Category Archives: Memories at Sea

The Reader

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Teach me to read you. Just try. :)

Teach me to read you. Just try. 🙂

I want to learn how to read. Put together symbols and weave their meanings to help me understand. I sometimes get impatient. I get discouraged when I make mistakes. Too many signs and too many hints. Still they don’t make much sense. I want to learn how to read.

I know it takes practice. I know it won’t happen in a snap. I know you build this skill in increments. Little by little. Step by step. Like a little kid, I want to learn how to read.  

I wish I can read you – your thoughts, your emotions, your plans. I wish all of yours matches mine. I wish I can tell you like me. I wish I can tell there’s a chance. Maybe after I read correctly a happy thought will come. Then hopefully, I can do more than read. We’ll write stories you and I. So please show me more signs. Teach me to read you. Just try. 🙂

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New Fears for New Year

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Thank You for last year and all the things that happened whether they are good or not. The latter I will just consider learning experiences. 🙂 I know they’re meant to help me get better. There were heartaches and failed expectations. But then on one side, I must say there were more joys and blessings to be grateful for.

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atrium

R98 🙂

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open deck countdown

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atrium drama

It felt different attending the countdown at sea. It’s something new again and I had fun doing it. There were many people partying out loud, dancing and laughing as wild as they can. Everybody’s happy and excited for New Year. New hopes, new dreams, new opportunities. Amidst the noise, the cold, the colors and the smiles, I thought of You and all the plans I have in mind. It must have been pressure melting over me. I couldn’t understand. How I wish I have my family to comfort me, to tell me things will turn out right no matter what. I really needed that. There’s a small fear slowly getting into my nerves – fear of failure, it is. Fear of moving away from something that’s starting to feel like home to me. Fear of trying only to realize in the end it will not work out. Fear of being laughed at because I didn’t make it. Fear of hearing the words “See, I told you. It won’t work.” Fear of waking up in the morning, seeing myself in the mirror and realizing they’re all right after all. Ayayay…..Fear is such an ugly feeling. It makes me freeze and it makes me shake. It leaves my senses in turmoil. But then I also realized, how ironic that despite this ugliness it has, there’s something beautiful in it, too. It makes me pause, it makes me think, it makes me careful. 🙂 You created it for a purpose – to save and to nurture, a door towards something great. As I look back, I began to think how fear had helped me come up with important decisions which had a big impact on the life I have. Some of them didn’t turn out well yet in the end I was happy making it. I learned important lessons from them. So just take a leap of faith. I know You will always be there. You will cushion the ground when I fall. You will dress my wounds when I get hurt. You will walk with me all the way through. Just like what you did to Esther. 🙂

I guess I should not fear “fear” but rather consider it a friend. Welcome it when I see it coming. Its purpose should not go to waste. It’ll make me grow and prosper. I pray that you will give me courage to every day “do things afraid.” To speak up and fight for what I think is right. To smile and to say hello. To be seen and be heard. To forgive and forget. To risk and always take a chance. To try something new each day no matter how small it is. To listen and to believe. To sing and to dance. To be crazy and to look like a fool. To be laughed at. To let others see I need them in my life. To study and learn again and again. To hear a story after sharing my own. To dream more dreams and make them real. To do the hard stuff. To love and to cry. To hold someone else’s hand. These and many more.

Help me open the door. Guide me as I walk through avenues I’m yet to explore. I know that abundance is waiting for me at the end. Help me remember Your words. Be determined and confident. Do not be afraid of them. (Deuteronomy 31:6)

A Christmas Story

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Candies, lollies, cookies. Trees, wreaths, socks. Stars, lights, and presents. Cold air, happy kids and Santa Claus of course. You can’t deny its Christmas.

It’s my second Christmas on board. Happy holiday once again! The lively decorations in every nook and section of the ship is truly a feast for the eyes. But then despite all the works, nothing compares to spending this joyous event with friends and families back home. It becomes more meaningful because you spend it with people you love.

