Qwerty and other amazing things...

'Man with no legs bums around" Confucius says.

So... I don't know what to write, only I know that i should update this.

The last thing I wrote was to say that I plan on remaining on my floating home till "the official end" but that could be as long as getting it to a location and then leaving or... sticking around to remove stuff off of the ship. Meh. I've not really decided that much yet. I just want to get off before they remove the floor from beneath me :).

Today is Tuesday. Like many Tuesdays, nothing much is going on around here. We're open to the public, so there are many people in the book shop, and due to an odd communication between the Engine and Deck people, an outting that was planned by one but not communicated has given our Deck department the afternoon off. Joy. BUT... I am on Duty, so my joy stays within the ships boundaries. It does include the quayside right next to the ship, but I have to be able to report to any situation that arises. Joy. Really.

One of the officers and I [because we are stuck onboard] were about to watch a movie but he didn't realise he had a meeting so... here i am waiting. Its a bit of a miserable day though, for Singapore. In Singapore, even if it rains, its still warm. Its crazy. I think the only way you can get cold around here is if you have a 'cold' shower and then lie on your bed with a fan on and no blanket. That's it. Otherwise, you usually have a trail of sweat running somewhere. Yay.

Its strange around here. Its the week of Christmas and I don't feel that we can even be there yet. There is no commercialism slapping us in the face for not buying at the latest sale [which is no sale]... or anything. We have some Christmas decorations around the ship, sure. We're right next to a mall with enough reminders about the commercialized Christmas, but it isn't a disease like it usually is back home. Its great! It means I can think of Christmas for the REAL reason... that Jesus is the reason for the Season! And not because I bought everyone a present onboard. My gosh, if I did that, that would cost so much!

Also, there are many people leaving on the 27th. Many of my good, close friends are going home. So, that takes a little of the joy out of the Christmas week. The ship's community is shrinking in size, and that's not a bad thing, but it does make one sad when you realise that many of these friends were friends because we were doing something, together, and that from here on, many of them I will never see again. BUT... we will meet again... one day.. in a heavenly place...

So - these days are numbered for some and unknown for many. I'm trying to make the most of the time that I have left with people, but when so many people are leaving, you have to prioritise so that you spend quality time making memories with the closest people you have. Oh my...

BUT - let me not end on a sadder note! These are the days of Elijah, preparing the way of the Lord!!! These are really exciting days and its such a great time to be alive! I am young [yes, still!!!] and I have many things that will happen in my life and many of them I am yet to do and will have to be patient to wait on the right timing of the Lord. But even then, of the things I've done already... these will be great stories to tell my grandchildren if I'm not senile already, haha!

So - have yourself a very merry Christmas... and I will pray that your life is touched by all the many great things you ahve seen and experienced this year.

Blessings to you and your family,


What's the story...

Well... just to quickly let you know where my brain is at... i have prayed alot about what I should do in the light of the current situation, where I should go, where I feel called to... etc... and honestly, I feel no calling anywhere else but here. To you this might sound whack, thinking "The ship is ending... why stay???"

Well, the ship still needs people. I committed to 2 years onboard the Doulos, and as I feel no pull to any country or ministry... I feel peace to stay, so I would like to stay. I believe my supporters will support me in this, too. They rock my socks off. And, the ship cannot go on for much longer past the 'due date' anyway... its just to get the girl to the last stop on her journey - be it a new owner or the scrap yards.

So, that is where my heads at...

[loving life and every possible moment within it...]

I Choo-choo-choose...

So - when i last updated, unexpected events arised, and I've not attempted to update until now.

If people weren't aware, I live on a ship that is 95 years old. That's a pretty old ship. She's even in the Guiness Book of World Records for being the oldest floating passenger liner still in use. That is a pretty big achievement, especially as most ships these days don't make it past 30 years or more. And, if you looked at our ship - you might not think she is very old judging solely on appearance, and think that the other ships which look rusty and really... crap... must be older. Well, its not true. We take good care of our 'home', while others just allow their ship to rust out. Sad really.

So - this old girl who we have been doing the BIG maintenance on, well, she was heading for retirement but it seems that retirement has arrived earlier than expected. Most of us saw September 2010 being the end of our dear ships life, but due to many reasons and many things that we cannot control, she will retire on the 31st of December... this year.

For some - this has rocked their world - and they aren't even on the ship. Those of us onboard seem to be more chilled and at peace with everything more than people who were, say, preparing to visit, or join, or used to be onboard, or who just know someone who is currently serving onboard. Whatever reason, some people are simply struggling with the concept that this ship has past her prime. But, for me, these are the days we are living for. The days that we don't understand what is going on, the days that the only place to turn to is to God. He has EVERYTHING under control, way before this happened. And now, we are being a missionary bomb; from one place we are displaced to many corners of the world, for training, ministry, work, or the next step in our journey. These are exciting times. And i'm SO glad that I'm apart of it all.

Is this easy? Heck no. I had my meeting with our Personnel people to discuss what we are thinking and the possibilities of the next steps. I'm very happy to stay till the end. And, so are they. And then after that, who knows but God. Will the end be on the 31st of December, or the end of January... February... June??? Hopefully soon we will know what the future looks like more clearly.

All I know is, there is NO place I would rather be right at this time.

I didn't know where I might've been anytime in the next year when the ship was still functioning, and now I still don't know where I'll be, but I can tell you that wherever I will be is where I am meant to be.

So - sorry this is a few weeks later than I had expected. There has been alot of thinking times, of talking with others about their ideas of the future and where they think they will be going. Everyone will be in a different place in a different role in a new opportunity. So please keep us in your prayers.

And... I will let you know more when I can.


Sorry seems to be...

...the most commonly spoken word.

Hello. And... sorry. I feel like a bullet travelling out of a gun barrel, going at a crazy speed and getting everywhere fast. Either I keep my blog updated, and fail in my newsletters - or, I get my newsletter updated and fail to keep my blog afloat. Funny. I have lots of excuses I could use, like

- I thought having a computer at my fingertips often would make it easier, but it doesn't...
- The net hasn't been user friendly for a long time now, and I couldn't access the website till now...
- Work got the better of me, and once I left the office for the day, I really left the office...
- I'm tired alot. I think of things to write when I'm working.
- I don't use a QWERTY friendly keyboard.
- My dog ate it.

So... where am I? Singalah aka Singapore-lah. How am I? Exhausted [couldn't even write the word]. Knackered. Flat out like a lizard drinking. Why?

Dry Dock.

We've been here at Dry Dock World in Singapore doing, well, work on the ship for about... 24 days now. And better yet, there's more to come. We were quoted 5 weeks for Dry Dock this year because we have some major renovations to do to the ship to keep her user friendly and running all pretty for some years to come [we're praying]. So the 5 weeks [which was actually about 32 days, so like 4.5 weeks] has been extended another week or so. Basically, on the 23rd of November, we aim to leave Dry Dock. Only 10 days after our first predicted ETA date. That makes its about 6.5 weeks. That's a flamin' long time working 10-12 hours a day, starting at 6:30am for breakfast and going through till we finish.

For most of the 280+ people who normally live onboard, about 100 or so remain onboard working, and the rest do ministry off the ship. We had 2 phases because of the long Dry Dock and we now have to extend the 2nd phase so that they can continue doing ministry where they are working. This is a bit of a downer on them because they've been away from 'home' for so long, but exciting because they can continue serving the Lord in many different ways.

I've done some good quality decent hard work with the rest of my team and fellow Dry Dockies... its exhausting. Some people [who shall remain nameless] have actually said how boring they think Dry Dock is. Boring? It is far from it. I have laughed SO much and at so many different things. I have worked so hard and slept so good. They twiddle their thumbs and expect us to entertain them. BUT... I am not going to whinge. I am going to throw food at them. Thats a favourite past time, usually at Lunch. Good quality food throwing. We've had some that have gone nasty or have ended up on the wrong person [sorry, Chief!]. But we all laugh about it at the end of the day...after we have cleaned up.

But, today I am really tired. Really beyond what my mind can cope with. So... on that note, I am going to hit the hay. You crazy cats don't stay up too late now, you hear?? *smiles*

PS. There is something in the water Australians are drinking - so I'm just prewarning you. Apparently, and I've seen this first hand, that good quality fair dinkum Aussie drinking water gets you pregant and/or popping out kids. Be careful at the quantities that you drink. Outrageous.

