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…