Being busy has in a way its own rewards. One’s too occupied with something, you don’t have time to focus on things that make you sad. Home sickness, for instance. 😦 It’s strange how sometimes this can hit you. It can cut very deep to your core which can be stressful and draining. It can kill your joy and sap your strength. There’s an empty feeling inside, a void which is hard to fill. So thanks to the overtime work! Never mind the glitter I took with me to bed for many nights. In those few fleeting hours, I felt tired yet glad.

Random thoughts were still swimming in my head for days until came Christmas eve. I attended the mass together with some other youth staff before joining the Christmas party in our department. I felt extremely happy I went there to the Marquee for this. The priest’s homily was simple yet moving. For the first time in almost a month of preparation, I realized with new understanding what Christmas meant. The priest did this skilfully by sharing the story of a young boy he knows who has a part in a Christmas play. He was supposed to be one of the many people whom Mary and Joseph asked for a room to stay. They practiced for days and it all went good but then on the final day, the history of Christmas changed. For instead of saying no, he said “Yes there is” and he let the holy family in. 🙂  The priest never mentioned how the story ended. I’m pretty sure the audience were surprised and so did the other cast. But thanks to that small part of the story, a fountain of inspiration was born.

Jesus came many years ago to show God’s love for us. Sometimes in our desire to make Christmas an extra happy event we come up with many things that only blurs our vision of what this day is all about. But when we remove all the fluff and focus on what’s important, it’s really all about him. His mercy, grace, trust, and love. He comforts the lonely and uplifts the spirit of the sad. He forgives the sinners, brings hope to the sick. Yes, He’s all that I need. 🙂

Every day and not just on Christmas, may we never forget to let him in when he knocks upon our hearts. Let’s not get tired of writing our own Christmas story. Thanks for saying yes little boy! Merry Christmas to all.

2nd Christmas @ the Dawn

2nd Christmas @ the Dawn

Slowing Down in Fiordlands

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Happy in Fiorlands with friends

Happy in Fiorlands with friends

I woke up very early with gladness in my heart. Welcome to Fiordlands. What a dreamland!!! Yet despite today’s promise, many times I tried to push away the cellphone alarming beside me. My eyes were heavy. I was hoping to get some more sleep. So ring, snooze, stop. Ring, snooze, stop. I thought it would go on forever. Thankfully it did not. After some time, I was finally able to convince myself to get up.

Without much thinking this time, I bravely went under the shower’s extra cold water. What a way to waken my senses! Good thing after a few minutes the water turned hot. I got dressed and tried hard to set aside the laziness still bugging me inside. And  then the phone rang. It was Ate Mona reminding me about last night’s plans. So I went to the mess to meet Donna and the other girls. We all had a   hearty breakfast. 🙂 Excitedly we gobbled our food. And this was very challenging for someonle like me who takes pleasure
doing things slowly particularly eating.

Right after, off we went to the nearest lift which took us to deck 11. Then we took a short walk which eventually lead us to deck 14, the top deck. Happy we came just in time. There were a number of passengers who were equally eager to see the majestic beauty of Fiordlands. Patiently, we all waited. It was freezing up there. I never felt this cold before. It was way colder than the how it felt the first time I set my foot in Sydney. There’s something about the wind that sends chills all over my body. I contemplated on going back to my cabin to get an extra jacket. But I know I’d be wasting my precious time so I finally decided not to.We walked around the jogging track. New Zealand is such a beautiful place. It was beautiful to me when I went here early this year. It’s still beautiful up to now. It’ll forever be beautiful for me.

Around 6:30 am when we started approaching the giant mountains which look nothing but big chunks of rocks from afar. The thick fog was all over the place blocking our view. But then after a while we witnessed with our very own eyes why this place is considered a treasure. The sun rays slowly unraveling the loveliness of the whole surroundings was picture perfect. Its beauty was priceless. Click, click went cameras here and there. There were so many free smiles to give and model poses to flaunt. Everyone wanted to make a tangible memory of the whole experience.

