Don’t you love the weekend? Well that is what most shore based folks look forward to and usually enjoy! Five days at work 9-5 is the norm for most of us. Routine is part of life and the relaxation of evenings and weekends off to spend time with loved ones and family makes life enjoyable.
Compare that to 4 weeks or even the 9 months or more that seafarers spend onboard their vessels with little time off. They have to shower, eat, wash their clothes and do any recreational things in their off-watch periods. For some Filipino crew, their 9 months is filled with 12 hour watches, 7 days a week… Fancy a job? No, I don’t either!
I could say so much more of the hardships that seafarers face – dangerous workplaces, dangerous seas, piracy, unscrupulous employers, etc… however, they choose to do this because it is in their blood. As an ex-seafarer myself, I still get a buzz whenever I get out into the open seas.
This is why I have a passion to serve all seafarers. That is why I fought for over 10 years to establish a seafarers Centre here in the busy port of Aberdeen. There were many obstacles to achieving this, however, God has brought it to pass and God has blessed the work over the past 4-plus years. With over 25 volunteers and 5 volunteer ship visitors, we endeavour to meet the varying needs of seafarers. It is a privilege to do so, and it is something all our volunteers delight in doing.
Yesterday we had 23 visitors to the seafarers centre… and this afternoon we have had 6 in so far! On the left is Alfred, his son and daughter will graduate next year and perhaps four years after that he will retire!
And below is Teddy (wearing his Woolly hat) and Raymond.
All three were delighted with our superfast free internet. Skyping and sending pictures home to family makes them happy… and relieves the monotony of long spells at sea.
So we continue to serve our many visitors.
Of course, we do more than just open our doors to seafarers. The hospital visits and home visits continue as does the ship visiting, trips to the countryside or up to town… and dealing with many enquiries by email and phone… and so much more.
There is the administration of the Seafarers Centre – I’ve been busy sorting out our half year accounts with the help of Colin (he’s a star… we were 1 penny out, but he worked at it and found it – he certainly keeps me right… apparently we are in the black as well! I assume that is a good thing! Yep, I am no accountant!
Then there is writing a business plan and governance document with the help of Debbie (who is a genius)!
Meeting with seafarers continue as does dealing with bereaved seafarers’ wives… and conducting weddings and funerals…
Life is never dull for this Chaplain, and I haven’t even mentioned my family life and the ongoing DIY at home…
I love it!
And finally, some not so good news. Those who drive or walk along Market Street will have seen an addition to our signage. As can be seen in the picture a “For Sale” sign has been erected. Don’t panic, we are not closing and it has not been sold. However, it is on the market and it may be sold any day. This could be a sad day for the Aberdeen Seafarers Centre, however, we have a Trustees meeting later this month and we will be looking at our options, including the possibility of buying the premises which we have enjoyed for free these past 5 years, thanks to the generosity of GulfMark. In these difficult days for all involved in the oil and gas industry, seafarers included, the financial pressure is upon all and we need to seek a way forward to sustain the ongoing service to the estimated 100,000 seafarers that visit Aberdeen each year.
God has brought this Centre into being so we are “confident of this, that he who began a good work will carry it on to completion.” Philippians 1 v6
So we look forward with hope and excitement at what God will do as we remain faithful to His calling upon us to serve the seafarers from around the world.
Enjoy your weekend!