I’m working on a puppets script at the moment, for tonight’s practice. We brainstormed it last week. Someone else wrote the first draft, and I should have sent it back to them before. But now I have fixed many things, and re-written a few scenes, so I hope it is OK.

I will be BUSY tonight.

6.28: drama performance
6.30: Scottish dance practice (I’ll be late though)
7.00: puppets practice
9.00: jazz dance practice
10.00: clarinet practice in foc’s’cle
11.00: sleep

The drama will probably actually be nearer 6.40. I still don’t know if I’m definitely in the official drama team! One of the other drama team people who is in this drama tonight (which I already knew, and so taught them) told me he thought I was. But who knows? I’m waiting for them to tell me.

Funny thing is, in deck work I am totally NOT busy. There is far too little work for us all to do at the moment. So we’re doing silly things, and spending as much time as we can on them. Like cleaning the aft mooring station. Totally pointless, as in three days time it will be filthy again from the coal dust, and takes just as long to clean now as it will in three days, whether or not we clean it now.

We also spent about half an hour re-whipping a rope for the canvas cover for one of the bridge compasses, and then stood down two hours early.

But that’s good for me, it means I can finish this script now!

I’m finished watch, but feeling kinda sick/queasy, possibly bad fruit. I did eat four apples just before watch in one go; the fruit had probably been sitting in the backstage of the theatre getting hot and stuff all day. Not serious.

Visak port is even dirtier than the last one but it’s rained twice! Lovely. Huge massive torrents of it, with thunderstorms like in Colorado. Lightning hit one of the port floodlight towers, and so the port lost lighting for about 6 hours.

Then we got a page from the book exhibition, “Attention ship’s company, we are in need of volunteers to come to the book-ex deck to help save the books.”

So of course loads of us charged up there. Water was coming in all the sides, as it wasn’t prepared for 45 degree torrents. All the cash desks got soaked too. So I was running around tying canvases down all over stuff. Because it was a sort of i-night last night, most of the ship’s company were off-ship, so only about 40 people were on board. A lot of books got a bit wet, but not wrecked.

I spoke to the bosun about the lifeboatman job. He says he wants whoever does it to start working as soon as possible so they learn the job really well before September, when the current guy leaves. When I spoke to one of the firemen, he said that with the lifeboatman and fireman jobs, you can basically work what hours you want to, as long as you get jobs done. So it would be very cool.

Lifeboatman does maintenance of all lifeboats, emergency equipment and so on, also repair of all canvases on board, and nets, ladders etc. They can get as many deckies as they need when they want them. But if just checking rations and water supplies, no others are needed. If I did this, I’d be able to do more dramas and programmes easily, and sleep more at night! Also because I’d be working on my own frequently, I’d be happier socialising during off-time.

It sounds ideal, but then again, the grass is always greener and all that. Heading for almost 4 months on the ship, almost the whole of my preship is a bit fed up with their jobs and want to move/change etc, which is expected. In about 2 months’ time, most will probably be happy again.

I don’t know if I will do it; they must have this week’s team leaders meeting first and see what happens. They will probably decide then, but who knows? Some things happen on board so fast and other things take forever! I still haven’t been told definitely that I’m in the drama team…

Last week has been kind of slow/busy/confused etc. One of the creative ministries people is on an away-team, we had an i-night, I went on an overnight, and am on watch this week (12 till 4), and so on. Also I learned a new mime/dance and performed it the next day. Tomorrow we sail to the next port.

The overnight went well, it was a very good experience. I’m so glad to have gone on an overnight in India. Some of it was not such fun, but very good to have experienced it. Hole-in-the-ground type toilets without toilet paper, for instance…

The book-ex has closed for this port. We were going to be open today, and pack down tomorrow, but today is election day so the local people (port authorities) told us it wasn’t a good idea to be open. So we closed today and are doing major clean/pack down. A major, major clean. This is a coal port, so there is black dust caked onto EVERYthing. Horrible. Apparently the next port is even worse…

One of the team leaders asked me yesterday if I would consider the job of lifeboat man!! More flexible hours, I’d be pretty much my own boss, as long as I got the jobs done, no gangway watch or firerounds and so on! I’d have to look after the lifeboats, clean them, make sure all ropes/equipment are correct and good, learning more about how they work, and helping to direct during drills and when using them etc. It should mean I could have more flexible hours as I’d be working on my own most of the time and so I could work around performances/practices with drama and stuff. But I’d still be a deckie, which would also be good. And, I’d get a special letter/chitty/thingy from captain and mates, which would (apparently) pretty much get me a job on any ship anywhere!

