Category Archives: Living Life

Post 109. Funny signs.

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We loved getting in the car and going on long road trips. There was not a moment of boredom.  When we exhausted all known car games, we made up another one.  “Let’s look for children along the way and see what they’re doing.”  The girls loved that one.  It was fun and serious.  They were amazed to see how little girls their age carried such heavy things and how such little boys could handle such huge animals.

One of our favourite things to do was to look for funny signs.  I would jot them down and it wasn’t long before we had quite a list.  We had fun reading them with our put on Indian accents.

ON THE BACK OF TRUCKS:

Love is froud

Haran pleej

Use diaper at night

Bearak please

Horan plese

Liver box

Fata box

ROAD SIGNS:

“Drive like hell and you’ll be there”

“ Hell or helmut. You choose”

“Sharp curves. Please adjust your bra–s”

Please park in take off position

Bye pass edns

Hotel Ramkana- parking left behind

Eneterence

Toilet faslitis

Way to in

Way to out

Drinking whisky makes you frisky

ADVERTISING:

Grewal stones

Denting and peinting done here

Chrishtmas

Chirstan cemetery

Prosecuute

Cotton pluffs

Concenitrates

Three whiler

Rewainding

Wear unders

Electrition

Housh numbers

God-fearing finance Pty Ltd

Weeding sarees

Do not pluck flowers, leaves and keep of grass

Machines and had cranes

Higer interest, lower tems

Crockries and gift centre

Spaire parts

Seet covers

Tyre puntcher

Dyanamo/Dianamo

Sutings and sweaters

Suitings, shirtings and trouserings

For the perfect holyday

Doormattery

Our all time favourite was one we saw in the classified section of a newspaper:

“One full box of sheet – Very good condition.”

Post 38. Is this the Love Boat?

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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,

“There’s Tony.”

Post 37. Nations

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There were about 300 people on the Doulos.  Most were there because they wanted to serve and see the world at the same time.  It was a great way to do both.  

I fell in love with South America and her people; Spending weekends with families in small villages and towns, practising our Spanish, learning from their cultures and eating lots of amazing food. 

We had to get up early to exercise no matter what.  That was a challenge in Argentina when the main meal was brought out at 11 pm.  We slept on heavy stomachs way after midnight and got up a few hours later to run. 

It took us two years to circumvent the continent; Brazil, Venezuela, Colombia, Peru, Chile and Argentina.  We had also stopped in Puerto Rico, Barbados, Jamaica, Trinidad, Mexico and Florida. 

Lindy and her family lived in Kentucky.  When we docked in Florida, I got a week off and took a Grey Hound Bus to see them.  It was a long trip but  worth it.  There were so many changes and we had all grown up.  I got a taste of American culture, ate lots of fried chicken and loved being with the Stuthridges again. 

Those days were not easy for South Africans.  One evening, Henriette and I were sitting on a small beach near the ship in Barbados, watching the sun go down on the ocean.  There was a daddy Rasta and his son, having their bath in the sea.  Their dreads were down and they were using sea sand as shampoo.   They came out of the ocean shaking their hair.  It was a beautiful scene.  We waved and they came over to talk to us.  It was going really well until he asked where we were from.  Suddenly we were being blamed for apartheid, racism and all the problems of South Africa.  It got really ugly so we said goodbye and left. 

When we arrived in Trinidad we were ship bound.  No South Africans allowed.  We had to get permission to stretch our legs on the quayside.  A team went into Bolivia but again, no South Africans allowed. 

We were feeling the effects of our injustice for the first time. 

I cried many tears when we sailed out of Recife to start our journey across the Atlantic.  I was going to miss the colourful, hot blooded, passionate Latin Americans. 

I met people from all over the world and made many lifetime friends.  There were times when I wondered which nation I would end up in. At that point, I was hoping it would be somewhere in South America. 

My heart was wide open.  I was prepared to go anywhere.

Post 36. Intense.

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After working in every department girls could work in, I signed up for four months of Intensive Training.  The ship was in Chile.

It was so intense.  We had daily, weekly and monthly goals.  We read through the Bible from cover to cover, memorised long portions of scripture, read through lots of required reading books and listened to many messages which were on cassette tapes in the library.  

We got up to jog at 5 am every day preparing for a 25 km run and a 20 km walk.   That was interesting when we were at sea; running along the deck with waves splashing all around us, stopping to throw up then off again.  It was a test of endurance. 

Wherever we went we were either reading or mumbling memory verses under our breath.  On top of that there were certain hours we had to work.  We didn’t sleep much. 

The three day fast was a challenge.  The ship was docked and we were put into teams. There was a small church building where we stayed and prayed for three days.  Now THAT was intense.  We were only allowed to have water.  There were many manifestations of bad character but we walked back onto the ship thinner and better people. 

