The last 3 days have been wonderful... for a lot of reasons. But I think the main one is that I have been feeling everyone's prayers from back home; just when I want to break down and cry, when I'm too tired to stay up another night and welcome the evening arrivals, and when I can't stand the strange food, weird hours, and stressed inter-personal relationships I have felt the Lord bringing peace, contentment, and a type of sub-concious joy.
Sunday, I went to the main African market with Caitlin and a few other girls. We shopped at all the little stalls, picked out what we liked and handed it to one of our translators, and when we were all done we sat down to bargain on prices with one man who seemed to represent the other shop owners. He didn't like the fact we had a day worker with us who was completely ditching the "yovo's" (white man's) price and stating his own on our behalf. We ended up with about half of the things we'd picked out. :( But it still fun to be outside and shopping in "real Africa!"
I spent the afternoon with Frank Peretti's "This Present Darkness" and GRE math problems and then spent several hours that night IMing a few people back home... always good to catch up others' summers!
Monday we got all of the cabins cleaned and made up during the morning, so Kathy gave us the entire afternoon off because we had a fancy dinner to host in the Queen's Lounge. The attendees were some of the senior management from the Logos Hope, a bookstore ship run by the Operation Mobilization ship. The Logos Hope is currently docked in Ghana and we have exchanged a few tours and crew member visits over the last two weeks.
The dinner was a fancy affair with a 3-course plated meal. I chose to stay in the little kitchen off to the side of the Queen's Lounge and wash dishes instead of dressing up to serve the meal...and I washed dishes for 1.5 hours straight! 48 salad/dinner plates, 24 cups/saucers which we used to serve the dessert in, 24 cups/saucers for tea and coffee, 48 forks, 48 knives, 24 dessert spoons, 24 coffee/tea spoons, and 24 glasses. All by hand. Good stuff.
But I really didn't mind it because Kathy was in there too and so she and I started up a conversation between her keeping Sarah and Caitlin stocked with plates of food to serve and me washing dishes. And with dishes it doesn't have to be done in a certain way or in a certain order. As long as they're clean no one cares how I do them. And since no one wanted the job, any way I did it was fine, as long as they didn't have to do it! I think that's how I get most of the unwanted jobs in Hospitality; I really don't like people telling me to do a job and then dictating how I'm supposed to do it. Suggestions and tips from those who have done it before are always welcomed, but leave me in peace to find a system that works for me!
We didn't finish cleaning up from the dinner until about 9:30pm and we were so ready to eat the plates of dinner leftovers that had been set in the warmer hours before! It was Mexican food and there was actually sour cream, cheddar cheese, and glory of all glories--guacamole!!!!
The shipping container had arrived last week, but it didn't get through customs and to our pier until Friday about 4pm. So Monday morning brought its opening as well as happy smiles to many crew members! Melissa, a dear friend from KS whom Abi and I met at IMS in January, got a package from her mom with several classic movies and stuff for French nails (girls movie night tonight!), the galley received some wonderful additions to its dairy fridge (which are now being passed along to the crew via the serving lines!), and the ship shop was again restocked with candy, chocolate, and Mtn. Dew!
Tuesday was kind of a break through with the one girl in Hospitality that I've struggled to get along with. Something switched and she started carrying her fair share of work, offered to help me carry the heavy laundry basket up to the laundry room, and we even laughed about our similar music tastes when it comes to country artists! At devotions after lunch Caitlin, Sarah, and I really didn't want to do the normal thing of reading out of our devo book and discussing it... I think we would have all fallen asleep! Sarah asked if we could have a discussion about something instead and Kathy asked her to lead it... so she started off with asking, "what struggles have you gone through in your life and how have you coped/overcome them both with Jesus and without Him?" I was desperately trying to figure out what/how much I was going to say when Kathy started. And she shared for almost an hour. She had us in tears, laughing like crazy, and completely speechless. She is an amazing story teller with an amazing story of how God's brought her to Mercy Ships and to this place in life. I think us girls were all like, "wow."
I had to work last night and although there weren't any evening tours to give and only two arrivals I was really in a grouchy mood because they didn't get here until 8:30 (they're usually here by 7:45). It takes about 1 1/2 hours from when they walk up the gangway until I am done... and their late arrival was only encroaching on my sleep.
One of the men arriving got through embarkation and then just wanted a drink before he was ready to be shown his cabin. Wonderful!!! The other guy sat down to the dinner I'd saved him and wanted to talk... so we did for almost an hour. He told me about his days in the East Texas oil fields, his time at A&M, how he set up his own optometry clinic (and I shoudl really consider starting my own therapy clinic), and about his wife who passed away a few years ago. And as we sat there over African food leftovers and the mocha pecan cookies I made last week, I finally decided to just sit and listen. Relax. I was gonna get my sleep. He was here to serve and I needed to serve him by welcoming him and helping him feel at home. Just enjoy the moment. Enjoy the stories. And enjoy the old-enough-to-be-my-grandpa man who had come 6,000 miles and was happy to meet someone who could say "Howdy" the correct way.
This morning as I was walking by the cafe to get a cup of coffee on my 15-minute break I passed by Phil and Paula, the Aussie couple that arrived last week while I was on duty. We got to talking and told me they are planning on going to Kpalime (pronounced pal-o-may) for the weekend. Kpalime is a favorite spot with the crew because it is only a few hours away and offers great scenery, a beautiful waterfall, and some fun hiking. I'd been wanting to go for several weeks, but the trips that materialized were either on days I had to work or I wasn't invited along. I'd pretty much figured I wasn't going to do any sightseeing outside of Lome, but Phil and Paula asked if I'd like to come along! :) *happy dance!*
"There have been no rainbows in the sky, no days off work, and no winning the lottery, but I'm happy. And it's nice to feel that way again.*