As I write to you, oh faithful supporters, we sail the seas en route to a place that I have dreamt of since my younger days. We are finally sailing into the UK starting with Edinburgh, Scotland. The past week and a half have flown by in a blur, but I will try to slow them down and make it tangible to you who weren’t here to experience the port of Scheveningen.
The first week was just a matter of adjusting to a new place that was much larger than our previous port. Also, we had many more events lined up for the locals and had a lot we could do. I spent a day on Deck 4 trying to give tours, but it was during a slow time, and nobody came for a tour from me (I’m sure I’ll have plenty of opportunities to give tours in the future). Aside from that, I spent some time just going out into the town and enjoying my time, while talking to a few locals.
Accidents happen every day and especially when one doesn’t do things as they should. This was the case for me a week ago last Friday, as I took a nice spill that still has me sore. I was cleaning the funnel with a ladder, just finishing the base, when my ladder slipped out from under me and I somehow landed on my chest first. The breath was stolen from my lungs, and I was very scared. I ended up okay, just sore and feeling stupid.
Last Thursday was one of the longest days of work I’ve ever experienced, as we had a total of four full trucks of food arrive to the ship. It took us around 13 hours to get all of the food put away, partially because of the 40 knot winds. We had to crane pallet after pallet down into the ship, where others took them into the food stores and unpacked them. This was a long process, and I ended up outside the whole day in the rain and wind. We finally finished at 11 pm with everything, and I already knew I was going to be sick, which I am still fighting a cold… again.
This past weekend I was sent overnight on a church team to a town famous for its cheese; Gouda. We were sent to help an evangelistic church with an event they were putting on called “NL God Loves You”. This was an open air thing in the middle of the market of the town. They had music, skits, and a lot of dances. Unfortunately, we weren’t prepared enough to take part in any of the events, and our skills hadn’t been matched with each others. We did have a crash course on making balloon animals and swords, which proved to be incredibly useful. We had children drawn to us asking for swords and dogs and flowers while we handed out candy with little pages about Jesus. This was a blast as I really enjoy kids, and just seeing how happy they get from simple things.
Aside from that event we attended about 4 different services during the weekend, and heard familiar tunes of worship songs, but the words were Dutch. This of course made things more difficult the whole weekend, as a lot of the congregation didn’t seem to want to talk with us. The church we attended also had a special event on Sunday where a TV pastor gave the sermon and it was being recorded and broadcast. My attitude about this was less than perfect, as I have a negative view of televangelists. The whole experience was awesome, and the hospitality we received was great. I was a little unreceptive of the church, unfortunately, because I am much more conservative than they were, but I still enjoyed my time away.
Monday, March 30, 2009
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
The sail to my current port was a relatively smooth one that inflicted minimal casualties to seasickness, I remained clean. The sail only lasted about 18 hours, and quite a bit of that was time we were anchored outside of Scheveningen. The anchorage was cool because it was a point that was almost like a parking lot for ships, and at night there were lights from ships all around us; about 10-12 different ships.
The next day started with mooring stations fairly early in the morning, and then I was on watch straight away at 1 when we finally finished mooring into the quay side. We are in a rather strange place, as we had to turn 90 degrees to fit into our new berth. The place couldn’t be a whole lot better for letting people see us, as we are right by the beach front, and across from some popular stores such as DC Shoes.
The town we are in is beautiful and is only a short walk away from den Haag (popular spelling in English may be Hague). I spent last Monday walking around The Hague just enjoying company of my fellows. The rest of the city is like something from the coast of Florida or California, and includes many different types of expensive tourist traps. The beach is literally lined with restaurant/bar one after the other. And all of them are way too pricey for a poor old missionary. Beyond the first strip of commercialism are lines of apartment buildings and stores. Basically, it is a fairly typical big city, but much quieter and reeks of marijuana pretty often.
Work has been great, and today was an awesome experience. On our ship, you may have seen pictures of the funnel up on top of the ship. It is on the very top of the ship and is basically the exhaust pipe for our ship. Well, today a few of us were cleaning the side of it by hanging what we call a stage over the side and climbing down on a rope ladder. We had all the safety equipment and all was okay. This job was awesome!