There was also a three day “faith trip”.   We left the ship with as many books as we could carry, no money and a change of clothes. When we met people we could answer their questions but not solicit anything in anyway.  If we sold books, we could use that money to buy food; if we didn’t, too bad.    

I had NEVER had to ask God for food.  I struggled.  My pride really got in the way.  The other girls seemed to be fine with it but I just couldn’t do it.  We had no food for the first day and a half and we all came to the conclusion that I was the Jonah.  They urged and encouraged me to just humble myself and ask God.  I was so hungry that I did.  That afternoon while walking around the small town, we met a lady who asked us what we were doing.  There was no hinting or soliciting in our reply.  She invited us to her house for dinner.  It was a HUGE house and the table was groaning with food.  

We ate, drank and were VERY merry.

Post 35. Stop panicking. Please

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I also had a stint in the cleaning department.  The least desired department for obvious reasons. I was determined to enjoy it and by any means, not look like Sadie the cleaning lady.

Every day there were carpets to vacuum and toilets to clean. There were also vacated cabins to clean out.  Our greatest dread was the single guy’s cabins.  After two years without a mummy some of them really let themselves go.  When we opened the cabin door we were hit with a gorgeous fragrance of smelly socks, kimchi and ammonia.  Better to put a match to it, I thought.

We shone windows, portholes, public toilets and emptied rubbish bins from the offices.  We really got around.  The other dreaded job was cleaning the engineer’s toilets.  The smell and seasickness were never a good combination.

The poop deck was where the nursery was.  There was a cute little room with toys and books and an enclosed area with a jungle gym for them to play in.   When my cleaning stint was up I was asked to work there with the toddlers.  I was in my element.  It was amazing how much communication went on.  There we were, from all over the world, speaking different languages yet somehow able to understand each other.  A hug here and a smile there seemed to make up for all the words we didn’t have.

One of my favourite things to do was to spend time with the couples and their kids.  I did a lot of babysitting.  An American couple had twins and I was asked me to be their nanny.  I jumped at the chance.  I loved those little boys.

The twins.

I walked around the ship with their heads on my hands and their bodies tucked under my arms.  That way they could see my face and I could talk to them as we walked along.

It was a challenge when they needed their nappies changed at the same time.  One day, they were lying on the bed, screaming their heads off.   I kept saying “I’m here, I’m here.  Don’t panic.  I know what you need and I know what I am doing.”

As I said that, God showed me how often I had been like that with Him.  I was anxious about my future, finances and many other things.  All the while, He was standing over me. He knew exactly what He was doing.  There was no need to panic.

Post 34. Charlie

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The programme was full; early morning devotions, studies, talking to people on the street, conferences to attend, weekends away with local families, minimum work hours and exercise.  There wasn’t much time to sit around. 

The dining room was a good place to get to know our shipmates.   After discussing the weather we went on to the food.  It wasn’t amazing, but not even the greatest chef could have come up with more than 100 ways to cook “Suzi-Wan.”  In one of the ports, some very generous people donated 1000’s of tins of bean sprout/noodle/vegetable meals.  We had it in many forms.  Mainly disguised, but we weren’t fooled.   We found it in everything. 

I really tried hard not to complain.  Some people never stopped.  Once when I was helping to serve at the tables, one of the big grumblers really got to me.   I looked at him in the eyes, with my serving spoon full of Suzi-Wan and warned him that if he kept complaining I would pour it all over his head.  That was the end of that.  He knew I was serious. 

“Charlie” was the name of the ship’s small second hand clothing shop.  It was right next to the key-cutting, shoe-fixing workshop where the cute Kiwi guy worked.  I worked there for a couple of months and loved sorting through the rubbish to find treasure.  I was ruthless. 

Church groups did collections and boxes were delivered to the ship.   I had heard stories about missionaries being sent second-hand tea bags but I never believed it until I opened some of those boxes.; worse than used tea-bags were used toothbrushes.  

Us O.M.ers weren’t known for our sense of fashion for a few reasons.   

1. We were all there for a minimum of 2 years; clothes wear out. 

2. We were given $20 a month, if it was there; it often wasn’t.

3. When it was, we could buy a few treats; like souvenirs or junk food; we got fatter.  

4. We couldn’t save it because the currency changed with every country we sailed to and there was very little we could buy for $20; Charlie was free.

5. People thought we didn’t have any taste or style; we got the clothes they had been hoarding since World War 2.  

Maybe they wanted to put them on a ship so they would never come back.  

That way they would never have to remember how bad it got. 

Post 33. Strangely safe

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The Doulos.

The Doulos.

Ship life was intense and stretching.  It was obvious from day one that I was going to learn a lot about diversity  of   culture.

