Sunday, December 27, 2009

Blue Christmas: Update on December 27, 2009

Christmas has always meant snow and cold to me, but not the kind of cold and snow where one wishes it would melt into a haze of warmth, but a cold and snow that makes one reminisce of fires and snowball fights and making snow forts and the ignorance of youth. Needless to say that two Christmases without snow (last year’s snow could hardly be considered snow to Michigan standards) would make one who considers himself a nostalgic somewhat sad. Needless to say, I missed the snow and the whole “White Christmas” ambience of home during the Holidays. So, as we put our mooring lines onto the bits here in Curacao, my mind was thinking of the snow, even though the port I rolled into is one of the most different islands we have visited.
Upon arrival one may wonder where they came. Instead of being decisively tropical, this island is rather arid in appearance. The beaches themselves are even more rock than sand, and it is amazing that this is one of the bigger tourist islands in the Caribbean. It is also different because this is the first time the people predominantly don’t speak English. Instead, they speak a mixture of Dutch and Spanish. I actually have a reason not to understand people here! One last thing to mention of our scenery is the water. It is about as clear as I have seen in my life, and is rather cool, being that it is the Atlantic in December, but not Michigan cool. We are even allowed to swim immediately off the quayside where we are berthed!
Christmas this year was similar to what is was last year; fancy dinner on Christmas Eve, service, gift exchange, brunch Christmas day, then the rest of the day off,; with a few exceptions. This year, being in the Caribbean, not in Hel… I mean Denmark the whole environment was different. Instead of being cold and not doing anything of value, I was rather hot, not uncomfortably hot, and went swimming on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. We also embraced the warm culture and had a barbeque Christmas night. It was certainly a new and wonderful experience, but I still miss the snow that home is lacking.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Auf Wiedersehen, Guyana!: Update on December 15th, 2009

So, as the hours spent in Georgetown, Guyana tick to the end, I can’t help but feel joy for my time here. My head is flooded with memories as well as regrets. I see faces of those whom I played basketball with and hear “You shoppin’ baby?” from a market vendor. My time here was good, even though I didn’t finish the way I had wished. After going to the church service with the guy from basketball, I wasn’t able to go back, due to a lack of people being around and interested. One reason was the teams we sent out to different places in Guyana, from the same city we are in to 6 hours away, traveling by bus and boat.

The team I was on was sent to help the local Habitat for Humanity in the area for three days, while staying on the ship overnight. Although this was an awesome opportunity, I was a little disappointed by the length and the fact that we slept on the Ship. Regardless, I spent three days working 9-5 on three different houses. Our main job was to be the mules, and carry stuff and move things, like block, a lot of block. A couple guys got to help roof, and do some easy “carpentry” type stuff. We worked alongside locals as well, and got to know some of them decently. One told me of his time being a gold miner, and his adventures in the jungles, while another argued for sake of his religion, which was Islam. I hope God used us in ways we will never know, but I know that those three days went by way too fast. We never fully finished a house, but worked on three different sites, readying foundations and digging the trenches for the foundations. It brought me back to the beautiful days I spent in Mexico with my youth group.

As I reflect on my time here, I can easily smile and be happy God let me come here, to a whole new continent, and see how amazing and mysterious the Human race is...

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Skin: Update on December 6, 2009

If there is one thing that we all need a reminder of every day it is that one cannot judge by what is seen. I almost feel bad for explaining this port for what I saw when we arrived. Sure, on the outside you have one of the poorest countries in the Western Hemisphere, and the Ship is docked in one of the worst parts of one of the worst cities. There is so much more to this place, and these people. Fitzy and I went out one day to find somewhere to play basketball when somebody showed us to a court that is in an area we aren’t supposed to go, and only around ten minutes away from the ship. Fortune would have it that the guys that play there play four times a week. Little did we know when we went down there a couple days later that some of the guys that play are on the national team or even the Guyanese And-1 team. We were in over our head. The play is also more physical than I had ever seen, even in the prison in Trinidad. We’ve played four times already, and have a chance all next week to go, and people are starting to recognize us in the neighborhood. But we are starting to earn our respect for coming back and being able to perform, even though they still call us “white boy”.
Today, four of us went to one of the guys’ churches for a little culture experience. The Church was in the same neighborhood as the court (which is the most dangerous neighborhood in Guyana) and only a little ways away from the court. By the time we were about 10 minutes from the court still, we could hear the music being played. When we got there, we learned that they were doing a 24 hour praise service. So, the four of us sat there, the only white folk, and the only folk not dancing and shouting, with a grim on our face. It was cool, and they certainly have a different way of worshipping, it was almost like a dance party. The band included a steel drum, and there was a man with a “reggae” voice singing backup, giving the worship music a different sound. What a cool experience to be in such a different place. The world is so big…

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Beginnings and Ends: Update on November 28th, 2009

As Sabbath week drew to a close and work loomed over all of us, we had one last night of ecstasy. One thing that is fairly new here on the Ships is something called the “LogOscars”. It is a chance for us members to be creative and utilize our imaginations into making short films, which are then submitted and handpicked for the event. The LogOscars is the night in which Ship’s Company get to watch these short videos and see what has been done, and also a reason to dress up and look snazzy. I was charged with the task of making a video for my department (Deck), alongside Justin, a couple of months ago. The work progressed slowly, and ideas were vague for a bit, but we finished our music video entitled “Day of the Deckie” the day before the deadline. I had written a song and recorded it and made a music video, along with a 4 minute opening sequence. The end result was me in a Captain outfit playing gangster rapper, and bragging about our department. Needless to say, it was a decent video comparatively. We ended up winning three awards, being one of only three videos to win any awards. Another, and my favorite, video was a cartoon made by a friend of mine. He took over 1500 pictures to make it, and drew it himself, and did all the sound effects as well. It was amazing, and he definitely deserved every award he received. The awards my video won were, “Best Direction”, “Best Soundtrack”, and an actor got “Best Supporting Actor”. There were some 25 videos involved, but they could only show 14 to keep within time restrictions.

As we sailed away from Viuex Fort, St. Lucia, I was glad I got to do so much in only a week. From sleep to football to the LogOscars to an entire Ship’s Company outing, to quiet time, Sabbath Week was everything I had hoped for. The voyage to Guyana was something of a nightmare for a lot of people on board. A combination of a decent swell and broken stabilizers made much of the crew was seasick. I was luckily omitted from much sickness but had to do sea watch alone for 2 days; it was a long two days.

Upon arrival, Guyana has proved the most different Port I have seen in my time here, and I can’t help but thinking that it is places like this we should be more often. The quayside is made of wood that looks like it was cut in the late 1800’s, and the town itself is something like an ad for child poverty. We are literally right around the corner from a mosque, and most of us on board are getting sent to help the community, in which we can’t drink the water. Our mooring lines are attached to pieces of wood that look like they’ll snap any time, and security has been amplified to the nth degree, we even put barbed wire on our mooring lines! Needless to say, I am glad for this opportunity and can’t wait until I am off watch to go check out the town, and maybe play some basketball with the local Muslims!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Spreading the Gospel... of American Football

It’s a well known fact that what we call football is not the norm around the world. Our version of it draws a lot of criticism for being boring, and even sometimes “pansy”. This coming from people who seemingly play a large scale game of “pong”, or at least that’s what soccer feels like to me. Americans all over the world have to endure persecution for playing a sport not quite rugby, with a name that has nothing to do with the actions taken within the game, or very little. People tell us our sport is dumb and boring while they sit in front of a TV and watch next to nothing happen. Well, I am making ground in getting out the excitement of American Football, and making decent headway thanks to satellite TV, and built up frustration.

This week is a week of rest from the norm for us here on the Logos Hope, so I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to set up an American Football Tournament. The game was 5 on 5 full contact, with a limit of three Americans per team. There were five teams originally signed up, but four teams ended up making it. So everyone got to play each other, and each team got three games. The people ranged from anywhere from the Faroe Islands to France to South Africa. A lot of people didn’t have a great understanding of the rules, but we made do.

The games were a little ugly, being that not many people have played much quarterback in their life, and those that have, myself included, are rusty from a lack of playing for a long time. Aside from that, the games were a blast! Fairly fast paced and hard hitting (I think some people just wanted to get out some frustration) the 10 minute halves flew by. Two teams emerged as the dominant ones, and the final game was between my own team (Sons of Thunder) and the other dominant team, and what a doozie.

Tied at 6-6 going into the second half, nobody seemed to have an edge. Offensive play was sloppy, and defense was tight on both sides. With little room for mistakes, my team started with the ball and struggled to score for the next two possessions. With about 5 minutes left in the game, the ball slipped out of my hand right into the end zone, and the other team recovered. This made the game more interesting, and we were down (after a scoring drive before that) by a count of 6-18 (1-3). The next drive we got the ball and marched to chew up some yards and quickly scored. With about 3 the other team got the ball. Our defense stiffened up and halted them with about a minute thirty to go. The final drive was in the typical “two-minute drill” fashion, rushing to the line after every play. As we neared our goal line, after a few nice plays, we had twenty five seconds left and it was third and goal. I was to run a fade route, which means I run up field. I got a step on my defender, and the quarterback threw it right where it needed to be, and I caught the game-tying touchdown with 20 seconds left. We stopped them two straight plays, but on the last one suffered an injury (the only of the afternoon) to a main player. We decided to play college overtime style, and both of us scored as the sun went down. For now we are tied… Sad isn’t it?