God bless, and keep in touch!

Love, me

Houston, we've found Carola

Hello World...

I seem to be less than consistant on my blog, something that I'm not exactly sorry for but wish we could add one more day in our week to do things like updating blogs, emailing, phoning people [if they aren't phoning me, which is usually the way].

Currently we are berthed in Bangkok, Thailand, with 3 days remaining before we head back east to Malaysia - Kota Kinabalu to be exact. Another long voyage is bound to bring excitment in the form of Fun Nights [full of embarrasment], sailing conditions and... good quality quiet time.

Alas, this voyage is the last I have with the BookShop. I don't want to leave my friends, but I feel that God is encouraging me to move in a new direction. We're way over the 6th month mark, and there is much change in the air. Many departments are losing people to other departments or because their commitment is over, bring a sad but somewhat refreshing time.

So I'm excited [and sad!] to become the new Deck Secretary. I don't like office jobs, but this one has the option of much variety and will be a challenge too. I do get the benefit of having the option of Deck Day Work if my jobs are done and I want to have a break, something that appeals greatly to me. But I really will miss my great mates in BookShop - Shift 2 especially. Lucky for me though, my new office is only along the deck from the BookShop, so they can pop in anytime. :D

So, we've been to Hong Kong when I last wrote on here. Then we has crystal glass water and smoothest voyage known to man kind on the way to Cambodia, which was excellent for our Ships Company BBQ one night. Cambodia is a beautiful but struggling country and we were blessed greatly by the hospitality of the people and their homes or hotels. Many Douloids made use of a 5-star pool at one resort, while others stayed there for a small break and used their facilities at a cheaper rate. We really have it too good on the ship despite what many think. I didn't actually make it to visit this resort, but I did do some random things...!

I got up at 4:45am one morning to walk with Jeff [USA], Josh [USA] Karl [UAE/AUS] and Sara [GER] to Independence Beach and swim/surf. It was random and was just a cool morning. The walk was about an hour and the rain was sufficient enough that we were saturated to the skin before we got to the beach. The water was incredibly warm and with the thunder & lightning storm around, provided a great wake up moment. Then we walked back and had breakfast at this ultra retro Disco Flights place. When i say flights, I mean there's a whopping great big plane in the middle of this 'hanger' which has been created into a resturant/night club. They made fantastic omlette and allowed us to sit in their comfy chairs despite being [still] so wet.

Another random thing was going swimming at about 10pm one night after work. It was REALLY nice!! After humid days, it was nice to feel cool but not cold!

Randomly, Rachel [USA]- roommate extrodinnaire, and I went for a walk about the town of Sihanoukville the day after we got there, and while out and having walked far enough down a road that lead to nowhere, we decided to turn back... as the rain began. Gentle and light to start with, it soon came down rather heavy. I was fine as I had a light jacket ontop of my shirt, but Rachel [who is ultra smart] was wearing a white top. not much underneath to protect her from the downpour that was about to happen. So either I give up my jacket or she reveals a little bit more of herself to the world. Lets go with the first choice. Then, hey, since we're at it, and since the rain just got harder, let us hide behind a building and then since I'm already wet - let me make a 'mock' weather report. I still laugh at the idea. No kidding though, the rain with the wind was like needles to your face. Ouchie-wah-wah.

Another random thing happened. We had a BookShop Shift 2 outting and to start it off, we had pizza, lovingly made by Geoff [NZ] and Joanne [SA]. Yummo. Taking one back to our cabin, Rachel & I were getting changed to do some extra ministry work at a HIV Hospital where we were cleaning and painting a hospital house so that it would be fit for patients to stay there [and not like it was before]. I grabbed some trousers from the Laundry and after pulling them on, sat down to put on my shoes. Barely a moment had passed after seating that I exclaimed "My, these pants are HOT!" only to stand up, turn and say "...or it could be the PIZZA I just sat on!!". Yes. I am clever, witty and wonderful and totally available to laugh at. Best thing? I let Rachel take a photo of the pizza stain on my butt for reference and memory sake.

To more... interesting news...

Challenges in Cambodia firstly was the weather, but followed closely behind that was the weather prevented people from visiting. Followed closely behind that was the prices of the things we sold. We had a deal that one ticket got one [then five] books in our deal deck, but in the actual bookshop, it was even too expensive for people to buy, and with communication barriers, confusing to shop. It was hard when you had to tell someone they didn't have enough for what they wanted. If its something small like a pen or wrist band, you could almost give it away [everything really was that cheap] but we couldn't do that incase it brought people who wanted to pocket more than they were paying for. I was challenged greatly by that.

After the 3rd day in Cambodia, I was moved to Deck for 2 weeks to help out while half of the Deckies were on training, and out of the few that remained, the BookShop needed 2 for Crowd Control [something that was actually more than no problem in the end]. So, because the Deckies were trading, I was the trade.

So I got to do many things as a Deckie. I worked in the Tanks - chipping, cleaning then concrete washing. I worked on the deck - scrubbing the deck, painting the exterior walls. I worked as the Bin Lady for the Rubbish Management one Lunch time and also was on Gangway security for one day as one of my friends hurt her ankle while working in the chain locker when we were coming back from anchor. Oh... that's another story.

The last day i worked in BookShop in Cambodia I was the head cashier. This meant I was the king pin incharge of the money for the shift, and because it was a Monday, our shift worked all day [which meant I sat at the same place for the WHOLE shift! BAH!]. Moving on...

After about 3 hours [so roughly 4pm Cambodian time] the nice day suddenly started raining. It was just a gentle, pleasant rain, keeping the 20 or so people who had visited inside. Then the rain changed and got a little harder. The Shift Leaders and random people from my shift then started closing the sides to protect the books from damage by the rain. This, usually is a good thing, but not this time.

The wind was a killer in Cambodia. One minute its normal rain, next minute its millions of needles piercing your skin. Well, on this day, at that point when the rain went from gentle to nasty, the wind went from calm to fierce, we found out that a typhoon had just arrived.

The Typhoon wasn't kind to us or our ship. Because it was a Monday, most of the ships company were off doing outtings and escaping the tininess of the ship for a day. When the Typhoon was slamming the ship into the berth and fenders [things that stop the ships destroying the jetty], we were trying to get everyone off the ship, into the crazy weather [sorry!!!] and we were preparing for emergency anchor, where we leave the port and sit in the open water in safety. There was about an hour between the announcement of us going out to anchor and us actually leaving to go to anchor. It was scary!! With so many people off the ship, especially the Deckies, what will they do - and what will we do?

We'll bring in Carola. She's young and fancy free, and amazing at picking up things quickly. First day of anchor we got to do tank work. Second day of anchor I got to help bring up the anchor and help with mooring stations [for a bit till they didn't need me]. Then as the days went on, Deck terms and items became familiar to me. I was blessed to work with 4 guys from Faroe Islands who were in Deck for as long as I was, and we had a cool bond because we all started at the same time and did many jobs together.

And the nicest thing was, I got to join the Deckies on their Deck Outting. That was amazing! We went Island hopping, something I've not done much of, but with about 30 other people, it makes the travel fun. Our first island was the furtherest from the mainland and we really felt like we were... away from all normality of life. We spent like 4 hours on this beach, swimming, snorkelling, sitting, and spitting seeds [it was a competition. When you are in a group with mostly guys, this is bound to happen]. The people who were hosting us for the day kindly cooked out meal for us, and can I say, of all the chicken and rice meals we've had onboard, theirs was SO tasty and SO amazing that most of us went back for seconds! The boy of the family hosting us was an amazing swimmer and he would go out deep, duck-dive down and come up with all sorts of critters and edible goodies. He managed [no one knows how] to pick up an ultra spikey sea urchin, and about 6-10 differently sized clams. The clams got cooked and most people tried them...

It was fun to be somewhere where ship rules were let off for a while, not to be disobedient but because swim wear allows it. Guys without their shirts on running wild up and or wrestling on the beach while girls with shoe-string tops and regular shorts [heaven forbid!] laughed and swam about made for a really nice day.

Then we jumped back into the 2 boats to the last stop of the day... another beach on another mostly deserted island. And what do the crazy people want to do? Jump off the sketchy jetty that was nearby. I haven't seen so many cut feel in my time!!!

