Tuesday, 20 July 2010

OM Ships through the eyes of a Mercy Shipper...

Operation Mobilisation is an interdenominational mission organisation that operate the M/V Logos Hope, a ship that sails the globe distributing books through their onboard book fair. They are also an entirely voluntary ministry that brings hope to many people, through the gift of reading and the knowledge that this brings.

Over the last three or so weeks the Logos Hope has been docked in Tema Port in Ghana, about four hours away from the Africa Mercy. When I first heard that this special ship would be so close to our ship, I made it my mission to go and see her and the work that Operation Mobilisation does through their floating book store.

And so this past weekend Phil and Ali and myself headed over the border to Ghana and travelled to the port in Tema. Here we met up with another Mercy Ships friend, Tim, who had taken vacation in Ghana, and the four of us spent most of Saturday and half of Sunday seeing the OM Ship and the work that they do. The photo here is of the ship's Reception area.

We were shown to our cabins and then had a lovely lunch in their dining room - where they have powdered milk that tastes like real milk, by the way (I had about four glasses of the good stuff). After lunch on Saturday we had a tour of the ship and were shown the Bridge, Engine Room, the Hope Theatre (a two-deck high theatre in the aft of the ship, fitted with real stage lights and A/V equipment), the book fair, and many other places of interest.

Paul, the First Engineer and our tour guide, had mentioned that they were rather short-staffed out by the gate where many people were waiting to come into the port area and see the book fair. Having all received crowd control training with Mercy Ships, the four of us unanimously volunteered to help lend a hand with the queues of eagerly-awaiting people. We donned orange security vests and went out to the front line. Here we interacted with the crowds, shared stories and laughed with the Ghanaian people.

This was such an awesome experience, just to be part of another floating mission aimed at bringing knowledge to the masses. It was especially special since on the Mercy Ship I work in a job which requires me to be in my office from 8 - 5, Monday to Friday. And while my role onboard as the Assistant Purser is very necessary and I do enjoy it, I do miss being able to get out from the ship and interact with the local community. I know that the OM people were very happy to have the extra numbers out in the lines - and we enjoyed the experience too. It was somewhat comparable to a screening day - although with perhaps less numbers and less desperation. Altogether, Saturday saw 7,944 people tour the ship's book store - a record for the Logos Hope. It's not often that you can say you worked with two ship-based mission organisations in the space of 24 hours!

Having helped for most of the afternoon, we returned to the ship for dinner and then spent some of the evening watching an event that the OM crew were putting on for the Ghanaian youth in the Hope Theatre. We then spent time relaxing and making new friends in the lovely Dining Room.

Sunday dawned with breakfast followed by a visit to the large book fair, the main ministry of OM Ships. The whole of Deck 4 is an amazing visitor experience, starting with the safety orientation in seats shaped like that of a lifeboat. From here you walk past a wall commemorating the history of OM Ships and then enter the book store. Their book store easily rivals that of Exclusive Books, one of the major book shop chains back in South Africa. You then walk through a section showing the story of the Prodigal Son in pictures and audio, and from here head into the International Cafe, where you can enjoy self-serve ice-cream and popcorn.

In the book fair I bought a number of items and then headed to the church service up in the Logos Lounge. They welcomed all Mercy Shippers in the congregation and then took an offering in aid of our upcoming generator replacement project, which was a really lovely expression of the mutual closeness and respect that there is between the two ship mission organisations.

And shortly after the service, having had a lovely time on the Logos Hope, it was time to head back to our own floating home docked a relatively short journey away. Before long we were walking up the gangway of the Africa Mercy, with plenty of gratitude for a lovely weekend with good friends and being able to see another ship ministry in operation. I'll remember my trip to the Logos Hope for some time to come.

Here are some more photos from our trip to the OM Ship...

This is the Bridge of the Logos Hope.

The Logos Lounge, where church services and other community events are held.

This is the awesome Hope Theatre.

The Dining Room - pretty similar to our set-up.

Our guest cabin - and note my Mercy Ships water-bottle, essential gear for any travels!

This is the entrance area of the book fair.

The seats where the safety orientation is held before entry into the book fair.

The wall chronicling OM Ships' history.

Books galore!

The story of the Prodigal Son.

In front of the Logos Hope.

At first glance you may mistake the OM Ship as the Mercy Ship or vice versa. They're very similar - both being converted ferries (the AFM was a rail ferry and the Logos Hope was a car ferry).

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