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Challenge: An Update on November 18, 2009

And lose my breath I indeed did. Upon my return to the Ship we found that she had been at anchor for nearly a week already due, at first, to rough seas, then to another ship needing our berth for work. At first I was excited that we were out, and hoped for a chance to stay on shore for another night or two, but we ended up going back the night we were supposed to. The anchor situation also meant more work, and after a long break, the worst thing to come back to is a crappy job. But that is what happened. It wasn’t so much the long hours of ferrying people back and forth that bugged me, but the lack of anything else to do, or anywhere else to go. Work played a part in this also, because instead of going where others got to go, I had to ferry them. This lasted until early Friday morning when we finally came in after a long week and a half for most people on board. Before we could get into our proper berth, we spent a few days in the cruise ship terminal. We would see a new ship almost every day, and a lot of days three new ships. I had never known Barbados was such a popular cruise ship destination.
The truth is that work has overruled ministry this past week and a half, and I was unable to do anything of significance to tell about. One thing that is cool is a video a friend and I have been working on. You see, we now sit in Viuex Fort, St. Lucia, after more strange work hours, on Sabbath week. We take a break from normal life and spend time in community and with God. At the end of the week, we have something called the “Logoscars”. For the past two months or so, ship’s company has had time to make videos, which are now submitted for judging. At the Logoscars, we will be judged and the best videos will receive awards. My friend and I were responsible to make the video representing our Deck department. We made a music video, the first time it has been done on the Logos Hope. I wrote a rap song, recorded it with the help of our department, and made a video as Cap’n Krunk. We first shot other intros, but I’ll wait until I am able to post it to tell of the rest. We have a good shot at winning.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Breathe: Update on November 6th, 2009

A new port meant a new chance to breathe. We left St. Lucia Behind a week ago to travel to Barbados, a Port I have been excited about for months because of an opportunity to go on break with some close friends for a week. The day we arrived work was all messed up; we worked from early in the morning until about noon, and then were off until 6 until 11. This was because we had to pick things up at one place then go to our berth for the port. This meant I had to do mooring stations three times that day, and put up the gangways as well. One thing about this place that is awesome is that there is a nice beach about five minutes’ walk from us. One bad thing is that we had to leave the berth to weather a storm and to wait for an industrial ship to offload flour. As I write this, we are at anchor about a mile off shore of Barbados.
Luckily, I wasn’t here for most of that malarkey, as my break has come and gone. Four of us went to a little cabin on a beach about an hour (by car) away. We were on the other side of the Island, and isolated from almost everything. The place we got (at an incredibly low price) wasn’t much, but had a stove and fridge and a freezer and some beds. When one walked out the back door onto the porch, the Atlantic Ocean would shine and glimmer, and the scent of the sea was heavy. The waves were constantly beating onto the rocky shore, making it hard to swim, but easy to relax in the water. So, with that being our temporary residence, the four of us spent the week basically doing nothing, and loving it. We found our share of beaches and did some swimming and played football, and ate a lot of meat. One day, Fitzy and I even wandered around for a couple hours and found the most amazing beach I’ve seen, but I didn’t have a camera. The first things I noticed were the mammoth rocks whose bases were worn down so much that I wondered when they would topple. The sea wasn’t so rough here, and the sand was more abundant. There were palm trees everywhere, and I even got a coconut at the base of one. Two of the nearby locals had pet monkeys (I was a little jealous).
Other than that story, not much is to be told of our break, considering it was taken to relax and breathe. The busyness of life here was made numb, along with most other feelings, for a week that God had given me. I couldn’t stop thanking God while I was there, and still thank him for a week to breathe. Now to lose my breath again…

Monday, October 26, 2009

Island in the Sun: St Lucia Update on October 26th, 2009

Within the past ten days, I’ve had 4 Swing Dance events (one fell through), three basketball games, work, and started work writing a song to make a video for something called the “Logoscars”, which will be a chance for us on board to make videos, then win awards and get dressed up. Oh yea, I’ve also watched 3 games of American Football (God Is good). Two of the swing events were for youth programs, and one was a rather large youth program. The one I speak of was on Saturday the 24th of October, and was in front of some 400 kids. We did our dance (two couples) and then got interviewed about ships life. They asked me “What is good about being a man on board?” My (obvious) response was, “Well, what isn’t good about being a guy?” Then proceeded to tell about how we tend to get the better jobs, but I was handcuffed when asked what was difficult, offering no real answer back. The other notable event was yesterday when ten or so of us headed out to play some basketball against some locals. Only three showed up, about a half hour late, so we adjusted and played with them. I was in one of my moods where I freely and openly talk a lot of trash, and they were the type of people who can handle it, and even talk back. I really connected with one nicknamed “Gage”, who came back to the ship, and the trash talk continued, as I tried to raise interest in him coming to the ship.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Overview of Trinidad: Update for November 16, 2009

When we first came to Trinidad, I didn’t know how to feel about it. It was a big city that stank like the dickens, and was apparently very dangerous. Well, today we rolled out of Port of Spain, Trinidad, and onto the next adventure. As we sailed away from the Industrial capital of the Caribbean, I still had the same mixed feelings. It was a great opportunity to grow in ministry, and provided many opportunities to use what we’ve been practicing for many months (I’ve probably played more basketball here than I ever have in a month). Also, swing is still changing in my new leadership, and I’m not too sure which direction it is taking, but it certainly is getting used in a number of events. Even with the absence of my partner, I still danced in two events, and the other couples performed much more than I did.
I also had a chance to make some local friends, one being at the YTC juvenile center, and one being a local volunteer on the ship. I first met him when I was sent to his church as a leader of a church team. We shared the “Mission Hats” presentation, and I gave a testimony, while one more person did the message. After, they fed us and we got to meet them. His name is Adrian, and he played drums. He helped in the book hold for two or three weeks while we were in port. He also took Dan (Wales) and I out to get groceries for our upcoming break (on the beaches of Barbados).
One other cool thing that happened was that I learned a new sport; Cricket. First of all; yes it is as boring as it sounds. What happens is that a team consists of 11 people, who all get the chance to bat. After all eleven go, the next team is up. This can take hours, and batters can take their sweet time, due to no “foul ball” boundaries, and the fact that they don’t have to run if they feel they won’t make it to the next wicket (something like a base in baseball). The game was fun, when I had a hand in doing something, but the standby phases were killer, and long. Also, I did horrible batting, so I was out for about 5 minutes, while the rest of the team lasted a good 30 minutes each. I bowled (pitched) well, and got three wickets (outs). I guess it was good, but I still don’t quite get it.
So as we sailed away from Trinidad, I thought of the fond memories and friends I made, and was glad we visited. Then the stench of the air met my nose again, and I couldn’t wait to leave.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Prison: Update on October 2nd, 2009

They say that nothing comes easy in prison, and boy is it true. Our sports ministry leaders (alongside other leaders) had the fortunate opportunity to open up the prison bars and bring teams from the ship to play with some prisoners. The prison is for youths of all ages and all convictions, ranging from being sent by their parents (which is law in Trinidad) to the murderers and drug dealers. It’s safe to say that this was a rough crowd. In the past and coming days and weeks, we will have and have had numerous opportunities to play sports, and talk to these kids, as well as free reign to pass out literature.
On Friday, October 2nd, eight of us guys had a chance to go and play some basketball with a group of the prisoners. As we got there, they showed us around and walked us to the court, and explained what goes on there. This isn’t a waste of life for these kids, as they are forced to go to school, and also to learn trade skills, ranging from carpentry to welding and electric work. Of course, not everybody wanted to be there, but at least they were getting invaluable education during a period of punishment.
The gym was indoors and hot, which was expected, but hard to handle none the less. This was a huge social event for, what seemed to be, the whole of the prison. We sat and waited as hundreds of prisoners filed past us into the bleachers awaiting the tip off. As we warmed up, there were laughs and jokes, most of which I didn’t understand, and a lot of chatter. When the opposing team finally came out and started warming up, half of our team was sweating and a little tired already.
After a quick introduction from all of us, we began to play, and the first half was controlled by us. We had a fast pace, but patient offense running the court, and a tight zone defense to prevent opposing driving. They didn’t know how to attack it often it felt like, and we had them baffled. The crowd loved how we were playing, and loved when anyone would badly miss. The whole of the crowd would roar with laughter at ever bad play, giving more reason to not mess up. At half, we led by 17 points, 42-27.
The second half was somewhat embarrassing on our behalf, as they closed the gap to eight within the third quarter. We were dead tired, and had a lot of trouble moving the ball, and getting out of their full court trap defense. The more tired we got, the more physical the play got. This game was physically and mentally challenging as there seemed to be no fouls. There was pushing and shoving, and even some punching and slapping, the whole game. They also brought out three big guys (6’4” or so) to wear us down in the post. It worked for the most part, but we started to fight back eventually.
The fourth quarter was more of the same, as our exhausted team got run around, but hung on. In the waning minutes, we were up by a mere 3 baskets, and our defense held tight for most of it, but their physical play tore us down while they scored two more baskets. They never took the lead, but within the last thirsty second there was much business down by the rim as we delivered defensive blows getting in the way of passes and of shots the whole time. In the end, we were victorious by a score of 61-59 (I hit our only three).
Now the part that actually matters. We had a chance to talk to the whole gym after, as Clayton told his testimony of apathy, and shared about the ship, and of Christ as our savior. Then, as they funneled out some kids stayed behind to chat with us, some to keep playing, and some just to not have to go back to class. We also had a chance to pass out around 35 bibles (disguised as a sports magazine) to all the kids. The one kid I talked with most was named Samir, and was imprisoned for selling and using illegal narcotics. Samir liked to read, so we talked a little about books, and he took the bible. I told him to read it like he does a story, and he said he would. God willing, he will, and God willing his heart will be transformed.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Frenzy: An Update on the 19th of September, 2009

