschatology stuff, I'm afraid. It's a major failing, I know, but... well... what happens happens, and I don't think we can know exactly who will do (or be) what, and when it will happen. One day, perhaps, I will learn to take it seriously. Perhaps. Maybe I will end up knowing who the AntiChrist (if there is _one_) will be. Perhaps I will write books and hold seminars decrying the evil hidden deeds of whoever I know for certain the evil incarnate is... Perhaps not.


This guy also gave me a CDROM of some pastor doing some teaching about evolution, I think.
I also met a teacher of an A.C.E school here, which is being forced by the government to switch to using it's curriculum, which she is upset about because it is so secular humanist, evolution and all, but she says is OK, because they will screen all the stuff before they teach it.

The volunteers all speak English here, which is cool, and are all quite sociable, so I have got to know some of them, and talk about stuff with them. Also SO many South Africans on board have family coming to visit and stay, and I got to chat with one family, so friendly, and talk about much.

Anyway. I'm off to do some clarinet, again, and then get ready for watch tonight.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Doulos opened in Durban today. I am on gangway watch 8 til 12, so any time in the afternoon I am available to give tours. Today was the official opening in the morning, and then we opened to the public at 2pm. It is now 2.30, and I will go and see what's happening once I've finished the email.

One of the STEPPERs is leaving in half an hour, to go home. He is finishing early to go to back to seminary, he arranged this from before, so apparently STEP dates are really not so set in stone. It feels very odd to see him leaving.

Today just as I was finishing up my watch, at mid-day, a group of 3 people came and wanted to see the ship. We were not yet open, and so I phoned the tour people, and line-up, and others, but no-one was free, because of the offical opening.

So once my relief came, I took them on a tour, showing them the ship, and then when we went up to the book-ex, found it was open,
a group of pastors had arranged a special trip, and the book-ex staff allowed my tour to go and buy a load of CDs and books and things.

My tourists (ha) were very happy, and impressed (I think), and said they will try to come back sometime, but live quite a way away. They were Christians, I think, they bought some worship CDs, anyway. "The 20 Worst of '90s Worship: 100% pure cheese" or something like that (that was a bit harsh, though)... there is SO much Christian pop-worship on this ship, it is unbelievable.

Sarah, who works in the kiosk was
listening to some classical the other day, Beethoven, I think, and it was such a nice change to hear! If I come back to the ship, I think I will remember to bring a CD player, or something, so I can listen to all kinds of music.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

(Again on the computer with the weird spacebar).

Today is the last day of SabbathWeek, man, has it been tiring. Every morning doing the kids work. There are about 30 or so kids, ranging from ages of about 1 to 14, which is quite a large range. It means though that the range is too great for doing more formal games, I tried doing a few of the more basic drama games, but they just collapsed, as some kids just wandered off, others joined in enthusiastically, and then tried to help some of the younger ones, but then by helping the younger ones, got distracted from what they were doing. Oh well.

Today all of us were so tried, (I meant to type tired, but the typo seems to fit as well) that Jordan just didn't bother with a speaky bit (we are "doing" the fruit of the Spirit, LoveJoyPeacePatienceKindnessEtc), but just put on the tv, with some cartoons. Rubbish.

Absolute garbage.

I think it was roadrunner, or something like that, where one random overly cheerful character blows up, maims, and generally smashes another random overly cheerful character for 15 minutes, and then the whole thing starts all over again. Thankyou, mum, for keeping me away from too much TV when younger. Blah.

Anyway, as predictable, the kids started getting irritable, crying, "I can't see, you're in my way, I can't see" and so on, and so we took them outside for a while longer to just play on the fundeck (one of the lower decks (the poop deck officially) which is separate from the rest ofthe ship, and netted all around and has rubber floor, toys, swings, and so on).

We have been doing loads of crafts with them, Rachel has been in charge of the 5/6 years old group, and me helping for crafts. Anyway, it's over now, the kids seemed to enjoy it, and the parents are happy, so thats good. I have 8-til-12 watch next week, so I can relax. *phew*.

