america: land of the free, home that has changed

as could be expected, being back home feels quite strange at times. it is definitely different from life on the logos hope. being back in america brings with it many new freedoms from all the curfews, rules and “guidelines” that are enforced on the ship. there are even freedoms that i didn’t anticipate because on the ship some details weren’t so much enforced rules as they were just adaptations to the way life runs on board. so that’s really what the differences between life on the ship and life in america feel like – not like change, but like freedom…

i am free to walk outside alone.
i am free to wake up whenever i like.
i am free to do my own laundry (yes, i do actually view this as a freedom).
i am free to sit straight up in my bed and not fear banging my head on the bed or ceiling directly above me.
i am free to wear my pajamas in the dining room.
i am free to cook food for myself whenever i desire to do so.
i am free to light candles.
i am free to take a shower and use more than 3 minutes worth of water.
i am free to hold the hand of my incredible fiance (once he arrives in america, of course).

 

where it does feel like change, though, is the difference between pre-ship “home” and post-ship “home.” that word, that place, isn’t the same as it once was for me.  coming back from the ship, i am living in valparaiso, the town where i spent most of my childhood. but before i left for the ship “home”, and everything about it, was defined by the city of indianapolis for many years. it was where i learned, worked and churched. it was where i knew bike paths to the library, intersections to find the cheapest gas, and the name of every person who worked at my favorite restaurant. it was where i had community and neighbors. it was where i had friends. and it is in this regard that it seems like EVERYTHING has changed…

my house has changed from a broadripple bungalow to a ranch in valparaiso.
my roommates have changed from my dear friend kelley to my mom and step-dad.
my proximity to friends has changed from 1 mile to 156 miles.
my church has changed from common ground to calvary, but i am blessed to have found a good one here.
my saturday nights have changed from going to the movies with friends to watching movies on the couch alone.
my pop culture awareness has changed from nobody knowing who justin bieber is (except his mom, and maybe usher) to only me not knowing who justin bieber is.
my height has changed from a lot taller than my nieces to just a little bit taller than my nieces.

 

i am happy that the freedoms are easy to adjust to, because the changes aren’t always that way. but i trust these changes are all part of what the Lord desires for me – it was necessary to leave what i knew as home in order to experience all He planned for me, especially to meet the man who will be “home” to me for the rest of my life. it is necessary to live in what i now know as home until the Lord calls me to a new one at some point in the future. but in the midst of all these changes, i cling to the freedom i have in Christ, knowing that my entire life and every change it may involve are all in His hands.

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checking in

wow… it has been quite awhile since i have updated! i suppose that’s what happens when you live on a ship with horrendously slow internet. it’s also what happens when you sail to regions of the world where every bit of communication you send/post/speak is scrutinized in detail.

for those who aren’t aware and who check in on this here blog from time to time, i have returned and am now living on american soil.  772 days after the Lord led me from my home he led me right back. i flew from dubai to atlanta, arriving around 7:00 in the morning on february 20th. i spent 4 days at the home office there, sleeping, debriefing and crying (yes, crying!) before flying back to chicago on february 23rd. it has been so good to be home, catching up with family, friends and supporters over the past month. it has been interesting to share experiences with everyone and think back over everything God has taken me through over the past 2+ years… i am hoping to do some “looking back” reflections on this site as part of my re-entry processing and just to share with all of you some more about what i was doing while so far away from home. just to give you an idea, here are the statistics of my time away –

i visited 34 countries.
i sailed 23,284 nautical miles.
i crossed the atlantic ocean 2 times.
i trained 486 port volunteers and crew members for ministry.
i saw 1,319,497 people visit the ship.
i saw 95,510 bibles put in peoples hands.
i saw countless lives changed by God.

including my own.

 

now that i am back in the U.S. i am doing a few things in addition to reflecting on my time away…

i am living at home with my mom and stepdad.
i am looking for a job in the chicagoland area.
i am cheering on Butler in the NCAA tournament and understanding the meaning of the word “madness”.
i am planning my wedding.