I like to think that I’ve been to a few places in this big world. I’ve been to beautiful landscapes, to huge cities with buildings trying to reach into heaven, to cities built on poverty, to places so plain and flat you could walk for days and barely get tired, but never have I been to a place that smells like, literally, poop. Well, this is the case here in Port of Spain, Trinidad. Randomly, for an unknown reason, the air gets a heavy smell of poop that ahs been sitting around for ages. It nearly makes me vomit sometimes, and at least makes me mad. Oh well, we are in a new port now, and it is a big ol’ city again. We are expecting tons of people to visit, and I have some really cool opportunities with sports ministry, and hopefully with swing. Last night we presented our ministries to all the new recruits, and I had another chance to swing, and quite a few people showed interest. I even got all three of us to dress up in Football jerseys and baseball hats!

That reminds me that I haven’t mentioned a new PST joining. Well, in the last port, Tobago, 94 new people came on the ship after a month long training process to spend 2 years of their life here. It’s a rather humbling experience seeing 94 new people, and realizing how insignificant one is. The night they joined there was a small party, and one of my good friends is back on board now after being home, and I am his brother. A few days after they came, I held a basketball game, then swing dance the next day, taking advantage of their eagerness to get involved.

I also had a chance to get to know a woman named Julie. Julie was one of our security guards in Tobago, and was a great person. She was in her 40’s (I think) and was very quizzical about what a Christian life entails. We talked on grace and responsibility, and of the bible. She had so many questions as what one could do. I saw a process where people had been talking to her since the ship had come, and I filled only a small role. I just sat and listened to her concerns and ideas, then told her she should get her own bible. This brought even more questions about what kind, which translation I read, etc. In the end she bought a bible (NIV) and was excited to know God personally, something which I think the world needs to be more excited about.

Another cool opportunity I had was to play an actual basketball game versus a local team. They were young, and pretty good. We lost 27-34, but put up a good fight. After the game, the girls played and got hammered, but that’s okay. We then brought a few of the guys back to the ship for dinner, not much good conversation, but I feel glad they could see the ship. I expect many more basketball opportunities including one at a local juvenile prison! Exciting, isn’t it?

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Art: Update on September 8th, 2009

The last days have been a time I’ve enjoyed a lot, a valuable time with God. Since I’ve come back, I felt as though something was missing, like I wasn’t there yet with God, like I still had so very far to go. The truth is that I do have miles to run still before I can come close to being who I need to be, and this had been bugging me for the couple of weeks I was here. A busy schedule right off the bat hindered my mind from being too wrapped up in it though, and when I finally got time this past week to breath, it all haunted me.
I was on Firerounds again, which means I was up all night basically alone. This always proves for time for me to think, reflect, and read. I found myself in tears in two or three different occasions, and found myself rather crappy feeling. At one point, before my watch I wrote this:
My toes gripped the soft, water logged pine beneath me as my heart was gripped with fear. “Here I am again” I whispered to myself as the water gently glided into the dock and the gulls laughed at my cowardice. I hate seagulls.
“If they could feel the fear of the unknown, then they wouldn’t be laughing at me,” I told myself rather convincingly. “I’d be the one laughing if they were diving in to this lake. Freaking seagulls, I hate ‘em”
“They’d dive in,” another voice within chimed, “without even thinking. You know that water is plenty deep, yet you are afraid of breaking that fat neck of yours.”
This may seem odd to some, that I talk to myself, but the truth is that we don’t get along very well, and this is a regular thing when I am on the edge of a choice. He always seems to seek the exact opposite of what I want. It’s quite a dichotomy within my mind. He’s a jerk.
“Screw you,” was my defensive retort.”You think you know everything, don’t you! Well… You… You never know what could happen. Maybe a shark will be down there, or even a… a Manta ray, since they can kill people too! Yea, you never know what I could dive into! Think about all those possibilities, idiot!”
The breeze beat against my naked torso as the sun prepared for its rest, and the warmth of the twilight wind mixed with a long day seemed to draw my body closer to the edge, even if it was to just cool off. The wind beating the nearby trees that marked my path was the concert that surrounded, and it seemed as if my other voice had been silenced by my ridiculous protests. I had seemingly prevailed in denying my whims.
“Fool,” harshly exclaimed my mind.” You are nothing but a coward, and an ass. I mean really, sharks? Manta rays? Seriously? You couldn’t be any dumber. You know this is fresh water; you’ve even waded in it before. What the hell are you afraid of?”
He was right, no doubt about it, and I hate when he’s right. I had no response, kind of like a kid caught stealing a candy bar. My mind blanked, and my face flushed as the anger and embarrassment mixed into a mess of self-loathing. The clouds drew in on the dim light, and my instinct rose in my defense.
“I told you once that I could break my neck, and there’s no need to cuss,” I said in a rather childish tone. ”That’d be a lot of fun for everyone then, wouldn’t it. My whole life would be ruined! Everything I love; sports, outdoors, walking; would come to a halt. Everything I hate would begin! Why, I don’t even thi…”
“What are you afraid of little boy?” he rudely interrupted, his tone getting much more serious and angry. To be honest, he was absolutely right. I knew how deep it was, and I knew that nothing lethal waited beneath the waters. The bottom had to be at least 100 feet down, so I knew that it’s take some skills to reach it even without the proper equipment. So I quickly had to think of another excuse.
“Well,” it came,”what if my friends hated me after? You know they can’t swim, and they’d know I did because I’d be all wet. I don’t have a towel anyways, and it’s damn near dark out. One can’t wander about in the dark all wet and cold. I might get sick mate! I would need to dry off, and then I could find my way back. Plus, I really like the underwear I hav…”
“WHAT ARE YOU AFRAID OF?” This time it nearly shook my mind off of its hinges, and again I lost my train of thought. By now the moon was showing off the lake, and the air had become rather perfect, but not for swimming. I was weary, and my legs sore, so I told myself I’d come back tomorrow.

These were some of the thoughts rolling around my head, like I couldn’t dive fully into God’s grace; I couldn’t give up myself in honor of my King. This was devastating as I know that this is what we are called for, to dive into all God has made for us, and to worship him constantly. I know that we are called to love those around us with no prejudice or hate, yet I felt like I was so far from being who I should be. So for a while I was stuck in between these feelings and not knowing where to go next. I was also reading a book called “Blue Like Jazz” that opened my eyes to the prejudice I hold against a few groups of people, and that the main call to us is to love people, from our best friends, to the arrogant, self-righteous Christian (my hardest task), all the way to the flaming liberal and the homosexuals. But this was all still so hard on me, so I was still very down on myself.
One great thing about Firerounds is that I get a chance to see the sunrise. Let me tell you, God is the greatest of artists. I would stand on the Quayside just watching the dawn unfold, in absolute awe of my maker. I would actually take the time to let God whisper, and attempt to shut up my noisy mind. That’s when it came to me to just let go. It doesn’t matter how far I think I have to go, what matters is that God is very much alive in my life. What matters is that I am out here on an adventure trying to find a measure of spirituality in which I’ve never known, and I am starting to. God truly is a romantic; He gave me the sunrise when I needed it most. He gave me peace when I was at war within myself. He gave me the capacity to let go of my own self-criticism, and to just let Him work. I wrote this quick poem in reflection:
Another picture painted on an empty sky
Another breath you take from me
Another minute my mind is at ease
Another day I wish I could fly
Of all the wonders here on Earth
And all the beauty hung in the night
All the mystery of a virgin birth
Again I wish to take flight
I see your stroke surrounding my gaze
The penmanship upon this empty page
But it falls apart when I look at your face
For the only true is Your grace
I am now reading a book called “The Cross Centered Life” and it has some good truth to it. TO live always knowing we are redeemed for no reason. There is no logic to the grace we receive, but none-the-less, we receive it. So, it tells me, to not just follow God when the emotions are right, but always. Cast aside the shallow emotional faith, and equip faith that really believes and lives redeemed. Christ is alive and kicking in my life.
On the relaxing part of things, yesterday my PST celebrated our one year anniversary with ourselves. What a blessing! We went to a beach resort that let us go down into this awesome beach that was in a sort of cove, all by itself. We also were allowed use of the pool and to lounge around on the chairs. After a few hours there we came back to have a time of partying and prayer and fellowship. It reminded me how crazy time is, and one year seems like forever and yesterday at the same time. God bless my next year, and yours also.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