I had watch 2 times this week too. The information desk is closed after 5 during sabbath week, so that means all international calls come through to the gangwayman. SO many. My goodness. About 1 every 5 minutes. Then as the gangwayman has no way of paging the ship for the person to forward the call to, you have to do a complex redialing procedure to route the call through to their cabin, or if they are not answering there, then to dining room, or other places they might be.

One funny story, after my watch 3 days ago (4-til-8), one of my fellow STEPPERs was also on watch. He is from South Korea, and his English is good, but basic. The phone is dead hard to understand anything on any way (international lines), and the re-directing system on the ship is quite complex too. Anyway. So I handed over to him. Yesterday, I was on watch, and one of the other sisters on board came and said she was expecting a call. Her mum had phoned 2 days ago in the evening (the day I was on watch, but later, during this other guy's watch), and had been told this:

"Too bad, I don't know how this phone works, try again tomorrow, goodbye."

Funny. Very funny. She wrote quite a concerned email to her daughter saying "And I thought you were all christians!" or something along those lines. heh.

Also, I was answering a call, and looking up in the book trying to find a name to direct to, managed it, looked up to find 3 guys in smart suits right up at the gangway. It was one of the government ministers, popped in to see how it was going! Totally out of the blue! So I called the Duty Officer, and he told me to phone someone else, and quickly the line-up people came, and conducted an impromptu V.I.P. tour. Wonderful.

I love being here.

Yesterday was a big fun-night for the end of sabbath week, many people doing cool dramas, funny songs, and so on. The puppet-people have been putting together a very cool puppet show, mixing live puppets with a whole puppet-film they have been filming last week. I have been able to occasionally help a few times with them, which has been really cool. Being a puppeteer, so they could watch and direct the filming, holding strings during a mission-impossible type stunt scene with a flying puppet dropping from a rooftop, and so on. Really good fun.

Anyway, yesterday, I was not able to go to the funnight, as I was on watch, but was able to help the creative ministry staff with setting up the room, moving chairs, hanging set, moving drumkits, and all that kind of thing. I just enjoy being able to do theatre work again. If I come back for 2 years, then I would be able to get envolved more, and perhaps in the second year be able to transfer to doing creative ministry (drama, puppets, etc) full time...


Only 2 weeks or so left... very strange feeling. Like I have only just arrived, and like I have been here forever.

We have been doing Purpose Driven Life in one of the small groups on board. It seems, well... It basically is a 40 day course which covers (or touches on) most of the basic aspects of Typical American Evangelical Low-Key-Charismatic (not penticostal) Christianity. It is very organized, and too pushy for me. It doesn't really say anything new, but brings a whole lot of stuff together, and presents it well, and in an easy-to-get way.

It is aimed at pop-Christian-culture, and it fits very well. Basically, it gives the major Purposes of a Christian life, ie, getting to know God better, growing in Him, ministry in the church, and mission to tell the world about Him. It is all presented in such a way that I am sure it has helped many people, but it is so broad, and so sweeping in places, and so pop, (and American), that I think it has probably also annoyed a lot of people and perhaps even pushed some away too.

For me it is kind of take-it-or-leave it, or would be, except for how annoyingly enthusiastic some people are about it. I guess that is partly why it does agravate some people so much.

Monday, August 08, 2005

More photos! Dan sent this selection saying there will be higher-quality pictures when he returns. Also he can move them to the relevant blog posts.

This one is back from the first 'e-day', when he was helping to dig a reservoir hole for a family of missionaries.

Another group photo, I presume of the church he stayed with last weekend. This time Dan's in the front row, wearing a blue hoodie.

Apparently this is the pastor with Dan.

Dan is in the light-blue coveralls, the other guy is sitting on the 'bosun's chair'. They're doing repairs or maintenance to the funnel. I'm glad I didn't know about this until after the event!

Another view of the funnel.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Saturday 6th August

This week is "Sabbath Week". This happens once a year, and is a week of (comparative) rest and restoration and all of those sorts of things. Just good fortune for us STEPPERs to be here for it this time!

The book-ex is closed totally, and all workers from there are spread out about the ship, and all duties of all departments are cut down, so this means that (say in the deck department), we only have to do 8 hours each in the whole week, plus one day of being on duty (hardly any work, but cannot leave the ship for 24 hours), and one day of doing the garbage for 1 hour in the afternoon, and then done. So pretty light duties.