And then we headed back. Tired from an exhausting but fun day of laughing and very much being spoilt. Only, most of us didn't realise the extent of our sunburns. Due to the Malaria tablets we take, majority of us burnt rather well, with many a "Cherry Red" being called out to all of us lobsters. Yet they were the ones remarking on how great our tans were after that. Yes, dead skin cells are attractive.

And then I was back in the BookShop. It was so nice to be back. I really missed working with my mates and having the jokes that we all knew and were familiar with. I also got to meet the new STEPers who had joined while I was in Deck. They are very cool, and every STEP group has had so many amazing people in them. Usually they consist of lots of 18-21 year olds, but the current one has older people and the maturity of the group is awesome and encouraging.

Fun times are to be had when you have a kiwi in the midst. One of the STEPers, Geoffrey ["Jiff"], is hillarious and... a full blooded "Noo Zullanda" whose lived in Australia. Nothing wrong with Kiwi's, but its fun to have the banter that goes on between Aussies and Kiwi's. Take the first slap Geoff gave. "Noo Zulland beet Orrstrayleah in the Roogbee". PSH. What ever. I'm foggy to remember if I have 'slapped' him back yet, but out chats are usually full of laughter and teasing each other. He's so opposite to me! He's the guy who LIKES to shop, and it actually drives me mad!! He's getting into the whole 'bartering' that goes on here and will stay for up to [likely longer] an hour and a half just to get a deal he's happy with. Holy MOLY! I would rather shoot myself in the foot than do that! He's a great mate, and I'll miss his blondeness when he's gone home to la-la Land.

Life is crazy but fun and going way too fast. The new preship is coming in like... 3 weeks and as we were the most recent newbies, we get to welcome them onboard. So, we've some planning to do, and coordination to make, but our idea should be hillariously fun!!!

I'll update more on ministry here in Bangkok later, but I thought I would just let you know what has been happening so far.

Flat out like a lizard running...

To my lovely friends,

I have been slack and extremely busy and haven't kept the whole blog-thing as updated as I should've. I'm sorry! Forgive me? I hope you will!

The month of June has been NUTS! Birthdays almost EVERYDAY, Internet access being down because the Satellite was broken/down/broken, and having many special friends staying onboard [Cara - till 14th June, then Jessie, Emma and Michele from 13th-27th, then Liza and Mieke from the 20th-ish till the 4th] while doing many things i've never done before and having a blast in a city I was sure would scare my head off!

So - for those who get my newsletters, I am aiming to shoot one off any day now. But don't hold your breath [you might pass out].

But i'm still alive! And in 6 days we sail to Cambodia! Oh my goodness!

Pray for us! For the 5.5 day voyage [where i'll be working in the Engine Room - no injuries I hope!] and that we'll arrive safely in Sihanoukville, Cambodia.

Love you and love your stuff! Leave some comments - I like comments! :D

The 11th day of June.. one not to be forgotten

I woke up on this day and had to be amazed. Why? It wasn't just because another day had begun, or that the birds were possibly chirping out side - only we can't hear them inside the ship. No. It was because I realised I live on a ship, I'm in Hong Kong and - its my birthday [well it was on the 11th anyway].

Then the excitement began. I would have to face the Mob [the Mob is the crazy Douloids I live with who - on someones birthday - make alot of noise]. I had barely stepped into the Dining Room when a roar of banging began [and when I say roar I am not exaggerating] as Douloids who were present in the Dining room began banging the tables before beginning to sing the Doulos "Happy Birthday"... it is like your usual birthday song, only with alot of "Woo!"'s involved. And everyone looks at you. And its just embarrassing.

So I smiled and thanked them and preceeded to get breakfast when I was 'presented' with a McDonalds bag [egg and bacon burger] from one of our STEPers [short termers onboard], and then after sitting for not even 2 minutes, was then presented with a plate full of French Toast from another STEPer. And then mobbed by others with hugs. Oh my LIFE!!!

Its actually quite hard to have a birthday onboard a ship with 300+ crew. Lots of people want to hug you and have a short chat but there are often people behind them who cut infront. Its a little awkward! Ha!

My big birthday was complete with a teaching session and working the late shift, but that was nice because it meant I got to chill in the afternoon for a couple of hours. The teaching session is for crowd control, dealing with situations onboard involving the general public, reporting hazardous things or suspect looking people and stowaway searching. Joy. But our speaker, Al White, was an entertaining man, full of random statements, a flying monkey intended to wake everyone up with its evil scream and complete with a few tattoos on his arms. Classy. He was great to listen to. And he was sly! He had a plan that involved me and I didn't know I was apart of...

About 3/4 way into the session he gets everyone to stand up, and after doing so he tells Gary, our veteran onboard, to 'take it away'. So Gary starts banging the table [sounding familiar, people?] and yes, begins another "Happy Birthday" sing-a-long! ACK! Embarrassing! Then the crazyness dies down and we get back to the REAL issue [dealing with frantic people who've lost a child onboard, dealing with drunks who wish to come onboard, dealing with people who act suspicious after leaving a room onboard]. Then Al says "We have one final thing left to do - Gary..." and no kidding, once again, Gary starts Happy Birthday. Oh-my-goodness!!!

So in seeing that the ship is full of crazy people at meal times, I was more than happy to get off the ship for Lunch - and I did so with my great mate, Jessica [Melb, AUS], who infact had her birthday on the 14th [there was SO many birthdays in June!!!]. We went to this cute little organic place called MIX and its SO delicious! We had a great time just chilling out and not seeing anyone else from the ship.

The MIX place is at a far distant end of the mall that we are attached to/next to here in Hong Kong. Infact, the place we are next to is called Harbour City, Tsim Tsa Tsui, Kowloon. And we are located at "Ocean Terminal" - so if you wish to come visit, please do!

Then Jess had to get back to work so I wandered through the mall just browsing in all the OVER expensive shops here. This mall is really for those who do the whole 'wad of cash in the pocket' type mafia type people thing. Not really but you must understand what I mean? You need a LOT of money to buy here! They see us walking through the mall with a hint of disgust at our attire as we look at their outfits and wonder what were they thinking. But its cool to walk past the stores when i've only heard of the lable. D&G. Versace. Calvin Klein. Yeah. WOW. So many...

Then I had to get ready for work and so... I did. And it was great. Work was just nice and I had birthday songs sung to me in different languages and I got hugged and smooched [no kidding! On the cheek of course!] and had my last position at Crane Deck also known as the Deal Deck, but it was SO quiet! We've really struggled with people visiting here in Hong Kong because of the H1N1 [Swine Flu] spreading around the world. Primary schools in Hong Kong have been closed for 2 weeks so far and during the day there are SO many people in the mall but not many want to visit the ship. Please pray for that!

So, as I was tying up the sides of the Crane Deck, one of the Port Workers popped his head up, signalling for me to come over. I thought "He probably just wants help taking the end of their gangway off our ship, I'll just have a look." So in no rush I walk to look over the railing to double check when I see James lying on the car-deck at the bottom of the stairs. I honestly thought "What is James doing? He's probably avoiding work and he's just lying there on the ground in protest!" and then my brain clicked in and I realised it wasn't James, it was Albi, but - what was he doing down this end of the ship, and, where are his glasses? Albi was the head cashier for the evening and should've been at the BookShop, not down on the cardeck.

A maze of thoughts rolled into my mind as I realised the Port Workers didn't call me over to help them, they called me over to help Albi. I got down to Albi to 'asses' the situation. A lot of the things I'd learnt when I was helping my Mum train to be an Ambulance officer came back into my mind, aswell as things I'd learnt from Basic Safety Training. Totally "Automatic Pilot" mode.

I asked Albi if he knew what happened, and some other basic questions like what day it is, what time is it, does he know where he is, what he was just doing etc. Then I asked where he hurt, and checked for bleeding, and when I realised he had a head injury, I asked if he could move his fingers and his toes/feet and checked his pulse. It was so surreal and still feels like I was doing some drama.

Then, I called our emergency number, slowly explaining - despite feeling like I was talking extremely too fast - what had happened, who was involved, where I am, and that we needed the Stretcher Party to come. Then I went back to Albi and just held his hand and talked to him. He was in and our of 'dream' state and 'current' state and he was okay [as much as you could be at that point] till the stretcher party was there and then he began to panic because every 5 minutes or so he would close his eyes and say "It's so strange... I feel so strange... like I'll wake up and this will all have been a dream" and then he would open his eyes and realise he was still there, but not remember how he got there and then we'd have to tell him again what happened and ask some of our questions again. It was such a bizarre thing. I've not ever seen someone have an injury to their head where they honestly cannot remember things.