A Deep Breath: Sunday, August 23rd 2009

The last you guys may have known of me, I was on my way to Detroit to spend some time back home with friends and family. Now, my time in Port Huron has come to an end, so I’d like to tell of some of my many blessings while I visited. The blessing that hits home most is my family as a whole. I was fortunate enough to see almost all of my extended family, and to spend a lot of time with my immediate family. I have the best parents in the world. They made this trip a blessing, almost too much as I may have gotten spoiled. I missed them a lot, so seeing them and going to a Tigers game and just spending time with them for two weeks was awesome. It felt like no time was lost, even though so much has changed. I love my parents with all my heart, and I can only hope I can be a good parent too. My brother and sister –in-law were also in town to visit for a week, and it was really cool to be able to spend time with them as well. My nephew is such an awesome kid, and seeing him and my sister and brother-in-law was a great time. Kids can teach us so much if we just listen and watch. I had a blast with my family.
So on Wednesday the 19th at 4:30 in the morning I once again left home after a blessed visit. The eyes weren’t as teary, nor the hearts as anxious this time around, but I could feel the looming sadness upon my parents, and it broke my heart to let them go, but God has much in store for all of us, not just me. My course took me through a 7 hour layover in Miami where I connected with a friend from the ship again as he was heading on the same flight back. When we arrived in St. George’s and got through customs we had about 9 people waiting to welcome us, and hugs were in plenty. Then we headed back to the ship swapping stories like no time was lost, and hung out for a while.
The next two days were marked by weariness from trying to adjust back to an early schedule, and from work being rather difficult. My first day back we had a mooring line snap, and were forced to go out to anchor for the night to run from a large swell coming in. The meant 2 mooring stations in one day, which is typical, except on Saturday when we had to move berths all together because of the swell, which meant mooring stations and gangways back to back. I was pretty tired when everything when all was said and done, and my hands rather sore.
So today was a good day thus far. When I got back I was told I was on a church team this Sunday (which is today) and I was a bit nervous. I had never been on a church team, nor have I ever given my testimony, which I already think is a bit lame. But regardless of all of the crap in my head, I was able to go to this church that had a reggae song for worship, and the worship lasted a good hour and a half, and deliver my testimony. The two girls gave a small presentation intended to get people interested in missions, and I came after and shared about how I felt called into missions. After the service, we had a chance to sit down with the pastors and their families for a lunch of some peculiar foods and a chat with them. Beyond the small talk they started to ask questions about the ship and missions, and our lives. Then they started to tell tales of hiking in Grenada and snakes. They were hilarious. Two of the kids of the pastors were trying to figure out if they could handle life on the ship, and while we walked out she told me that my testimony was just like how her life is, and it was really encouraging to hear me talk about it, and be real. God works, even through little ol’ me.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Lost in This World: Update on August 6th, 2009

Well, we finally made it to the Caribbean, and God has richly blessed us (namely me) in my short stay there. We arrived in St. Vincent’s (Kingstown) on Monday the 27th of July, at around 7:00 in the morning, and I was on watch. I was absolutely shattered for sleep, ad my watch was from 4-8 and then we had to be at mooring stations at 6 am, and stayed until 8 am. I was shattered that whole day, but what a blessing! We arrived to a sunny sky and a steel drum band. Before long, rain had started to put on us as we pulled fast alongside the quay, but it was the type of rain you don’t mind. That might have been because of the high temperature and crazy amounts of humidity that none of us were used to after a long stay in northern Europe. After we were made fast, I went to bed.
As I awoke, I had to go down to the gangway for the last watch I’d do for a while, and it was amazing! I stepped out into a paradise as I got off the Ship; the quay we are on is something like a pier for cruise ships, surrounded by a high, dark cliff with green taking control of the flat ledges. The water is something out of a dream, and you can see nearly to the bottom. Rolling waves gently glided into the dark cliffs as clown fish swam under foot, and Ship’s Company enjoyed the sea, while we still could. I thought I had stepped into a fairy tale.
But that’s not why I was there. No, I was there to grow and to plant; to sow, water, and reap. I was there to follow God, and to let him cultivate in me whomever it is I need to be in this world. This process took me into a blossoming sports ministry in which we have been blessed with abundant opportunities to reach out and get to know the people of the communities we visit. God has also put in the middle of a funny time for swing dance, where the transition from project to ministry on the ship has made it somewhat hard to attract a good number of men. God has put me in a couple of leadership positions, and I mean to do the best I can, which is nothing without Him.
As I had mentioned on that little aside, I have been involved with basketball ministry (which is a part of sports ministry) since I’ve come. Now in ports where people actually like Basketball, I have seen already two opportunities to partake in the community. One was almost accidental as three of us stumbled our way to a court to play and met a guy who played with us shortly, before a real game between two of the Caribbean Islands. We watched for a bit, then headed back where I held a swing dance practice, that had a larger than usual turnout. A couple of days later, we went out again to a different court to meet a couple locals who we played with for a good two hours (which was enough considering the climate). They were both going to the ship on the weekend, which is a shame because I’ll be in Port Huron.
On Tuesday, as well as playing basketball and swing dancing, I was lucky enough to get yet more peace of heart as God led me into a place so beautiful I can’t adequately describe it, but I’ll try anyways. I know you’ve seen the movies about the beaches here, well, times that by ten. The sand was as smooth as butter, and the water like glass. The beach was busy, but on the other side was the private resort, which had tiki huts all around and was just a big hill in the middle of the water. We (a group of about 15- mostly deckies) spent all day there, getting sunburned, and swimming, and even playing with a few of the local kids. That was such a blessing.
So where I am now is yet another crazy adventure God has sent me on. I am currently on an airplane to Miami, where I’ll meet my long-lost friend to spend some time with before I fly back to Detroit. But how I got here is a story. I’m not sure if this is a new thing or not, but apparently airports here have a tax charged for leaving the airport. I had no clue. So as I stumbled up to the customs desk in St. Vincent’s, and they asked me to pay my fee, I was at an end. I had 3 ECD with me, and they didn’t take credit cards, and on top of all of that I have no idea what my PIN number is any more. I was shattered, thinking all of it was gone, but God provided for me to be able to go through anyways, without paying. Similar story in Grenada, except I had to pay, luckily there was a store who could give me cash back with a purchase. God’s provision is endless, and he just wanted to keep me on my toes.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Floating Freedom: An Update on July 25th (from the middle of the Atlantic)

Floating Freedom: Update for July 25th, 2009
Memories of pain, memories of war, memories of wonder, and memories of fame, all give life to this floating home. Swept away by our own desire to follow where called, we seek adventure, I find peace, and we all find rest. The beast has been tamed to honor our first transatlantic voyage on the Logos Hope as the sea has been smooth as a baby’s bottom. The whole week we have been at sea has been a blessing, and I have gained much from the rest offered. Every time I sit down to think about where I am I can do nothing but thank God for knowing me better than I know myself. This has been the calm amongst a storm in my life, and exactly what I needed.

It started as we sail out of Cork with a huge level of excitement and a sunny sky for the second time while we stayed there, this was on a Tuesday. The sunny sky quickly turned darker, and the rain fell… again. I guess it was just Ireland saying “good-bye and screw you too” (or that’s what it felt like). So the rest of the first day was plagued by sickness all around the ship, and I felt it pretty bad. Swing dance didn’t have many people dancing, and the whole ship felt sick (for the most part). On a side note, I forgot to mention that my partner for swing (Krysten) and I are now heading up swing dance. Anyways, I had to pop some pills to finally fall asleep at some point in the night, and when I woke I felt better, but not 100% better. Being that it was now Wednesday, this meant drills. So I suffered through fire drills and muster drills that lasted nearly to lunch, and then I ate and slept. When I woke, the feeling of queasiness had left, and has yet to return.

After that first day and a half, the seas have been so peaceful it’s almost absurd. So the first week of the voyage was about rest, and reconnecting, and I did both. I have been having a hard time the past weeks with a few things, so I had been having an even harder time seeing God as obviously in my life. Then, during my quiet day, I had the privilege of being reminded how much I am loved, and this is what I came up with…

Look all around you
See Me in the ocean blue
See Me in the rolling waves
See Me in My grace that stays
See Me in the celestial breath
In which the even rain can rest
See Me in the streaks of grey
See Me in the burning son
In which light is made
A representation of the One
See Me in the depths of the sea
On top of which you chase me
See Me in this giant sphere
And look upon with righteous fear
See Me in the dark
And see Me in the light
Chase Me in the day
And walk with Me at night
See Me in the endless sky
And feel Me as the bird soars high
See Me in the miracle of creation
Hear Me as they laugh and cry
Feel Me as you hold their head
Just as I hold you from up high
See Me in the hungry being fed
In the dead rising
In the heart sighing
In the nations dying
For I am He, and He has no equal
Remember Me in the good, find Me in the bad
Rejoice with Me in joy, need Me in the pain
And with My peace, My son, be clad

God’s grace is real, God’s grace is big, but most of all it’s free. Freedom is gained through a relationship with Him, and that comes with a realization that we don’t deserve squat, but are given something more precious than life! How can I, the guy who is on this crazy adventure exploring the world, the guy who spent his childhood surrounded by love, a guy who has been thrust into good things his whole life, why was I so down about life? No, I choose to move on, and I choose to grow from every pain thrown at me, for that’s the only way one can deal properly with problems. Christ once told us to “Seek and you will find” well, what was I seeking? No more can I seek the matters that only bring pain and trouble, no more can I look for all the good things in this world, for it falls away. No, I must seek Him, and I will find him. I will find Him, and I will find peace, even within the wars of this world. God is out there.

