The Caribbean, 2009
The Logos Hope did an outreach to the Caribbean ( and one country in South America, as well)
In 2009, stretching into 2010. I was on board for the first half of the outreach, from St. Vincent
in mid-July, until Jamaica in February. Below are some of my photos and stories from that time.

 

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The Atlantic Crossing-
 
We set sail from rainy, dreary Cork, Ireland  July 14th,  passing colorful villages built on 
hillsides, & embarked on a 12-day voyage across the Atlantic to Kingstown, St. Vincent.  There was a lot going on
 this voyage.  The leadership scheduled  several days of training for the crew,  giving them workshops in everything
from ministry to security;  a greater concern now that we have traded relatively 'safe' Europe for the craziness and
multi-colored chaos of the Caribbean.  Work was mostly canceled for the voyage,  though the people who work full
time in ministry were 'transferred' to other departments for the voyage, giving them a chance to work in the galley,
deck, or something different than what they usually do.  There were the usual activities we have on voyages, such as
worship on Deck 9,  Bingo in the staff lounge, and the like, but we were blessed with not one, but two cookouts, the
second being a 'seafood grill' with shrimp, fish, and all the salmon donated to us in the Faroe Islands being cooked
up for us. Best of all, the carpenters and welders joined forces and constructed a small pool for the crew on the top
deck. It was only about 8' X 15' long, 4 feet deep, and salt water,  but it was still a pool, and it was never lacking for
swimmers. Me? I got to see almost none of this, as I was 'blessed' with the worst watch of all, the 12-4. That meant
I was required to navigate the ship 8 hours a day,  split into two 4-hour watches, from noon to 4,  then again from
midnight to 4 am. This schedule wreaks havoc with your sleep cycle, and makes any sort of social life impossible. I
missed all of the training, most of the worship, and only got to use the pool once. I missed the first BBQ, but  made
sure I was at the second, 'seafood'  BBQ.  By the end of the voyage, people were asking me where I had been, as I
spent way too much time in bed, trying to establish some sort of sleep cycle.  The day watch wasn't bad,  I had a lot
of visitors to the bridge, but the night watch, or 'mid-watch', as sailors and soldiers call it, just dragged on. I got the
last two days of the voyage off, as the captain took  turns standing two days of watch for all of the officers. I looked
forward to two days soaking up some of the sun that had been baking the ship for the whole voyage,  but Murphy's
Law was in effect, and my two days off were the only 2 cloudy days of the whole voyage. No matter, the following
day saw us entering into sunny Kingstown, St. Vincent, where we have been since. Below right you see a picture of
the ship at the Cruise Ship Terminal in Kingstown. It's also a calendar & screen-saver available for download at our
website, www.LogosHope.org. It's good to be doing my website again, & I'll endeavor to update as much as I can!

      
  
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View From My Window-

Kingstown, St. Vincent 8/6/09


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August 3- Big ship outing today. As I hadn't got a chance to get off the ship too much in St. Vincent, and don't generally
sign up for too many 'ship's outings', I figured I'd kill 2 birds with one stone and signed up for a day of touring St. Vincent
with 165 other crewmembers.  We piled into a half dozen or so tour buses,  and trekked a half hour to a national park in
the inland part of  the island, 'Vermont nature trail' or something.  We spent a couple hours there,  then off to a 'waterfall'
that cascaded a whopping 6 feet or so. Ten minutes of that and we were off to one of the sets used for the filming of one
of the 'Pirates of the Caribbean' movies. 20 minutes there, and back on the road to a local black sand beach. I suppose
I shouldn't complain, it was only ten dollars or so, but 165 people crowding into the 'tourist sites' of St. Vincent was a bit
much for me. The hiking trails constantly were clogged up with hikers,  the 'waterfall pool'  had no place to go that wasn't 
glutted with Logos Hopers, and 165 people stopping off at a local convenience store to purchase snacks and water was
a mix of comedy and tragedy. Anyways, I enjoyed the hike, and spent my time at the beach snorkeling, spotting a cleft in
the rocks with about a dozen lobsters and even an eel. Amazingly, although I snorkeled along the coast about 90 meters
out,  the lobsters and eel were only about 2 or 3 meters off the shore.  At $10, the day was worth the money I spent, but I
think I'll look for smaller, less 'packaged' adventures in the future. Below are photos of the hike, movie set, and the beach.


Vincy Roadsigns.com?- Ok, it's doubtful anything I see in the Caribbean will top the sheer unadulterated craziness that is West
Africa, but it's got it's own brand of whimsy, and I found myself taking pictures of some of the road signs, shop names, and even
taxi bumpers I saw, which is how I spent a good deal of my time with Mercy Ships.  Here's a few I've seen around since I arrived.
The roadside shop you see at left immediately reminded me of a house that I saw in Liberia, although it was in much better shape.
'Cutting Edge Barber Salon & Bar' is a great combination, provided the barber isn't drinking himself. At right is an advert for Lime.
Lime is one of the two big cellphone companies in St. Vincent. 'Lime' is also an Eastern Caribbean word meaning 'party'. It can be
used interchangeably as a noun ("
We have big lime down at Festus's place tonight") or as a verb ("Hey, mon- what time you want go
liming tonight, hey?).
 I've seen a number of these Lime signs around- they feature animals native to the region,  but what exactly
'Monkey Eric' is, I don't know.  I assumed it was the call of one of the local birds, but I have yet to hear it or find out which bird.

 
Here's a few of the local taxis and vehicles.  Again, not as crazy as Liberian taxis, but interesting enough.  I doubt I'll be seeing
goats or coffins riding in taxis here, but you got to take what you can get. I am keeping my eyes peeled for 'God's Time Is Best'



   
August 9-
After church, Frank & I headed over to Villa Beach, where sat on the sand & read our respective books for awhile. The sun      
never did come out, so after a few hours we headed back to the ship. Halfway back, we took a detour and strolled around some neigh-
borhoods in Kingstown. I have always loved the Caribbean, so the walk was a treat for me.  Below you see a few random pictures such
as a fisherman with a homemade raft. He would paddle out into the harbor and tie his raft ( boldly named 'Conquerer', of course ) onto
the anchor chain of some local vessels and spend a few hours fishing. Also you see an unfinished house being used as a fairly posh goat
house. The end of our hike brought us to the top of the mountain that lies next to the ship, and we got some decent sunset pictures up
there. Best of all were the colorful and fantastically designed houses we saw along the way.  I wanted to take photos of every other one,
but photos never seem to capture what you see. The road we walked wound up the hill, snaking left and right, following the curve of the
mountain, with houses jammed into ever nook and crevice that looked like it might hold a structure. Every one seemed to be of it's own
design, with looks ranging from antebellum  to saltbox, painted in every colour imaginable, and all with spectacular views of Kingstown.



Granted, most houses we saw weren't overly amazing, but there was an interesting mix of design and necessity along the way. As many
of the houses were built on the hillsides, the forward part of the houses needed to be sitting on stilts.  Below are a few of the more inter-
esting houses we saw along the way. At right is a 'small small' shop that appeared to sell only fresh fruit & beer. What else do you need?

 



Ocean Dream-
We knew we would eventually be sharing the dock with some of the many cruise ships that sail the Caribbean, and it
didn't take long. Our second port, St. Georges, Grenada brought us the Ocean Dream, a 37,000 ton vessel run by Pulmantur  Cruises.
They came alongside us a little before eight in the morning on Monday. The Ocean Dream is most known as 'that ship with the Swine
Flu cases on board' due to the outbreak of it onboard a couple months ago.  The port authorities here have been very nervous about
'cleanliness and hygiene' on board our ship, and now we know why.  The Ocean Dream was actually refused entry into this harbor in
June due to the outbreak.  Thankfully, there was nothing like that this time,  as all we need is that sort of drama on here to screw up
our entire outreach to the Caribbean. We take strong precautions against such things here,...even setting up 'hand sanitizing stations'
along the dock so people in line can guard against such things.  Anyways, the ship was docking as I was leaving myself and not long
after I returned, it was throwing off it's lines for departure. It's bound, I believe, for Barbados. Good picture of the Ocean Dream here.

 
The Ocean Dream does a bit of a 'whirlwind tour' of the Caribbean, and only stays in Grenada for less than a day. Buses line the street out-
side of the harbor, ready to take the long line of tourists around Grenada. The passengers pile into the busses, which take them on a scenic
tour of the island and deposit them back, where they pass through a mall to get back to the ship. Now they can say they've 'seen Grenada'!
With the Caribbean so reliant on tourism, it has been hard hit by the recent worldwide economic downturn. It is somehow poetic that as all
the 'big white ships' stop coming so often, and bringing less and less money, our ship comes along and not only comes to help, but allows
and encourages them to come aboard. Our ships are fairly well known in the Caribbean, as the Logos II was here just two short years ago.



