Tag Archives: love

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.

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Post 31. Do your own dirty work.

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The crèche I had an agreement with, finally opened.  I had worked in Point Road for two and a half years; travelling in and out of one of the most infamous parts of Durban.   The children had won my heart and I was sad when my time was up.

The church crèche was a disaster for me.  It wasn’t a happy place and the teachers were all really uptight.  I stuck it out but it was hard to get up in the mornings.

After 9 months and just before I went insane, I got a half day receptionist job in a building society in Yellowwood Park.  It was combined with an estate agency.  It was a small branch and from day one I clicked with the “naughty” estate agents.  They reminded me of the kids I was working with; they lied, they always wanted their own way, they played “I’m the king of the castle and you’re the dirty rascal,” manipulated and seemed to be fixated on  underwear and private parts.

They would constantly ask me to lie for them.  I somehow managed to get around it until the day my boss told me to tell a client he wasn’t in.  I put the call through anyway and he wasn’t happy.  He called me into his office and asked me to close the door.  He was upset.  He asked me what had happened and why.  I lovingly and calmly told him that I would not be lying for him or any of the agents.  If they wanted to lie, they could do their own dirty work.  I pointed out to him that he could trust me.  If I wasn’t prepared to lie for him, he could be certain that I wouldn’t lie to him.  If he was happy with that deal, then I would be happy to stay on.  If not, I would have to leave.  He was happy with the deal.  The agents just had to agree.

I loved them and they loved me.  I could say anything to them because of that love.  When they were getting out of hand with their jokes I would ask them, with a smile on my face,  to please close their door and they did.  They listened and asked questions about my faith.  We laughed at ourselves and each other.  They gave me a hard time and teased me until we closed shop at the end of the day.

I went back years later to visit them.  The lady at the front desk asked me my name.  With a big smile on her face she said, “Oh, THE Linda Lowe; the one who wouldn’t lie. I’ve heard about you.”

I found it funny that a simple thing like honesty had made such a big impression.

Post 20. The Pentecostals

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“They swing from the chandeliers and turn off the lights and chase chickens,” Dave told us.  Of course we believed him.  The Woodlands Full Gospel Church was just down the road. We would take a short cut past the cute Hendicott boy’s house, over a small wall, across the church parking and onto Brenda’s house.  We ran like someone was chasing us across that parking lot.  On a few occasions when things got really noisy, we threw stones on their roof to see what they would do. 

I was surprised Lindy went to THAT church.  A bit disappointed too.  She was such a nice girl.  We were given a school project to do together and she invited me to sleep over at her house.  It was love at first sight.  Her family loved me and I loved them.  From then on I slept over as often as I could.  She had the most amazing parents, Bill and Miranda. 

They were a singing family like us.   Bill was really funny.  He once told me that I was the bubbles in his soda water.  Coke more like it.  He drank a lot of Coke.  Miranda played the piano and there was always music in their house.  Bev was nice and Lindy was so much fun.  She loved swimming, diving and dancing (just not the party type) and she had lots of energy.  

The Stuthridges started to fill the emptiness in my life.   They talked a lot about what they believed, which my family never did.  It wasn’t long before they asked me to go to church with them.   

It was so noisy.  I sat and listened and watched for any signs of swinging or chasing.   There was a lot of clapping and loud singing and the women all had to cover their heads. Old “Brother Clancy” would speak in a strange language.  He always started with, “Corianda ba shandai!” I noticed that as soon as he started, everyone sat down.  He went on for 15 minutes calling down hell fire and brimstone on all who were listening.  There weren’t many.

There were some unusual people there.  David Overall talked to himself and touched his hair all the time and the loud, throaty singer Dicky Thomas seemed to think he was the main attraction.  Gavin worked in a chewing gum factory and he sneakily snuck boxes of gum to all the girls.  The pastor’s son Billy took a liking to me.  He would keep me a seat and get really upset if I didn’t sit in it.   He was special.  He walked around slapping his inner thigh really loudly, shouting “Billy Nanaaaaaas!”   There were also some lovely people who were very friendly and made me feel comfortable. 

With all that went on, I’m not sure why I kept going back.  I loved the Stuthridges but I wasn’t sure about their church.  I knew they weren’t perfect. That was obvious.  But, they had something my family didn’t have and I was starting to think I wanted it. 

I had lots of questions but I never thought to ask them how they got up to the chandeliers or what they did with the chickens when they caught them.