After an amazing quiet day, I enjoyed two days off in the sun; in a row! I even put the basketball hoop up on the top deck and played basketball in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean! How cool is that? I also managed to hit some golf balls off of the top of a room on the top deck, to swim in a freshly made swimming pool on the top deck, to hit a softball in to the sea, to get a sun burn, to get owned in a ping pong tournament, and to sleep a lot. Life is good at the moment, and we are only a few days away from the Caribbean, and it’s close to 90 degrees. Man did I miss the sun!

Friday, July 10, 2009

A knock on the door
Hard and fast
A wandering word
A mighty blast
All falls down
While strength builds up
A fallen crown
An empty cup
The ground is split
A trumpet blown
A blast of rage in a mighty fit
The seeds are sown
I’m chained to this world
And it’s fall
The darkness, the sorrow
Are in my call
The harlot and whore
The elder and child
All cast aside
While the “righteous” run wild
Door knocked down
For “goodness’” sake
Babies burnt alive
For our mistakes
A darkened world thinks it light
A murdered bride in the night
He lay in prison
He rest in waste
He lies on bench
With somber face
He feels the whip
The crack, the pain
He is the family who lost its’ name
He is the child
Trapped in a cage
He feels our hate
And heeds our rage
He’s behind our curtains
He knows our ways
All is laid bare
What we don’t say
This world that kills
This world that rapes
It’s filled with pride
In humble shapes
The audacity of truth
The honor of lies
It strangles our youth
And ignores their cries
This world is so ugly
This world is so dead
So my hole lay elsewhere;
A platter with a head…

Thursday, July 9, 2009


As I sit here in Cork and you sit where ever you may be, please pray with me, for the Lord is indeed good! The past couple of days the external audit of our ship was being conducted to oversee that we had completed the terms they gave us when we received the conditional PSSC Certificate, and we passed! So everything is going well, and it looks like we sail for the Caribbean next Tuesday. Praise God with me for His provision!
The past days have treated me well, and been somewhat exciting. From the first time I set in Cork for the first time (after a two and a half day voyage that gave me some good experience at the helm) it felt different. The town is not like any other town we had been to. I guess a good comparison to the others would be to say we went from thriving California to the bleak Midwest. The town just looks like an industrial affair complete with oddly colored apartment complexes, smokestacks, a mass amount of bars and pubs, and the drunks that go along with it all. It really is unimpressive from a seeing viewpoint. My fist time out I went alone, which may have been dumb for the time and location, but regardless I set out adventuring. Well, when I wanted to return about an hour later, I found out I had the sudden urge to use the bathroom. Everywhere near was either closed or packed, so I set out looking for a dark alley. Needless to say, I lost my way and wound up going in the wrong direction for a bit. I eventually found my way back home and ended up just fine, but tired.
Saturday was a day of new for me. It was the first time I’ve been away from friends and family for the 4th of July, it was my first performance for Swing Dance in front of an audience, and it was the first time I MCed and event. The event was a youth program for Irish churches to encourage looking into missions and seeking God, and to see through the distractions of this world. The event went smooth, and the dance was really good. We got some notice, and apparently people were in the edge of their seat for a move called the “helicopter”. As an MC, I was able to draw some laughs, as I took more of the back seat to Clayton, and I served more as color for it, acting childish and serving as Clayton’s distraction. After the event, I was able to talk to a few people about missions, and encourage on guy to forgive himself and let go of his own sin. After, some of us went to a place in town called Fast Eddies (I think) and got milk shakes, and even talked them into giving us some mustard.
On Monday was the big soccer tournament, which I actually played in; and enjoyed it! It was a blast as my PST (Koge) blasted its way to near perfection (3-0-1) and took the title in a boring title match in which we won 1-0 within the last minutes. I had a lot of fun playing defense, and was glad I went, even if it is soccer. The next day, I started this lifeboat proficiency course. I won’t lie; I went in with a bad attitude towards it, thinking it’d be boring and long. I must admit I was wrong, I’ve actually enjoyed it as we spent half of our time in the lifeboats so far. I am learning a lot, and enjoying the time away from normal work even more!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Old and New:Update on June 27th, 2009

London is nearing its end, and it left a lot of memories in my mind. Other than the original exploration, I didn’t do a whole lot more, but I was able to hit some baseballs and field some too. We went to a park nearby and played until it started to pour. We met an Australian who was part of an Aussie rules football team, and one of my “mates” hooked up with him and has been playing “footie”. The rest of my nights evade my memory, therefore probably lacked any real importance or significance while I was on Firerounds. One thing that was cool was watching the sun rise every morning, and to see the beauty when the sun strikes the buildings surrounding the ship.
After Firerounds, I was blessed enough to be able to go to a friend’s house in a town called Hook. We took the train for my first extended train journey, and arrived late at night. The next day, she took us to a place called Winchester, which was the picturesque English town. It was a quiet little village with green everywhere, old buildings, and a nice little stream running through it and pasty little Brits running all over. This was apparently the town that housed King Arthur’s round table, and I got to see it. There was a bunch of old building strewn about in the city with modern commerce mixed in. It was gorgeous, and I came to a decision that I rather fancy England, even though America is still the bomb.
After a nice dinner prepared by Julia’s mom, for the three of us we went out to see some ruins of an old hunting lodge used by King John (known by most as Prince John or to Disney lovers as the phony king of England), which was just awesome to see something so old and historic, which is a rarity in the states. After the journey to the ruins (it’s just cool to think of going to “ruins”) we ventured to the movies to see the new Transformers, which was pretty good (for the action). Then we headed back home the next day, and I had more tours, which is perfectly ok with me! None of the tours stick in my head, but I know every time I give one, I can proudly proclaim the reason we are all here: to love people as Christ did. I also did tours today (and still have one left) and have been blessed by awesome people who show a ton of interest in the ship. Please pray for the ship’s ministry to affect lives by the millions, and also for my return home for a couple of weeks in August hopefully. Also, we have another audit coming to see if we are ready to sail the Atlantic Ocean, so please pray we pass with flying colors!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Victory and Peace: An Update on June 17, 2009

Saying goodbye to Cardiff and Wales went pretty smooth, and wasn’t very difficult from my perspective. We set out in the morning on the 8th, and figured to be sailing for a couple of days. After an uneventful morning on mooring stations, we were poised to get off early at 3:40, and I was exhausted, so I decided to take a nap after I ate lunch.
My nap was interrupted by a fire alarm, and I was honestly a little upset because I thought I was *another* drill. It turned out to be real when I got up to the fire station within a few minutes, and things were certainly solemn. We had our firefighting teams out at the fire, and there was a mass of confusion with us left back as to where exactly the fire was. This caused some concern for those who were behind, and made me want to get more involved once I shook off some scares, so I helped wherever they needed me, which was mostly to do a lot of air bottle running between where the attack teams were and to where they could fill up the bottles. Pretty early on, the captain called everyone to their muster stations to clear space for us so that it’d be easier to work. The fire took a good four hours to finally extinguish, and in the end most of the parties involved were exhausted, but there was no serious damage to anything or anybody. Thank God for keeping us safe.
The fire had started in our toilet paper storeroom (we had enough TP still, don’t worry and get creative) and was started by some wild sparks from welding. The aftermath of the fire was one of the worst parts of the whole thing, and for about 12 more hours, it was too hot to enter the space where it had taken place. The next day I got the job of cleaning the place it had happened, and that was quite a task, so Aaron (from Minnesota who doesn’t like hockey) and I were elected (after some delay) to be the two guys in the actual room where the fire went down, and what a mess it was. There was literally about 5 feet of ash that we had to clear out, and we got into a little battle with it, so we ended up looking like coal miners. Eventually we dug through the mess and cleared out about 10 huge garbage bags full of ash and sopping toilet paper.
When we arrived in London, we worked from 9 am until 11 pm putting up the gangways and navigating up the “mighty” Thames (they must not have seen the Mississippi or Ohio since it’s about the size of the St. Claire River). This meant that most of my department had Friday off, which for me meant exploring. We headed out with no direction, but eventually stumbled upon the tower bridge, St. Paul’s Cathedral, and some other things in that area. On the way home, four of us kind of got lost but it ended up that we were going in a good direction. At one point, it felt like we were in the Middle East, but we made it back to the ship safely! The next day I was set up for some tours, but things were a bit slower than they expected and unfortunately I didn’t end up giving any tours. On Sunday, I was able to get a free ticket to the public transport in London and check out some of the town more, like Big Ben and Buckingham palace.
One thing that is awesome is that one of the last big projects for the ship has been finished within the past week; the Hope Theater. It’s a massive, well, theater in our lower decks that can seat about 400 people, and it has been used quite a bit already. We’ve had concerts and services in it almost every day. This kind of stinks for me because my room in directly below, but I survive. The worst part is that I am on Firerounds this week, and will be sleeping (or attempting to) during the day hours, but I guess I can sleep through most anything.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Remnants of Summer: Update on June 7, 2009