Then we got him to the Clinic and I was told to get some things for going to the Hospital. To Hospital? Its my birthday! But of course I wasn't thinking of that. I guess I needed to go because I was the first to get to Albi but also because I was the one who was with him after he fell, something about keeping things familiar with him while he's confused. But i also had to find Albi's cabinmates to get some stuff for him. So I quickly [possibly ran a little bit] to find anyone in Albi's room, and because Prayer night was on, I managed to find one. I asked him without much details if he could get some things for Albi and then went to my room. My mind was buzzing on what to take and I was thankful that no one was there because I was a little freaking out. So i packed a shirt, my bible and notebook, pen, ID, and I think i may have packed a game or something to entertain myself with incase I stayed overnight and wanted to do something. Other things were thrown in like Albi's glasses and watch and then i went back to the clinic.

He was on the bed, still on the stretcher, and they were doing blood pressure tests and giving him oxygen. So many people were fussing over him and he was getting worked up so I [possibly pushed my way past people, but i'll say...] "made my way" to him and grabbed his hand and held it and just told him every thing i could to calm him. I told him about the accident, and where I found him, and that everything would be okay. He was crying [poor lad] and he was scared but for that time we just had to reassure him until the ambulance arrived.

And then it did. We got him out to the ambulance and... I get stopped and question by the police. Are you kidding? They need my Passport details so I hand my card over while organising the stuff to be taken to the hospital, and they ask me a couple of questions and I tell them what I can and then go about getting ready to leave in the Ambulance.

Side Note:
The police were actually more interested to know why in the span of 2 days, 2 people were seriously injured. On the 10th of June, one of our Engineer guys, Lukas [SWISS] was doing work on the lathe when the lathe snagged his item and propelled it at his head, fracturing his nose. He was SO lucky not to lose an eye, and he looked pretty beat up for a few days. The police were very interested to know what happened with his incident because he had alot of blood everywhere but all is good for him now.

On the way to the ambulance, Albi was feeling unwell, and despite our effort to ask the Ambulance officers for a sick bag [complete with visual explanation to help them understand], poor Albi threw up. Wearing a neck brace makes it a little harder becaues there is a 'platform' to 'hurl' over. Poor Albi.

We made it to the Emergency Department where Albi went through a couple of examinations and had an X-ray an CT Scan performed, and it seemed that everytime he got moved, Albi got sick. His 'family' from the ship arrived to see him and that was nice for him but the girls who came were emotional and I was more keen for them to leave or atleast keep distance so they wouldn't stress him out and keep fussing over him, but in the end, he slept through most of it.

By 1am Albi's visitors left leaving just me and Silja [SWISS] - the nurse who came with Albi to the hospital from the ship. We were waiting to hear the results of the CT-Scan. Albi's Xray showed nothing but his CT Scan [which arrived at about 2:15am] showed a fracture and some bleeding. We couldn't confirm at the time but I contacted Yi-An [Adelaide, AUST] - our ships doctor, and he spoke to the On-duty doctor in all that fancy doctor talk. We made Albi comfortable and reassured him someone would visit the next day, then we had to leave.

We went back to the ship and called Albi's parents in Germany and let them know what happened. Then Yi-An, Silja and I were given permission to get Macca's and have a small break from the evening. Then I ended up sitting on the Quay-side till about 5am in a bit of a blah-state. I got perhaps an hour sleep and then needed to be up at 7:30am.

To let you know, Albi is doing fine. His results from the tests done on the 12th showed he had 2 fractures at the back of his skull and a bleed at the front of his brain. He was moved to Intensive Care for about 2 days before going back to a regular ward till the [not sure exactly] last Friday [25th June?]. It was so nice to have him back. He is still under observation and he may fly home but for now, he is as healthy as he can be. He had visitors for almost everyday he was in hospital, and now a guy that many people knew only by name is quite known by the whole ships community.

Happy Birthday to me...

Watch... and be challenged about your life

Imagine This... Views from abroad -- onboard

Hualien Day Out - Taroko National Park

It all began at 9:14am Sunday morning... in Hualien.

But before that, it actually all began a week before hand, on the Sunday night. If you haven't caught up on the goss, I kindly headbutted some steel in one of our holds that we store books in, and this was the day after. I hadn't been feeling up for conversation at all that day, and during my devotions I shared with my shift [SHIFT 2! YEAH!] that we should approach the day renewed, leaving behind our troubles and our burdens to focus not upon ourselves but on the people we meet. For good conversation to happen, we can't be thinking of the things that are bothering us, for we'll only go into the short but vital conversations already with an attitude.

I didn't expect my own words to impact me as much as they did, for after dinner that evening, I sat with one volunteer who expressed how much joy he sees within me - something I was amazed at not because of what he said, but because I didn't think I had been very joyful that day at all. So that got me thinking, and when I went to my next position which was at the Deal Deck, Amy called out my name. How she knew my name I have no idea. But she came up and was the most encouraging person to me. She said when she saw me the previous evening with the visitors and how I interacted with them, that I had a personal touch to my attention towards them, especially the younger ones. She was so blown away that a stranger would be like that. I was blown away that a stranger would boldly tell me this!

It really made me think

Myself and two of my random mates Riana [South Africa] and Batmunkh [Mongolia] were invited by one of the ladies working in the Christian Bookshop stand onboard to a day's outing around Hualien. Seeing as we'd mostly all looked at the massive mountains and hand't yet gone to visit them, all of us were pretty awesomely excited to have this opportunity. The plan was that she would pick us up from the ship at 9:15am Sunday Morning and take us out all day...

So here we were standing on the ship at 9:14am anticipating her late arrival when, scarily, at 9:15am to the DOT she arrived. We all bundle into her little red car and she turns and hands out some Taroko Gorge National Park flyers [in english for us and Mongol for Batman], then informs us that she needs to make 2 shorts stops before we are on our way, the first is to a shop.

In Taiwan, parking seems casual and easy enough - if you need to pull up infront of a place and the parking has been taken up, just park next to the cars already parked there. Of course to us, that actually blocks people in and I would anticipate some sirens firing up or an inspector slapping you with a big hefty fine. But this is normal. People park wherever they want, though they are more eager to move if you suddenly arrive to your blocked car - so that is nice.

So we sat awkwardly in the car, engine still running, next to other cars while Amy [lovely Amy] dashes into a shop to get some goodies. Goodies...ahh... Then we drive to her place, so she can get some protection from the sun - those sleeves things that Asian people are fashionable for because they actually don't want to be darkened by the sun, unlike most of us Australians who don't say no to a bit of colour. She also brought a massive hat and umbrella - which she never put fully up [so it would always slowly fall down and sit more on her head than anything].

When she had collected her stuff from her house, she asked us if we had tasted the drinks she had brought. We just assumed they were for up at Taroko, so we didn't touch it. Plus we were too busy laughing and being all giggly [mostly Batman]. So she turns on us with eager eyes as we all reach for a cup. Taking the first sip in I... screwed my face up in disgust! The flavour!! Ack! It tasted like medicine - the one you got as a kid that tasted so horrible you wished you weren't sick to have to have it. Ack! And I felt so bad! I tried so hard to hold the face and show that despite the taste, it wasn't so bad, but the next two following produced the same reaction. And not just from me, Riana kept doing a gag-reflex reaction and Batman's face would screw up followed but an outburst of "That's crap!". Needless to say, we all laughed quite a bit about this while we were driving to the National Park, kindly slipping the cups back into the bag so we could pretend to forget about them.

So while driving [and still laughing about the drinks and how rude Batman was], we started our way into Taroko. My goodness. I mentioned this in an earlier post but Taroko National Park is simply amazingly beautiful. The whole time of driving had us all leaning our heads on the windows to get a better view. With many tunnels to drive through, they only really existed to get us more excited for what we would see out the other side.

Our first stop was at the Jiucyudong [Tunnel of Nine Trails] where we donned hard hats and strolled down along the cliffs where you can hear and see the water rush over the boulders and rocks down below, through the tunnels hand carved into the mountain, gaze up at the gorge face that towers over you and see the massively huge moths flutter around. It was beautiful.