Every morning there are devotions/teaching/whatever from a special speaker, who this time turned out to be Dale Rhoton (one of the co-founders of O.M). Very cool. The STEPPERs, though, are running the childrens programme every morning, so we have not actually been to any of the devotions. Very good kids, all of them younger than 12, and seem to be very happy with the programme, organized by Jordan.

Yesterday was the ship outing to a waterpark and ocean-world, which I decided not to go on, as I had not had an off-day in 12 days, and my next off-day is on the 15th! So I needed an introvert day, and so stayed on board. There were only about 25 people on board, in all, which is about minimum to keep the ship going, plus a few extras (like me). Good day.

One of the STEPPERs from another of the overnight teams has malaria... she started getting ill during the overnight, so I guess must have picked it up a few weeks ago. She had to be brought back to the ship, and yesterday was taken to the hospital. Apparently she is doing much better though, now. My Big Brother bounced back from malaria after about a week, in total, before being back at work. But he is like that. Rebekah is not so hardy. It would be nice if folk could pray for her, as it is most difficult for her, only being here a few months, and yet getting malaria!

Also the day before yesterday some of the people went out to the city, one group was John (a Malaysian STEPPER) and a group of 5 girls. They were stopped on the road somewhere in the city by a whole group of men, who grabbed John, put a knife to his throat, and forced him to give them his camera, they also tried to get at his wallet, and sliced up his trowsers.

We are all very thankful that they did not hurt him at all physically, although of course he is rather shaken emotionlly. There really was nothing he could do, other than give them what he had. Apparently, from what the South Africans have told us, this is quite a rough area of Durban, and there is quite a lot of crime, and John being the only man in a group of girls was also more likely to get picked on.

Also, he looks ***very*** innocent. He is a very very lovely trusting guy, and doesn't look like he would hurt a fly. And he looks Asian, and there are
quite a lot of Japanese seamen here, who are all rich, and totally un-streetaware, as also, John is, and the muggers apparently can't tell the difference between Asian-Malaysian, and Asian-Japanese. None of the group knew even the first thing about watching people around them, keeping distances, eye-contact, and so on, either, so in a way it was not really something totally unexpected, but it is very sad, anyway.

Anyway, I'm off to try and get some coffee, and perhaps read a bit, or play clarinet, or drums, or something. I'm on duty and so cannot leave the ship for 24 hours.
The Doulos is now in Durban (South Africa) with an ADSL connection, so Dan's managed to send some photos, to give an idea of what he was doing on his weekend away from the ship (see posts below:)

This is a group photo, I presume of the Doulos team who visited the church, plus the pastor and his family. Dan is in the back row near the right of the photo, the tallest and fairest - not very clear of him.

This is inside the church, I'm not sure if this was before, after or even during the service!

And this one was simply entitled 'the loo'. Lovely.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Overnight Update part 2.

So, where did I leave off...

Ah, yes. The story thus far left our trustworthy hero in the hands of a local, with his fellow companions and he not knowing whence they should then depart to, and whatfor they were about to be occupied...

So off we went, the dear companions, our volunteer helper/translator, and I, off down the dusty mud-lined prickly hedged alleys of sub (very sub) urban Maputo.

Most the houses are made of cheap concrete breese-blocks, or from bamboo or reed thatch. The rooves are generally from corrigated iron, or occasionaly from more thatch. Floors are just cold concrete, if at all. Many are just mud, like the church building of the compound. There are often bamboo/reed mats on the floors, kind of like the ones we might use at the beach, just a little
bigger, and rougher, probably hand-made.

No running water, but with electricity, so you get a television in every house. I hate televisions, now. We visited a few houses, but every one had a T.V in it, and it was on. We talked to a few people, but with the T.V. on it was quite hard! We went to one man's house, a friend of our translator/volunteer, and sat down in his living room, to talk. He went to a different church, but apparently both pastors are good friends, so that's all right.