August 19 & 20- Believe it or not, I had the entire weekend off- the first time that's happened since I don't know when.
This weekend was all about the three B's...biking, beaches and boats. Also, diving, but that's not a B. Sunday after church
a half dozen or so of us biked 30 minutes to Grand Anse beach, a 2-mile long stretch of white sand and turquoise water.


We spent a few hours swimming, playing football, and just relaxing.  The following day was dive day. We took the dive boat
to a nearby underwater sculpture garden.  British artist Jason de Caires Taylor designed  eight or so sculptures to  be placed
about 10 meters below the water on the west coast of Grenada. They include such whimsical statues as 'man sitting at desk'
and 'man riding bicycle'. By the time we got there three years later, many of the sculptures were in disarray, although it was a
nice break from seeing coral reefs, I suppose. Below are some pictures of them I found online of what they 'used to' look like,
or you can see  more pictures at UnderwaterSculpture.com. I did see more eels on this dive than I've ever seen, though, and
a massive, endless school of fish, a school so large I couldn't see the end anywhere, followed us for the majority of the dive.
 
While we were underwater, about half of the crew took one of our lifeboats to the beach themselves. A shelter-less 45 minute
boat ride took them from alongside the Logos Hope to the white sands of Grand Anse beach, where shelter from the sun was
in short supply as well. You can see the Ocean Dream in the background. In back of that, unseen,is the Logos Hope. Funny, I
always think the ship is so big until we tie up alongside a cruise ship. The same thing happened a couple years ago when the
Africa Mercy was in the Canary Islands. We thought we were the big fish in the 'little pond' of West Africa, but once we got to
Las Palmas, ships that positively dwarfed us came alongside the dock opposite from us one after another.  Anyways, below
you see my lifeboatman and a few volunteers helping to bring the 'passengers' safely to the beach. We did this same thing at
Mercy Ships before I left, but swimming in the Caribbean seemed somehow nicer than the beach in sunny Monrovia, Liberia.


 

August 20-22- There was a nasty swell for a couple days this week, one that gradually grew and grew until it simply
got too big for us. The ship was whipping back and forth straining the lines, and finally, on Thursday at about 2.30 in
the afternoon, it parted (snapped due to excess strain) one of our stern lines. We immediately closed the gangway and
those visitors who were on Deck Four were forced to stay onboard.  We had a couple hundred people outside the gate
who were likewise unable to come on board, as well.  We put out a new stern spring line, then added a couple breast
lines on the bow, one of which parted almost immediately. We managed to get a good set of lines out, but not before
we parted a third line. We finished at around 4 PM, just in time for the captain to announce that due to conditions we
would leave our gangways, vehicles, and crowd control gear and head out on anchor. The pilot boarded at about half
past four and away we went.  We spent a long boring night 'on the hook',  and took another look at the swell the next
morning. It seemed calm enough, and we picked up anchor and we were alongside and made fast by noon.               
 Our return lasted less than a day, and by nine the next morning (Saturday), it was clear the swell had returned-as bad
as ever. So, before we even opened, we loaded all the gangways, and were preparing to load the vehicles. There was
a tense hour or so, when we were not even sure where we would go. The plan was just to skip the last three days of
our schedule in Grenada and head straight for Scarborough, Tobago, the next scheduled port. An hour of uncertainty
ended with the news that the inside terminal would be made available to us for the remainder of our time in Grenada.
So, away went the lines, off the dock the Logos Hope went, and a short 1 kilometer trip later, into the harbor we went
and alongside the beautiful sheltered quayside in Carenage Bay. From our old dock to this one is at most a 10 minute
walk, but we are much more well protected here, and the view is simply stunning. This isn't the most exciting thing
that's happened to us (that would be the fire onboard from Cardiff to London), but it's jolted us a little bit, and we're
reminded not to take everything for granted. The swell is most likely  a result of one of the two hurricanes that have
recently formed, but they'll pass well north. All we'll see are some distant effects, such as rain and, of course, a swell.

All in all, the net effect was probably a positive one. We got a little mooring stations practice, we wound up at a safer,
much more scenic dock, and the ship is much more visible (and accessible) for the people of the city. Carenage Bay is  
quite  literally surrounded by  mountains,  so wherever you look are sharp green hills dotted with abodes in the multi-
colored hues of the Caribbean. If you go for a walk around the bay, as I did yesterday, you can get a good view of the
ship from many different angles. But probably the most exciting side-effect of the past few days was for the teenagers
on board. Our teens were off the ship for a few weeks attending some sort of camp. They got back to find our ship no
longer at the pier, and they had to be shuttled in using our rescue boat. Below you can see some of the pictures I took
at our new location in Carenage Bay, including a small crowd who were already waiting for us to dock to come aboard.


Anchorage Pictures- You know, We were so busy during the excitement of the lines parting and moving to the
anchorage, few bothered to take any pictures. Luckily, our prolific ships photographer Tom Brouwer was there on
the spot. Tom is the one responsible for the many excellent pictures you see of the ship in the media materials we
have, including the downloadable calendars available online.  Below you see a picture of the first dock we were at
and spent most of our time.  Next to that is Joe and I dragging the ships lines out to the bollards, long before we
realized the all the extra lines in the world wouldn't save us from the line-eating swell that were affecting the ship .

And there's the 'aft mooring crew', ragtag collection of deckies, engineers, and welders who happened to be in the
vicinity when the lines parted and were pressed into service to help re-moor the ship more securely. Tom went out
in our rescue boat for a  trip or two to get some pictures of the ship at anchor.  Finally, you see the Logos Hope in
beautiful Carenage Bay, the nicest dock we've seen in the Caribbean so far, and one of the nicest since we sailed in
February. I wouldn't be surprised if the picture of Carenage Bay becomes the calendar for the month of September.

 



Random Grenada-
Here are a few random pictures I took around the island. From left is the un-missable 'Merseys, D'Cosy Nook'. It is
painted in the bright colors of Carib, a popular local beer. Next to that is a whimsical storefront for a roti shop. Roti is a food popular in
the Eastern Caribbean. It was brought over from India and consists of curried chicken, beef, or goat in a sort of doughy flatbread wrap.
While in India, only the bread is called roti. Here, the name has evolved to encompass the whole thing, filling and all. I remember eating
my first one five years ago in Tobago,  and I was sold after the first one.  I've been trying to find a roti that matched it ever since.  Also
below you see a sort of Grenada superstore. I peeked inside to see what was for 'SALE', and it appears to be a home furnishings store,
with sinks, doors, & windowpanes on display.  I hear there are plans for expansion, possibly a parking lot. Right across the street from
Home Depot is the equally fantastically named 'Auto showroom' where-for a small fee, you can park your car for all to see. Two people
had wisely chosen this way to sell their cars. Finally, after home furnishings and auto lot, stop by the steel pan store on the way home.
 
Below left you can see a nice view of Carenage Bay in St. Georges. Bright canoes dot the bay and it is ringed by fruit stands, nightclubs, and
other businesses. Amazingly, despite it being a busy harbor filled with ships of all sizes, the water remains crystal clear. Next you see an anti-
drug message on a wall downtown. There are a number of 'pro-communist and pro-Castro leaflets posted around town.  I don't thing Grenada
is leaning towards communism, the poster look like the work of one man or one group. Here you can see one of three posters and 'Don't Stop
The Progress',  which is in support of one political party or another. I don't know much about the political nuances of Grenada,  but like most of
the black third-world countries,  they think Obama is just about the Second Coming.  In the interest of being a 'good missionary', I have to bite
my tongue. I saw graffiti in St. Vincent along the lines of 'Obama USA Salvation World Salvation' or somesuch. Finally, at bottom right, you can
see one of the many giant moths that seem to be appearing around our ship.  While their intricate markings of different shades of brown keep
them well disguised when resting on trees, they stand out like sore thumbs on the big white ship. They're beautiful to look at, and quite difficult
to get rid of. Surprisingly, many crew members have never seen such things and are full of questions about them. Moths are commonplace to
me, but it's not often I have seen ones that are so large.  The one in this picture stayed in the same spot on one of our doors for several days.