Jumping back into the car we drove to Yanzikhou [Swallow Grotto] where we strolled the whole length down, taking in the amazing scenery. Batmunkh took this opportunity to do the manly thing and walk off the 'beaten track' [its paved haha] and climb down the embankment to have a photo or two on this perched rock. He took pictures and Riana took pictures of him. Then as we continued, she continued to freak out as the railings were literally 'on the edge' of the cliff and walking path, and everytime Batmunkh and I would lean over them to see how far down it was etc, she would flip out. Haha. Sorry Riana. But it was funny. She was brave. While walking down, we saw our host Amy, who didn't see us approach her so she began to drive off. Luckily, we stand out being foriegn.

We had a banana break when Amy drove us down further and showed us the Indian Chief in the rock. None of us could see it. She took a photo and showed us and then we could see it, though, my question to her was to ask why there is an Indian Chief in the wall - did Indians ever live there? No. But hey, its a tourist thing, the tourists love it.

Then we had lunch at the Toroko Gorge National Park Information Center, which is rather beautiful and well informed. The greatest thing about the centre is that from a distance, you can't tell its there. It in no way spoils the beauty of the place, not at all an eyesore that sticks out like a sore thumb. I was impressed. Here we had lunch and desert provided for by the lovely Amy. We also managed to skull the drinks we'd been given when Amy would go off to the toilet. We could've easily said that we really didn't like them, but we were told not to refuse what we'd been offered when hosted by others. So since the taste wasn't exactly to our liking, trying to drink them as fast as we could brought out several fits of laughter, which only confused Amy i'm sure. We are so thankful for her hospitality. She really gave us a sample of what Hualien food is like and we really appreciate that [though we know now what not to order!].

After an hour or so of chilling at the Centre, we made our way to the Shakadang Trail. At first, you only on a bridge, but then you go down what seems to be a million stairs [all my stair training onboard the Doulos helped this be no problem at all] and before you lies a very old looking path, etched into the side of the cliff [where even I had to duck sometimes, so think of a 6ft Mongolian having to walk along here]. I felt so at peace here. Many people were also on the path, but all were busier taking in the beauty of the crystal-clear blue-green waters, exotic foliage and sweet serenity to disturb it for others. Unless your a bike-riding worker riding along it. We walked and the path wound up, around, over and through amazing places, always following the gorge river. Amy stopped at one point where we saw people down by the water, some swimming, and when we were all there, she told us that despite this place being beautiful, there was too many people, and she knew a better spot. After a couple of bends in the road, we were clambouring down the embankment, over the rocky dry river bed, boulder-hopped over the river and ended up on the other side. We were in the shadow of the mountain so it was very cool, and we had an amazing view - with no people invited. When the images get put up from Batmunkh and Riana, I'll share some with you...

After an hour or so of just talking and spending time together, throwing rocks into the water and taking photos, we made our way to the end of the trail and then back to the car. We then drove into the heart of Hualien, [some of us having sleeps in the car], before going to a really cool discount centre. After a browse and a purchase of some goodies for back on the ship, we headed further into the heart of Hualien and to Amy's friends resturant: Korean food. Now if you have heard of Kimchi, you will know that there is some spice involved. But I picked a delicious meal consisting of the freshest lettuce I've seen in months [sorry Catering staff!], stir fried marinated steak [sorry Catering staff! Again!] and a fabulous satay sauce. Can i just say, the others were eye balling my meal. It was delux!

Then the day was over. Amy needed to go home, and we were so glad to be back on the ship for we were quite literally worn out. I felt such an over flow of refreshment from the day off the ship, from the time in nature, in the wild slightly touched park, with friends who always make me laugh - even if i'm annoyed with them! - and mostly from the hospitality of Amy, who was so willing to show us around.

Comings and Goings

So, Keelung being our last port in Taiwan, we're soon to head somewhere new!!

"Where are you going next?" you say? Well, let me tell you...

After 2 weeks being open to the public followed by 1 week of rest for the majority of the ships company [known as Sabbath week: 28th May -3rd June] we will sail for 2 days [and 1 hour] to Hong Kong. If you saw my previous map of Taiwan, you would note I made a slight boo-boo and put Keelung just a little bit south of where it should be - oops!

We are only open for 2 weeks in Keelung, so that is 2 weeks of intense craziness. The weekdays will likely be quiet and as of this week I'm working the evening shifts. Did I mention that I'm no longer in my old shift? No, now I'm in what we are calling "Shift 3" - Shifts 1 & 2 have now changed together to create Shifts 3 & 6. Yeah, don't know why it couldn't be Shifts 3 & 4 but the boss said we now have Shifts 3 & 6. Ha.
Want to know what craziness I'm talking about? Today, Sunday, we had over 4,000 people in 3 hours. THAT is a lot of people! Thankfully, I was off, but next weekend I will have the pleasure of doing that in our shift!
SO - that is where I am going... for you to know!

Hualien, Taiwan

Have you ever pictured a place where mountains reach up to the sky, green and fully of life and that seem to roll unendlessly on one side of you while an ocean of aqua blue sea and white sand greet you on the other? If not, picture that now. You have just pictured Hualien, Taiwan.
The greatest and most breath taking image I have of Hualien is us slowly getting closer to shore after our 10 hour voyage from Kaohsiung, Taiwan, and being greeted by mountains that go so high the clouds block the view of the top. And there isn't just one mountain, there is a whole country of mountains.

We were so blessed to have such a calm voyage. We departed Hualien at about 4pm Tuesday afternoon and arrived at about 9am Thursday morning. The voyage wasn't long but it kept many people in bed due to us sailing from the South China Seas into the Pacific Ocean. The South China Seas are amazingly rough!!!

Then we see her; Hualien County. No matter where we looked, mountains surrounded us. There was a coolness in the air as the overcast weather reminded us that we are travelling north. It's kinda weird, but for Taiwan, we've been chasing Spring, arriving in a port to experience the lovely cool weather then after a few days, the heat turns up. So strange considering that I come from Australia - currently sneaking up to Winter. But they did say, we' basically have Summer for atleast a year onboard the big MV Doulos.

As you can see from my picture above, Taiwan is not big. On the west coast is where most people live - its flat there. Kaohsiung lives on the edge of suburbia in a sence. Then we sailed around the Hualien, where not as many people live. The mountains fence around Hualien and really help create the calm atmosphere. Then we sailed north, to Keelung. If you picture Fremantle, Keelung is alot like that. Keelung is like the port of Taipei, like Fremantle is the port of Perth. All through the middle of the country is mountains. I was so blessed to be able to go to Taroko National Park - the main attraction for Hualien...

Manilla Feeding Ministry...

Manilla: Philippines

The time is 5am. I'm awake, but I don't know why, I am still half an hour early for my alarm to go off. I stare at the bed above me and I listen to the rain splatter on my port hole and the side of the ship. All is peaceful in my room. All are sleeping. No one is really ready for the day to start.

I'd spent the week leading up to this day trying to prepare myself for what I was going to experience, but how can you. You can't imagine what it will be like for any experience, especially when you have yet to experience it yet. But I had heard from others and their experiences, so I had time to brace myself to expect to be shocked and moved and... challenged.

Suddenly my early morning day-dreaming is shattered by the piercing noise of our cabin phone. Who could possibly be ringing? No one in the room needs to be up for atleast an hour for work, so why is the phone ringing? [seriously, this was what ran through my mind]. I get up - the first to comprehend the phone is really ringing. Its my team leader, Judith. She's ringing because our planned outting this morning had been given the wrong time on it; we were told 5:45am for pick up but it was infact a 4:45am pick up instead. Quick brain, start working. Clothes. Shoes. Stuff...

I sleepily make my way to meet the others, suddenly alert to the tiredness that was following me. We wait 10 minutes for everyone to get together but some were slower at waking up than others. We walk outside, and carefully down the gangway. The early morning rain had been heavier than I had thought - big deep puddles lined our pathway to the vans, assisting in waking a few of us up quicker because of the shock of cold, wet feet.

Driving to the little church, most slept in the vans on the way there. I couldn't, my mind was still trying to prepare myself that I was awake and about to see something that will likely affect me for a long time. Plus, its not easy to sleep if your not overly confident in your drivers abilities to drive in a place like the Philippines - where it seems that anyone who is tall enough to see over the dashboard can drive, and at whatever speed and in whatever lane they choose. Maybe that's not exactly true. Maybe you have great confidence in your driver [because you know them] and have zero confidence in everyone else on the road. That is likely it...