🙂

 

yes, it has been quite an eventful two years indeed! i look forward to sharing about more of the past and the future with you on these pages. thank you for following my journeys and taking such an interest in my life. i am so grateful for your support and prayers over the past two years and even now.

thank you.

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georgetown, guyana

 

november 24 – december 15 , 2009

blog-posting is tremendously overdue. it’s been several months since the ship was in guyana, but i felt it was due its own post, mainly because i has probably been my favorite ministry port in my entire time on board the ship. i celebrated both thanksgiving and my birthday while in guayana, and sandwiched in between the two occasions i was able to head into the south american jungle on a challenge team. 

i was on a team with 5 other girls and we spent a week at hararuni girls home, a place for girls who have been abused, abandoned, or removed from their parents for whatever other reason. we were picked up from the ship on an extremely hot day, loaded up a small bus with our luggage as well as boxes and boxes of donated items for the girls – everything from coloring books to pillows to chapstick.

entrance to hararuni
view of the girls’ home
our team

we had no idea what our accommodation would be like, what food we would be eating or where exactly we were heading. we were initially told that we would be building playground equipment for the girls, and i was excited to be doing something completely different from sitting at a desk and running up and down stairs all the time. we arrived at our destination to find that we were staying in an incredible house and had a cook looking after us for the entire week! what a blessing (and what amazing food). we also learned that rather than building the equipment for the playground, we would actually be clearing through jungle trees and shrubs to clear space for the playground… okay by me! 

our accomodation, complete with mosquito nets

the space we cleared (the "after" shot... no before shot available, sorry)

by day, i attacked trees with a machete and tossed them into piles of fire. we encountered several tarantulas as well as snakes, and raked thousands and thousands of leaves. or at least it felt like that many… sometimes we would take breaks to play games with all the local kids who would just gather around and watch us work.

rocking the machete

a friendly tarantula (one of about 6 we encountered)
some of our daily spectators

by night (well, evening) we hung out with the 10 girls living in the home. they only had electricity from 6pm-9pm, so we had to use our time wisely. we played games, sang worship songs, colored and shared our testimonies with them to help show them how God had worked in each of our lives. one afternoon we passed out “help packs” that had been put together and decorated by people all around the world and donated to the ship for such a purpose as this one. each girl received a bag of school supplies (if they were younger) or personal items (for the older ones). on our last evening we were able to make popcorn and watch “prince caspian” – the girls were SO excited to have popcorn. by the end of our time at hararuni, several of the girls had opened up to us about the things that were going on in their lives and we were able to spend time in prayer with several of them. i fell hopelessly in love with two of the younger girls, who had completely attached themselves to me by the end of the week.

coloring always brings people together
my 2 favorite girls – aliah & ischilina
we brought boxes of books and organized their library

 

we were fortunate to not have to leave them behind when we came back to the ship – all 10 girls, plus their house parents, their pastor and his wife, and our cook were all able to come back to the ship with us. we were able to give them all tours and they joined us for dinner before heading back home. 

heading back to the ship in style
our huge posse

the ship sent out over 100 people on challenge teams in guyana, which means that nearly 300 people weren’t able to go. i feel so blessed to have been given the privilege to be a part of the team i was on and am thankful to have met all of the girls at hararuni and been a part of their lives, if only briefly. pray that we had an impact for God in their lives… they certainly made one in ours.