With this thought in mind we decided to get a better spot. Luckily, Donna’s friend was there and he helped us look for that secret niche hidden somewhere. Down we went to deck 8 forward till we reached the crew pool. And whoa!!! The sight was incomparable. It’ll forever be painted in my head. The bones inside me seemed to stiffen due to extreme cold. Hypothermia!!! But carry on I did just to partake more of this extraordinary event. It was truly overwhelming. There were mountains all covered with green.Waterfalls were there to enliven everything. There were soft clouds kissing the mountain peaks.These giant mountains were covered with pure white snow. We saw sea lions swimming beside the ship much to our hearts’ delights. There were 3 people kayaking to our left side. They looked tiny orange dots free floating amidst the vastness of the ocean’s blue water. Right where I was standing, I had a glimpse of Captain Lupo from the Bridge. Throngs of happy people everywhere.

All these and more. The smallest details were skillfully painted in my head. I must say it helped that Pacific Dawn was moving slowly. We got a clear view of Fiorlands’ impeccable beauty. It brought me peace and it brought me joy. These two feelings were enough to make me overcome the shivers
that tortured me for hours. Peace and quiet yet there’s a charming and grounding joy attached to it. I just needed that. In the stillness of everything I somehow heard a soft voice inside me that whispers just two words – go slow. Feel the movement of the placid waves as they go up and down, gently rocking a weary soul. Listen to the wind’s sweet lullaby. Go slow. Look for pretty things offered. Clear one’s thoughts from worries. Think about many good things to come. Go slow.Give thanks for all graces received. Be happy for the life we live.

Maybe sometimes we should afford to go slow no matter how crazy and fast paced everything is. Only then do see real beauty. Only then do we pay more attention. Only then we find meaningful joys. Thank you for this wonderful day! 🙂

On Break

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Ships have their own language and terminology. This can be exciting but also a real burden for someone new to life at sea. These are just some of the interesting words that were added to my vocabulary last year when I joined Pacific Dawn for the first time. There’s actually a long list but I opted to cut it short.

aft – the rear of the ship
forward – the front area of the ship
bridge – the ship’s command centre
cabin – a compartment for passengers or crew
deck – floor
debark – an abbreviation for the word disembark meaning to land or go ashore from a ship
embark – to go aboard a ship to begin a journey
galley – the ship’s kitchen
gangway – location where the walkway is located to disembark a ship
IPM – in port manning, specific umber of crew members required to remain on board while the ship is in port, in case of an emergency
port – the left side of the ship when looking forward
starboard – the right side of the ship when looking forward

We also have the word dock, which in general use means the structure at which a ship ties up when in port. This word can be used in two different ways. We have what we call dry dock and we also have wet dock. In both cases, the ship is on a stop – having a break, getting fixed, being renewed. The main difference is that in a wet dock, the ship is still on the water while getting made over. For dry dock, on the other hand, the whole ship with its evident size and weight is lifted form the water by  some powerful machines to undergo complete overhaul.

In April of last year up to the second week of May, I personally witnessed how dry dock is done. For many weeks, the majestic cruise ship which is everyday busy went on a much needed break to get a new look. It was tiring for most of us because we’re obliged to have our own share of helping. So from morning til night, we’re all set to work. The crew were delegated to many different sections to perform specific tasks. Lucky for us if we’re given time off. We get to go to the city using the free shuttle on port. And from there, explore some new corners of Brisbane that were hidden from our view before. Funny how for many nights the Queensland library were filled with youth staff aching to have a word with families and friends back home. Thanks to their super dependable free wi-fi. Hehe…

On top of this collective effort by the crew to improve the ship’s condition and appearance, hundreds if not thousands of outside workers were contracted to work on the ship. These people came from different countries and have various expertise. Yet all are striving for the same end. Nothing’s small or big. Every single act is counted.

In less than a month, we were all rewarded. All the hard work paid off. Most parts of the ship were renovated and improved. They were even given new names much to the surprise of the passengers especially the old timers. Only it took a while for old crew including me to get used to memorizing all these. But then I got home weeks after that so in a way I was spared from this additional task.

