And I really do enjoy being busy!
It is great to be out and about visiting ships when the weather is fine – it does happen occasionally in Aberdeen! We have also had some awful weather too – with some snow, hail and freezing cold to boot!
The good weather can be seen in the picture opposite taken from the bridge of a vessel, it can be rather nice in Aberdeen.
However, for one Filipino seafarer, his arrival in Aberdeen went badly when he discovered that his luggage had not arrived with him… Sadly, the vessel was sailing that evening and he needed some clothes to ‘tide him over’ before they came back into port. So, arms full of clothes, razor, shampoo and soap, one happier seafarer left to join his vessel. (He did get his luggage on his return!)
We do get many donations of good quality second-hand clothes – including jumpers, t-shirts, joggers, jeans, and shoes amongst other items! If you have anything – having a clear out before you get your summer outfits?? – then please do consider donating them to us in order that we can then pass them on to seafarers in need.
I have had a couple of speaking engagements recently. These are not to raise funds, rather they are great opportunities to share about the work of the Aberdeen Seafarers Centre and the many needs of the 10,000 seafarers who visit the port each year. It never ceases to amaze me how many people do not know very much about the life if Merchant Seafarers!
It is also a time when I can generate prayer support for the ministry and more importantly for seafarers! They travel a dangerous path through many difficult seas… and need, some even appreciate, our prayers!
However, at a recent group, they started with the bingo! It was very enjoyable evening and no, I didn’t win a line or a house!
The Centre has been very busy this past couple of weeks with more visitors in the past two weeks than a normal month in fact, numbers generally are up on last year with around 100 more visitors per month between January and March compared to the same period last year. It is great to see the place buzzing with plenty of happy seafarers using the wi-fi; playing pool or just relaxing and chatting with our team of volunteers.
We are always looking for more volunteers – if you have free afternoon or evening, why not come and join the team? Do get in touch with me and I will send you our Volunteers Form or pop in for a chat between 1300-1500 Monday through Friday or any evening after 1800. The kettle is always at the ready!
Our volunteers do a fantastic job of keeping the Seafarers Centre open every day of the year.
Stacey, our part-time administrator has been a great help in getting me in order! She is off work just now on maternity leave – and has just had a beautiful baby daughter Lacey! Thankfully, one of our volunteers has stepped in to help and Cara is now keeping me in order! She even had some flowers in her hair – a nice welcome for seafarers for sure!
There are many tasks that need doing and the centre really would not continue if it was not for the team of loyal volunteers who come once a month and those who come several times a month! Key to the smooth running of the Centre are our Key Holders who open up the Centre and make sure everything is ready for our visitors – and then clear up at the end and lock up again! What a great team we have – come on down and join us!
Over the years I have met and become friends with many a seafarer. Kenny is one such person… after his retirement, we tried and failed to communicate with each other via email and so one day, after getting off the ferry, he popped into the centre with his ‘bird!”
It was good to catch up and chat for the best part of 2 hours… I cannot repeat much of what we chatted about, suffice to say that we had a good chat with much laughter over old times.
His ‘bird?’ Well. that was his pigeon – which he breeds/flies and he was taking some to give to another pigeon fancier! All very innocent!
There are still way too many seafarers who are unemployed. Thankfully some do visit the Centre for a chat. It is difficult to change their circumstances, but I endeavour to give a little hope… and there is always plenty of time for a tea/coffee and a listening ear.
Yes, as always, there always seems to be one more thing to do… This is not a complaint – I love to keep busy! So here is a snippet of what I have been doing these past three weeks…
You will all know about the ongoing plight of the crew on the Malaviya Seven, and the non-payment of wages. The saga continues and I have been kept very busy looking after their welfare needs along with the other chaplain, Doug Duncan. Morale has risen and fallen many times over the months and it has been lifted ever so slightly when the vessel was arrested by the crew. This began the legal process to sell the vessel, but it could be another 12 weeks – possibly more.
This means that they need the support of Aberdeen Seafarers Centre more than ever! Whilst I have sought to keep them out of the media as much as possible, it looks like we may have to make a public appeal soon. They are very low on fuel; have little food and whilst one of the ship’s generators has failed, the other one is at best, ‘limping along!” They have been having scheduled blackouts after breakfast until lunch time, then most of the afternoon and from around 8pm until cookie begins breakfast! It may not seem too bad, but the practicalities are that they are in darkness; have no heating or use of showers or toilets; and can do no recreational things onboard, with most of the crew who are not on watch staying in bed to keep warm.
However, some good news! The captain called me earlier tonight to say that a generator has been hired and is onboard. This will consume roughly half of the fuel that the onboard generator has been using, but they are low on fuel.
I have managed to organise water for them and I received a gift to “take the men out for a meal” and so that will happen one night next week.
Obviously, the Seafarers Centre is open to them and many do use it – for warmth and free tea/coffee, tab-nabs and the internet, etc… and for the homely welcome! It is a sad state of affairs and whilst we cannot pay them the unpaid wages, we can open our doors and hearts to them.
As Chaplain to the RNLI I do visit the Station and catch up with the guys. Today I visited Cal and his dog – an energetic German Shepherd! When the dog made a bee-line for another visitor who was eating his lunch, Cal shouted at it to lie down, at which point the dog came to me and Cal said, “There is no point in going to Jesus, He’ll not save you!” The place disintegrated in fits of laughter. I could point out two errors Cal made. 1. I am not Jesus, just His representative; and 2. Jesus does save!
It has been a busy time in the garden. The shed is up and now functioning. I just need to get it organised! However, I have been removing lots of stones – yes, remember that old air raid shelter we demolished last year? It left a huge mountain of stones. Well, with a lot of help, those stones are now only a few more to be shifted!! There are so many things I want to get done, but I never seem to have enough time to do them all. Mind you the weather has sometimes frustrated my plans to do various jobs in the garden… at least I can do some things in the shed! Haha!
Yesterday I spent some time with one of our trustees filling in an application for a grant… not much fun, but essential if the Seafarers Centre is to continue. I am not a fundraiser and certainly am not gifted in this area. This is another area where we could use a volunteer – any takers?
There are busy times ahead too… but it’s getting late, so time to post this.
Enjoy the remainder of your week!