 




August 24-
When walking around St. Georges the other day, I spied the bright, hand-painted sign you see below. It reads 'Why Be
Miserable When you Could Be Happy. Try Jesus.'  I stopped for a picture, of course, and as luck would have it, the owner happened
to be coming home just then. I asked if I could take a few pictures of his sign, his quirky house, and even his dog, fast asleep on the
roof.  We got to talking, and 'Tynedale' turned out to be an interesting fellow. He runs his own ministry,  'On the Frontline for Jesus'
(which is more or less the name). He provides shelter for several homeless people and runs a car wash (motto: "A Clean Windshield
Is A Vision To The Future") from his shelter to help raise the funds. I asked if there was anything he needed, and he quickly replied
he needed mattresses. As luck would have it, we had a half-dozen or so on our top deck I have been trying to get rid of for about a
month, so tonight I lowered them down to the dock with the crane, and my friend David (who had stopped at On The Frontline For
Jesus just before me) drove them up to Tynedale's place. If we had more time, I would have loved to get more involved, and sadly
we leave tomorrow,  so I don't think Tynedale ever got a chance to visit the ship.  As OM is such an evangelism-based ministry, we
don't seem to do much relief work, certainly not as much as I am used to at Mercy Ships, and I often feel adrift and clueless when it
comes to evangelizing. Helping Tynedale was like a breath of fresh air for me, and I felt like I was back on familiar ground. I would
have liked to done more,  but the length of time in port and work schedule (not to mention the constant duty days) makes it tough
to do anything other than go to deck four and talk with people, something I just can't seem to get interested in.  The endless work
& strain of constantly having to supervise a ship full of 20-year-olds usually leaves me too weary to do much more than my regular
job, as well,  so I am thankful I was able to do some actual ministry, even if  it was 'small small' ministry like giving out mattresses.

Grenadian Roadsigns-  Not too many whimsical or quirky ones here, but I managed to find a few. The left two are
from political buildings, with the 'Office of the Leader of the Opposition'. Maybe the winning party changes so much it
is easier just to give the opposition it's own building. The two on the right are from local churches. You've got to love
any church that offers a 'Shoppers Service'. Methodists are one of the larger denominations here in Grenada, I believe.

Along a wall I saw walking around was a string of graffiti pledging support for NDP, one of the political parties here.
I passed a couple dozen giant green scrawls like 'NDP ALL THE WAY'  and 'VOTE  NDP!'  This line of ad hoc political
campaigning was capped off with the less altruistic 'GREGORY IS THE MAN'. Guess we know who Gregory is voting
for. Also you see below a local fisherman with John 3:16 and 'Why Me' on his colorful boat. Next to that is an actual
stop sign. Traffic signs are commonly 'sponsored' here in Grenada, and this one is just one of many signs I saw that
Western Union had put up.  Finally, this bizarre piece of Xeroxing was plastered on a pole up a hill in Carenage Bay.
It seems to say 'What you going to do when the FBI come for you. Say I took me dam Money ALL OF IT'.
I'm not really sure what it means. Quirky vandalism? Youthful machismo? Quarrel between neighbors? Who knows...
  
  



Food in Tobago-  Upon going for a walk outside the gate, I was struck by the plethora of food around. Granted, you always get
a number of food vendors, but here in the Tobago capital of Scarborough, the streets seemed to be jammed with food being sold
in all shapes, sizes, and manners.  I've seen more colorful fruit stands here than any other place I can remember. St. Vincent was
fairly lacking fruit and other food being sold on the street, while Grenada is mostly known for it's spices. That thing you see to the
left on the Grenada flag is a clove of nutmeg, which produces the two spices nutmeg and mace. Grenada and nutmeg go together
like Maine & lobsters. So the Grenadian markets I saw were mostly spices. Here in Tobago you see food, and lots of it. Below you
see a couple fruit stands I took pictures of.  The bright colors and number of fruits on display has enticed me to these stalls a few
times. It was there I discovered 'chennettes' for sale. Known around the Caribbean by different names, chennettes are small, 2 or
3 times the size of a grape. You bite down hard enough to break the skin, and pop the seed into your mouth. The seed (which is
large enough to almost fill the inside of the fruit) is surrounded by a starchy, slightly sour 'flesh', which you suck on to remove. I
used to eat these by the sackful when I worked in Puerto Rico, where they are known as 'quenepas'. I was pleasantly surprised to 
find them here, and I've already stocked up. To see a quenepa that is 'popped open', go here. Of course, not all of the food sold
here is fruit. I have seen many sorts of edibles available here, from a nightstand-sized grill selling burgers (''Burger Queen'') to a
pickup-truck bed full of fish, where the vendor doled out what fish, and what cut, you wanted right in the back of the truck. I also
see crabs for sale many places here, probably to make the popular Tobago dish 'crab & dumplings'. This string of crab is quite a 
sight to see, each one bound and all strung together, all of them striving to break free, a mass of squirming crustacean. A bunch
like you see here would cost about 100-120 TT ($15-20 USD), though I just paid 5 TT to take a picture. If I make a gumbo, I'll
give this guy a ring. But, finally, you see the most popular food of all...located right across the street from the ship.  There is no
more popular joint in the Caribbean than KFC. You won't see the Burger King, the Pizza Hut, the Mickey D's, but you will always
find a KFC, more likely two or three. Of the 3 ports we've hit so far, there's never been a KFC further than a block or two outside
the gate. Caribbean islanders, like most poorer countries, have been eating chicken for centuries, so when fast food came to their
islands, they eschewed hamburgers of beef for something a little more 'familiar'.  Every place I've gone in St. Vincent, Grenada, 
and here I have seen people walking around with bags, boxes, and (of course) buckets, plastered with the Colonels smiling face.
Our 20-something crew, which would head for McDonalds whenever we got to the next  European port,  is now heading out to
KFCs.  It's not hard to do when even the tiniest downtown areas have two of them. As for me, my days of fast food are over. If
I am in Tobago, I want to try local food...and there's no better local food than roti!  As I said in my Grenada post 2 weeks ago-
"Roti is a food popular in the Eastern Caribbean. It was brought over from India and consists of curried chicken, beef, or goat
in a sort of doughy flatbread wrap. I remember eating my first one five years ago in Tobago, and I was sold after the first one. 
I've been trying to find a roti that matched it ever since."
  I've already hit a couple roti shops and quizzed some locals on where
to find the best roti in town.  I'm noticing that as we get closer to Trinidad (which is 60% Indian), roti becomes easier & easier
to find. While St. Vincent had only one or two roti shops and Grenada half a dozen, here they are on every other corner. I am
happy to have something cheap and delicious when  the weekend rolls around and sandwiches are on the menu again.  There
are a few other dishes around here as well, and perhaps I'll skip roti one day and try something new, possibly the fantastically
named 'buss-up shut' I've seen on menu boards around town.  I had to investigate anything with such a cool name, so I tried
to find out what exactly buss-up shut is. As luck would have it, it's a sort of roti. As Trinidad and Tobago's Independence Day
fast approaches (August 31, 1962),  more 'quick eat' joints are popping up along the streets in the port area around our ship.




Local News Update-  In the interest of giving you, the reader, a more thorough picture of the places we
visit, I've decided to reprint an occasional story from the local papers. This will enable you to see what's on
the hearts and minds of the local populace- to see what is of concern to them and how they live day to day. 
So here is a recent news item from Newsday, a local daily paper available for sale in Trinidad and Tobago-

Worried Coconut Tree Will Fall La Romaine resident Lenora Tyson, 59, fears a 40-foot coconut tree
will fall onto her house at 9 Maude Street, and totally destroy it. Tyson told Newsday.  Tyson told Newsday that the coconut
tree is about 15 feet from her house. She said that her two grandchildren, three-year-old Celine Dalyrymple and one-year-old
Daniel Critchlow play in the yard and she wants the authorities to cut  it down and prevent a possible tragedy since the tree is
rotted. "The tree trunk is so long and so brittle that I am scared it will come crashing down on me and my grandchildren. This
is the only home I have known for the past 45 years", said Tyson. Tyson said the tree was not producing any more coconuts
and it was only last year she realized its roots and trunk were rotted and  that they were being eaten out by woodlice. "When
a slight breeze blows that tree sways towards my yard and its trunk is so brittle that I believe it is going to fall on to my house
someday", said Tyson.                                                                                                                                                          
Tyson said  she was currently waiting on  a grant from the Housing Development Corporation ( HDC ) to fix her house which
has become weathered over the years and she admitted she could not afford to fix damages incurred if the tree falls on it. She
said she tried  to get a local  landscaper to cut down the tree but he wanted $600 to cut it down.  "I could not afford that and
why should I  pay so much money to cut down a dried up coconut  tree that does not belong to me," said Tyson.  Since then,
Tyson has mad several complaints about the coconut tree.  She also said there were live electrical wires running between her
and her neighbors house and these are in danger of being pulled down if the tree were to fall.     (accompanying photo)         
 
                                              


 

Liberia (and the Anastasis!) On Film- I remember back in May of 2007 I saw some sort of commotion taking place on
the south side of Old Bridge in Monrovia. I asked around, but was able to find out little about it until my friend Shelby told
me it was for a movie. It turned out the movie being filmed was an adaptation of the book Johnny Mad Dog by Congolese
author Emmanuel Dongalla,  a book about the civil war in the DRC and the child soldiers that helped fight it.  When it was
decided to make a movie of  the book, Liberia, of all places, was chosen as the setting.  The irony at the time was too rich
for me- that a movie about child soldiers was being filmed in a country infamous for it's child soldiers, using former child
soldiers to play some of  the parts...but the movie was about another  country.  I made a vow to watch Johnny Mad Dog
when it came out, but as it was a Belgian film, I wasn't sure if it would ever hit the states, and if it did, if it would even be
shown in theaters or go straight to video. So, I left Liberia, and Mercy Ships, about six months later, and Johnny Mad Dog
completely slipped my mind. I didn't even think about it until about three weeks ago. I was walking through a marketplace
in Grenada and what did I see among the bootleg copies of Transformers & Star Trek but 'Johnny Mad Dog'. The vendor
was sold out, but two vendors later I had a copy. I went right home & watched the movie piecemeal,  skipping around to
see any place (or  anyone) I recognized.  I was in for a little surprise. The movie is just full of scenes filmed on streets I
used to walk and places I used to go. Most amazing of all was when I saw the classic lines of a certain Venice-built 1950's
cruise liner known as the Anastasis.  You only see it for a few seconds, but there is no mistaking the original Mercy Ship.