Anyway, he began to tell us (via translation) about his plans and work that he is starting to begin a youth/young-people programme in an area not far off, where there is a lot of poverty, and unimployment, and so on. He was asking us for what kind of things we had been envolved with, and some of the others shared about some of their experiences, and gave him advice, along the lines of how to get it going, how to make sure it didn't just stay as talk, but actually became something.

This is one of the things that the line-up teams have been emphasising to us the whole time in Mozambique. The Line-Up team is a team of 3 people (or so) who get sent to a port a few months in advance of the ship's arrival, and there they do all the negotiations of getting a berth for the ship, telephone lines, etc, as well as working with the local churches, and municipality, and so on, to find and work out the programme that the Doulos will have when she arrives, in order to be of greatest benefit.

There are currently 2 or three line up teams
out there, one in Richards Bay, and one in Madagascar. In some ports they will decide that the greatest need is practical work, so much of the effort of the Doulos will be in that sector. In some ports (like the last ones), a massive problem is HIV/AIDS, so we have had many programmes on board which are talking about this problem, as well as orphanage visits and work.

Many people in Mozambique just have NO idea about HIV/AIDS at all, and partly because of the culture, and other things, sex outside of marriage is quite common, with and without commitment, and even within marriage and family relationships, incest is rife, with some fathers sleeping with their daughters as a "normal" state of affairs. Adultery also is quite common, and there is little or no objection to this, by most of the population, and even parts of the church. They just don't know.

From hearing this, from the various line-up teams and from pastors in the area, it is quite easy to see why HIV/AIDS is such a problem! In many of the churches we visited, 1 in 3 of the congregation had HIV. It is very sad, and very hard to deal with. Much prayer needed.

Anyway, back to my point... one of the other things that the line-up teams of Mozambique, and particularly the one of Maputo had said to us was that there is very little teaching and knowledge of leadership and structure. Now I know that my dad, and others, will object to this being a problem. In the West, we have the opposite... too much leadership and structure. In the West, we are ALL encourages to "Become Leaders", lead small groups, bible studies, learn to motivate people, to have good people skills, to find the felt-needs of people to encourage them to come to church, and then at church, the structure is very confining, and mickey-mouse, and tries to make everyone the same.

The problem with leadership in Mozambique, from what we were told, is that they have no ideas at all about this. For instance, say God calls someone to work with the street-kids, and they think that they need a team
of people to work together. So they get a bunch of people interested, and then... well... they don't know what to do next. Yes, we need the Holy Spirit, and Yes, He will help us through these things, but... a certain knowledge of how groups function, how to stay focused during meetings, the realisation that different people have different gifts, and can not all do the same work with the same way, and so on, can be of great benefit.

Anyway. Enough of the theoretics.

We chatted to this guy for a while, me the whole while having problems concentrating, as the blasted T.V. was on, and then the others were watching, and going "Oh wow, it's Oprah! It's just like home again" and so they turned it up for a while to watch. Of all inane programmes I have ever been forced to watch part of, I think that whatever that was has to be one of the worst. Man...

Anyway (again). We left after a while, and went and met some other people, and then went back to the house. There we went inside, and sat down, and they brought us coffee, milk, and tea. Very very good, compared to ship coffee & tea. (All of it was Nestle, by the way...).

We heard music then, people singing, and were brought out by the pastor into the church building, where there were 25 or so people. We had not had time to change clothes, or to get any props (for the
Numbers Presentation, pictures of the ship, a map, or whatever). We went in, sang some songs with them (their songs. very cool, typical African style, a cappella).

Then after various things, praying, the pastor talking a little, and everyone singing an oyo-oyo song (oyo-oyo means "welcome" in the local language Shangana) to us, Jordan, the team leader said "OK, Daniel, would you like to share?"

So I stood up, opened my bible, and couldn't find my notes. I had made two A5 pages of notes, just points to pick up on, and possible links. But, none of them were there.

So I just dived in. It's quite easy to do a sermon, if you know the kind of thing to do, and aren't afraid of talking in public. Thankyous for welcoming us, gosh, how wonderful it is,
beautiful church, etc, today I want to look at a psalm... and so on. I think it went OK. I mean, it wasn't anything special, I didn't really say anything new, but whatever.