I shared my first cabin with 3 other girls; an Indian, an American and a Korean. There were some interesting moments.  Cleaning rosters were made and stuck up on the wall.  After a couple of weeks we noticed the Korean girl wasn’t doing her cleaning duties.  We called a cabin meeting and asked her what the problem was.  Her unblinking reply was, “In Korea, younger girls do everything for the older one.  I am the oldest in this cabin.”   Our unblinking reply was, “Well you’re not in Korea.”  Things did improve a bit, but it was hard for her.  There were some who were highly qualified and had to scrub decks and wash 100’s of dishes every day.  For many, being in the kitchen was only for women.  Well, that thinking didn’t last long.

We all had our way of doing things.  The results were often the same. We learnt quickly that our way wasn’t necessarily the best way.

Life was full.  There were different departments and we all had a job.  It didn’t matter what we were before we came onboard.  We worked where we were put and there were no arguments.  If we didn’t get on with someone and asked to be moved, we were made to stay there until we got on.

I started in the Book Exhibition.  It was apparently the place to be.  It was a lot of fun and lots of hard work.  We did inventory, orders, stacked the shelves in different languages and learnt how to deal with all kinds of people.   The plan was to be in South America for 2 years and it was compulsory that we learnt Spanish.

We sailed from one port to the other and every time we set sail, the exhibit had to be covered and tied down.  If the weather was good we were able to set up for the next port while we were sailing.  If it was bad, and we were throwing up, we prayed the books wouldn’t be lost at sea.

There was a HUGE storm on the trip from Jamaica to Mexico; massive waves, lots of sea sickness and many bookshelves that hit the deck.   It was scary having to go up in the howling wind and beating waves to tie the shelves down properly.  It was one of the biggest storms experienced by the Doulos.

There was a lot of sea sickness, but life had to go on.  Michel, our cook from France, kept running between the deck and the kitchen.  He could barely stand, but there were mouths to feed.  Those who managed to get to the dining room for breakfast were served by very pale waiters and waitresses.  What made things worse was that Michel had grabbed the food colouring instead of the vanilla essence.  The porridge was green.

It seemed that some had psychological sea sickness.  Em Namuco was violently ill and had been in his cabin all morning.   It had been announced the previous evening that we were to set sail in the middle of the night.  He was surprised when someone knocked on his cabin door to tell him that the ship hadn’t sailed after all.  We were still firmly moored.

There was danger but a strange absence of fear.  There were nights when everything was calm and we would lie on the deck and look into the crystal clear, starry night.  Everything around us was in pitch darkness.  We were like a tiny cork bobbing on the ocean.  Not another thing in sight.   The only sound was the ship’s engine.

I was very aware of how small I was in an ocean so deep and wide.  There were many times God spoke of His love for me, reminding me that His love was as vast as the ocean I was sailing on.  No matter how high the waves got and no matter how big the storm became, as long as I was in that ocean, I was safe.

Post 32. The Amazon

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Belem is between the Toucan and the monkey.

Belem is between the Toucan and the monkey.

I just couldn’t scratch my itchy feet.  I had been at home for 3 years.  I wanted to see the world but didn’t want to travel for travel sake.  There needed to be a mission, something constructive to do at the same time.

Over the months I had made a few enquiries about mission organisations to see where I would fit.  That was when I heard about the Doulos; Operation Mobilisation’s converted ship.  It was the largest floating bookshop in the world.  It was a self contained “town” with schools, hairdresser, dentist, hospital, laundry, bakery, nursery, offices and 250 people from all over the world.

It sounded like a dream come true; to be able to see the world and work at the same time.  I sent in my application knowing it would take a while to hear from them.  Resigning from two jobs, both needing a months notice was a bit risky.  If I resigned and wasn’t accepted on the ship, I would be jobless.  I decided to take the risk.  It paid off and I was off to join the ship in Brazil.

The agent’s response to my resignation was, “What a waste,”  but Wilf and Val were excited.  Dad had been putting money aside in our Post Office accounts and I drew that out.  It was exactly the amount I needed to pay for my ticket from Cape Town to Rio and I had some savings to get me through the first couple of months.

I was beside myself.  I couldn’t wait to get to South America.  The ship would be sailing from Brazil to Puerto Rico, the Bahamas, Barbados, Jamaica, Mexico, Florida and then through the Panama Canal and all the way around and back to Brazil.  It would take two years.

I sat on the carpet in our little passage and found my favourite book*.  I knew it off by heart and every photo had been touched over and over again; for years.  I was going to the source of the Amazon River.

I flew into Rio and straight onto Belem with other new recruits.  There was an open jeep waiting for us and we were driven to the ship on some very rough roads.  It was in that jeep that I met Henriette Hugo; a very beautiful French speaking Huguenot from Cape Town.  We were kindred spirits.

As I walked up the gangplank one of the flirty O.M. boys asked me my name.  When I said “Linda” he said, “Oh that means “beautiful” in Spanish. Muy Linda”.  I was flattered, but not there to flirt, so I smiled and was escorted to my little four berth cabin.

*See:  Books and Jazz