Here are a few snapshots from the movie I captured with VLC player. About 20 minutes into the movie, a big battle takes
place on old bridge, with a 'company' of child soldiers who get high underneath the bridge before beginning their charge.
Bedecked in such bizarre garb as a butterfly costume, wigs, and even a wedding dress, the kids race pell-mell across Old
Bridge which, moments before, has been blown up by government troops to halt the advance.  Those of us in the know
remember why exactly Old Bridge was down already ( as seen in the picture at bottom right )...it suddenly collapsed one
night in November of 2006.  When I heard that news I remember shuddering thinking of all the times I drove a truck or
a Land Rover across it. The filmmakers quite cleverly make it appear as if the bridge was fine until the troops detonate it.
As a bonus, you can see none other than my beloved Ducor Hotel on the hill in the background of two of these pictures.

The movie follows not just Johnny Mad Dog, but a young girl caught in the conflict who tries to avoid the fighting while
keeping her family alive.  Below you can see her walking past the former Executive Mansion at the corner of Broad and
Carey St, across from the Palm Hotel. You remember the Palm- that place with a rooftop restaurant and a commanding
view of downtown Monrovia. The girl's father is shot and she wheelbarrows him through downtown, past Water Street,
and across Old Bridge. Take a look at the center picture below and what is that you see in the background? After a few
seconds, her head ( and that approaching medical team ) block the view of the ship,  but it's visible for a few seconds.
 
Finally, here are a few random shots from the movie filmed in such places as downtown, outside of Freeport, and of course,
the crazy cemetery in downtown Monrovia,  where some criminals (known as the Living Dead, of course) used it as a base
of operations before the Monrovia police, along with the army, raided the cemetery and arrested about one hundred people.
I happened to visit the cemetery the day after all  this happened, and I remember that day quite clearly- it was the same day
they closed my small small mission, the  Ducor Hotel, you can see both stories on the front page of the paper I was holding
that day, April 9. If you want to see more of the cemetery (which was fantastic in it's morbidity), go to my website on that day.
 
While this movie is an adaptation of a Congolese book, the movie never names which country it is, preferring it to be a
symbol for all of the countries that experienced a civil war in the 1990's, I guess. But not only is this movie filmed in the
country where much of this happened, it also films where the exact same battles took place. New Bridge and Old Bridge
both saw serious fighting on them during the fighting,  and the many bullet holes in the light posts remain there to this
day. Between the drug use, the child soldiers, the raping and pillaging, scenes from this movie seem to be lifted directly
from accounts of Liberia's 14-year civil war, and since many ex-child soldiers were used, it has an air of authenticity you
may never see so strongly in another movie. Case in point...even Liberia's most famous soldier, Joseph Duo, has a major
part in the movie.  If you've spent time in Liberia and developed as much of an interest in the country as me, or if you'd
just like to catch a glimpse of the Anastasis, I would highly recommend this movie. It's raw, but it is undeniably realistic.

*
The Africa Mercy-
As there's nothing too much going on around here, I thought I'd drop in a little news about the
Africa Mercy.  I left the AFM back in December 2007 and headed to Virginia Beach for school. A couple months after
I left, flying home from the Canary Islands, it headed to Liberia, making it the ships fourth outreach there in 5 years.
After the outreach finished in December of 2008, it returned to the Canary Islands for a couple months, then headed
to Benin for ten months, where it currently berths. Benin, from what I understand,  is a little safer than Liberia (even
the Sudan is safer than Liberia, I think),  but not without it's own challenges. There is scant room on the dock for all
of the medical equipment, so a building at the end of the dock has to be used. The ship is not allowed exclusive use
of the dock, either, so they share it with various vessels such as ferries, derelict fishing vessels, & even a cement ship
that occasionally blows cement all over the nice white hospital ship. The harbor they are in is filthier than Freeport in
Monrovia, so a ships diver must descend through the garbage, diesel, and sewage to clean out the sea water intakes
at least once a week. My friend Olly was keen to learn how to dive so he could join the  'Anastasis Adventurers Dive
Squad'...I suspect he is regretting getting certified about now. Below you see some photos of the ship in it's current
location. The fishing boats make for a nice photo, and fresh seafood is easily available within a two minute walk. On
the right you can see a couple photos of Olly in the foul waters of Cotonou harbor, preparing to clean the intakes of
plastic bags and garbage once again. One look at these pictures is confirmation that I made the switch to Operation
Mobilisation at just the right time. I'm sorry about that, Olly! Of course, not being in Africa has deprived me of some
priceless photo opportunities, as you can see at below right. If you want to read more about what the AFM is doing,
here's a page of links to bloggers who are currently on board. I head over there myself on occasion to see what has
been happening,  but ship's crew has changed so much the past couple years I find the bloggers I know I can count
on one hand. Still, Olly's blog remains the most informative and my favorite, although I read Captain Tim & Sharons 
Tretheway Lines and the Miller's Mercy Watch, as well. And it's good to see my friends Meg & Bowie back on the ship!

The Africa Mercy, from what I understand, finishes this outreach in a few months, then heads back to the Canary
Islands in early December until February or so.  She then departs for Togo, another West African country nestled
between Ghana to the west and Benin to the east. It does a 'small small' six month outreach there before heading
to South Africa to replace an excessively loud generator. The generator to be replaced, located right underneath a
few of the operating rooms, is so loud that the OR team frequently has to operate wearing hearing protection, I'm
told. None of these plans are concrete, as far as I know, but are the most likely scenario. Working in South Africa,
they will likely be in East London,  which is a great kickoff city for the eastern part of the country, where the most
poverty is found, as my south African friends here on board the Logos Hope tell me. This will enable them do do
a little ministry while the generator is being replaced.  As I will be departing my own ship and this ministry either
 November or January, I am considering returning to the Africa Mercy for a few months to help out where needed,
and also to reconnect with the ministry and with some old friends on board.  Keep these next few months in your
prayers, as I'm unclear what God plans for me in the long run. And pray for a cleaner harbor for the AFM, as well!
 

*

Anastasis Photos- To make a 'Mercy Ships trifecta', here are a few photos from the Anastasis in the scrapyard. They're from
Peter Knego's 'ship scrapping' blog. Peter travels to far off places and scavenges parts and furnishings from ships that are due
to be scrapped. He nabs some amazing pieces from old cruise liners such as the Anastasis. Art-deco lamps, midcentury blown
glass light fixtures, even antique furniture. An exciting task, and a dream job for any sailor, I would think...but I can imagine
the amount of work that must come with it. Below you see the Anastasis as we left her, a couple ship lengths from the beach,
until she was pulled up onto the beach and the task of taking her apart was begun. I was told it would only take 3 to 4 months.


Here you see a few shots of around the ship. The Med Lounge, with all of our beautiful old Marquette panels removed, the port 
promenade deck with gas bottles ready  to go, a sad picture of the kids play deck, which I am sure the Africa Mercy kids could
use, a collection of detritus scavenged from around the ship and being sorted in the International Lounge, and finally the words,
'Jesus Loves You' in Hindi, which we spent our last hour aboard the Anastasis writing on every single erase board we could find.

 
What the heck, here's a few more. From left, here's the Anastasis hitting the dock a bit hard in Benin back in 2004 and a
picture of the bow in the aftermath. Third, you see a photo of the Operation Mobilisation ship Doulos coming into some
unknown port, with the Anastasis in the background. OM and Mercy Ships have shared a port several times in their past.



