Some of us STEPPERs went out today to the largest Shopping Mall in the Southern Hemisphere… “Gateway” … You can probably find it on the internet (surely).* Huge place. I felt quite intimidated. I think I have more culture shock at places like that than I do from any place in Mozambique! I mean, it is just so BIG. And so posh, and modern, and all of that.

I think I spent about 15 dollars, on getting there and back (we had to go by taxi, and split the cost), and on a meal (veggi lasagna), and a vegetable curry pie. Lovely lovely food. The veggi lasanga was about 7 dollars, the pie about 1 and a half, and the rest was the taxi… It’s odd, I feel quite bad about using the money for this, but some of the people did say “use this money as you want to…”, and I have not spent a lot of money, comparatively.

Money… strange stuff. Yesterday I was helping on my e-day at that orphanage where they had 50-something kids in a tiny little house, with 2 or 3 kids to a bed, today walking around a Shopping Mall where one single concrete column which is for decoration only, and doesn’t even hold up the roof probably costs more than the entire cost of the orphanage building!

The ship did give a gift to the orphanage, but they had to purposely make it small, as a large gift would be overwelming, or something like that, and would actually do more harm than good.

It’s this whole relativistic thing. One person’s poor is another persons stinking rich, and neither of them is right. Particually thinking of stuff like say the Doulos P.M (private money). Crew get 20 USD per month as personal money. In Mozambique, that is a huge ammount, which can go a huge way, and still leave a lot to be donated at the end of the month, but in Cyprus, 20 USD is 10CYP, which is enough for perhaps 3 gyros, if you go to the right kebab shops, which if you were staying in Cyprus for a month, and wanted to go out and see the place, isn’t much.

Being a STEPPER is a bit different, so many people have said, as we don’t have P.M, we have brought money with us to use… Like, one of the others was telling me today, she is American, and all her friends and family and supporters are expecting (explicitly in some cases) gifts and souveneers from her when she returns. So it is a bit hard for her to get all of these and see everything and do everything.

If you are on for 2 years (or more), you can be more relaxed about things like gifts and so-on. I don’t know… I’ve spent a long time today just sitting in the Mall, thinking about all of these things, about what is right and wrong ways to use money and stuff like that.

For instance, if you are living in a richer country, and want to be able to relate to others easily, then giving all your money to missions and to charity, and living on whatever the minimum you can, and never going out to a mall or movie or whatever is not really going to help. And it is not certainly right in the first place.

How can one know what is good or not uses of what God has given us? Things like the lady who spent a lot of money on the perfume for Jesus’ feet. Or the banquets which Jesus attended, and so on… It really is a very big can of worms. And not very pleasant worms, at that. I’d never really concidered the whole thing very deeply before. I have the feeling that it is going to be another of those vastly complex issues with no Right or Wrong answers again, but which many people claim do have Right or Wrong answers.

I dunno.

Many of the STEPPERs are leaving tomorrow. That is why we went out today. It will be very strange seeing them all go. Sunday Monday and Tuesday will probably be the hardest days on board for me. I know for Andrew, from the previous STEP, the days after his group all left were the hardest. For me it is not quite so bad, as another STEPPER is leaving the same day as I, and 2 or 3 are staying on for another month, but they are going to be with their S.P.s, so I probably wont see much of them anyway.

Listening to a CD of Grieg, while typing this letter in the Library. Such lovely music. “Death of Ase” from the Peer Gynt Suite… I’d say “sadly apropriate” but don’t want to be so morbid.

It’s interesting, the group dynamics. When we first came on board, the previous STEP were really togeather, strong, bonded, and all of that, and all of us were slightly intimidated, I think, and most of us are quite quiet people (1 or 2 are not), and so it too a while to get to know each other. But I was rather happy yesterday to actually get punched jovially in the arm by one of the quietest girls in the group, who I would never have thought would punch anyone jovially. If another real STEP had arrived last week, they would probably be rather intimidated too.

I was talking to an Ex-Douloid yesterday, who was on the ship 2 years ago, and I remembered from before. She was saying how she had actually not bonded so much ever with the group of people who joined at the same time as her, but more with her cabin mates, and work colegues.

She said it was very strange coming back to the ship for a few weeks at this time, she was getting to work in her old department, but so many things have changed, and so many new faces. Enough people still remembered her, but she said she remembered other ex-douloids visiting during her time on board as crew, and they had had no-one remember them at all, as everyone had left, and so had been quite depressed and such by the whole experience of visiting, expecting it to be the same, and yet different, and finding it different, and yet the same. No longer being part of the crew in the same way, being an outsider in a place you had been at home for 2 or more years.

“Abduction and Ingrid’s Lament” now playing. Hm.

Yeah. Anyway. I’ll go and do some clarinet practice, or something. Time passes so quickly, on board.

* Yes. Gateway mall in Durban, South Africa