Last port (Pohang, South Korea), I went with a team to stay away from the ship for almost 2 weeks, living with local families, and working with them (doing programmes at schools, church meetings, etc, etc).
During a 2 year stay on Doulos, most people will go out for 3 teams like this. Some, like here, being very civilised, others (say in PNG or parts of North Africa), being much more out-back “jungle teams”. I was staying on my own with a family of four, and every day going to work with my team from 9am until late at night. I really enjoyed living with a family, again. They were so hospitable to me, and looked after me so well, also, they were very relaxed and friendly.
I was introduced to the father like this:
“Daniel, This is Elder Shim. You will be staying at his house.”
So I was a bit worried about how formal I would have to be. We’d been warned that Korean culture is very formal, and that on past visits of the ship, many westerners had caused problems, and had problems, due to the very low-context, low formal nature of the west, and also of the ship.
But I found it totally the opposite. Very easy to get along with, very friendly, very family. The parents sitting on my bed talking (even though I don’t speak Korean, and they don’t speak English!!), and the kids running around, doing a bit of puppetry with them.
It was one of the kids birthday while I was there, here is a photo.
As you can see, a nice cake (for breakfast!) and also much traditional Korean food. My hostess cooked amazing food every breakfast. I was so well fed. Lovely. Kimchi and rice for breakfast,
with rice and soup. Mmmmmmm.
One day she made kim-pap, kind of rolled seaweed paper with rice and crab and carrots and cucumber inside. I’d wondered how it was made. Now I know. They treated us so well, we went out for Korean barbecue 3 or 4 times, had much traditional food. So good. SOOO good! Anyway. A really good time. Really nice people.
Now I’m back on the ship, and have been for a week or two. Usual stressful running around, busy life.
I’ve been waterman for more than a year. Almost 13 months now. Amazing. It’s gone so fast. And I still quite enjoy it. I’m also really tired of it, though. Firstly the long days, and always
thinking ahead and being on-call whenever I’m on board, but also it’s not something I’m especially interested in, water tanks, locks, and all. I’m able to do it, and quite well, I think, and have learned a lot, and enjoyed it a lot. But I really want to change my job.
My first love work wise is still theatre and performance/art. I’ve been working with the videographer on board quite a bit, recently in my spare time, and also helping some with the AV/technical/sound/video people in our on board programmes team. I’ve applied for a couple of different jobs, on board, but at the moment it looks like I’ll probably be staying in the deck department for a while.
I may be changing jobs within the department (maybe going to work on the lifeboats for a bit, do some maintenance there), or something else. The second waterman knows everything now, and it’s time for him to take charge, and have someone for him to teach. Time for me to step down.
I have a kind of dilemma, in that I enjoy the practical work in the deck department, I enjoy many of the people. The chief mates, bosun, and many of my friends. I also know quite well the work, and can do it competently, and seriously. Many of the more experienced people in the
deck department are leaving in September, and many other people want to leave. So Deck needs people who are serious about work, and can work well and enjoy it.
On the second horn, I want to do something more creative. To spend my time making and exploring, which currently I just don’t have time for. I really want to help the ship make quality videos and programmes and present a high standard to visitors and others. We’re using video and multimedia presentations quite a lot, and I can see even more potential in it, and there is a need for creative people who know video and are technical enough.
A lot of the current team dynamics on Deck I find really hard as well right now. Many people not taking the jobs seriously, or getting angry, not caring about the work they do, etc. Many of us still acting like boys, not like men. So many things I find really hard to work and live with, that I’d really be happy to not have to worry about.
I feel as if there is not enough strength of experience and caring about the jobs and the people, so new people join, and when they do, they inherit the old habits and attitudes of the previous people, most of whom are already tired of the work and want to leave.
Do I try to move away from it all and start doing my preferred type of work as soon as I can? Or do I try to stay and be a positive influence, and try and encourage the new people to find interest and joy within their work? Maybe it’s my home-educated mind-set, or maybe grace, or something else, that lets me work with this attitude.
Life is complex, sometimes.