Being away from the ship for months made me realized a lot of things. Interestingly one of these is that people also need to dock. We sometimes need to stop. There are times in our lives when we’re forced to be on a temporary hiatus, to get away from the daily routine and everyday grind and evaluate the lives we have, make sure it still matches the picture we have in mind. This way we can see what areas need fixing, which parts need changes.

For more than 3 months I found myslelf doing all of these. I was on a break. 🙂 A happy break, if I may add. A fruiful break, too. I got off from the ship and I had some precious times with loved ones and with myself. I must admit I was instantly bothered by the thought of getting broke since I was technically a bum in those times. But after a while, I felt thankful for those days I had which compelled me (more than inspired awww!) to once again contemplate on the things I really want, set a blue print for my dreams so I can make them real one day. Yes, make them real and not just tag them as dreams forever lingering in my head. Incidentally, just like the ship, I didn’t do it alone. I needed other people to do the fixing. I allowed them to work on me as well. It was again a collective effort. There were friends and teachers who helped me along the way.

And so after my “personal dry dock” I really felt ready to start again which surprisingly I was able to do first week of November. After more than 3 months of waiting, I once again headed to the land down under this time more prepared. I already know why I’m going there. I carry with me hopes and dreams which have deadlines to meet. I bring with me enthusiasm and gratitude for many good days ahead. I know that this time my plans will work out for I will not give up on them. And no matter how hard the signal may get, the good Lord will always find a way. 🙂

Proud to Progress

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What to do while waiting? How do you pass the time? These questions I tried so hard to answer in the past weeks. Good thing I found what I needed to find. Yet despite the happy busy days I am now having, I can’t help but remember the months I spent on the ship. It’s been a long journey. The road towards it was richly filled with many different twists and turns. There were surprises, scary moments, trying times, and glorious hours. Having experienced them altogether, made a small part of my life synonymous to one great big adventure. As I ponder on this thought, very clearly I remember the speech I gave in the culminating activity we had for the short course I took with some fellow crew on board. The whole idea was inspired by one of Brother Bo’s talks at the Feast. It’s about doing things afraid”. These very simple yet extremely powerful words inspired me to try and to keep going.  And so I would like to share it.

 

They say that what stands between you and your dreams are your fears. And in order for you to fulfill your dreams you’ve got to have courage.

Many years ago, there was a man who had a dream. He wanted so much to save his people. But it was such a herculean task that it made him feel small. It scared the hell out of him. Yet despite that feeling, he chose to do things afraid. And so with heart pounding and knees shaking, he stood before a vast sea.  He held out his hand over it and the water divided. Soon enough the man and his brothers were walking through a solid ground. They were all lead to safety. And they were all blessed.

Like the man in the story, we too have our own seas to cross. We, too have our own battles to sweat over. And I believe that from the moment we signed our contracts and decided to work here and leave our families behind  we, too chose to do things afraid.

The past six months I spent here on board has been a great experience. It’s a mixture of everything. Some days were happy, others scary and sad. But all days whatever they may be were filled with learning –  from the ship itself and the many parts it has, its doors which look all the same to me on my first day, the stairs and the lifts, where to get the best signal, how to get the best signal, the crashing waves, fighting sea sickness, fighting homesickness. And then the people, people from different countries, working with them and making new friends, the weird accent, my Enlish. And of course the kids, the kids in the centres, making them happy, keeping them safe, writing incident reports whenever they get hurt, the search operations when they’ve gone missing, their parents, handling their complaints,  the hide and seek with them when they don’t want to sign out their kids. Also the dancing which was awkward in the beginning, the costumes, wearing high heels and makeup, wearing TC and Skipper. And then the rules which are so many, the rounds, the drills, MCA beware! 🙂 This Proud training. The life at sea. All these and more. They’re all learning for me.

And so I stand here before you better and wiser. I am very grateful for the opportunity to be here. Surely, in the near future there will be other seas to cross. No matter what, my stay here in Pacific Dawn will always be a memorable stopover. It made me realize I can.

Let us continue to take the step of courage and faith. Let us continue doing things afraid for when we do we grow, we expand, we become better people.

I’m Jennifer, I’m Filipino and I’m proud to progress. May God bless us all!