When the Logos Hope book ship docked at the Montego Bay pier on January 20 to begin its two-month stay in the island, among the 350 crew members on board was Jamaican Tamara Francis.
The young woman, who was born in Salt Marsh, Trelawny and grew up in Montego Bay and Kingston, gave up a career in radio broadcasting two years ago to become one of the non-salaried volunteers from some 50 nationalities, who serve on board the floating book ship and Christian mission.
Ms. Francis however did not regret the decision. As a dedicated Christian, she sees it as an opportunity to work in the mission field and spread the gospel of Christ.
She tells JIS News that over the two years, she has travelled to some 14 different countries, interacting with hundreds of persons and positively impacting on them through the book fairs as well as preaching the gospel.
“It has been a great experience for me going to all these different countries and more exciting was to be able to interact with the different cultures and sharing my experiences and the gospel with them and seeing many of them coming to know the Lord,” Ms. Francis tells JIS News.
She has fond memories of her visit to the Faroe Islands in Denmark where the population is an estimated 40,000 persons.
“We visited these small islands, which I was hearing of for the very first time and interacted with the people there. There were actually more sheep than people on the islands.but it was a special place. It brought a special blessing to me because although I know my own people as being warm and hospitable, I have never seen such a wide spread of positive response to people. Almost everyone you met wanted to give you something or do something special for you . they were just very, very giving, warm and very generous people,” she readily recalls.
Now a seasoned crew member, she admits to the many bouts of sea sickness in the initial stages of her adventure, which she has outgrown and now looks forward to every journey on the high seas.
“For me, the Logos Hope experience is a once in a lifetime experience. In terms of the ministry, this is very unique as they have combined education with outreach, which I think is a good combination. Once this ministry and all the people involved continue to be open to God’s lead, it will continue to be a blessing, touching and transforming lives everywhere in its path,” Ms. Francis says.
From all indications, the Logos Hope has been successful in carrying out its mission of promoting education, fostering peace by embracing diversity, and guiding people towards a purposeful life and a personal relationship with God.
Visitors often express surprise that people from so many different cultures can live and work together peacefully in such a small space, however as Media Relation Specialist, Elizabeth Nussbaumer explains, crew members are unified by their faith in God and vision to bring knowledge, help and hope to the port communities they serve around the world.
“It is truly amazing; we have people from countries that (don’t have) many Christians and this certainly has added great dynamics to the Logos community. These people have really stepped out to go and share their love for God and God’s love for people in different lands,” she says.
She noted that each recruit is required to master the English Language at a certain level in order to qualify as a volunteer.
“Everyone on board needs to have a minimum of English as we are from so many different nationalities. If you don’t speak English, it would be a strong motivation for you to learn it if you want to join the Logos community. For those who have gone through the basic lessons for English, opportunities exist on board for them to attend classes for 12 weeks and improve their knowledge. Persons in the community welcome these members and help them out with their English as best as they can,” she tells JIS News.
On board the Logos Hope, safety is a priority and this is seen in the many fire drills and evacuation exercises, where crew members are educated and prepared to face challenging situations and disasters.
“Training is a very important part of being a crew member . we have regular drills such as fire drills on a weekly basis, we also go through regular evacuation exercise to prepare persons to act quickly in cases of fire or a bomb scare. This is done in an orderly manner, making sure that everyone is accounted for. We also practice putting on our life jackets and other safety gear on a regular basis and at this point in time, I am confident that the crew and staff of Logos Hope are adequately prepared to handle any disaster or situations that may arise,” Mrs. Nussbaumer tells JIS News.
Captain of Logos Hope, Dirk Colenbrander, who hails from the Netherlands, is responsible for the proper management, safety and security of the vessel, crew members and passengers in keeping with the International Maritime law.
Serving on the ship as captain is a dream come true for him and the fulfillment of a burning desire to serve God in the mission field.
“I always wanted to go out to sea and to share about God’s love from I was about eight years old. I worked and studied and prepared myself for this task until the opportunity came when the Logos Company purchased a larger ship and asked me to join the project with my family,” he tells JIS News.
“When I see the long lines of people waiting to come on board and observe them making use of the facilities and educational opportunities and seeing how much more we can do with the ship, I feel very excited about that,” Captain Colenbrander says.
He says that the ship has impacted positively on the thousands of persons, especially students that have come on board and those that had been visited in their homes and communities.
He says that the 27-day stay in Montego Bay was very busy but also very fulfilling. “We have seen lots and lots of adults as well as school kids coming to the ship. It was good to see persons looking happy with their purchases and seeming to have had a real good and happy time on board. We seem to have had an incredibly large number of school kids, in fact I believe that they were more than we could handle or manage. I gather that they were all very excited and I feel that all the work and efforts on the part of my crew were worth it,” he says.
“I enjoy our stay in Montego Bay very much especially our visits to the beach. The local food was very good and this is truly a beautiful country,” Mr. Colenbrander adds.
The Logos Hope docked at the Rockfort pier in Kingston on February 17, where it will remain until March 23. By the time it leaves the island, it would have visited some 1,350 port in 158 countries and territories and welcomed approximately 40 million visitors.