Rest is something that is incredibly easy to take advantage of in life. Whether it be working too much or being too social too often, rest is often overlooked in a lot of lives. This is especially true for life on this big hunk of steel I live on. Life here is incredibly busy and sleep is short. Of course, choices and preferences come into play on this subject, and I have always been a late night person, which makes it that much harder to get adequate amounts of sleep and rest.
With that said, thank God for break days! I had an opportunity this past week and a half to spend 5 of those days camping in a nearby campground. In the middle of Cardiff is a massive park, and just outside the park was my campground. There were only two of us that spent the time there after borrowing a tent from a local volunteer. My companion was Michael Ytreeide from Washington. The main focus of the break was rest, and we took that to heart. Aside from walking a ton (we didn’t have bikes or anything) we really didn’t do anything. We also were severely blessed when it came to the weather, and every single day was sunny and in the high 70’s to low 80’s. It was perfect.
There was also a side of adventure to our little outing. For the first time, we had a budget (that was much smaller than anticipated) that was really tight, and we had to make it work. So we used all of our pence to feed us and buy us drinks and we ate good, not healthy; just good. It also marked the first time both of us had grilled by ourselves, and it turned out pretty easy. The only problem was when we tried to grill chicken thighs without skinning them. They didn’t cook very well, and didn’t taste very good, but thank god for barbeque sauce! The rest of the meals consisted of a lot of bagels and lunch meat, which is a delicacy here. We also grilled hamburgers and salmon, which was delicious.
During our rest, we went to participate in what we had heard would be a “basketball tournament”. It was pretty funny that when we found out that we’d be using what was more like a hard beach ball instead of a real basketball. We were all split up into teams with ships people being divided up fairly evenly, and ended up having a lot of fun playing with internationals from all around. My team only won one of three, but we did bring down the undefeated team!
When I returned from break on Wednesday all I had to show for my break as a tan and stories of grilling. Apparently, people don’t like to rest on vacation, which I realized was how my vacations were as a kid sometimes. Now that I’ve grown a bit, I realize the awesomeness of sleeping a lot and just enjoying a day. Other than one museum visit (on accident) and multiple food and Wi-Fi runs, we barely left the park we were around. Thank God for rest.
The day after I got back was an Experience day, and I was luckily on tours. I still rather enjoying giving tours of our ship, and the time off in between them. I gave four tours that day which was highlighted by one to a group of ex-criminals. Although a few were somewhat trying and one was especially hard to understand, it was a blessing. My querulous attitude quickly changed on account of the humor of their personalities, which ranged anywhere from the odd, quirky with a bit of a twitch to the cool quiet guy, and even to the big, slow type that asks anything that pops into his head. In hindsight, they were quite the rag-tag group of kids, and they warmed up to my stolid sense of humor rather quickly, and accepted me. Although some of the traits of “misfits” like this can be pernicious at times and garner a measure of odium, I rather enjoy being around a group of people who have a sense of apathy to societies “norms”. They just don’t hide their faults as well as the rest of us.

Friday, May 29, 2009

An Account of My Blessings (Which are Innumerable): An Update on May 29th, 2009

Dublin was a cool city with not much to do. To be honest, there were some great ministry opportunities there, but I missed out on most on account of seeing the sheets too late, and the last week I have been on the 8 to 12 watch, meaning I miss out on a lot. The city itself was incredibly diverse and rather nice (as I explained last update). In the center of the city was Trinity University, which housed a good number of students. The campus was gorgeous, but was very “touristy”. A few of us went to the school on an off day to use the rugby field, but for American Football. We had a blast and a local student of Trinity even played with us for a while. The only reason we were permitted to play was because it was exam week, so God offered yet another blessing to my life that I don’t deserve.

I also had an opportunity to go to a local guy’s house that is originally from Minnesota. Five of us Americans went to the house where he had prepared a delicious barbequed meal for us, complete with ranch. He was a pilot and was housed in Dublin, and was a part of an event we held on board. The time of fellowship was awesome, and we talked about everything ranging from sports to politics to religion. His family was very warm and incredibly nice, and it was yet another blessing from God.

Another thing that happened was kind of an accident. Clayton (USA), Fitzy (Australia), and I went to a nearby court to play a bit of basketball, hoping that some locals might want to play. After noticing the emptiness of the court, we decided to just play 21, but eventually some of the kids from the surrounding apartments joined us, at first just watching us, then talking to us. We eventually just got to hang around the kids for a while, talking about little things and playing with them. We returned a few days later to play some more, and some of the same kids returned, and some new ones showed up. We played with them for a few hours, and just hung out with them, giving them some needed attention. I eventually rolled my ankle pretty bad, so some prayer for healing would be cool.

The moral of the story here is that God blesses at every turn, if we choose to notice. So rejoice in suffering, and rejoice in glory. This is one lesson I am trying to pound into my head, and that wherever we may be, God is apparent through all of it if we just look for Him.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Land of Hate: Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Belfast is more of a war-torn country than I have seen. Parts remind me of Detroit, or even are what I’d imagine a place like Kosovo would look like. The biggest thing that still remains from all the years of conflict is the hate that still lies in the people’s hearts. The murals that decorate the city are harsh reminders of what happened in the name of religion. It’s a big surprise to me that more Irish people hate the idea of established religion or of faith at all. So many deaths amounted to so little. It’s hard for me to realize the full truths of that place, but I can share a few stories.
On a day off KC, Julia, and I were able to hang out with a couple of local guys (one of them had volunteered on the ship). On a rare day that boasted a clear sky, they drove us to Belfast Castle (again) and then took us to Cannok Castle, which is a real castle. It was closed, but the view of Belfast and the castle was glorious. After that they drove us to a part of town that was obviously torn, and showed us the enormous wall that was erected with the purpose of keeping peace between the Catholics and Protestants. It was huge, and made me wonder if it was larger than the Berlin Wall. After this they showed us to the place with a bunch of murals painted on the walls. One was a memorial to a man who had been killed by the IRA, and had a big picture of him with some crosses and things around it. One of the guys told us a story about how he had brought a group of kids here and one suddenly burst out in tears. The kid was in a blind rage because the huge memorial to this thug hit him to the core. Apparently, this guy had killed this kid’s uncle. The whole group had to go, and the kid never went back.
The next day, a group of us ventured to a nearby basketball/soccer court to play some basketball. As we were playing kids started walking by and looking suspiciously at us. Eventually they started to throw eggs onto the court. Clayton went to confront them and (to make a long story short) we ended up hanging out with them and playing soccer with them. One of the guys said they were just throwing eggs because they didn’t know us and had assumed we were Catholics. They then showed us around their part of town. We walked to another wall nearby, and they told us some stories of their childhood. When one of the guys was young, there was a celebration happening on his side of the wall, and a sniper was perched up on the other side, just shooting at people. Another guy was shot at when he was just playing with his friends when he was 10 or so. We ventured near to the catholic side, and some of the kids came and started taunting the leader we were hanging out with, and if we hadn’t walked away, would have done more probably. The hate has trickled down through the generations.
Belfast was such an awesome port to be in, and was a great blessing. The sail from there to Dublin was short lived, and I don’t recall if anything interesting happened: probably not. Dublin is such a cool city. I been out exploring most days, and tried to find the Red Wings game, but was unsuccessful. There are castles, and cathedrals, and the city is so much older than I am used to. There are also a ton of people from all over. I have a busy week ahead of me, with a volleyball game, basketball game, and a dinner with some local Americans.
One request from my end; one of my friends here is going home on account of medical problems, and if you could please pray for him, so he can return ASAP (his name is John).

Saturday, May 9, 2009

My Mommy...

When I was young we were side by side
Through thick and thin she held my hand
As I grew I changed, I was hardened
But she stayed just the same
I grew into a man and changed into a jerk
But she loved me like only the best mommy can
I drifted along the road and lost my way
But she was still at my side, she still holds my hand
The fleeting world has taken its toll on me
Life’s curveballs have kicked me in the face
Mistakes have created a torrent of shame
Misused trust has caused me to fly from love
Still today the scars of lashings bleed
But she bandages my heart
Her love surmounts all of the pain
She has mended my wounds and cradled me
I hate to think of who I’d be without her
I love to remember all the times we shared
And how she has forced me into growth
Unbeknownst to her, I truly admire her
Her strength is something Sampson couldn’t match
We’ve had our disputes and our tumbles
We’ve bickered and yelled
In hindsight it was pure foolishness
I wish I would have been closer
I wish I could appropriately display my love
I wish I could give her a hug just for a moment
But life has torn us apart as it does so often
And now is my time to grow
So that when I return I can be a man
A man that she can depend on (aside from dad)
A man that can be there when life is hard
A man that can appreciate her love
A son that can respect his mother
A son that can give his mom a gift money can’t buy
A son who can finally show his mommy how much he loves her
(Which is a lot)

Thursday, May 7, 2009


Something so amazing, so ridiculous
It can’t be fathomed fully by man
Can’t be founded emotionally by women
Understanding is aloof from all we study
Workers toil and musicians play
The melody never succeeds to display
The buildings never cease to dismay
Fear and trembling lead only to pain
Running leads down the ample path
While the children play on the narrow
Gold is piled in the banks until it hits the moon
All because we cannot understand
We are so deaf, so numb
To something so completely insane
So adventurous and full of pain
So much life resides within such death
So much freedom lies in bondage
Such a paradox is not complex at all
Such an enigma so easily solved
If it were as plain as day
We’d hide in the night
If it were a delectable goodie
We’d stick with our sardines
Such emancipation cannot be free
It must be paid for, like everything in our lives
So we bust out our wallets
We call for the check
But we missed the meal
We missed the point
We missed the grace
For all it takes is a breath
And then, freedom.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Headlong Into Growth: An Update on May 6th, 2009

The sailing back to existence was short lived. A lot of people got seasick, but I remained healthy. As we arrived into Belfast, Northern Ireland, I saw that this place is really as green as I have been told. We pulled safely into the harbour after a long time to get the lines right, and then immediately had a container of books that we had to get inside. This, along with the normal setting up of the gangways, didn’t take all day, and we even got off a little early. This gave me the opportunity to get out into town early and do a little exploring.

