By Joshua Chan
My name is Joshua (the guy wearing the headphones around the neck). I’m 18 and attending PJEFC. While working part-time and thinking about what course to pursue in college, my parents encouraged me to apply for the Doulos Hope STEP program. Curious about missionary work on a ship that cruises globally, I decided to apply for the program after seeking advice from my pastors. Thanks be to God, I was accepted after a round of virtual interview. What a great opportunity to gain a new experience!
On the 2nd day of my program, I was placed in the galley department – similar to a kitchen. I was mainly responsible for cleaning the dining area, washing cutlery and dishes and refilling condiments and drinks. One of my many highlights of working on board was when we had a few extra pairs of hands to help with cleaning up after dinner, which was the hardest part throughout the day as we not only have to clean the dishes but make sure everything is clean and tidy before we leave. Normally the galley would only have 3 people cleaning up at night, which meant calling it a night at 9 p.m. However, on those nights when we had extra help, we finished cleaning up at 7:30 p.m. sharp which gave me more time to rest. Nevertheless, cleaning up was fun as we learned how to dance a particular dance that was known on the other OM ship – Logos Hope.
Serving in Doulos, I met people from other countries. So, another highlight was when I brought two of my fellow shipmates, a Canadian and a Zambian, for supper after our work. Since we were in Penang, known for very good food, I took them to Karpal Singh Drive. I brought them to Family Mart to try the tom yum-flavoured oden. They were awed by the tasty food. Our journey of good food continued when I took them to McDonalds. My Canadian roommate was perplexed that the McDonalds in Malaysia was different from the McDonalds in Canada because of the fried chicken on the menu.
Another highlight was the time when the ship’s air conditioning system broke down for a few days!!! That was truly the worst few days for me. Imagine working in the kitchen without air conditioning! I was sweating like I had run a full marathon and gone swimming in the sea as my clothes were drenched in my sweat. It was so hot that I had to take many breaks throughout my shift and bathed several times a day. As I was working in the dishwashing area, I had to work near a heat spewing machine that let off steam from temperatures that went up to 160℉. It was so bad that I could squeeze out an entire cup full of my sweat from what I was wearing. My usually cold cabin was hotter than the galley, so my roommate had a brilliant idea of sleeping outside on the bow of the ship. Our suffering turned to joy as we slept blissfully in the breeze outside the cabin.
As I reflect on the times I spent in the program, God taught me to be hardworking (Proverbs 10:4-5). I have been slacking off a bit during my time at home, and was getting lazy in helping with the house chores like washing the dishes, mopping the floor, vacuuming the floor and cleaning in general. Being put in the galley helped open my eyes to see I had not been helping out around the house and I should not burden others.
Another lesson from God was stepping out and stepping up. The pandemic lockdown had impacted me badly as I had slowly started to shut myself off and become more introverted. I still am one now, but I am slowly opening up and making more friends. I thought that I would only be able to make 4 or 5 friends on the ship, but it turned out to be more. Working with friends was fun, but there were always some who were challenging to work with. And God said… learn to accept them. That meant being patient with them. I am truly grateful that God had brought the Zambian friend I met on the ship. He found joy doing anything, even washing dishes and throwing the trash bags – totally opposite of me (LOL). Through him, God gave me hope and joy and led me out of the “lockdown” mood that had plagued me for 2 years.
Above all, the most important thing God taught me is to have faith in Him. In my devotion during the STEP program, I read the book from George Verwer, The Revolution of Love – moulding our lives to mirror God. It’s a very good devotion book. From little faith and helplessness, my faith started to grow deeper when I knew His divine love more. I realised that the more I have faith in God, the better I am to live like Christ in a sinful world where there are many false teachings.
Completing the STEP Program is a new milestone. Next, I will prepare myself for my new life in college.
Reminding myself with this Bible verse:
“Whatever you do, do it from the heart for the Lord and not for people. You know that you will receive an inheritance as a reward. You serve the Lord Christ.”
– Col 3:23-24
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