While no-one wanted to admit it, the ship was a great place to meet one’s life partner. Some called it, “The Love Boat.” That really upset the leaders. Funny that, since many of them had met their partners there.
The big rule was “No relationships in the first year”. When their year was up, a guy could go to their leader and ask for “Social Permission”. That meant they could spend more time with the girl they were interested in; if feelings were mutual.
The second biggy was, “No more than five minute conversations alone, with the opposite sex.” Things could get out of hand after five minutes. Most of the shipmates were single. Some were happy to stay that way, and others really weren’t. It was obvious that some were there to find a husband or a wife.
Those who were single and satisfied didn’t really notice when the year was up. The desperate ones headed for their leader’s office on that very day. There were all kinds of surprises sprung on people.
When our batch’s year was up, I was called into the girl leader’s office five times. “So and so is interested in you and would like Social Permission.” I was horrified. Also slightly flattered, until I found out that the same desperados had done the same thing for just about every available girl on the ship.
Things got really awkward. The guys who I saw as friends, got all weird. I couldn’t be as friendly for fear they would get the wrong impression. I decided I didn’t want to know who asked for “S.P.”
I told the leaders it didn’t matter who asked, my answer was “no”. I was not interested. I did NOT want another trip to the office.
It seemed angelic. The truth was, I had broken the rules in my first year and not been caught. Mike and I had talked too much and got on way too well. To complicate things, he had a girlfriend, Debbie, who was at home waiting for him.
He was finding it difficult to make a decision, so he asked the cute Kiwi boy to pray with him about his dilemma. He obliged.
Mike’s two years were up and he went back to the States. I went on to do the Public Relations for the ship. We went ahead and got the port ready for the ship’s arrival. We got interviewed on local radio stations, wrote articles for newspapers and contacted schools, church groups and town mayors. We lived with local people and got used to living on land again.
When I was in Liverpool, I got a letter from Mike, letting me know of his decision to stay with Debbie. I had expected it. I was prepared.
What I wasn’t prepared for, was the almost audible voice that I heard in that moment. I knew who it was. He had spoken to me before. He had told me not to panic. He had told me to stay in the ocean of His love and I would be okay; no matter what storms came my way.
Those messages were clear and they needed no interpretation. This one was different. It was sing songy and kind of cheeky sounding. I could almost imagine a smile on His face as He whispered into my ear,