A group of us went out after dinner to see what the town had to offer to the eyes. The town is gorgeous, and there is a lot of history here. During the short walk, we stumbled by many old buildings and some gorgeous University campuses. Parts of the town seem to come straight from an older WWII movie, with the apartment complexes looking like they haven’t changed in 70 years. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to go back to some of those spots during the days yet, but I still have a few days left here.

On Wednesday, I had a chance to do something out of the box. I had an experience day that day, but wasn’t on any of the lists for events. So I took the opportunity at breakfast when a few people were talking of a Pastors breakfast event in which they needed help. I jumped at the opportunity (partly because if I didn’t, I’d have to work) and the next thing I knew I was a host for a local pastor. I met him (his name escapes me) while I was about to get breakfast and we exchanged greetings and kind of awkwardly stumbled into a conversation about how I liked it here. As we ate we talked about where we were coming from, what to do in Belfast, sports (of course), and other things. This man was one of the nicest guys I have talked to, and I only wish I had better conversational skill so that we could have talked more. One thing that hit me big was when he nonchalantly mentioned the passing of his wife a year ago. He seemed so at peace with God, and was perfectly fine talking about it. I couldn’t imagine the pain he experienced, as she battled with cancer prior to her death. Yet, after such a battle, this man was still on fire to show God’s love to people. Amazing.

I did get out on a couple more solitary adventures (mostly out of randomness mixed with impatience) and got to see more of the city. The pastor I mentioned earlier had told me that wall murals are a popular thing here, and I was able to experience this first hand, as all over the walls of the city are these beautiful works of art. Some may call them graffiti but I honestly love this form of art more than most. I also had a chance to finally go see a castle, which ended up not being much of the fortress I had always dreamed of; instead it was turned into a ridiculously expensive restaurant and antique shop. It was still a beautiful site, and sometime in the near future, my Facebook will have pictures of most of the things I’ve written about.

God has been at work in me as of late (since I decided to come actually), and lately I have been focusing on my own maturity. I am trying to learn how to put God before my struggles and shortcomings, but also to be fully comfortable with whom He made me. I have started to read another book which helps me grasp what my feeling a little more. I could dismiss the book as just “another guide to being a real man”, but I feel that learning how to use the tools God gave me is a huge part in the whole maturation process. I am trying to learn how to be passionate about things I love, since for so long I have tried to drain my life of passion this is proving quite difficult. I feel as though I am moving in a good direction at least, and have felt a peace and confidence I can’t explain. Thank God for this opportunity.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

The Edge of Existence: Update on April 27, 2009

The last time I wrote an update I was yet ignorant to the splendor of what I like to think of as the edge of the western world (not geographically). Little glimpses could be caught of this glory as we sailed into harbor in Torshavn (which translates to Thor’s Haven or Harbor) and probably had the largest crowd this ship has seen for a welcoming. We also were able to go on a tour of the islands while we would have normally sat anchored just outside of Torshavn (I later found out that the fuel was paid for by a local). This all was given to us from a town of 20,000 people and a country of only 48,000! Little did I know that this was only the start of an amazing adventure on the edge of civilization.

Being on watch the first few days, I didn’t get to experience a whole lot. Sign up lists for on shore events were filled basically right as they were put up as our crew was desperate to get off of the ship. We were also forewarned of the hospitality of the Faeroes, which may have motivated some of us to try and get out more. Unfortunately I experienced little more that meeting a couple of kids the first few days (more on that later), but on my first off day I had an adventure that I will never forget.

It all started with a push from some friends. Like I had previously stated, I was too late to sign up for things all week, and this included a huge day on Monday (which is most everybody’s off day) which was an opportunity to go see the town a little better. This included many different things, and fortunately there was plenty of space for me to jump on one of the trips. We started by hiking around Torshavn to a nearby mountain (they are hard to miss here) then proceeding to hike around it. Our leader was a man whose name I can only pronounce as “Berger”, and was from a nearby town. He told us all about the history of the city, and the country. I rather enjoyed the history, and we even saw a restored ancient Viking ship (they founded the Faeroe Islands), and were told a story of some thieves.

When we made it through the towns, we were with nature herself. A couple of us climbed higher than the rest (almost on accident, but also because of pride) and got a glimpse of what surrounded us. I told the guys around us that if I were ever fortunate enough to write a book that this would be how I’d describe the edge of the world. The picture I have posted with this blog post is from this point. The reason I felt like I was at the edge of the world was probably because of the abrupt end to the mountains falling to the endless sea that commanded the horizon. The regality of the scene took my breath away.
After more walking around the mountain, with beautiful landscape to one side, and a rocky slope to the other, we stumbled upon a town, our destination. The place made me feel as though we had abandoned civilization for our own utopia in the middle of Asgard (had to use a Norse allusion). The green of the grass that rolled down the hill it sat upon and into a sea so beautifully blue and pure that it seems heaven isn’t so far. The few houses seemed to hold ghosts, and the silence was enough to put one to sleep. Apparently this town was rather important, as it held a few historic places. There was an old cathedral that was being built during the Middle Ages, but was never finished due to a massive loss of money as an effect of the black plague on Europe, and the Faeroe Islands. Also, this was the childhood growing place of a famous king that led the Faeroes away from paganism more towards Christ. It also had the oldest church that is still used today as a church in Europe. A lot of History in such a small place, so different from where we come from!

After the tour of the town we went back to Berger’s house for an early dinner. We were served infinite portions of pita bread along with all the things to go inside, salad, fruit, chips, juice, and other things. This was all topped off with a nice glass of tea and a delicious dessert. After this we were taken back to the ship barely able to move any more, but the day had just begun. After letting our stomachs settle down from all of the excitement, four of us embarked on a trek to find the swimming pool that was free to Ships Company. We eventually stumbled upon it and were able swim for 45 minutes and jump off all of the diving boards and things. We also used the sauna for 15 minutes. This was a nice experience, since it had been a while since I was able to swim. After the pool, we returned home once again just to leave a little bit later. We spent the rest of the night stuffing our faces (again) with pizza, and hanging out with some locals.

When we returned from the pizza extravaganza (I also tried whale meat, blubber, and rotten lamb, and I would never recommend any of these “delicacies”) I was surprised to see a foreign van just outside of the ship. Apparently, a man named Leif Erik has a ministry in the Islands that consists of taking things that are of little or no value to their original owner, and giving them to those who may need them. This guy was at our ship at least once a day giving us everything from bread and pastries to shirts and shoes. We also had some people from a local bakery give us their leftovers from the day every night. I think most of Ships Company gained about 12 pounds while we were in the Faeroes.

The kids I had previously mentioned seemed to never leave the ship. While we were in Torshavn, they were there literally every day, usually right after school until we closed at 11 pm. I was able to hang out with them often, and played basketball and a little bit of football. They made a bunch of friends here, and they are just a couple of many kids who spent a massive amount of time here. Both of them also want to come back to the ship when they graduate from school.

We set out from Torshavn after a week of bliss and blessings on Thursday to head to the nearby town of Klaksvik, which was a town of about 4,000. In this port, I honestly didn’t get out for as much sight-seeing as I’d like, but that was my fault. I did get involved in quite a bit of sport though. On Friday, a team of us headed out for volleyball at 9:30 but unfortunately things weren’t as we expected and we ended up just playing within our own group. That was okay, and we did talk to a few people from the area, but we didn’t get to play against them. On Saturday I had a busy afternoon. It was a day off, so I had the chance to sleep in until 1:30 before eating, and then hanging out with those same kids (they followed us to Klaksvik). At about 4:00 or so, I was asked if I’d like to play soccer and I agreed, since I wasn’t doing much anyways. We left and played for about three hours, from about 5 until close to 8. When I got back I ate and rested for I knew what loomed in the future. At 11:30 we went out for a prearranged night of basketball. This was an absolute blast, and ended up playing 5 on 5, with one girl each. It was basically Ships Company versus the locals, and what a time we had. We played until close to 2 am, and then came back and I was finally in bed by 3.