After 10 or 15 minutes of driving, we arrive at the church and are quickly shuffled up the 3 floors to meet with everyone and split up into groups. 2 Douloids [people from the Doulos] and 2 volunteers from the church make up every team. We pray that the small ministry we are about to perform is received well and that we will make an impact into someones life. When we are armed with one small bag of bread, 2 large bottles of warm milk and some cups, we head out. Following our guides, we zig-zag the streets, cars, and people making ourway to our destination.

At first the buildings we pass are large houses with little gardens and courtyards. Gradually [but at a quick pace] they soon shrink, lose the gardens and the living space and become small, crowded boxes fitting into any space that can be found. People living ontop of people. Animals roaming freely on the streets. Children, which were few before, now seemingly come in packs of 20 or more. The streets are getting crowded with trucks and vans, more so with motorbikes and scooters, creating a flood that makes it difficult to follow the ones leading. Then theres the smell. You can't put your finger on what it is, but its not one that makes a pleasant aroma. Sour, putrid and nasty.

You can see at the end of the road ahead a swarm of people and vehicles. We break out the end of the street onto a big open area full of people and mini-stalls. We follow our leaders as they make their way through the slush on the ground; slush made up of food and waste and last nights rain, blended together by previous peoples feet and vehicles driving over it.

We walk to one of the 'undercover' areas where I see - only as we draw closer - a mass of people are sleeping on the ground. They are lying on cardboard or some sort of cloth or nothing. Children sleepilly walk towards us dressed, half-dressed, dressed in plastic bags or naked. Mothers wearily try and wake their children so they can get some milk and bread, but perhaps from lack of sleep, exhaustion or even previous 'sniffing' [paint or petrol] keeps them sleeping. Perhaps its best if they sleep instead.

We only give the milk and bread to the children because the church only has very small finances and until we arrived they could only afford to do it once a week. Because we were there though, we helped cover some of the costs so they could go up to three times a week during our month-long stay in Manilla. Pastor Larry, co-ordinator of the Feeding Ministry, was saved from the very ministry he runs, both physically and spiritually.

One particular moment that is strong in my memory was this fragile lady who came to get milk and bread for her [possibly] 6 month old child. We gave it to her and she went back to where she had been sleeping. As we were making our way to another area to give out milk and bread, I turned to see that same lady eating the bread and drinking the milk herself, her child sitting on the ground. My immediate reaction was to go over and take it from her and give to her child, but before I actually did anything, I had to think. There is a woman who is probably just as hungry as her child is, what right to I have to judge how she uses the very small bit of food we gave her...?

With my heart quite honestly feeling the blow of what I was witnessing, we walked to the 'centre' of the open area. While weaving between sleeping people, pausing every now and then to hand out more milk and bread, I looked around at the sight that fell before me. On one side there was a huge truck full of food scraps and trash being unloaded by a front end loader, the contents being casually dumped in the middle of the puddle and on the filth that is the ground, while people picked through it for things to eat. On the other, Jeepneys and bikes lined the side behind and around stalls, music blaring and people staring, while traffic weaved its way by. All through the middle where the stalls are, people were beginning to set up their day's sales while others slept.

How could this be? I felt helpless. Were we making a difference? Was the cup of milk and one bit of bread going to help? Would my bad translation of "Jesus loves you" into Filipino making sense? With so many children, how can we give to them all? What happens when we run out - will they get angry? Turns out, we go so early while most are still sleeping so that we can avoid the problems faced when those who have been 'sniffing' don't get what they want.

It was such a challenge to not allow myself to cry. When I looked at the face of an anorexic girl cutting up somewhat fresh food for the family to sell, I could feel the tears well, but knew that if I let go and lost it in the middle of that place, it would be more of an insult to them anyway. This is their life. To some of them, that was probably a good day. There was atleast some food being 'delivered', and perhaps they would make enough to eat. We saw one very old woman who was so thin and though our supplies were almost out, we gave her some milk too. Her eyes lit up when we handed it to her.

We continued on. I was walking with Tomas [Sweden] and many eyes would stare at him since he was tall, white skinned, and blonde. Both men and women shouted out possibly trash talk to us when we walked past, and I was grateful for the lack of understanding of the language to stay ignorant. Many homosexual men [dressed at their best as women] would stare at the guys as we walked past - it was hard not to stare at them back.

We'd finished what we could do and met up with the others to walk back. Some of the more awake children followed us around for a little while, trying to get more milk [which sometimes they succeeded in getting]. Some would hold your fingers as you walked. Some would shout rude comments. We just smiled and kept saying "Jesus Loves You". Maybe one day they would remember.

We walked back the way we came into this street market mall thing. I didn't really walk with the group because my mind was still where we'd just left. I felt like we just imposed ourselves into their life for a flitter of a moment [not even an hour] and then left. We turned and walked away. I felt like all these white people coming was like parading guests at a museum, passing with occasional glances to the 'things to see' section. I felt low. I felt stupid. I felt lost and confused.

More so, it was the biggest wake up I've had. In Australia, there is so much opportunity to get help from the Government, for accomodation or food, yet, none here. Poverty in Australia is nothing compared to what I had just witnessed, and that wasn't even the worst of it. I think I trully realised that we have SO much. I knew that even if you are on Government help, you have so much more than so many people in the world, and we still complain we don't get enough. I realised that we are so obsessed with ourselves and our happiness, even us Western Christians. "Don't focus on money" they say, yet, we spend everything we earn.

I struggled with what I had seen that day for a couple of weeks, and really only now have fully dealt with it - possibly because its not affecting me anymore. But I am glad for the experience. I am glad for the wake up call and I am glad that I could see it face to face.

Amazing Love

Welcome to Easter...
What does it mean to you?
I just wanted to ask you that... because I like to know how many people actually know what Easter is, what it stands for, and if it means more than Chocolate Egg Hunts and Hot Cross Buns to you...

In other news, I met myself the other day. Freaky, but cool!!! I always wanted to know what it would be like to shake the hand of someone with the same name as me! Was a random moment, too. I was at the Cash Desks when I was paged to go to the Information Desk in the Bookshop, here in Kaohsiung, Taiwan. When I got closer to the Info desk, a couple stepped infront of me, stopping my journey, and the woman put her hand out and said,

"Are you Carola? Hello, my name is Carola, too!!!"

Turns out they are from Sweden or something, where my name is very common there, but as we just started getting into a conversation [because I actually thought I was paged to come and speak with them], I got paged to the Info Desk again, and had to leave the conversation, but how cool is that???

Oh, wait, I'm sure many people reading this have met 'themselves' before. You might not find it that cool! I find it very cool!

In other news, I'm the MC for a performance at a Mall today. Oh my! I am nervous, because I've only really MC'd childrens programs, but today I get to test the waters on open air BIG performances. Exciting and Scary. I'll have to share what happens with you when I come back!

And, I need some prayer! Infact, many people onboard do [all of us actually but for this selection of people in particular]. Many of us have some physical problems at the moment, and mostly are sprains and twists of our limbs. I gracefully mildly sprained my ankle, AGAIN, while out and about the other day. Others have sprained ankles, knees, wrists or other ailments! I'm fine and will heal soon, others have more long term damage that will take longer to heal. Most of us cannot stop work to rest like our Doctors would like, so healing is a little slower! So, if you can spare a moment, please pray for us!

Thanks so much for journey-ing with me. I really appreciate it [and value all the lovely emails or comments I get!].

I pray you are well this Easter, that you also remember the real reason why we celebrate this Weekend.



So much to say...

I seriously have words in my mind in so many sentences and about so many things, but to co-ordinate that all together is proving not as easy as I'd intended.

Take Manilla for example. So far, I've talked about the Mall of Asia. Wow. Now isn't that just so facinating. But I saw so much, and some of it really broke my heart, and I guess I'm still processing that because when I go to write about it I feel so... lost. How do you put that into words? I write it too dramatically, then too basic, then without detail and then with just TOO much detail. Anyway, it will come, you just have to wait for my fingers to word it...

Then there's the voyage to Taiwan when I had a loss of something close to me [nothing serious, also something to be worded well for your reading 'entertainment'], and the past 3 days in Kaohsiung which have been incredibly challenging language wise aswell as a pure blessing work wise...