“I’m on a church team tomorrow,” said I.

“Cool. Who’s your team leader?” said he.

“I am.”

“My goodness? What is the teams co-ordinator smoking to make you team leader?”

… or so (approximately) went a conversation on Saturday.

Yeah. I was a team leader. So, what does that mean? well, basically, a church asked for a team of us to go do a short programme/presentation in their service today, and my job was to find out (a) what they actually wanted, (b) what we would do, and (c) how we would do it. Another question was also (d), who “we” are.

I was told that I was a team leader on Wednesday.

I thought it was Thursday, at the time. So I went to the board, and make a notice that my team should meet on Saturday evening, in the dining room. 6.20pm. Why this time? Well, the sheet of paper they had given me told me we would be collected from the port gate at 6.20am, the next morning. And I thought it kind of appropriate.

I phoned the pastor as well, and found out what he wanted (songs, drama, mime, a couple of testimonies, and a short presentation about the ship. nothing too challenging).

So…

SATURDAY :

18:20 – I was in the dining room. Waiting for 2 fairly experienced Douloids (both had been on the ship longer than I have), and 2 STEPpers.

18:30 – I phoned the info desk to ask if it was allowed for me to make a page for them to come. They told me no, only on the actual day itself could I page.

OK. No problem. I’ll just wait then.

6:35 – one of them turned up! Whoo! One of the experienced Douloids. We chat for a bit about what kind of things we should do. I’d been given one good idea earlier by someone else. As the STEPpers probably don’t know any dramas, and probably don’t know how to give a good (ie, short) testimony, I could ask them to sing a song in their own languages. Most westerners are horrified at the thought of being asked to sing solo in front of a church, but many Indians don’t seem to be. Also, although some don’t sing so well, most seem to sing very well indeed.

7:00 – I ask info, and apparently one of the STEPpers is actually out today, with some other team, and hasn’t returned yet!

7:30 – no one else decided to turn up. oh well. the both of us leave. I have some work to do, I need to stick some adhesive sandpaper-type tape to the steps to Hold 3, so they are safe to walk up without slipping over. The trouble is that the self adhesive isn’t strong enough to hold it in place, and the contact glue I have to use should really be left overnight to dry, that’s why I am doing it tonight.

8:00 – My K-group (fellowship/family group) “parents” are leaving, and it’s now time to say goodbye, so pretty much the whole of the people who joined the ship at the same time as us are there. Quite sad.

9:00 – I get dressed in work clothes to go do that work. On my way, I pop by the book-exhibition up on deck, as one of the cabin mates of the other STEPper (not the one already away from the ship) told me that he should be working there. I found him! I told him we’re meeting at the info desk at 6am, and he says he can sing. Jolly good.

9:45 – While working on the steps down to hold 3, Andy (from the previous pre-ship group to mine) brings the other STEPper down to see me! I ask her if she can sing, she says yes, and although she doesn’t like the idea of a 6am start, thats OK.

10:00 – Finished. Bedtime.

SUNDAY:

6:10 – At info. We’re all there! Wow. Pray, discuss briefly what we will do, and head for the port gate.

6:25 – We’re in the bus heading for the church!

8:00 – Service finished already. Didn’t really go as planned at all. Very short simple baptist style service, which I enjoyed. Old hymns and everything. Not 200 people, as my paper said, but more like 30 or 40. The CD played didn’t work properly, which disrupted us a bit, as a mime/dance kind of relied on it. But! One of the STEPpers sang very well, and the other one… could be professional! Lovely voice. Amazing. So, yeah, it all kind of worked.

10:20 – The pastor took us out for an indian breakfast (lovely), and we’re now in a taxi on the way back to the ship. Wow…

11:20 – I find my “little brother” port volunteer, and gave him a tour of the ship (I’d been on watch when he joined, and kept missing him, so he hadn’t yet had a proper tour! Not so good of me. But he liked the tour.).

And that was it!