Tobago Roadsigns-  Here's a quick glimpse through the eyes of a Tobagoan. From left, a reminder not to tether animals in
the busy area, and beware of the caimans in the lake. I'm assuming this is an advertisement for horseback riding, though it's
ambiguous name and location at the end of a dead end street makes for a quirky sign. Finally, while out one day, we parked
alongside what I thought was a soccer or cricket field.  Turns out it was a racetrack for the annual Buccoo Goat Race Festival,
a popular Tobago event that rolls around every Easter. Goat races are unusual enough, but look at what the sign says next to
the goats name- that's right, 'jockey'. I find it hard to believe that someone could sit astride these scrawny looking things I've
seen meandering around the island, and a little bit of online research shows that the jockeys run alongside the animal with a
stick and a whip, goading them along to the finish line. So, England has Astor, America has Kentucky, & Tobago has Buccoo.
 
Here you see a typical Tobago shop, 'Pah Joes'.  Much like Coca-Cola 'sponsors' shops back home and the Budweiser logo can
be seen on many tavern signs, Carib is the big one here. There are many many signs like this one dotting the landscape of the
island. Next to that is another sign for Shir's Finger Lickin'. As I said in my 'Food In Tobago' post, KFC is quite popular in the
Caribbean, and I have seen a few chicken places called 'Finger Lickin'. I am wondering if locals adopted that old Kentucky Fried
Chicken Logo as their own shop name. Next to Shir's, you see a couple of regular grocery store with irregular names. After the
many store names I saw when I was in Ghana (Precious Blood of Jesus Tire Rotation Shop, anyone?), these are pretty low-key. 

If you buy hemp in Tobago, please remember to bring cash-there's no credit available for purchasers of hemp. Be sure to try
a sno-cone, beware of the man-o-wars, and please remember Michael Jackson. The Gloved One is remembered quite fondly
in the Caribbean, as I have seen no shortage of t-shirts, posters, stickers, and paintings in memoriam to Jacko.  I do believe
he has even knocked Obama off of the top of the hero worship heap, as I am seeing less signs, shirts, & posters for Obama.
      

 


September 9- Today marks the arrival of our new PST and the crew is quite excited. Operation Mobilisation does things a
little differently than Mercy Ships.  While you can join Mercy Ships at any time you like, for any length of time,  OM is more
structured. Most new crew members will join the ship as part of a large group twice a year, either in January or September.
This group will  spend two weeks together before joining the ship. This 2-week period is called Pre-Ship Training, or a PST.
When you join OM, you generally join for a period of two years, and for the remainder of your two years, you'll be grouped
according to your PST. This new PST is joining the ship in Scarborough, and thusly they'll be known as 'PST Scarborough'.
PST Scarborough has spent the past two weeks at a camp in Trinidad preparing for their time on board.  They're attending
seminars on the many aspects of OM life, from living onboard a ship, to ministry, to rules/regulations. Those who join can
be any age, but the bulk of them are in their early 20's, or even as young as 17. In general, OM ships are a much younger
crowd than Mercy Ships, and most are just out of school or university, and are away from home for the first time.              
Upon getting to the ship, they are put in certain departments. While not allowed to choose a department, they are allowed  
to list their preferences, which we endeavor to meet.  If they have certain skills or education, such as schoolteacher, nurse,
or welding, they will go into those departments.  Otherwise, they will be put into 'unskilled' departments, those being deck,
engineering, 'Angels' (OM-speak for housekeeping/laundry/etc.), galley & dining room, book hold, or part of the team that
runs the Visitors Experience on Deck 4. If they join engineering or deck (always a popular choice!), they have to commit to
staying in that department for at least a year, as it takes time and effort to train them in the various aspect of the job. After
a year, they can transfer into another department, and I think about half of them will, most choosing Book Hold or Deck 4.
Sadly, many of the better ones will go onto greater challenges, and the technical departments lose some of our best people
that way. On occasion, after 1 year in the galley or housekeeping, some will even opt to transfer into deck, so we get some
fairly seasoned people that way, as well...used to shipboard life and having 6 to 12 months to develop decent work habits.
We are also seeing a bit of a shake-up around here, as well...as many of PST Cuxhaven (August, 2007) have reached the
end of their 2-year commitment, and are heading home.  PST Kiel (January, 2008)  has reached the 18-months mark, and
is now in the 6-month 'home stretch' of their commitments, and PST
Køge (September, 2008) is now halfway through their
commitment and allowed to transfer to another department.  Luckily, only 1 or 2 deckhands are switching departments, but
we're losing 2 good ones. PST Birkedal (January, 2009) are just happy that they're no long the 'new PST' on board, I think.

Not all of the new PST are coming aboard for the first time, though. there are about a dozen in PST Scarborough who have been
working onboard for months, waiting for the PST to start so they can join. In addition, some have already worked onboard as part
of our STEP (Short Term Exposure Program), a 3 month program we run several times a year, or SERVE (sorry, I don't know the
acronym), a 1 month program, or even as a past Project Worker, people with special skills such as welder or carpenter who have
helped to ready the ship sometime in the past couple of years. PW's are allowed to join the ship for any length of time they like. In
addition to those above, who have already served on board, we are also getting people who have been 'day volunteers' while we
were in their home ports these past few months. While we were in Cork, London, or Scheveningen these volunteers came to the
 ship every day to serve as tour guides, Visitor Experience helpers, or even bookstore 'shopclerks'. This program is called DEEP,
 (I don't know what that acronym stands for, either...or if it even an acronym). In addition to STEPpers, SERVErs, Project Workers,
and DEEPers, we also have people who just came onboard while we were in Europe and felt called to serve, young people who
attended one our programs or concerts, family & friends of current crewmembers, and those who have never seen the ship and
have no idea what to expect. You know, it's funny...As I type this, it occurs to me what all of the rallies, seminars, youth programs
and church visits were about for the past 6 months in Europe.  Many of the new PSTer's we are getting are from those countries,
and it was our visits to their respective countries & churches that led them to come serve with us. I gain a deeper understanding
of how Operation Mobilsation operates every day I'm here, and I'm looking forward to today's arrival of PST Scarborough myself. 

-By the way, there will be a quiz on OM's many programs later on, so take some time to re-read this post and memorize  it.     eric


*
PST Scarborough Arrives!-At about 2.30 this afternoon, we sighted the fast ferry that held PST Scarborough inbound.
The crew immediately began filtering onto the quayside and outside deck holding their flags. The arrival of a new PST is a
big deal at OM Ships, and the whole crew turned out. We lined the quayside & began cheering for PST Scarborough, who
had crowded the back deck of the fast ferry with their own flags and cheers. As the ferry moored, the locals were allowed
to exit first, and Scarborough came out after. I am sure many of them were more excited than us, seeing the Logos Hope
for the first time. They filtered off the ferry, down the stairs, onto the dock, and over to our pier. There was a long delay,
 as they weren't able to come on our quayside until customs had cleared  them (and their piles & piles of luggage) to do so.
 
While we were waiting, we had a little flag fellowship. South Africans, Dutchies, and Swedes gathered together for pictures
around their flags, the Asians engaged in a little 'flag dominance' for the camera, and our BC-born Chief Engineer and his
wife, along with all the others north of the border, made sure their Maple Leafs were in full view-which comes naturally to
 Canadians anyways, right? Our Dutch deckhand made sure his large flag was high up on a pole, the Scots, Northern Irish  
and Welshmen endured jokes about why they didn't just fly the Union Jack,  and the South Africans  just tried for a group 
photo without Australians in it. Our Faroe Chief Officer & his family gathered around their flag, and even Simon from New
 Mexico was there to represent.  Finally, Seattle-born Bosun Ryan Chisum made sure Old Glory could be seen in the crowd.


 After customs cleared them and they were free to embark, PST Scarborough, as per OM tradition, passed through a gauntlet
of yelling, cheering Logos Hopers.  Many of them had their own flags, which they waved and wore as capes. They got a first
glimpse of the faces of their fellow countrymen, and those with few of those were happy to see them. Scarborough's a large
PST...at almost 100 it's one of the biggest ever, I am told. It's full of Germans, Americans, and South Koreans. There are, I
40 different nationalities in this PST,  and even a few obscure ones,  like Kazakh, Papua New Guinean, and even a Chinese,
which is quite rare. Our Purser had never even seen a Chinese passport. As for me, I am just happy to see my old friend,
Belfast's own Tim Brown again.  After the craziness of the welcoming, Scarborough went to the Hope Theater for the more
mundane ritual of sorting out luggage, ID badges, cabin numbers and paperwork. After an hour of so of this, they were free
to get settled in before supper, where they were introduced to their ships families. My ship family has two new members,
Jake from Michigan  (who's more of a 'returning' member, as he was here for several months this past winter, and Hye Jin
from Korea. I have also taken on a 'little brother'.  We're asked to be a Big Brother for arriving crew members, and I signed
up to do so for a Japanese man about my age, Yoshi. Yoshi is a church worker from Nagoya,  and will be here for 2 years.
He has several of his fellow countrymen here, already.  Keep Yoshi, and the the rest of PST Scarborough, in your prayers.