Saturday, March 7, 2009
As a whole load of kids filled what us crew here jokingly call “Lifeboat 7” I stood observing a new culture that seemed to be an extension of home; the difference was in the language they spoke. This past Tuesday I was working on our visitor deck as a ministry day and we had a lot of children come. Our set up teams managed to get schools to pay the ship a visit while we’re around here in our second week in Harlingen, the Netherlands. I was fortunate enough to be able to share my testimony with two or of these groups in our Lifeboat Theatre, which is part of our Deck Four experience, but that’s not what affected me most.
One of the guys here (whose name I will withhold) has an incredible testimony of drug abuse and attempted suicide. The whole point of his testimony is that God looks in the inside, and not our appearances. I am not very close to this guy, but his testimony is very good, and so was one of the kids’ responses. In front of his whole class he told his teacher that “Jesus looks on the inside and loves the person, not the looks”. The boldness and unashamed love of this kid struck me almost like a coup de tat. In hindsight, I can draw a lot of personal attention to this, and how I can be so timid at times, while this little kid didn’t blink under the social pressure of his peers, who may not have even been Christians! Truly a child-like love is unhindered and fearless and this is why we are urged to love like children.
Like I said earlier, these kids were like something from home (except with way different clothes and hair styles) in how they acted with each other. They chased each other around madly and just had a blast with each other. I remembered that no matter how loud and, at times, annoying kids can be, they are awesome! I really can’t wait until I am able to raise my own one day, and I hope I do as good as my father and his father before him did! I can also pray that my wife is able to do half as well as my mother did with us! I don’t know where I’d be without them walking me along the bumpy road full of mistakes and love. I love you guys, know that always.
On Tuesday we sail to Scheveningen (which when said properly sounds like one is hacking up a fur ball) in the Netherlands for 2 and half weeks or so. This port is supposed to be much busier for us because it’s quite a bit larger. After that port we set sail to Edinburgh, Scotland, which is a place I have wanted to go for a really long time, and also the childhood home of Pastor Peter. I love this whole traveling thing!
Sunday, March 1, 2009
Since the voyage to Sweden the pace of life on the ship has quickened tenfold. After a ling project mode, things are setting up to be as busy as many ex-ships people have described; busy. Everyone seems to be doing something all the time. A lot of my time in Sweden was spent just hanging out with friends and growing close to people in relationships I had never really seen blossoming as much as they have. I thank God for all the people put around me, and I am very content with my life at this stage.
Sweden was beautiful, something out of a fairy tale of the north. The city of Goetteberg was a rather large town, and was incredible gorgeous. The architecture was old medieval and there were a few different cathedrals around the town. There was one I did get to go into that was Lutheran, and was just huge and had gold everywhere. I also went to a Pizza Hut, but not an American Pizza Hut. Here, apparently, Pizza Hut is a fancy-pants place to eat. There were three Americans dressed in typical clothes, and we were surrounded by people in nice clothes. It definitely wasn’t the place that has arcade games and baseball parties. I spent every day out in Sweden and just explored the town, and even took some pictures!
After Sweden came the sail to where I currently sit writing, which is Holland. Again, since arrival in Harlingen I have again been exploring the town since arrival. The town is very cool, and very Dutch. Everyone has a bicycle and the buildings look like they were built just to confirm people’s view of the Netherlands as seen in movies and such. Canals run through the town and the roads and houses are all built of bricks. The people are nice and easy going, and things are way cheaper than they were in Denmark. There are also tons of sailboats sitting in the canals, and again everyone rides a bike.
Ministry has been pretty busy, and it has been hard to keep up with writing ministry, but we are still planning on releasing a publication shortly. We just need to figure out some things first. I was asked to do another skit yesterday and I said yes. It was fun, but I am still pretty shy on stage. This will be a growing process. The skit was performed to a youth event that came to the ship. I was the prophet Elijah when God told him to raise the bones, but a more humorous rendition. I think I will be asked to go on stage more than I ever thought, but again, time to grow!