It all went well. Afterwards in the team “de-brief” in the mess, while filling out the form about how it went, one of the experienced Douloid team members took the form and in the extra comments she wrote how she liked my leading style, as I was so relaxed, and asked peoples
opinions rather than being a dictator, and how unusual I was. *blink* hm. Thanks!

But maybe that means I’ll have to lead many teams in the future! Oh stress!

So, yeah.

Doulos life is still pretty hectic.

We’ve been having many inspections and stuff this port, so yesterday I was helping to clean up the lifeboatman’s office, and in the back, we found an old guitar (without strings), which belonged to one of the lifeboatmen of ages past, and the current one didn’t want the guitar, and so said I could have it! Wow! So I now have my own guitar! Today hopefully I can go and buy some strings. I’d just been talking with God a few days ago about not being able to practice guitar so much, so yeah! Doesn’t often happen like this, but a nice present. It’s even a classical guitar! Whoo!

We’re now in Oman. Last week was kind of down, I was really busy, and still tired after watch and all.

The voyage was very nice, I was kind of hoping to be on sea watch, but wasn’t at all. During long voyages, they often arrange special tournaments, so we had a table tennis championship, which was enjoyed by all. It was per- k-group, so each k-group chose 2 people to represent them. It was all kind of rushed though, if they had told us a few weeks in advance, then I think it would have been better.

One of the other k-groups had someone who had been top in her country as a child, or something like that, but because her English was not so good, and she had not understood/replied to an email until too late, and so other people in her group played instead of her… which was kind of sad.

I didn’t play, by the way. 🙂

Anyway. This week looks as it if will be more fun. Tomorrow is I- night, the big programme off on shore somewhere. I’m in the Parade of Nations (bah), Scottish Dance (grand!), and a drama (whoo!), then on Friday, I’m doing a puppets sketch with one of the other Daniels in the service (yah!), so all in all, quite busy.

Today will be a bit hectic though… we have 3 containers of books arriving. Probably in various Indian languages. So our deck team is “stood-down” until they arrive, and we will be working with those. Possibly until quite late.

BUT… I have a drama practice tonight at 6, and scottish dance practice at 6:20! Also the Dutch dance have asked if I would be interested in joining, they need more guys, apparently. Next week… maybe. 😉

About the drama thing. Although I’m not in the drama team (still don’t know why), I think the creative ministries people still kind of like me (they know that that is where I would like to work, eventually), and want me in dramas, I just wont learn the more complicated long ones that the drama team prepare.

So yeah. And when we go visit schools and so on, I’ll still be doing drama at most of them, I think.

I should probably go now… I have many things to do. I need to listen to the audio of the puppets sketch (we are just doing lip- synch), and one of the school teachers wants me to play my clarinet for her students (4 year olds, I think!), maybe I will do that today. But I need to prepare the puppets more importantly.

I’m sitting in the dining room, typing this, after a children’s programme this morning. We went to visit the school at 11.30, and were told we had a 45 minute or an hour long cultural programme, they wanted. No problems. One of the other team members is a teacher from oz, and so she was voted to “MC” the time.

The kids enjoyed it a lot, as did the teachers, but one of the teachers _kept_ coming into the room, like, every 2 minutes, and calling for another kid to come because their parents were there. We should have really started the programme at about 11 o’clock, or 10 thirty. Eventually the whole thing dissolved at about 12 o clock when pretty much all the kids left as their parents were there to collect them. Oh well.

We taught them some (fairly) silly songs, performed a drama about friendship (they gave me the main character, which was fun), did a song about Doulos work (also quite silly, but impressive. Basically a short chorus about “if I was not upon the stage of the Doulos, I would be…” and then each “verse”, one of the people stands forward and pretends to be some job; captain, carpenter, laundry, etc, with a short chant, and actions. and each time through the song another person stands forward.

So it starts off with one person standing forward, next verse two people, the verse after that 3 people, until all of us stand forward. and the actions to each persons chant include standing up, bending down, stretching arms up and down, etc, which are choreographed so that each person ducks out of the way of the next person just as they do something. IE, the carpenter stretches out a measurement, just as the painter ducks down to stir paint, and so on.