 
There's a video online introducing us to PST Scarborough. To see it, go to our video page here...

*

Fire Training-
As PST Scarborough will be on board for couple years, it's important to get them familiarized with such important
shipboard functions as firefighting & survival craft usage.  We've spent the past few days doing just that. The sheer size of this PST
makes for a lot of training, so we've been busy. Below you see pictures of them being familiarized with basic fire scenarios such as
Class A fires and Class B. We set up 4 fires along the beach and let them attack the fire using a variety of extinguishers in turn. One
class member donned a firefighting suit and BA set and went for a short jog along the beach to experience the effects of such gear
on movement. They also got to see how rapidly you use oxygen when you're moving in it. To finish off the class, we demonstrated
how dangerous is was to throw water onto a canister of burning liquid. The first couple times we demonstrated, the flames shot 3
meters into the air, but by the time the third class came and I got prepared for a great photo, Murphy's Law set in and we only got
a small flare-up. While making it extremely difficult to actually get them started, the ever-present winds blowing onshore provided
a steady source of oxygen, and our amateur fire-fighters were often unable to put them out, making less fires that I had to re-light.

Best of all, we were able to give our people a chance to do some hose handling, as well,  courtesy of the Tobago Fire Department.
They came down with a  pump truck for a couple hours and let our class experience how difficult wielding a charged fire hose can
be. They got the pressure up to about 10 psi, a little less than what the Logos Hope's fire main is charged to,  and took turns on a
smallish fires, switching from spray to extinguish the fire to solid stream to overhaul it.  I wasn't sure what to expect when the fire
brigade showed up. Having spent time with Fire Departments from different countries, you get a wide spectrum of competency and
equipment. I am pleased to say the Tobago Fire Brigade was as good as any crew I've worked alongside, with first-rate equipment
and an obvious air of professionalism.  Several of our crew members were able to tour their fire station, perched high atop a hill in
downtown Scarborough, and it was a good-sized one, with a handful of trucks and training facilities right outside the main building.
We've had a number of local departments on board since departing Denmark, ostensibly to tour the ship, but often to see what sort
of fire fighting system we maintain. Ships in port are a local fire brigades worst nightmare, as they can often be ill-equipped for fire-
fighting, not operating in a safe manner, or (most importantly) unfamiliar territory for the fire fighters. If a fire breaks out on a ship
in port, and the ships crew are unable to extinguish it,  it falls to the local team to do so.  Ships are required by law to keep a copy
of their ships plans at the entrance in case of a fire, the local team knows where to go, and where not to. Inspectors regularly board
ships in their port to ensure that all safety measures are in place and the crew are working in a safe manner. If you should fail, you
can be asked to leave and banned from that port. If you pass the inspection, European regulations ensure you can't be inspected for
the next six months. We got board in our first  port of call, Goteborg, in the middle of our official opening and Captain's reception.
It was possibly the most inconvenient time to be boarded, and they stayed onboard for 3 hours, tying up all the officers and leaving
the Captains Reception without a Captain. We had a bit of egg on our face for the opening, but the good news was that we got the
inspection out of the way,  and were able to relax for the remainder of our time in Europe.  I shared this story with Tim Tretheway,
currently serving as captain of the Africa Mercy, only to be told when it happened to them, the inspection lasted over 7 hours. Mercy!


Anyways, as I type this, it's a few days later, and with the help of the Tobago Fire Department, the majority of PST Scarborough is
now familiar with the use of fire extinguishers, hose handling, and the proper methods of using all of them. A more intensive class
begins today for those joining Deck or Engineering, as they'll be put on a Fire Team and may be called upon to fight one someday.

A big thank you to the Tobago Fire Department for their time, equipment and expertise to help train up our people to better serve!


*
Survival Craft Training-
In addition to fire training, new crew received training in survival craft and lifesaving procedures,
as well.  We spent three days cycling all 95 or so on everything from life rafts to emergency signals to cold water immersion.
It wasn't all dry classroom learning, of course. They got to do such things as jump 5 meters off of the Deck 4 shell door into
the harbor, where our instructors spoke at length about lifejackets to a captive audience.  They were able to board a life raft  
and complete the required exercise of flipping it, as well. As LSA Officer, I was pressed into service providing the equipment,
assistance and whatever else was needed.  Other crewmembers, trained in rescue swimming or having worked as lifeguards,
were on hand to provide a measure of safety and assistance, as well. Below you see a few 'new recruits' making the leap into
the water, under the watchful eye of Matt Scantlebury, a sometimes officer, here this week to assist in the training.  You can
 see some lifejacket training and liferaft flipping, as well. It's done by standing on the air tank and pulling on the white straps.


I also got to demonstrate the TPA's, or thermal protective aids, roomy suits made of a heat trapping material and used to
keep you warm in cold weather conditions. I wasn't able to wear it for long in the Caribbean heat, though. You practically
begin sweating as soon as you put these on. Here you see a couple of our rescue swimmers taking a short breather on the
overturned liferaft, and yours truly tooling around the harbor in our rescue boat. The rescue boat came in handy for many
 different purposes, from towing the life rafts around the harbor to transporting seasick new crewmembers back to the ship.

Things went well the first day, but heavy rains on the second caused the runoff to turn the harbor an unappealing shade of
brown, replete with bits of trash.  We balked at tossing our people into this soup, though that baby's diaper that floated by
helped our decision along. We got everyone into one of the lifeboats and brought them all outside the breakwater for a few
hours of teaching and practical demonstrations. The weather cooperated and we spent a sunny day overseeing the training.


Things got a little tougher by the third day, when our training raft simply began falling apart...not holding it's air, making it
difficult (or close to impossible, rather), to flip over, and it's ladder began breaking rungs. The harder our students tried, the
more it began breaking, and we eventually had to use another of our liferafts for the remainder of the class.  We had hoped
to have it inflate automatically, but it failed to cooperate, and we spent a few minutes taking it out of the canister and doing
it manually. Eventually, the third & final class,  consisting of those who would be joining Deck & Engineering and by default
by part of the lifeboat and life raft lowering crews, were able to complete their exercises and we had almost 100 new crew-
members, certified in Basic Safety Training and Faeroe Maritime Authority compliant. Lifejackets were rinsed, dried and put
away, new crew showered and ready for work, and the training life rafts towed back around to the starboard side of the ship
and hauled back on board with our cranes. Here you see me riding one of the liferafts out of the water & onto the back deck.
There's a crazy rumor floating around the ship that one of the officers took a 35-foot jump off of one of the life rafts into the
water. By funny coincidence,  I was in that liferaft at the time and I can assure you I have no knowledge of any such event.



*

View From My Window-
Scarborough, Tobago 9/13/09


*

Crowds- We get, of course, a steady stream of visitors onboard the Logos Hope. As book sales fund, in part, our ministry, and
the more that come onboard, the more that are exposed to the gospel, we try to accommodate as many as we can, opening for
national holidays, extra hours, and even using other spaces like the Logos Lounge and Hope Theater to handle the overflow. We
have some ports that past experience has taught us will be busy and ports that will not. Trinidad is one of the busiest ports we'll
visit, and we have been getting bigger and bigger crowds. This was helped along by several holidays that have been celebrated
the past few weeks.  Time off from work (and most of the local shops and business being closed), means that Trinidadians will
decide to come visit that big white ship instead of spending another Republic Day at the beach. We have a good reputation here
in the Caribbean, and it is not uncommon for strangers to ask us if we are from the 'Logos' right out of the blue.  Saturday is a
busy day, probably the busiest, so we change our work schedule around to accommodate the influx of visitors on that day. We
use Sunday & Monday as our 'weekend' and Saturday becomes our 'Friday'. Sunday, likewise, is a busy days, as we'll get good-
sized crowds coming after church. We open later on Sunday, 2 pm instead of our usual 10 am opening. We will shut down the
line around 9.30, and try to have everyone off by 10 pm. As the crowds grow larger, we are becoming more focused on ways
to entertain them while they're waiting. Below you see some of the crowds we've had while in the Caribbean. In order, pictures
below are from St. Vincent, Grenada, Grenada, and here in Port of Spain, Trinidad.  We've built a stage and all of our resident
jugglers, unicyclists, drama groups, and clowns have been working overtime to make the longish wait more bearable. Waiting
to get onto the ship can often take an hour or two, and when the sun is beating down or the rain is pouring, we can offer little
protection for them. The increase in crewmembers has helped a great deal, as many of them went into the book store & book
hold staff...the better to help with the difficult challenge of so many visitors. Jamaica, I am told, is the most difficult port we'll
hit, & is also one of the most profitable ones, so we have about two full months scheduled there starting this coming January.