Anyway, afterwards, then Jordan shared a story with them, David & Goliath, and also linked to a similar psalm, and to Jesus walking on water. Afterwards, he came and told me "When you started preaching, I leant over to Ryan (the other boy on the group) and said ' He's stolen my message!' you picked exactly what I had!", just very slight differences.

Quite funny. I'm sure there should be some way to make the whole thing sound very spiritual and "Amen, obviously this means God must have been saying something special!" but if He was, I didn't really notice it. Oh well.

Then at the end of the meeting, the pastor said for anyone who wanted to, to come forward, and these wonderful American brothers and sisters would pray for them. So everyone started singing, and then one after another most of the people in the church began coming forward one after another, and knelt down and we laid hands on them and prayed for them.

We had no idea what any of them wanted us to pray for, so just prayed that God would answer thier prayers, whatever they were, and give them peace. Quite emotional, I think, very confusing and humbling to have people kneeling before you asking for prayer... I was feeling quite tired and low, unsure of why I was there or anything, and so after many of the church had been prayed for, I ended up on my knees, and Jordan and the pastor prayed for me. Nice people, then all the rest of the team and the pastor knelt and we all prayed for each other. Rather nice.

Afterwards, We all stood around talking outside, when the son/volenteer came up to me "Brother Daniel, it is now time for you to have your bath."

Oh. Right. Well, OK.

So I followed him into a tiny little room behind the church room. Basically a 1.5 metre cube with a corrigated iron roof. A washing basin full of warm water that they had heated for me on the fire, and a packet of soap was on the floor. "You can use this towel if you want" he said, and then left.

There was no door to the room, just a light shower curtain. So, not wanting to offend or anything, I quickly stripped, tipped water over my head to make it look like I had had a "bath", used a bit of soap, and dried off and went out again. Quite nice actually.

The trouble was that most of the church was just outside wandering around talking, and I realised that probably I had been given first "bath", or even the only "bath", because I had preached, and so probably everyone was waiting for me to finish quickly, so that we could either eat, or the rest could have "baths", or we would do another service, or something. You never know.

By this time, Ryan had gotten his new name. They thought that his name sounded like "rain", and so he got them to call him "Shuva" which means "rain" in Shangana. So after Brother Jordan and Brother Shuva had partaken of baths, (Brother Shuva somehow managing to have a bath in aprox. 40 seconds,
and come out with dry hair), we then went in to eat. The girls were not offered baths, by the way. Something cultural, I guess.

So we sat down to eat, us and the pastor only, and the women (his wife, and daughter in law) brought food out for us, they and other random relatives and people ate elsewhere. It was a kind of mashed rice thing, with a vegetable soup, and also a few other vegetable foods. Wonderful.

After that we sat in the living room, talked about families,
got introduced to them, and them to us, and then went to bed.

We were all sleeping nicely, us guys in one room, I presume the girls were sleeping in the other room, when just outside our window a most tremendous racket, a rooster.

Oh man. What time is it? Jordan and Brother Shuva were groaning and saying "Do we have to get up already?" but I checked my phone
clock, to discover that the rooster was slightly over enthusiastic about greeting us, and the hour was 3.32 in the morning. Thanks dude.

He continued to keep us amused with his loud raucus crowing until about 7.00, whereupon I got up, the family already up and working, the rest of the team all asleep. I guessed that I might have to do another sermon soon, so got my bible, and
began to prepair something. Didn't really get anywhere though.

About 8.30 or 9 or so the rest of the team got up, and we were served breakfast. Lovely lovely lovely. Pancakes, or crepes, (which for some reason Brother Shuva insisted should be called "craps"), mixed banana chunks and apple chunks (1cm cubes), with yogurt, and lovely crisp fresh white bread, and real butter. Amazing. On ship we don't have real butter, only marg, and the cereals get old, as we don't
normally have real milk either.


Lovely food, and afterwards, some more coffee and tea and stuff. After that, we knew we had a childrens program in the morning, and then a womens conference and then a youth event in the afternoon, and then another church service in the evening. So we got ourselves all ready to do the childrens program, until they told us that no, we were going out this morning.