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ghosts of christmas past

today, as a means of channeling christmas spirit and experimenting in self-torture, i’ve been listening to common ground’s christmas album and recalling some of my favorite christmas memories of the past couple years…

my niece lillian hunting for more presents after opening at least a dozen…

 

all the men receiving warm headgear. some wear theirs better than others…

 

 

ice skating at pan am plaza in downtown indy…

  

the greatest santa hat in all creation…

 

my sister’s kids all tearing into their gift of a karaoke machine, which my brother spent the day monopolizing. and the box of which my niece addison spent much of the afternoon in…

 

 

being confounded by “the christmas polka” during caroling sessions…

  

my brothers being gentlemen shoveling and salting the driveway. even tony in his $700 shoes…

 

  

my nieces michela & payton receiving hannah montana guitars & mics and serenading us with “the best of both worlds” ALL DAY LONG…

 

just four numbers… 1-9-8-9…

 

spending one last christmas with some of my favorite friends…

  

 

hopefully some more christmas posts to come… until then, happy holidays!

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christmas in curacao

this year i won’t be home for christmas. here’s where i’ll be instead:

don't worry - the people with the flags aren't crying for help. they're welcoming us as we arrived in the port.

not too shabby, eh? it would be pleasant if those cliff tops had a dusting of white on them, though.

we’re currently on the dutch island of curacao and everything is amazingly beautiful here, from the sky to the sea to the coast, even to the quaint colorful buildings in town that make me feel like i’m right back in the middle of europe again.

 

and for some added fun, for those who think i live on a cruise ship, consider this:

notice the difference...

saying that i pretty much live on a cruise ship would be like saying a kid on a tricycle is pretty much driving an RV.

 

happy christmas!!!

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it was a very good year

today i turn 28. 28 years old!! i apologize for those older than me that this comment may offend, but 28 sounds so old!! luckily many on board think i have just turned 23, so it seems the ship isn’t aging me in the same manner it does some others. the ship… when i posted on my 27th birthday i never imagined that word would become so prevalent in my vocabulary and just about the very essence of my life. last year i never expected to be where i was, and certainly never expected to be where i am now.

speaking of last year, in keeping with last year’s theme of age-number-list-making, here lies a second edition. while last year’s post was 27 things to know about me, this year’s post will contain 28 things i’ve done since cardiff as a means to catch up my blog and create a birthday post that distracts me from how old i’m getting and lets me focus on how much fun i’m having. two birds – meet one stone. here goes…

since my last port post (cardiff), i:

LONDON, ENGLAND (june11-june29)
1. attended a sunday service at hillsong.
2. went on a double decker bus prayer drive throughout the whole city.
3. saw phantom of the opera for the very first time. very good seats at a very cheap price.
4. was stricken with a terrible flu for a whole week of our visit.

CORK, IRELAND (july1-july14)
5. shared my testimony on a radio station.
6. kissed the blarney stone.
7. celebrated the 4th of july roasting marshmallows and making s’mores on the top deck of the ship.

THE ATLANTIC VOYAGE (july14-july27)
8. saw dolphings, glowing plankton, flying fish, and a whale.
9. slept outside under the stars in the middle of the atlantic ocean.
10. enjoyed barbecues, worship nights and outdoor movies on the top deck of the ship.

KINGSTOWN, ST. VINCENT (july27-august12)
11. attended a week-long clinic on board learning to share the gospel with children and personally saw 12 kids give their lives to christ.
12. took part in a 90-minute drama performance of the entire gospel of mark.
13. spent a day doing ministry with mentally and physically handicapped children singing songs, playing games, and performing puppet shows.

ST. GEORGES, GRENADA (august13-august25)
14. visited a small church held in a building that used to be a whiskey shop.
15. was blessed by a local woman who gave two friends and i a day-long tour of the entire island and fed us amazing pizza at the end of it all.

SCARBOROUGH, TOBAGO (august26-september14)
16. spent 2 weeks off the ship at PST, training and getting to know new crew members joining the ship.
17. jumped off the side of the ship and overturned a 25-person life raft (an empty one) as part of basic safety training.

PORT OF SPAIN, TRINIDAD (september15-october14)
18. trained to use puppets in ministry and performed in front of a crowd waiting to get onto the ship.
19. made popcorn on the stove for 8 straight hours to feed the crowds waiting to get on board.
20. saw a manta ray that seemed to have a “wingspan” the width of a car.

