Monday, October 31, 2011

Highlights from 7 1/2 Weeks Onboard the Logos Hope!

I've recently returned from my mission trip on the Logos Hope. I was onboard while she was docked in Penang, Malaysia and Port Klang, Malaysia. It was a wonderful experience and I want to share some of my highlights with all of you! (I was too busy to regularly update my blog while serving onboard plus the internet connection was incredibly slow at uploading pictures.)

C-Days (Connect Days) when I got to connect with people on Deck 4 and work with children off the ship, etc. were definitely some of my greatest highlights. Below are summaries of some of them:

-Fixing up a YWAM school for refugees. Our team was actually featured on the GBA Ships website. You can read more here.

-Aboriginal Jungle Overnight Team. We stayed in a Christian couple's home and in the morning at 6 a.m., we drove 2 1/2 hours to remote aboriginal villages in the jungle. There were 8 of us from the Logos Hope. 4 went to 9 Mile Village (including me) and 4 went to 10 Mile Village. Yes, those were the village names. Two in each village did a children's program for those under 10; two in each village did a youth program for those 10 and up.


One of the most exciting aspects of the trip was that we were allowed to be open with the Gospel. It is not illegal to share the Gospel with the aboriginal people (as opposed to the Malay people). A Christian church has already been planted in both villages. Upon arriving, we first attended their 2 hour church service (which was in the Malay language).

Then the four of us in 9 Mile introduced ourselves to the kids (a little over 30 altogether) and had them guess what flag belonged to which crewmember (we brought our flags and then mixed them up so we were all holding the wrong flag :)). After singing a few songs, we split into the different age groups. Our location was an open air structure that only had a tin roof...no walls.

Our interpreter translating our personal testimonies.

My teammate, Simon, and I played a game to get to know their names (to be totally honest, I could only remember a couple names since they were really difficult!). This helped break the ice a bit although they remained shy throughout the morning/early afternoon. Then we took turns sharing our testimonies. Thankfully, we had an interpreter, Daniel, throughout our time in the village. He sometimes preaches there. After Simon demonstrated the proper way to put on a lifejacket, five of the youth (we had around 17) competed to see who could do it the fastest. Then he used the lifejacket as an illustration. If the ship is sailing on the open ocean far from land and we fall overboard without a lifejacket, no matter how hard we try to swim to shore (no matter how many good deeds we try to do), we won't make it (we won't get to heaven). We'll die. Jesus is our lifejacket. If we trust in Him, He will save us. Daniel closed in prayer in Malay. After the children were served food, we (the team members and some other adults) sat on the floor of the church and ate noodles.
A common word used to describe the overnight team when asked how it went? Awesome.

-Deck 4. We are often assigned to Deck 4 on our C-Days. I became discouraged by the shallowness of conversations on Deck 4 and the lack of curiosity in people. The evening before one of my Deck 4 C-Days, a friend prayed for my Deck 4 time asking that God would bring the right people into my path and that a relationship would begin that would last beyond our brief encounter onboard the ship (through exchanging contact information).

The next day, after talking with a few people, I sat down in the kids area (which is inside the i-cafe area) and talked with an older Chinese lady who had a young boy with her. It was the usual surface conversation stuff. Her niece, Wynette, sat down and we began talking. I was about to leave to go on my lunch break when the same friend who had prayed for me came down and asked Wynette if she'd bought any books from the book fair. She replied that she had really wanted to but was overwhelmed by all of the choices. Wynette is from a different part of Malaysia. She had traveled 1 1/2 hours to visit the ship and was about to leave empty handed. But God had other plans. We offered to help recommend some books. As we walked back into the book fair with her, she shared that she became a believer only a year ago at the age of 15. Her immediate family members are all non-Christians. Also, she lives in a predominantly Muslim part of Malaysia. Nevertheless, she was eager to grow in her faith but didn't know where to start. We were privileged to be able to direct her to More Than A Carpenter by Josh McDowell, a one year youth devotional by Josh McDowell, another devotional-type book, Desiring God by John Piper, and a NIV and NLT Bible (since it can sometimes help to have two different versions). She was so sweet and grateful. Her hunger to know God more touched us. She hugged us and exchanged contact information with us (sound familiar :)?) and took a picture with us as well. What she didn't know is what an encouragement this divine appointment was to us. Isn't this just a testimony to the overwhelming love of God? Not only did He draw this young lady to Himself from a Muslim part of Malaysia, but He also saw fit to use the Logos Hope to help disciple her as well.

This alone would have made my Deck 4 experience the best one yet. However, I was also able to sit with a group of 12-year-old girls who were on a school field trip. Unlike some, they were not too shy to ask questions and I was even able to share how the love that God has given me is the reason that I came to the ship, etc. My last conversation happened at a table where two girls and Noomi (my wonderful pantry shift leader) sat. I sat down as well, introduced myself, and began chatting with them a bit. I found out that the girl to my right was actually from Thailand! She is studying in Malaysia. They thought it was neat that I understood some Thai and could speak it (though limited in this area :)). She, too, exchanged contact information with me.

This Deck 4 experience was definitely an answer to prayer. Praise God!