Oh. Right. Well, OK.

But first they would kill the duck we had seen walking around, so that we could have it for dinner.

Oh. Um. Right.

That was my reaction. Not so the other lads.

"Oh boy! Wow, cool? Can I kill it? No? OK, I'll film it then! This is so cool...." so they caught the duck, chopped off it's head with an axe, and then dumped it on the ground. It continued writhing for a few minutes, with Brother Shuva and Jordan walking around with cameras saying "Man, this is so brutal. Like, this is just, so brutal man. Like, brutal." The family watching amused at their antics. Lovely. The girls were feeling a bit grossed out, they said. I didn't really feel anything. I knew it would happen. I don't like it, but offending other people is worse than offending me.

So we got a whole load of little booklets in Portuguese, and then a whole crowd of us went out. We gave them out to everyone we met, and then went into a whole load of peoples houses. We would just all troop in, and start singing a song. Then they would come out of some back room somewhere, look at us all "oh, hello." and then we would pray for them (more kneeling), and wander out again. Often they would join us.
Many of these people were
the not-quite-so-faithful, we were told. People who had not recently attended the church. OK.

At one house, we were just leaving, when our translator told us, "Oh, by the way, I forgot to tell you, at the previous house, not this one, but the one before, a man died yesterday. The womans brother. He was cleaning the house, his feet were wet, and he touched the electrics."

Oh. Oh dear. Um, thanks for telling us, how did you manage to forget to tell us while we were there? We could have prayed for her then!

Anyway. We went home for lunch.

Sounds awfully cold blooded, doesn't it. We did visit some more places, and so the same, singing and praying, but all of us felt a bit damped by that, I think.

Lunch was a chicken thing, with loads of vegeitables and other stuff. I didn't have any chicken. The cook asked why, and if I ever ate meat? So I said, no, not normally, so if I she had cooked the duck for the evening, and I ate her lovely chicken now, I would probably feel ill from too much meat. Well, that's kind of true. A bit true. Not totally a lie, anyway. I ate the chicken given to our church team last week sometime, and felt bad for the rest of the day and some of the day after, so, yeah. She didn't seem to have a problem with it, though, so that's OK. I hope.

Anyway, after that, everyone was so tired, they said, that they would sleep until 2.30, for the childrens program. So they went off to sleep, and I played Jordans guitar, I had not had much chance to practice before that.
Nice guitar. I also read a bit. I woke them at 3.00pm, but they went back to sleep, and again at 4ish, and eventually, I gave up, and went to read outside.

At 5pm, ish, they staggered out of bed, and found that there were quite a lot of kids in the church, and some of the people we had met on the morning. But they were just leaving, as it was too late for them to stay. Oh. OK. So we did some kids songs for the kids, "Allellu, Allellu, Allellu, Allelluya, Praise ye the Lord", and so on. The adults loved them too, and then at about 6.30, the pastor came in, joined in, and then eventually said "OK, let's start tonights service now then!"

So, we sang a whole load of Shangana songs, and then he talked for a bit, we talked for a bit, and showed them a map where we all were from, and Jordan gave a sermon. I then told them all the story of the prodigal son, w/o bible, and a small application of it, and then the pastor asked the girls if they would like to say anything to the women?

This rather dumbfounded the poor girls, who had been slightly in culture shock the whole time from seeing how much work the women did, how they didn't eat with the men, but served them, how they worked _constantly_ in the kitchen, looked after the kids, and so on, and yet didn't complain. So they said a few things, and said how much they were learning from the women themselves.

Anyway. It all went well, and after that, we were all offered "baths" again, this time the girls as well, after we had finished. Then for the meal (at about 9pm). Loads of food, rice, vegies, soup, bread... and the duck. So I took the smallest
piece, and some extra sauce, half-hid it under a bit of potato, and smeared it around a bit. I was forced to eat some of it, and tell the cook how good it was. I think it probably was good. She is an amazing cook, but alas, meat is wasted on me now.

But anyway. Again coffee afterwards, and
then we all went to bed. Next morning, another amazing similar breakfast, and then the church service. We realised that we had never told the people that we were from a ship! For all most of them knew, we had just randomly visited. So we told them all about the ship, many of them knew about it already though.