CASTRIES, ST. LUCIA (october15-october27)
21. emceed an event for the first time ever – 400 youth from around st. lucia came to an amazing concert event on board with christian rappers and singers from the UK to be challenged to “reach for life.”
22. moved to a new cabin (my 4th so far) with my friend anna. i enjoy 2-person cabins much more than 4-person ones!

BRIDGETOWN, BARBADOS (october28-november16)
23. swam with sea turtles.
24. spent 8 unexpected days at anchor rationing water, training for ministry and spending time with God.

GEORGETOWN, GUYANA (november25-december15)
25. celebrated thanksgiving by helping to make 16 pies and a squash casserole.
26. spent a week on a challenge team and shared the gospel with 9 girls at a girls safe home.
27. chopped through south american jungle with a machete while facing off against 5 tarantulas, a snake and a baby scorpion. my challenge team was helping to clear area for a playground for the above mentioned girls.
28. had my very first (and second) surprise birthday party.

 

it’s been a very good year

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cardiff, wales

may 27 – june 9

 

Cardiff, Wales is one of the fastest growing international cities in the world. And it was my favourite – and saddest – port. Favorite because of this:

the promised land

 

And saddest because of this:

bye bye bethany

My cabin mate and dear friend Bethany left to head back to Australia. Sad 😦  In fact, on June 2 my short­-term program that I had been a part of ended all just about all of my fellow STEPpers headed off the Logos Hope and back to their homes. All of my cabin mates left to head back to their respective locations of Malaysia, Australia & hong kong, and i was left to move out of my cabin and into a new, temporary cabin.

Our berth in Cardiff was probably the most perfect location possible – we were right in the middle of a pedestrian area with a park and very close to Mermaid Quay. Mermaid Quay is a trendy area full of various bars, restaurants and nightclubs. The area not only provided a conveniently located Starbucks for us to chill at, but also plenty of opportunities to meet people, share with them and invite them back to the ship.

a merry-go-round in mermaid quay

I went on a church team while in Cardiff and had a chance to share about life on the ship, and also have lunch at the home of one of the church elders and his wife. My friend anna was there with me as well, and we had a really great lunch and tea time in their garden. Anna and i had mentioned to the couple that we had to be back at the ship by 2pm, her for a meeting and me for a phone call. As we sat drinking tea, the wife of the couple turned to me and, with alarm, asked “Are you drunk?” Um… WHAT? I just sat staring at her, and she looked down into my cup, up at me, and asked again, “Well?? Are you drunk?” I looked down at my cup, back at her, over at Anna, back at her, with my mouth gaping open, and finally stammered out “I… I… uh… ummm…” She looked at my cup and then at me one more time, and said, “Your tea… is it gone? Are you all drunk up and ready to go?” Ahhhh! She was simply asking if I had finished drinking my cup of tea! This is one of the many instances that has helped me to see that the accents/lingo of those from the UK is even more difficult for me to understand than ANY non-native-English-speaker i have thus encountered.

 

My favourite ministry by far in Cardiff was the opportunity to work with a group called Rainbow of Hope. Rainbow of Hope works with churches in the Cardiff area to distribute food to homeless and hungry individuals every night of the week. We were able to pass out food and talk with local people about their lives and their journeys. I met a young man who had come to Cardiff seeking asylum from his country, and the torture he endured there that made him nearly blind. He told us that the only reason he had gone there that night was to meet up with a friend who never showed up. He wasn’t a Christian, but after he finished sharing his story with us, we asked if we could pray for him. When we were done praying, he was shaking and we were in tears. He said to us, “Now I know this is why I was to come here tonight – it was so i could meet you.”

cardiff architecture

 

During our wonderful trip to Cardiff, we saw the sun for the first time in months! And also saw over 22,000 visitors come on board the ship. Excited by the weather’s turn towards summer, we got ready for the ship’s turn in London.

 

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