But I wanted you to know I am thinking of you... all of you. I miss home but I'm not homesick - I'm friend sick, but I'm not lacking in friends here either. I hope you understand what I mean.

The experience onboard is so much more intense than I had expected but I seem to have settled into a groove that is both satisfactory to my health as well as the ships life. I've been challenged materially and spiritually but I am most grateful for these not always pleasant experiences.

And, I should send some congratulations out...

To Chad & Hannah on the birth of little precious Caleb.... [Nanny & Poppy sent photos - AWWWW!!!!]

[Hello... God... Husband Check Please. Status? ETA of arrival? Good Specimen? Thanks God!]

To Wal & Heather... YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY!!! Wal's married! WEEOOH!!! And to Heather, which basically is just the most awesome thing next to Wal's family and God that Wal has received... I'm so excited to hear the big day arrived [and passed] so quickly!

To my fabulous Australian friends I've left home... I love you all. I miss you all. I hope you are all having a great day the day you read this... "Wo ai ni".... xxx

Of course to all my friends from afar... "Wo ai ni"... xxx I love you guys too....

Picture Perfect [?]

*to explain*...
We had a fun night on our voyage to Manilla which we had to dress up how we imagine ourselves 20 years in the future.

I had nothing. Nil. Nada. So in the end I went as a "43 year old mid-life crisis patient [so, the blonde wig and hot red lips etc] with a robotic arm [I thought that would be cool]".

Hahahahahahahaha. I am weird

BookEx Shift 2!!!! This is what we look like at work. The yellow shirt is for a sponsor here in Manilla but we normally all wear maroon.
This was a photo taken just recently... we are one crazy bunch of randoms! I love them!!!

The Mall of Asia... and my favourite party trick.

Random post - be prepared.

If you have ever been to Manilla, Philipines, then you have likely visited the Mall of Asia.
Oh - my - Goodness...
Its so stinking humungeous!!!!!!!!

Here's me, tough girl, cowering at the sight of this massive chunk of metal and glass. That is just not right. Its like a city in its own right, you could practically live there.

There's even an open air ice-skating rink. I don't skate [can't even wear flip-flops without falling over] but it was surely entertaining to watch other's who were. I laughed many times, but one memorable moment is seeing this girl reaching for the side of the rink and being too far away, who then [in what seemed like slow motion] falls flat on her face, not just in one smooth move, but has that whole head-bouncing thing happen. You think I'm horrible but I was thoroughly entertained...

You can buy cars in this mall... and I could very well go mad being there. The first time I went it was quiet and I was with Rachel [USA] and her friend-of-a-friend, Rhoda and they have a tendency to want to do that 'dawdle-shopping' - the one where you find yourself going into every store possible. Ack. That to me is as fun as running your nails down a blackboard. Its not torture all the time but I'm sure I'm more one of those shoppers who would rather go and buy what I exactly need, have a very quick browse and then leave the shopping. Others like to look longer, and to their advantage, they often find more bargains than I do.

Rachel and Rhoda really wanted to see this movie "The Diary of a Shopaholic" [or whatever its name is]. I flatly refused to see it, and since we left that day, we've only heard how funny it is. I should remember that usually the ones I judge as being stupid can often surprise me [or they aren't as stupid as I thought]. So we might go see that soon.

Onto the second part of the title - my party tricks.


I've fallen over and poured more drinks [hot and cold] on myself than I have in the whole time I lived in Adelaide in just the short time I've been onboard from Bacolod to Manilla. What is going ON!!!!

I've slid gracefully down stairs, completely missed chairs, and walked into objects that were obvious a mile away. I've poured a full cup of hot Starbucks coffee on myself and splattered my friends when it also fell off the table, not to mention a full cup of COLD coke [bottomless, so it still got refilled when they saw that it was empty - hahahaah!] on myself - causing my face to shriek in disgust and embarrassment... and amazingly, the same 3 people have been at EVERY one of those situations. Perhaps I should stop spending so much time with them. Ha!

I think i've been tired, distracted [by life of course...haha] and not concentrating. And at the same time providing great entertainment for my pals... :)

Mind Over Matter...

Good Morning!

That's a bit of an extended truth, its actually 1:30pm but I've only been out of bed for a short amount of time. This past week has provided many opportunities to avoid going to bed until really, really late.

Last week we received an early delivery of our shipment of books so for a few hours some of the BookEx staff were involved with placing them in some sort of order on the Quayside [area of 'jetty' next to the ship] ready for the Container day [yesterday].

I was rostered only on the day shift and other's the late shift. Some also were rostered the Container shift. My shift leader, Ruban [India] became very unwell yesterday during day shift and went to his cabin early to rest as he was also rostered on the Container shift, and being one of those stubborn male types, herefused to take the evening off and let someone else replace him.

Lucky I am also stubborn and with the help of our Assistant Manager, we managed to convince Ruban it would do him a great help if he rested the evening and day and do my shift tonight and I'll replace him on the Container shift. Now I finished day work at 5pm Manilla time, and others who also finished then who were rostered on the Container shift [which started at 9:45pm the same evening] had the chance to get a few hours sleep before hand. Because I didn't know if I was working or not, I had to just wait. So when 9pm came around, then I found out I WAS replacing Ruban and then had to get geared up for an evening of work.

It was really enjoyable, and at the same time, totally exhausting. I was given a 'ladies job' [grrr!!] of dealing with some unruly Handbags [psh!!!] and having to go through every single one on two big crates, it took a good 4[ish] hours. I had my pal Rachel [Virginia, USA] with me so we were doing some random singing to the random songs we had blaring out of the Sound System, making a few crazy song dedications to the BookEx staff [one of those had to be there moments, sorry!], but at the end of the day, just doing the jobs needing to be done.

So my Wednesday [yesterday], also known as Container Day, consisted of a 9 hour regular shift, 5 hours off [well, sorta] and then followed by another 6 hours that evening, crawling into bed at 4am.

And then being woken up by the girls in Section 6 [where I live] at 7am.


Ah... anyway... its all fun and games until someone gets smacked by a pillow... :)

So that's one story for you... if my brain kicks in I'll share a few more...

otherwise, goodnite my friends!


So we're currently sailing to Manilla, which is exciting!
Bacolod was A-MA-ZING! It was GORGEOUS and welcoming and what I would picture a place like the Philippines to be. We had our biggest visits in one port in Bacolod - 114,000 people came up the Book-Ex gangway. Saint Peter's Beard! We were only there for 18 days but it was a huge blessing to have that many people come along as we were thinking it was going to be a quiet port - how wrong we were!!

Bacolod is also the "City of Smiles"... and they aren't wrong. Smiling because they are stealing a photo of you, smiling because they have no idea what you are trying to say, smiling because they are just lovely people... it changed alot. But they smiled. And they made 'kissing' noises at us. That is to get your attention so don't be alarmed. They also will say "Yes!" by raising their eyebrows - something that takes a bit to get used to, and many of us onboard now do it [shame!]. They can hold a whole conversation by "kissing", pointing at something when they have your attention and then you acknowledge they wish to buy, they agree "yes!" with their eyebrows. Hillarious!

I got to visit Mumbukal - a resort [not for me!] that resides in the hills/mountains behind Bacolod. It takes about an hour and a half jeepney ride up to Mumbukal but its worth it. The scenery is beautiful, the little towns you pass are full of shops and people and are just beautiful, being out of the city is just beautiful and spending quality time with your friends is a plus! When we got up there and made it up to the first waterfall [after I gracefully stacked it on the way up - wrong footwear!] I was sitting on a rock by the pool with my legs in the water. Two girls were going up to the other falls and the guys decided to follow. I was getting up [can you see where this is going already?] to stand near the girls stuff and I totally slipped INTO the pool. Oh, Man! That was not desirable. The water was, because it was cool and lovely. But I wasn't intending on getting wet. I'm not sure if being half wet is worse than all wet, but for this conversation I had the pleasure of trialing that half wet is possibly worse.