There was another congregation visiting with them this Sunday, as their building was still in the process of being built. Most of them seemed a bit richer than this congregation, but anyway. Then many of them got up and talked about the ship too. One lady, the widow of one of the pastors who had died a few months ago seemed in very happy
form about the ship.

We had another translator that service, a 19/20 or so year old girl, quite friendly. One thing she said made everyone laugh, and when translated was this: "You all know that the way to Heaven is to follow Jesus, but now I tell you that the way to the ship is to follow me. I will be going there at 2.30 this afternoon." Funny.

Then after she talked about the ship, she began to talk about someone who had just died. The translator said that we would have a few minutes of silence. So we all bowed our heads, until everyone started singing. Then our translator began sobbing, and went and collapsed in front of the table/altar thing, sobbing on the floor. This quite suprised us, until we were told that it was her father had just died last week. Wow.... we would never have guessed before.

So Jordan was asked to pray for her, so he did, and then after a while she got up again, and went back to translating. So humble, wow.

Anyway, the service ended, and we all went outside. They offered us baths again, but we said "Thanks, but we are already clean, we had baths last night!" So they had baths instead.

Then lunch, which was amazing, again. Pasta and rice and vegies, and some chicken for those who wanted it. Mmmm... Then coffee, and then it was time to go. They gave us each a huge orange, and a few bags of cashue nuts. We all walked back to the main road together, they insisted that they carry all the bags and such, we were definately NOT allowed to. Then we all squashed into a chappa bus and went home. No real excitement on the bus this time.

We got to the port, and then took them on board to ship to give them a tour. Unfortunatly there were no more red dinner-guest badges, only yellow ones, which meant there there was no capacity to give them dinner on board. We showed them around, and then took them up to the book-ex. Jordan took their badges, and then after shaking hands, hugging, laughing a lot, and shaking hands some more, he and Brother Shuva and Jennifer (also on our team) left to go have showers.

Rachel and I felt rather bad about just dumping the guests, while they were still on board, in our home, so we stayed with them in the book-ex, showing them around. It turned out that none of them had brought any money with them, not expecting to go to the bookshop. Rachel and I did have some local money though, so we bought them a Portuguese New Testament each (not all of them had any kind of bible at all!), and I gave the pastor some money to buy a cookery book that he really wanted (he too is a wonderful cook).

The pastors method of trying to buy the book was a bit... er... interesting. We were all waiting just past the book-ex, waiting for him to buy his book at the cash desk. He didn't join the queue, but went strait to the front, and tried to push in. This did not impress the other people in the queue, who didn't let him in. Nor did the cashier. Eventually he got through.

We waved good bye to them as they left down the gangway, and went back inside. I found that I didn't have any clothes left. All of my clean ones were in my Big Brother's cabin, and I couldn't find him anywhere! So after wandering around for ages not finding him, I decided to spend the last of my local money, and brought a few CDs at the book-ex.

Eventually I found him, and oh, joy! He gave me his key. And Oh Joy! All of my clothes were lying on his bed all folded, and OH JOY! They were clean!! Amazing how the little things can make one so happy at times. Lovely lovely clean clothes. And lovely lovely clean towel. So I went and had a shower.

And that pretty much wraps up my over-night. Except for one small story at the end. That evening was the last evening that the volunteers would have on board, after their good-byes and all, Vasco (our volunteer/translator/son-of-the-pastor/generally-all-round-nice-person) was talking to me and Bro. Shuva.

As we were talking, we heard the page from info that it was the time to get free ice cream. So we got him one, and his brother, and stood around talking on the quayside. Just before he left, he said that one thing he really wanted was an English Bible, as no-one he knew had one, and he really wanted to read one, to help his English, and to let him know the Bible in English too.

The book-ex was closed, and we couldn't find another English one
about, so I gave him mine. Bro. Shuva was a bit suprised, I think, but as I said, we're living on the Doulos! Worlds Largest floating bookshop! I can get a new bible any time. Anyway. Vasco left, very happy, and I went to bed. It felt good to be home. Funny how a place can become
home so quickly.