-Palm Oil Plantation Outreach. A Palm Oil Plantation Estate sounds fancy, doesn't it? In America, an estate normally brings to mind the image of a large, expensive house. Well, it's the complete opposite in Malaysia. A Palm Oil Plantation Estate is a government owned piece of land where those who labor in the palm oil plantations can live for free. They're too poor to live anywhere else. They make only 500 Ringgit a month ($160.88 in US dollars). The pastor we partnered with brings them food, clothes, and toys for the children. I was part of a team of five crewmembers who came to do a children's program.

We first introduced ourselves with the same fun flag guessing game as the one we did in the aboriginal jungle village. We then performed a drama for the children which taught the kids not to try to be like others but to embrace their own gifts and uniqueness. Afterwards came hand/face painting and ballooning...fun stuff :)! I helped with twisting the balloons into dogs and swords. A couple of the girls loved being held and twirled around. It was fun for Jill (a lady from Singapore) and me, too! We had kids sitting on our laps while our other three teammates reenacted a Bible story.

Other highlights:

~Ship's community. It's wonderful being surrounded by believers from over 45 different countries and having  people who are willing to stop and pray with you if you need prayer...anytime...for any reason. The ship kids were fun to hang out with. And I loved being in the Helmsdal ship family! (Everyone who comes to the ship is assigned to a ship family so you have ship parents and ship siblings...ship family night is every Tuesday...I think it's great!)

                                My amazing ship family (before the changeover). Jimmy was on break
                                                    in Thailand and I was on C-Day so we're not in the picture.

~Opportunities to use my gifts/passions. I was given the opportunity to write a couple of articles for the public relations officer/communications department (whether or not they will actually be published by local Malaysian newspapers...I don't know. But it was still wonderful to get to help out, gain experience in interviewing people, etc.), write a one minute monologue for the Teenstreet "Brand New Me" event onboard, and help operate a camera for the AV department during the Chinese Youth 4 Christ event onboard. I was hoping to be able to use my passion for writing and filmmaking on the ship and God opened doors!

~Having wonderful pantry shifts. Noomi, is, in my opinion, the nicest shift leader ever! Jay and Dawid from my original pantry shift and Esther and Wonhee from my pantry shift after the changeover (changeover is when a new group of long-term missionaries come onboard and the group that has served for 2 years goes home) were all great, hard-working coworkers!


Me, Noomi (Finland), Dawid (Poland), and Jay (S. Korea)

Esther (Switzerland), Wonhee (S. Korea), Noomi, and Me

~Hearing at Port Praise ways in which God is working in Penang, Malaysia. At the end of the ship's stay in each port, Port Praise is a time of sharing what God has done in and through us in that port. It was very encouraging to hear. For example, a lady shared about the Teenstreet "Brand New Me" event we had onboard (a 3 day Christian youth camp for teens). She said that a boy who was involved in gangs came. His mom signed him up for the camp hoping it would help him. He was so affected by the camp and especially by the lives of the crewmembers that he witnessed each day when he came onboard that he decided to give his life to Jesus and said that he wants to be a missionary!!! 

 As I previously mentioned, I was able to play a tiny part in this Teenstreet "Brand New Me" event by writing a short monologue for it. However, it's not just the organizers and participants or even an enthusiastic Stepper from America that made the event possible :). It's the men sweating in the engine room...the angels cleaning their millionth toilet...the galley/pantry team keeping everyone fed...and so on that enabled the Logos Hope to sail to Penang in the first place. This in turn opened the door to this event happening and this boy coming to know the Lord. It's a team effort. And it only succeeds according to the will of God. 

The same goes for the Chinese Youth 4 Christ event. During Port Praise, I found out that they debriefed the next day at a local church and many of the youth rededicated their lives to God and indicated their desire to get involved in mission work.

The purpose statement for the Logos Hope's stay in SE Asia is "Making friends for the Gospel and building partnerships for ministry and missions." It was so exciting to get a glimpse of what God is doing in Malaysia!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Book Review: Lost in Dreams


Instead of coming home from her missions trip to a welcoming party... Kim reenters America only to face a string of difficult, terrible circumstances.

Lost in Dreams by Roger Bruner with Kristi Rae Bruner is the sequel to Found in Translation.

To be honest, I found the beginning depressing. Which is how readers are probably supposed to feel...it means we care about Kim Hartlinger and what happens to her. The title also doesn’t seem very fitting. Lost in Nightmares would have been more relevant. I was happy; however, that Aleesha returns as a main character in this book. That was a pleasant surprise! Rob reappears as well. And we finally get to meet Betsy Jo.

While things don’t go as Kim planned (going straight to college and majoring in Spanish), God has something even greater in store for her. I won’t tell you exactly what but the aforementioned characters all get to do it together...and it’s ministry...and He uses them to touch people’s lives in a positive life-changing way...how cool is that?!?

So even though the book began as a real downer, the middle was interesting. Several different types of conflicts are introduced. I did want to shake Kim and tell her to be more open with her dad, though :).

The ending was, ah, quite different than what I had expected. The authors managed to approach Kim’s problem from an angle that hadn’t even crossed my mind. Don’t worry; it’s a satisfying resolution.

All in all, Lost in Dreams is a good, clean book and unlike so many novels for my age group, it doesn't have the distraction of teenage romance in it.

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Team Novel Teen is a group of bloggers dedicated to spreading the word about clean teen fiction. Check out other posts about Lost in Dreams by Roger Bruner by clicking on the links below, and check out www.NovelTeen.com for more information about Team Novel Teen.