We're in Port of Spain now,  far from the palm trees and white sandy beaches of the smaller Caribbean isles. Port of Spain, (or PoS
in island shorthand) is Trinidad's third largest city, at about 130,000 people.  It is the most developed place we've seen so far in the
Caribbean, and is more reminiscent of a western city than any Caribbean city I've been to, except maybe San Juan. There are coffee-
houses with free high-speed internet, shopping centers open 24 hours,  and movie theaters as  nice as you'd find anywhere. People
are sophisticated and eloquent, and the large diversity of cultures makes for a easy-going tolerant people. 80% of the population are
split between African, slaves that were brought over to work the sugar plantations, and Indian, who were brought over after slavery
was abolished and the blacks refused to work the plantations any longer. These two groups are about even, making up about 40%
of the population each. There is, of course, a great racial mix between them, so that 80% is comprised of a great many people who
fit into both categories. The remaining 20% is split between white, Asian, Hispanic (Venezuela is a short 5 miles away by sea), and
even some Arabs.  Quite frankly, there is such a mix here, it is often difficult to determine what exactly someone is.  Religion-wise,
Roman Catholic is the biggest here, at 26%, with Hindu close behind (22%). The rest are comprised, like the races, of a little bit of
everything, from the many different Christian denominations (Including Church of England) to even a small Jewish remnant. There
are a number of Muslims here, as well, and Trinidad & Tobago recently celebrated a couple Muslim holidays including Eid. Trinidad
is a great place to live, though there can be a bit of a crime problem sometimes...specifically kidnapping. The (generally wealthier)
Indians are usually targeted, though whites have seen an increase in their community recently, as well. Strangely, more often than
not, it is the children of the people who are kidnapped, and it is their schoolteachers (or associates of the same) who commit these
crimes. Kidnapping has always been endemic to the islands, and has seen a rise in recent years...from 10 in 2001 to 58 in 2005. A
big dollar campaign coupled with aggressively targeting the kidnppers and stricter penalties for convictions has helped to stem the
tide a little bit, but sadly, kidnapping remains Trinidad's 'dirty little secret'. The Logos Hope will stay in PoS for 4 weeks altogether.

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View From My Window-
Port of Spain, Trinidad 10/7/09


You know, it's not all palm trees and
white sand beaches. Sometimes it's
smokestacks  and pigeons  mating.

Houses of Trinidad- well. Port of Spain, anyways...these houses can be found in the more historic part of the city,
close to all of the embassies and government offices. I was reminded of the 'shotgun' houses of New Orleans. There,
you were taxed on how much of the streetfront you took up when building your house, so residents took to building
'back' instead of 'out'. As a result, many houses around the Big Easy will be 3-4 rooms right in a row, much like what
you see below. That gingerbread or lace trimming you see is popular in New Orleans as well, but I don't remember it
being quite so ornate. While there's not much evidence of it below, many houses here are amazingly colorful, as well.
Everything from pink to turquoise to pastel can be seen along the streets. I posted a few of the ones I took photos of.


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Trinidadian Roadsigns.com?- I didn't see too many unusual signs for the first few weeks here. Then, last week, I took a walk off of
the main street into the, errr...'less upscale urban residential area', & found I couldn't go one block without taking out my camera for a 
quick shot. Below you see a good-sized collection of some of the quirky sings and shops I saw. Much like the taxis of Liberia and shops
of Ghana, such slogans as '
Let Them Talk' & 'No Money No Friend' are not uncommon,  seen here on a couple of pushcarts downtown.
The Tabernacle of Joy, which was packed even on a Monday morning, provides a mail slot for prayer requests, offerings and donations,
and, I would assume, mail. Finally, it's not too often you see a cemetery with street signs. Insert your own 'return to sender' joke here.

 
A few unusual shopfronts, including the 'Up All Night bottle return shop', probably a good idea considering the close proximity to several night-
clubs, and the mysterious  'I Hate All Grant'.  I don't know what it means either. Also, a few warnings against dumping, obscene language, and  
the 'smoking of marihuana', among other things, wrapped with the simple 'Live And Let Live', painted on a light post just off of the downtown.

   

Who's The Boss?- One nightclub insists it's Jah, while a nearby shop argues for God. Maybe God gets the commerce, while Jah takes
care of the entertainment. Christ (or is it Chris?) gets the car washes. The 'Together We Aspire, Together We Achieve' sign that you can
see to the right in the picture at left is the national motto of Trinidad and Tobago, and it can be seen, I believe, on their national crest.

 
The scourge of public urination is no less prevalent in Trinidad, it seems, and the battle against it no less fierce. Here are signs warning
you against doing your thing there.  The hazards of putting nightclubs so close to the schools and  'Islamic Resource Centers',  I guess.

 

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View From My Window- 10/10/2009

A view of the ro-ro vessel 'Sincerity Ace
taken from the Logos Hope wheelhouse.

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October 11-12- This past weekend saw record crowds for the Logos Hope. Trinidad has always been one of our busiest ports, second only
to Jamaica in the Caribbean. That's why we spent an extra amount of time here- 3 weeks in Tobago followed by 4 in Port of Spain. Crowds
have been steadily increasing, and we needed to make a few changes to prepare for our last weekend,  knowing that it would be a big one.
And a big one it was, with 6500 people coming on Saturday, followed by 5000 on Sunday.  We open four hours later on Sunday, so I have
no doubt Sunday would have topped Saturday of we'd been open those extra four hours. The deckies (and Visitor Experience crew) spent a
good part of last week getting the adjacent warehouse ready for the crowds.  The port authorities were kind enough to allow us the use of
the warehouse in exchange for a thorough cleaning of it on our part, and we spent a full day blasting it with fire hoses, removing a layer of
pigeon crap, feathers, and even dead pigeons. I should have taken before & after photos to allow to see the difference. Anyways, below you
can see crowds lining up in the warehouse. We had two reasons for moving the crowd into the warehouse. Exposing such a large crowd of
 people to the scorching sun (and alternately, the pouring rain) easily causes trouble in lines, with people getting irritated and restless. If the
rain turns into a large downpour, people push and shove to  get out of the rain, and tempers flare as places in line are lost.  Even when the
weather is agreeable, the wait can be difficult.  Your legs ache, the kids act up, and the line never seems to move.  We set up a stage inside
the warehouse, and crew took turns singing, performing magic, juggling, and even dancing. Our wide range of nationalities means a wide
range of talents, and  towards the end we were running out of people  who could entertain the crowd.  Those who couldn't sing, dance, or
pull a rabbit out of a hat often just shared their testimonies. Volunteers walked the line, selling popcorn and drinks. We let people onto the
ship in groups of 120 or so, and tried to cycle people through as quickly as we could, making sure everybody got a chance to see the ship.
Even with our efforts, the wait was as long as two hours for some people, so the 'warehouse waiting theater' was a pretty smart idea. Our
bookfair was fairly crowded, too, as you can see. I avoided it as much as I could, as the large crowds made movement extremely difficult.

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Fire Drills-  Recently I took over extra duties on board- that is, the job of Fire Officer. Previously, I was only doing the job of LSA (Life  
Saving Appliances) Officer, meaning I was in charge of the upkeep, maintenance and operation of all of the lifeboats, liferafts, lifejackets,
and other lifesaving equipment on board. I used to joke that if it was bright orange, I was in charge of it. Now that I have taken over the
fire equipment, I can joke that I’m in charge of all the red things, as well. Overall, the basics of the job are easy, and I have good people
to help. The main thrust of the job is maintenance, and Logos Hope uses the AMOS system of maintenance planning.  That means that I
log onto AMOS, click and see what jobs are coming up that month, and plan my time accordingly. In addition to planned maintenance, I
have plenty of unplanned work, as well…brake pads on the lifeboat davits, replacing of the worn firefighting gear, and ordering necessary
equipment for everything. Of course, I also assist with training when there is a BST, firefighting, or lifeboat class on board, as well.         
One aspect of the firefighting job is running fire drills.  While one of my two firemen usually plan and organize what kind of drill we will
have and where, I am the one conducting & monitoring the actual drill itself and leading the debriefing discussion afterwards. One of my
passions is organizing and improving things, so I will try to use drills as a teaching moment as often as I can. Even when I was simply the
 ‘On Scene Command’, I would purposely request more BA Support (guys to help with the breathing apparatus fire-fighters wear), & have
and have them practice changing out the bottles for firefighters coming out of the fire.  Now, when I run drills,  I'll try to pick out an area
where our BA teams need more work, and add that into the drill. For example, during a recent fire drill that took place in the library, I put
one adult casualty behind a counter, and another child casualty under a desk. Sure enough, the firefighters found the adult casualty fairly
quickly, and neglected to look under desks. Historically, it’s not uncommon for children to hide under beds or on closets during a fire, so
I was trying to stress the importance of a thorough victim search. Below left you see a picture taken from a recent fire drill that took place
in my office. I'd been planning for simple, straightforward Class A fire in an enclosed space close to Fire Station One. I didn't even have a
victim! BA Team 1 got their fairly quickly, hose in hand, ready to attack the fire. Unfortunately, instead of cautiously approaching the door
and opening slowly after feeling for heat,  they threw open the door to attack the fire.  I couldn't let such an egregiously unsafe entry go 
unchecked, and told them the fire had flashed when they threw open the door, and turned them both into victims. You see them at left,
being rescued by BA Team Two . The previous week, I had a fire drill in the galley, with the deep fryer catching ablaze & incapacitating
some galley workers.  My point was to familiarize the  BA Teams with the different methods of extinguishing  a fire in the deep fat dryer,
and they did well, both teams knowing where the high fog, fire blanket, and extinguishers were. On a slightly less positive note, none of
them considered 'just putting the fryer cover back on'. Still, a good drill overall, and I chose one of the 'bigger' crew members to play a
victim, giving the BA Teams a decent workout, and the galley team some thing to talk about the rest of the day. You can see his two feet
sticking up in the center picture below. At right you see yours truly drilling BA Team 2 on what they're going to do to extinguish the fire.