The last character to stand forward is… a ballerina. and they are supposed to be a really strong masculine macho deckie, and so guess who that was? yes! me! wearing my deckie clothes (really grubby looking and “work” ish) and also a ballet skirt thingy on top. it always makes the kids laugh, seeing someone so tough and manly pirouette and leap across the stage… yeah. pretty fun anyway. this evening we are going to help up at the bookshop, and give tours and chat to people. but until then is time off, which is quite nice.

Yesterday was my off-day, and I went out to see the town with some of the others. we visited the souk, I wanted to try and find a new watch (analogue, with alarm and backlight, but not big and heavy, and nice looking. I’ll be using it on deck, so just simple and stuff.

heh.. anyway, I didn’t find a good one. I found lots which were almost right, but none I really wanted to get. the guys at the shops always started off prices of about 8 to 12 dinar, but by the time i’d looked at them all and decided I didn’t want to buy, were all talking off special offers, me being their friend, and 3 dinars only.

oh well. Perhaps I’ll see one in India or Oman.

We then went and had lunch at a place called “Hardees”, which is an American style fast food resurant. I had a salad burger. Then we walked to one of the malls about, walked around it for a while, went to a Haagen Daaz icecream place, each had an icecream thingy (v. nice. I had a waffle with icecream on top) and then walked a bit more, and went home. Over all, fairly relaxed day not doing very much. Then in the evening I played Rummikub with some others, and then hung out in one of the families’ cabins with them and just chatted and looked at photos and such. They are a really friendly family, and have people drop round many evenings, and have their door open. They were making a sign to put on their door, with “hi! come in!”,”we’re busy, sorry”,”not in!”,”go away we’re sleeping” or something like that on it, which they can then put a blue-tacked arrow at the approp. label, on the computer. So I helped with the design of that for a while as well. v. friendly.

anyway. I’m off now. It’s nice to have had these two not so busy days after the last 7 days of watch. Normal day deck work tomorrow, we’ll probably be starting to get ready to sail in 2 days, so finishing off paint jobs, perhaps loading some of the vans and stuff…I don’t know.

We had three containers arrive yesterday! Almost all foodstuffs.

In the morning we went and did a presentation about the ship at a local Indian school, about 300 kids were there. We did a drama about being friends with others, no matter how different they are, taught the kids some silly songs, and so on. It went quite well, I think. Afterwards, they generously decided to feed us, lovely Indian food. I enjoyed it very much.

In the afternoon, I thought we were off until 4.45, but then the team leader came and told me I had to give a tour of the ship for some people on for a programme, and then do “parade of nations” in their programme at 3 o clock. Parade of Nations is something they put in many programmes, basically you get a whole bunch of people to walk up, say where they are from, and smile. So I quickly went and met the people, chatted for a while, gave them the tour, ran and got changed into my moderately smart clothes, ran back, did the parade thingy.

Then I ran back to my cabin, grabbed my mug and a tea bag, ran back up to the dining room for our meeting at 4.45. We were going to visit a group in the evening, and had to plan for it. So we planned for it, half the group of us to do a kids programme, and the other 3 of us to talk a bit about the ship, and how we joined, and so on. Once we’d done planning, we found that we were supposed to be at the port gate at 5, to meet them, so we managed to find a Doulos driver to shuttle us there.

When we got there, no one was there to meet us, so we drove to the parking lot (about 5 minutes away), drove around there a bit, met no one, drove back, and still no one. So we thought we should try phoning.

None of us had a phone.

So one of the guys went to try and get the port security officer to lend us his mobile. He succeeded, and was just dialing, when a big red land cruiser drove up, and it was our hosts. So we left with them (after giving back the phone, I think). They apparently had only asked for a kids’ programme… So we said OK. Then they said since we were there anyway, we might as well show a slideshow and stuff as well. So we did that, and a drama.

Now, about the containers…

They had been working on unloading them, and getting the foods into the holds since about 9am when they arrived. At about 9pm, when we got back, they were still going. So I offered to help, and was sent down into the dry food store.

I love when containers arrive. The atmosphere is wonderful to work in. It’s great.

You work like mad tossing boxes of noodles or cereal around, or push heavy ol’ bags of flour around, getting the lift empty, and then send it up again, and try and get it all packed away into some part of the hold. Everyone is tired, but working togeather. I arrived at about 9.30, after getting changed and all, and started working. We finished work at 1.15 AM. I loved it. I wouldn’t miss it for anything. Well, I would, depending on what the anything was. But it would take quite a lot.