After a rather uneventful Sunday afternoon, we started work at 9:30 pm in preparation to leave by 12:15 am. Many of our officers thought this would be impossible but we proved them wrong. I worked with loading the cars onto the ship with the crane the whole time, which was rather fun. As we left the port, there was a large crowd of people singing and praying for us, with a band playing even. Just one last blessing before we left. As we pulled out of the harbor, the air was filled with the cheers and honks of horns, and with fireworks. You were a blessing Faeroe Islands, but now it’s time to get back into the real world.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Rock ‘n Roll: An Update for April 17, 2009

Here’s a quick poll: Who has heard of the Faeroe Islands before? I know I have never heard of them until I heard of OM Ships, then I went online to see what they looked like. They seemed pretty cool, and I was pretty intrigued by them. Well, here I am, anchored just outside of Torshavn, which is the capital of the Faeroes. They are quite pretty, but I wonder why in the world people would have ever first come here. The first thought I had of them as I walked up to the top of deck nine was, “Man, they’re just a bunch of big rocks!” We haven’t been able to get into port yet, but the sight of this place is awesome. There are only two islands that are plainly visible to me, each the size of about the greater Port Huron area. The population is whole of the islands is only about 45,000 people, of who care 98% claimed Christians (maybe it’s just a fad). The city we’re anchored outside of (Torshavn) is only about 20,000 people big, and it shows. The houses are spread thin and there isn’t a whole lot of space to be used. From here, it looks as if there isn’t a whole lot of commercialism, which is good because the temptation to spend money will be less. I’ll find out more details when we go into the port in about 4 hours.
The sail here was as smooth as a baby’s bottom, and God is to be praised for that. I came to the conclusion that I don’t really want rough seas (I had previously wished for rough seas) because getting seasick would ruin any fun that the waves would be. We were rolling quite a bit because the stabilizers weren’t out to stop us, but the sail here was like driving through Kansas; nothing was in sight. Miles upon miles of sea surrounded us and nobody was around (during my watch at least) to even look at. This didn’t take away from the peace that the sea seems to offer, and the comfort in realizing how much bigger God is, and how much he loves us. I mean, if he made something so massive as the sea and all the creatures in it, but chose to offer only us salvation, then we’re pretty darn special.
Saying goodbye to Scotland was sad, but I’m sure that I’ll go back someday, because it was an awesome place. As we sailed away I felt gloomy, but still excited that I would go to a new place. The last week in Scotland was built of a couple of E-days (after my break for camping) and some more walks around the town. It was truly a beautiful place, and a blessing to go to: Now to go explore the rock.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Wet and Wild: A Rather Lengthy Update on April 8th, 2009

The mooring into our berth in Scotland was something rather unexpected for me, and was a blessing. As we waited in the lock before the harbor, we could see the shopping mall next to where we’d be staying the next two weeks, and it looked empty. As we sailed closer we could hear a faint roar of cheers that was coming from our welcoming party. When we were ready to attach our ropes we caught full view of what was happening, and it was awesome. There was a worship band playing and hundreds of people were there cheering. This commotion went on until the customs had released us to let people on and off, but I couldn’t be a part of anything because as a deckie, we were forced to work until 8:30 at night until everything we needed was in place.
Scotland has been a place I have wanted to visit for years and years, and finally, by some astounding grace, I have arrived. This is a place that I could learn to love and nothing but the weather has been a negative here. The first few days were sunny and high 60’s, then fog set in for a day, and now I ha vent seen much of the sun in a while, but that’s nothing that could taint my visit. The first night here, in fact every night here, I went for a walk in the city. The city of Leith/Edinburgh is a beautiful town with a lot of old buildings. The people are pretty nice too and are sometimes very hospitable (I need not mention how amazing their accents are). It’s safe to say that Scotland is what I had hoped for thus far. I even had a chance to try Haggis, and it wasn’t nearly as disgusting as I thought it would be; I actually kind of enjoyed it. One evening I had a chance to explore the town by myself and ended up walking around looking at the scenery for 3 or 4 hours. I traveled past most of the commercialism and the industry to a boardwalk of pure green where you could see some small mountains and a bridge. People were playing soccer (not quite America) and having fires and enjoying the sun. This whole experience was so exciting and peaceful.
The day of ministry we get to experience was such a blessing here too. I was told to do tours, and was a little bit nervous at first, but the people here really made them fly by. I got to talk with so many different people, and like I mentioned, Scottish people are awesome. A few people even sounded very intrigued with joining. One guy worked at a refinery close by and asked so many different questions and seemed very excited. I think he may join some day.
As some of you may know, I had been planning a camping trip in the lowlands for a few days, which is now part of my past. I thank God so much for this experience and wouldn’t take it back. It all started by a water purification place…
On Monday night we set off from Leith into the wonderful nature that Scotland has to offer. We were dropped off on a one lane road and walked up a hill and through a forest and ended up camping on the edge. Luckily, the moon was bright because we were rather late in getting there. The night went by quickly, and the main problem was that we couldn’t start a fire (Great Britain is wet after all), so we just set up our tarps and laid down for our rest. The starts were shining trough and all was silent except the faint whispers of us guys. I was so excited and happy that I couldn’t fall asleep, but eventually the silence lulled me to sleep. We woke to a grey skies and cold weather. After a quick breakfast we headed out on what would turn into a long adventure.
After a quick march over the bare hills, we ended up coming to another forest. We found a path in it and took it through. This was not a wild forest for all the trees were in rows. This is what most of the forests we would come across would be. This made the trail easy to stick to and offered us a nice grassy path that was relatively dry. At the edge of the forest we came out to a little pond/ reservoir that seemed to be a popular spot for people to come to by the amount of trash lying around. Then we walked along the road the led towards our final destination. Morale at this point was very high, as the almost mythical sun poked out a few times. The road we walked upon was littered with sheep pastures and not much more. Eventually we came upon a logging company whose path cut right where we needed it to, and ventured on in that direction. After a quick lunch we hastily cut through the wooded road. When the road ended, we pressed on through the forest. This was one of the most challenging exploits, but also one of the most rewarding. We were forced to plow through the branches of what seemed a natural forest and to follow little streams. This meant that our shoes and socks all got soaked, but it wasn’t a big problem. The forest was as green as they come, the floor was covered with a spongy type of plant (not moss) that I wished we could sleep on, and all of the pine trees with gloriously green. Little streams made their way through the forest, and made a mess of mud. Once we were liberated of the tight forest we came upon a rather large stream (or small river) that led us in the direction of another road. We cut through somebody’s land (I know it was strange for me) with no problem, and made our way to the edge of another forest. There we found shelter for the night and built up our tarps once again for sleep. We did get a fire started and finally had a chance to eat some of our cans of food we brought. After a long day we all lay down at 7:30 pm for bed, and the worst night of my life.
That evening it started to rain, and it didn’t stop for the rest of our trip. During the night we realized our tarp had some small holes in it, and most of us found out how vulnerable our sleeping bags were to constant water. I was hit the worst as I had a puddle build up in my sleeping bag and all of the clothes I was wearing were eventually soaked. This made sleep very difficult, as to sleep I had to be away from the puddle, and the only way to do that was to sleep on my side, which when my leg fell asleep I would wake up. I also had a night full of dreams, and often times I was sad that they weren’t reality when I woke up to the nightmare of a soaked bag and clothes. At one point I even thought that I was going to get hypothermia.
The final awakening I had was a rather good one because the sun was finally out to give us a new day. The rain had calmed down, but not ceased, and I was freezing! When I managed to climb out of my bed and find my boots I ran out of the tent and ripped off all three shirts I was wearing. This felt so relieving and I was feeling better.
We set out pretty late, and were going to try and avoid the top of the hills, but this failed. We ended up climbing a hill directly above where we camped, and at the top we saw the glory of Scotland. We also saw rain whipping at us almost sideways, but that was no big deal. I was soaked anyways, and my hands were something like the hands of a drowned corpse. All day, in fact, my hand remained white and pruned. After the hill we ventures into the cover of another forest and wandered along a path there for a few hours. Eventually we reached the muddy end of the path and it took us to yet more hills. These hills were all wet (everything was) and the rain had not stopped. We traversed the hills and crossed some more streams trying to remain as dry as possible at first, and then gaining apathy towards the dryness of our bodies and clothes. At the end of the hills and a small valley lay our seemingly biggest challenge yet; a cliff. The danger had frightened a few of our group of seven, but we eventually went for it. The descent took no more than an hour, and no injuries had happened. Looking back up we saw just how dangerous it actually was, and praised God for keeping us safe. This was probably the most fun I had the whole time, as I was definitely challenged to keep a foothold and to use my numb hands. When we reached the edge of the hill, we stopped and ate our last time. We then went toward another hill to try and catch a glimpse of where we had ended up, and at the top we were caught by surprise. From a rather far distance we caught a sight of Loch Lomond, and it was beautiful. This was our original destination, but we bags and clothes hindered us from fully reaching it. We then finished up our journey through a last forest valley and yet another farmers property, and finally on the highway next to a wall built in the 1300’s. We ended in a city called Killearn, and at a tavern. There we contacted our ride back to the ship and ate hot food. It took a while for our driver to come, so we bought some drinks and sat around watching Soccer on TV (still not into it). I also finished the adventure by starting a new book and reading my bible with a glass of the local scotch. Praise God for his provision and his hand in keeping us healthy and safe!