Below you see a few photos of the fire teams in action. Our galley victim being prepared for transfer by the Stretcher Team, BA Team
showing the proper method of entering a burning space, that is, cautiously hidden behind the door, and crouched down. Also, this is
A picture of our Fire Station 1, where all the teams (Fire Patrol, Boundary Cooling, BA, & Stretcher Party) get suited up. Finally, you
see what a space looks like after I've filled it with smoke. We've got a great smoke machine, and an endless supply of smoke-making
fluid, so I can make as much smoke as I want to, and I usually want to. Here you see my office about ten minutes after the drill was
over, still full of smoke and hard to see. Alert readers will spot my favorite coffee mug in back and a Mercy Ships calendar on my wall!
 


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Random St. Lucia- pictures of structures around the island. First, some bars...including three of the best named bars I have ever seen.
 
A few local houses, most of which were found in the beach town of Gros Inlet. 'Not quite up to tourist standards', but it was perfect for me.

Nothing says Caribbean like goats at a beach, Callaloo Castle, Party In De Yard, a fruit vendor who works the beach & sailboats at anchor.

Finally, fishing boats down the road from the Logos Hope. They're not as colorful as the ones in Ghana, but the names are just as good.

Nope, not writing too much. Too tired from trekking all around today, and headed to Barbados tomorrow. Hope you like these pictures! e

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Barbados Beach Club- You would think being in the Caribbean, we would spend a lot more of our free time at the beach than
we do. The truth is, the beaches are not always easy to get to. The are often set up for making some money off the tourists than
providing a good beach for the people.  We haven't run into too many private beaches, but even the free ones have drawbacks.
A difficult taxi ride, rocky shores, a long walk off the main road...or even a (ugh!) black volcanic sand beach, as we had in Saint
Vincent.  So we are incredibly blessed here in Barbados, as one of the nicest beaches we've seen in the Caribbean is a 3 minute
walk from the gangway. Fine light sand, turquoise water, and so long that you can find a quiet spot away from everyone else if
you're so inclined. Departments have been shifting work schedules around to let everyone out a bit early (the sun goes down at
 six or so, so getting out at five gives you less than an hour), and the beach in Barbados is turning into the place for fellowship,
whether it's playing volleyball or just hanging out on the beach with friends and family. As I think of it now, this is the first time
we've had a beach within walking distance of the ship, and we are taking full advantage of it. To top it all off, the beach faces to
the west, so after an hour or so of swimming and relaxing, you can sit right down and watch the sunset...and still make it back
to the ship in plenty of time for supper. Here are a handful of pictures of our crewmembers, our ship and of course-'our' beach.


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Cruise Ships-
Seeing quite alot of them now.  St. Lucia had a cruise ship dock in front of us, and it was taken more
often then not. Here in Barbados, we're had as many as three in at one time. My friends tell me that once the season
gets going strong, having five in a port at one time will not be uncommon. For the most part, berthing around these
behemoths is more of a challenge then a blessing. Because they got the money to afford everything, prices for every-
thing from berths to garbage  pickup gets raised.  While an average cruise ship has about 3000 people onboard, we
see none of them, as the last thing they're going to do on their one day in port is go visit another ship. The ships do
a bit of a whirlwind tour of the islands, and rarely spend more than 12 hours in a port. We know when a ship will be
coming in...an hour or so before it gets there, the parking lot fills up with tour busses, taxis, & roofless 'sightseeing'
vehicles.  The ship docks, and an hour later, the dock is mobbed with countless people arguing about whether to go
snorkeling, sightseeing, or to the market. The berths have a cruise ship terminal adjacent to the dock, complete with
overpriced trinket booths, jewelry stores, and, of course, duty-free shops, as well as a few 'sidewalk bars'. I am sure
some of them never leave the terminal. When they do, a long gauntlet of hawkers line the roads, trying to hustle up
some business or sell a cab ride. The cruise shippers are the ones haggling cab drivers down to $15 for a ride to the
beach. The Logos Hopers are the ones walking past them to the bus stop, where a ride's about 75 cents or so!  Still,
they're on vacation, so who can fault them. I am trying to figure out a way to get the crew to come over to see our
ship, but it's difficult to even get near these things, security is so tight.  If you don't have a cruise ship wristband or
badge, you can't really get close. Crews comprise about 20% of the people on an average cruise ship, and they are
often working a bad job for little pay, months away from home. There's little way to get advance word to them that
we'll be docked nearby, as their work schedule combined with the scarcity of time in port means they don't know of
us or what we do.  I have been contemplating some way of contacting these ships beforehand and emailing them a
flyer to post in their common areas. Even a flyer at the terminal entrance might draw a few deckies or dishwashers.



Anyways, here you get a glimpse of what we're seeing more and more now. The ships will invariably come into port
in the morning, usually around eight . While there's almost always a tug standing by, these goliaths have as many as
four bow thrusters and two stern thrusters, so the 'assist tug' usually isn't doing much more than we are, watching the
operation. An hour later, the dock is full of people going to see the island. They're usually back by 4 or 5 pm, and by
sunset, the ship has left the dock, beginning their overnight journey to the next island,...where it starts all over again.
Here above you can see some photos of us around various cruise ships, & views of them outside our bridge windows.



Beware Of Dog- Taking photos of signs is a hobby I picked up in Liberia, and my little 'online journal thing' here is full of
quirky signs, shop names, and vehicle bumpers I've snapped along the way.  After taking a photo of a 'Beware Of Dog' sign
in Trinidad, it hit me that I've taken pictures of these signs in a half dozen different countries. I've managed to find some of
these (there are probably more somewhere) in my files, and I posted them here. So, below are pictures of how the different
peoples of the world warn you about their dog. These Beware Of Dog signs are from, in order, Trinidad & Tobago, Holland,
Grenada, Denmark, and-of course...Liberia!  BE WERE'S OF The BAD DOG AT NIghT? Hey, I've got to save the best for last.

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November 1-13-
What a couple of weeks it's been. I don't have enough space or stamina to list what's been happening in the past
two weeks, but the short version is this.  Sunday before last (Nov. 1), we realized we had sustained some damage by an increasing
swell in the port. By late Sunday night, it was obvious it was getting worse, so the Deck department was called into action. We took
off our gangways, shut down the ship, and headed out to anchor before dawn.  We've spent most of the past two weeks there, with
a few days in the cruise ship terminal, being moved around from dock to dock. While we couldn't open to visitors at anchor, we did
manage to send off a few missions teams via our lifeboat. We also had to use those lifeboats to transfer arriving and departing crew
and empty garbage, a mile-long trip each way.  Twice we had to pick up anchor and head 12 miles out to sea to empty our sewage
tanks, and our water tanks got down to nine tons, a fraction of what we'd normally use in a day. While we were  in port, we tried to
get things loaded so we could at least be prepared to leave early, but a series of snafus kept us from getting anything onboard until
yesterday, Thursday (Nov 12). We headed back over to our berth, and we will be reopening this morning and staying open (weather
permitting) for the remainder of our time here- three days. We depart early Monday morning, after three weeks here. Of those three
weeks, we will have been at the dock for only  two of those, and open to the public a total of six days.                                           
 
There is a lot more to tell about the past couple weeks,  involving missing fire hoses, some barracudas, and a Dutch submarine,
but I'm fairly well wiped out at this point, and headed to bed. We head to St. Lucia Monday for a (much needed) Sabbath week.



For earlier news, including Logos Hope's 2009 Outreach to Europe, click here.