The people who had been working since 9am were a lot more tired, of course, but still many of them would not take up the offer to let us work for them, but were determined to carry on til the end. At the end you feel great.

We have various different spreads to put on bread, but somehow I guess the order got confused, and instead of “enough jam for every day, and chocolate spread once a week”, we got mountains of chocolate spread, and virtually no jam… Odd. So I guess we will now have a lot of chocolate spread on bread. yummy. Not so very healthy though. Jam isn’t either.

Today is my off-day, so that’s cool. Next week I am on 4-8 watch, from tomorrow (saturday) morning, until the next saturday evening, I will be working from 4 til 8 in the morning, eating breakfast, doing drills, etc, sleeping for an hour, or perhaps working out, or playing clarinet, depending how I feel, and then eating lunch, sleeping for a few more hours, working again from 4 until 8 in the evening, and then sleeping until 3.30 the next morning when I get ready to start work again. Work is security duty. Mostly gangway watch, but also sea-watch (lookout and being at the helm) for 2 days, occasional fire-rounds (walking about the ship checking for fires, problems, intruders, etc). So not too strenuous, but not very fun hours.

I’m on fire-watch in 10 minutes (making sure no fires start from welder), and probably i’ll do some needle-gunning (heavy duty rust chipping) too. auditions went ok, i think. dunno if am in group til some time next week.

Today was more training, I’m on the fire-support team, and so have to know where spare aqua-film-foam- forming fluid is kept, how to help teams get their fire fighting breathing suits checked and set up, etc.

Went to visit the American run hospital here, 2 days ago. I did a drama, and then an application mixed with story. Afterwards, some young school teachers invited us out, and we went (about 25 of us) to the seafront, played frizzbee, they brought us pizza, and a local ice- cream sales man made friends with some of us, and then gave us ALL free icecreams! So generous 🙂

I’ve been on board for 3 weeks now. Last week I was involved in quite a few dramas, which is really exciting for me.

In my day work, I have been working on doing a lot of painting and wire-brushing, on the aft mooring-line cleats, and also the last 2 days on the “paint raft”, which is a rather ugly floating box which is used for going around the water around the side of the ship, and painting and working on the hull. I’m making a lot of mistakes though in the deck work, forgetting to put on a coat of thinner before painting on bare metal, breaking a drill bit, and so on. Nothing major, but kind of wearying. This week I’m quite tired, perhaps trying to get involved in too many things at once.

In about a week there will be auditions for the official Doulos drama team. I’m really excited about it, and in some ways it would make it a lot easier to do dramas and stuff, as I would then get proper times to do it, rather than having to try and get personal time off work for it.

It snowed! Germany is so beautiful, and snow makes everything look
lovely.

Conference is going well. It is amazing meeting all these people, and learning so much about what God is doing around the world. Meeting people from every continent going to every other continent.

Had a time today looking at all the different places where they need workers, seeing what they do, and met up with some people from a training centre in the UK who are praying for a drama person to come along and start doing full time drama ministry, teaching sessions with their students, but also putting together professional level productions, and taking them to schools and churches around the country.

It’s a place we visited in October, and I didn’t really feel very inspired by them then, as it seemed to be training all just by lectures, but speaking with the guys today, they said they are slowing trying to revise the system there and make it more interactive, not so lecture oriented, and really want to make the arts a priority. That could be interesting to do in a few years time, after the ship, maybe. I have their contact information, and will be praying about it. We shall see.

The group from Germany had a whole load of juggling equipment and stuff lying around too at this time, everyone was milling around, looking at different places like a market. Many people were playing with the juggling stuff, so I picked up a set of balls, and did a bit of practice, and then the German rep asked if I could be bribed not to go to the ship, and if they gave me lots of German chocolate, would I stay in Germany! Rather cool….

This evening we had a long session looking at the history of the organisation, seeing how it all began, and had phone-calls with some of the longest working people. Amazing.

God has used and is using so many people to do so many things, it is kind of mind-blowing.

Anyway, it is a very busy schedule, so I do not know if I will get time to post much during the conference. The first session starts at 8:45am, and the day ends at about 9:30pm. Although there are breaks, there is not enough time to get back to the hostel and back.