PART FOUR: THE VOYAGE BEGINS
To unpathed waters, undreamed shores.
– William Shakespeare (1564 ~ 1616)
Sun, 27 Feb 2005
Port Said, Egypt: Plastic Bags and Tea Bags
Cabin life is improving! We’re getting used to four cultures living under cramped conditions. Figured out how to share the bathroom and settled the ‘lights out’ issue. Roze (Holland) and Eliane (Switzerland) are the early birds (usually in bed before 10.00 pm), so Ria (South Africa) and I, the night owls, are learning to move about quietly in the cabin without waking them up.
But Roze and I have had to make some adjustments. She gets annoyed by the rustling sounds I make when taking things out of plastic bags when she’s sleeping. I’m bothered by the apple cores and used tea bags she leaves around the cabin. Just the other day, I saw a tea bag on the bathroom shelf. It was all dried up and left a brown stain on the shelf. I threw it away. When Roze came back, she asked if I had seen her tea bag. I told her what happened to it. Roze said, “So that’s why my tea bags have been disappearing!” She explained that she liked weak tea and had a habit of reusing tea bags. She smiled, “I promise not to leave my rubbish lying around the cabin.” Both of us burst out laughing.
Thu, 3 Mar 2005
Arrival in Aqaba, Jordan
Was captivated by the sight of rugged mountains and palm trees as Doulos sailed into Aqaba Port. Once the ship was cleared, my ministry team went ashore to distribute Doulos flyers, chatting with Jordanian families on the beach and inviting them to visit the ship. One lady liked me so much that she pinched my cheek twice (ouch!) while little girls planted kisses on my hands.
We had a spontaneous experience when an underprivileged man living near the beach invited us to his home. The house was made of wood and cardboard boxes. We sat on ‘chairs’ that were actually baskets. The man treated us to freshly picked leaves from his garden. Though most of us were uncomfortable with the idea of eating raw unwashed vegetables, we had to be sensitive to the culture, and so we ate all that was set before us. The leaves tasted sour, the tea was spicy and the biscuits were mushy. Yet I felt blessed because, though the man was poor, he had showered us with loving hospitality.
Fri, 1 Apr 2005
Suakin, Sudan: School Building Project
Today was my first time off the ship in two weeks, and I heard the most beautiful sound — Sudanese children singing praises in Arabic. It was at a refugee camp where I was sent with my Doulos ministry team to build a school. Everyone was dressed in coveralls, ready for the day’s work. Under the burning sun, we dug, shovelled and laid bricks. I didn’t know cement bricks were so heavy. I could only lift half a brick at one time. Children watched us — some dressed in Ronaldo soccer jerseys, others in T-shirts with holes, the lucky ones had oversized sandals, the others went barefoot.
By afternoon, I had befriended some kids. Taught them English words by writing in the sand with a stick. We also played catch, Zero Point, and Five Stones (with stones from the ground). A little girl named Regina caught my attention. She had sparkly eyes, wore a Moses robe and was barefoot. I first noticed her because of the baby boy in her arms. Was moved by the way Regina took care of him. She made the baby laugh, shooed flies away from his lips, kissed him and laid him down for a nap. When Regina’s little foot was cut by sharp rocks, I washed her wound and stuck a plaster over it.
The kids brought me to the village kitchen to meet their mothers (including 29-year-old Grace who has six children). Some ladies were embroidering bedsheets. Others were washing cups systematically with murky water from a metal jug. The Sudanese women invited me for tea. I sat on a stool in the torn tent and watched them brew black tea over hot coals. Savoured the moment. Money can never buy an experience like this and God has blessed me with it!
Tue, 12 Apr 2005
Voyage to Djibouti: Day 3
It’s amazing how I survived today’s voyage! The sea was really rough. Some Doulos crewmembers were impressed that I could still work in the pantry without getting seasick, and was one of the last girls standing!
Alexandra (Russia), Suela (Albania) and Nikole (Canada) couldn’t work at all because they were seasick. Though the huge waves made my head spin and I could feel my stomach juices swishing around, I managed to do the dishwashing for lunch. But Kary (Mexico) was suffering. She lay on the dirty galley floor, throwing up into the bucket next to her. Everyone on my shift was struggling to work, because of the heavy swells rocking Doulos left and right, up and down.
When I was least expecting it, the Book Fair staff came to our rescue! They put on the green Catering T-shirts and safety shoes. Then they wiped the tables, vacuumed the dining room and cleaned the fridges. I was touched by their enthusiasm to help.
I wonder if the apostle Paul got seasick on his missionary journeys. How did he react to big waves? Did his face turn green? Not that I’m enjoying this voyage (I feel miserable) but it’s definitely an exciting experience! Thank God for protecting us on this 90-year-old lady. Even though her walls creak constantly, Doulos is in good shape.