I spent Bacolod on Day, then Late, then Day rotations in the BookEx. Each rotation is a week and you have a day off and a outing with a group of you within that time. Day shift is fine, long but work continues to flow. Late shift is really tiring. You are awake early, spend the day doing not alot, start work at 4:30pm and stick around till the BookEx closes to the public - THEN you have to clean up the mess [*cries!*] and when you have finally done that you have to go and 'pull' [collect the books sold that day] and then you put them in their rightful place in the shop, a final clean up and then you could go and sleep. It was hard! You're meant to get up early to do devotions but I couldn't get out of bed before 9:30pm. Anyway, that's my little spill. I've got it easy compared to many...
My first outing [called an E-day or Evangelism Day] was on a Saturday to the Alliance Baptist Church next to the SM Mall in the City [a 10 minute walk from the ship]. We were 6 of us going to do a program for 215 children from the ages of 3-12. The age range is huge because all the children are street kids and they open their doors on a Saturday to teach them things that could be taught in school. Now I worked at HYPE, with about 6 or so leaders and with about 24 children aged between 5-12, and that is HARD!!! But these 215 kids were SO well behaved, obeyed their teachers and sat so quietly that I was actually blown away! We did our two hour program where we had some games and some drama's showing God's love, and they were the most well behaved kids I've ever seen - especially in that number! And the best blessing was that I got to see many of the older kids when they visited onboard and got to know one of the Teachers, who used to be a street kid when she was young and was sponsored by an Australian. God is so amazing!

Many many things happened in Bacolod that I can't possibly share. I'd show you some photo's but they aren't mine - the Electricians tried to fix my camera but they said one of the cogs in the Lens had broken and its not mendable without being sent to the manufacturer and with everything postal being slow from the ship... yeah, no. But here's a picture of the smallest class of children from Alliance Baptist...

And here's a picture of my current home... enjoy!!!



So, what a ride! I feel like I've been non-stop since I first left the ship, and its got days left before the speed-racer type journey will end.

Its been SO sticky! During my first week in Cebu and my first week of Lectures, getting-to-know-you games, sharing a bed [weird], and reciting dramas I spent every other allowed minute either watching the Sunrises, walking the streets of Cebu around our accomodation, or swimming in the pool. Swimming actually was what I did the most of. If I didn't have to sit and listen, I was jumping and splashing. I have made many new water-fight friends [actually, they're all guys too] and it made the transition into the group alot smoother.

Sunday just gone we joined the ship a week early [meaning many of my friends who are in the group we are replacing were still here]. For me it was a whirlwind experience and one that I was thrilled to be on. To see all the familiar faces again just made me overfill with joy. I am not really one for screaming [though I do admit that is a habit that has recently developed] but my excitement got the better of me and I did ALOT of screaming, mostly at the excitement of seeing people and as I saw each person some more excitement exploded.

And what a grand entrance I made. I seriously think I've been born with 2 left feet or feet with a mind of their own. Walking DOWN the first flight of stairs to the nortorious Section 6 where I am living [possibly for ever but as far as I know I could move on Saturday] - who knows - I get a side hug [the Pastor Hug - haha] from my friend Wileon and TOTALLY slip down the stairs. No damage done, just a very bruised butt which the entire experience entertained MANY [WHY WHY do I always do these things!]... anyway... it was a grand entrance like I said...

Otherwise on our first afternoon off, so Monday arvo, most of my PreShip went to the Mall... which is super mega huge. Not as big as the Manilla Mall which apparantly is the biggest in the Southern Hemisphere but we're not there yet. So this mall is massive and getting there was my provided my first experience riding a Jeepney and my first real experience of being a foreigner... my word I stick out like a sore thumb! I am really tall compared to Filipino people, and really white too, so I get stared at. But not as much as the 6ft Blonde Blue-eyed German who walked around there too!

Fun. And another weird thing, when being the foreigners in a massive mall, you quickly see your friends because they are 'freaky tall foreigners' too. Crazy!

Currently I am on the end of Day 2 of Basic Safety Training [BST], and I had my first exam tonight, I believe I did very well!

Could you please pray for the 54 of us [thats minus the 2 chilluns [[kids]] ] that we have energy to listen to our lectures, and to be energised about our teachings. 2 full days of only listening takes its toll on us and we're all very tired!

I pray that this finds you well!

Carola :)


Hello Friends!

Just an brief update....

I'm sitting in the International Airport at Melbourne awaiting my 8 hour flight to Kuala Lumpa!!!!

This is SUCH a weird feeling. The entire lead up to this departure I have felt like I am substituting for someone else - and that I'm awaiting for their return to take over THIS role I'm filling - but they haven't come!! Which means that this is REALLY my journey! [Note: it always has been but - are you following?]

I've been PETRIFIED every step of the way - mainly because this is all very new to me. I had to pay excess baggage on the Adelaide to Melb flight [Whoopsie Daisy - 5 Kilos over!] and that was a bit of a sting [though not an unexpected one...]. So when coming to check in for the Malaysia Airline I was a bit concerned that they would bill me there too... Praise God that that didn't happen! [Snaps for Monty too!].

I was doing really well leading up to the "Leaving Home" flight - till I hugged Alex - *tears!!!*. And then Mozz... infact everyone I hugged got me teary. I know I'll see them again - its the time between where we have only few chats that makes it just a little sad - but I look forward to hearing MANY great things!!

Anyway enough about flights. While I'm waiting for time to pass before I go to my gate to... leave our amazing country Australia - here I am filling you in on whats going on! Lucky you!

PS - Question - How un-Australian is it to leave Australia on the Australia Day Long Weekend? I hope you forgive me - I've brought my flag along with me!!!!! I'll attempt show those crazy MV D people how we are just a random, fun, exciting bunch of people! But most importantly, I hope to help those who have no help... or hope. Thats what its all about isn't?

Soo I think I'm going to find a phone somewhere and make a call - otherwise I'll just chill with my music and prepare for the 8 hour bottom-numbing flight that hopefully I'll be able to sleep most of.

I miss all already - every one of you!

Please keep in contact!

My email will again be carola.bradford@gbaships.org and I'll LOVE all the emails you send - yes Mum, even about the clothes falling off the washing line. That WILL make my day!

Big e-Hugs all round!

Carola - the Missionary :)

Leaving... again...

Hello funky people!

So - I'm not dead incase you thought so. Life is intense!! Since my last post I've spent time in the country where mobile phone's like mine don't have reception [not a bad thing!], internet is dial-up [extremely bad thing] and family is, well, family [a very wonderful thing]. I've also moved half of my bedroom to my Dad's [*sigh*], and begun packing the rest of my things ready for when my Champ of a Dad comes and collects the rest [really, he's a champ!].

Its been a struggle but I'm encouraged everyday! Things like VISA's and Flights have become slightly later in my organising than I had hoped but I don't have a doubt that they will be settled and organised before I really need them. I have every letter possible under the Sun ready to pass onto people so they know that -
A. I will be returning to Australia in 2 years time
B. that I am working volunteer on a ship, and leaving the Phillipines by this ship too and
C. that when I do return I'll be flown back from a distant land, somewhere...

This week occuring [so, the 5-9 Jan 2008] was my "Get everything significantly needing to be done, done" week. But that has only had the topped scraped away. I was utterly blessed to sleep from Wed-Fri. Okay, not so much. More like I got Gastro on Wednesday and have been sleeping and resting since. Don't know what Gastro is? Go here. I don't necessarily agree with Wiki but it is a source and it explains it well. Anyway, I forced myself to do stuff today despite not feeling flash, because unfortunately time is not standing still and with... 15 days left [no kidding!] I can't just do nothing. But, for all my "Mum's" out there [and my Mum in included in that too], I kept rehydrated and pretty much slept or rested for 2 days straight. I believe it was only a mild case...

SO... as previously mentioned... 15 days. I counted that today when a friend asked. That's how many days before I leave for Cebu. And then I arrive in Cebu the following day, and 2 weeks later I get back onto the ship. I honestly feel that the first few days onboard will feel like a holiday because I will then be able to stop running around like a chook with its head cut off! No more thinking if all the forms for OM have been done, what parts of my house still need to be packed up from my stuff, all the gov things I need to do before I go [like telling them I'm going], have I got everything, will I have everything, and will I have enough bull-dog clips to hold all my clothes up when I've lost more weight. That's not a joke. I was on for 3 months and lost a whopping 15kgs - which was likely aided by being sick in Albany for a week or so. But I lost weight before that. And it was SO annoying! Okay, its great too but losing weight means new[er] clothes!

And well... that's about it now! I'm off to collect results from the docs [just info for when I am away] and then hopefully rest before heading out to Pooraka Farm to talk to some lovely people about what I am about to do!

I hope you are blessed today. Its a lovely day, really! Enjoy it, because today only lasts 24 hours.