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.