30 April 2007

Israel ~ Oct/Nov 2006

After being at anchor for two days we arrived in Israel at the Port of Ashdod on the 6th of October.
We spent several of our off days in the town of Ashdod. I loved going to the market and getting fresh fruit or just spending my time on the beach. It was pretty cool to be swimming in the Mediterranean.

(Half the Grace Crew)

Kris, Bill, Mr Rob, Josh, Rebekah, Baby Ruth, Danette, Debi, Carla, Murray, Captain Jake, James, Tim, Daniel, Nate, Sherrey, Duffey, Nichole, Lil Chris, Jeff, Dennis, Betty and Wally.

That was taken in Jerusalem overlooking the city and also the Dome of the Rock. The Dome is pictured above but hardly visible.

(Debi, Jeff and I on a bus)

We had a tour bus and tour guide Moshe, that took us to several of the popular places in Israel. Our first stop was in Capharnaum, the town of Jesus. We were able to see the synagogue and the
Octagonal church which was build on top of the House of Saint Peter.

We drove through Meggedo, which is where the battle of Armageddon is to take place. It was quite smaller than I ever expected.

(Loaves and Fish)

Next was the Church of Heptapegon also known as the Church of Multiplication, this is where the mosaic art of the famous Loaves and Fish are found.
The Mount of Beatitude was the next stop. This is the mount in northern Israel where Jesus delivered the Sermon on the Mount. It was pretty cool just being there and having Nate read several chapters in Matthew where the sermon Jesus gave was found.

The Sea of Galilee. We had the opportunity to sail on a replica of the disciples fishing boats. I had always imagines the sea of Galilee to be massive, I mean you read in the bible how they had all these storms and they were afraid. I just pictured it to be a fierce body of water. It turns out the circumference is only about 33miles. It was so small, just a freshwater lake.

The Jordan River. It looked like a creek. I am still just amazed at how small the bodies of water are. There were a couple of people from our group that were baptized, but I figured once was probably all that I needed.

The Garden of Gethsemane. There were some pretty impressive olive trees there, some of them were so massive I think they had to have been around in Jesus' time. You could also see the Golden Gate from the garden.

I imagine by now that you are thinking you're reading a history book and not really hearing anything about any experiences I had. So much happened it would take years to try and write it all down. So instead of really getting into anything I will just keep it kind of light.


Where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found.


(Some stones in the Masada fortress)

This was my favorite place! I had never heard of Masada until I actually went to the top of this mountain. Let me tell you a little story if you don't already know it.

Masada became famous for it's significance in the first Jewish-Roman war (Great Jewish Revolt). A siege of the fortress by troops of the Roman Empire led to a mass suicide of the sites Jewish defenders when defeat became imminent.
Herod the Great fortified Masada between 37 and 31BC as a refuge for himself in the event of a revolt.
16 April 73BC the rampart they were building was complete, allowing the Romans to finally breach the wall of the fortress with a battering ram. When they entered the fortress however, the Romans discovered that it's approximately 1000 defenders had set all the buildings but the food storerooms on fire and committed mass suicide rather than face certain capture or defeat by their enemies.

I had never heard a word about this place before seeing it, but for some reason it sticks in my head as a very peaceful place. I don't know how it could be peaceful with the history behind it but I have very good memories of being up there.

(Debi and Danette. Look Mommy Mom! No Hands!)

The Dead Sea. I had also never heard you could float so well in the Dead Sea before getting to Israel either. I educate myself by traveling around :D. It was so cool to swim in but burned like heck. It is about 30% salt! I will probably be wrong with this number but I believe the percentage in the ocean is 3.5% salt. You can just imagine how well you could float. It was so much fun!
(Debi and Danette again)
Hezekiah's Tunnel. This was my second favorite place that I saw. Hezekiah's Tunnel is in the City of David just outside Jerusalem.
Susanna took me with Debi, lil Chris and Nate to Jerusalem. I had three people tell me that God wanted to tell me something and Susanna said she woke-up in the middle of the night and felt like she was supposed to take me to Jerusalem.
So here I am in Jerusalem waiting for God to strike me with lightening or something and give me this great life changing message. I spend all day praying and not hearing a thing. By the time the day was about over I was getting really frustrated with God. I didn't understand why He wasn't speaking to me.
About the last thing we did that day was walk through Hezekiah's Tunnel. It's pitch black so you obviously couldn't even see your hand in front of your face. I stayed pretty far back from the group and just walked behind them with my light off. I started to singing worship songs and just listen. That day I didn't get any wise words from above but I knew that God was there with me. I knew that He didn't have to say anything but that He would never leave me or would have me go though any trials without Him. That He was there holding my hand and that everything in life would work out even if it didn't feel like it.
....That's my story....
After we were finally allowed to off load our cargo it "only" took three weeks. It was so cool to get to know and work with the Israeli longshoremen. I had a lot of fun.

(Danette, Debi, lil Chris and a guy from a Turkish ship down the pier.)
We had a party on the Grace for the wounded soldiers of Israel. My best friend Debi and I were able to give out flowers to all the ladies who came aboard. Everyone was so sweet and I had so much fun. We had Jewish dancing on hold #3 and Debi was so happy to be able to finally dance with all the Israelis. I didn't join in but I had a blast watching.
This trip was completely different from any other because it is illegal to share Christ unless you are specifically asked about it. Our main focus was to deliver the cargo and let the Jews know that they are loved and we're behind them. We were there for a total of 40 days and I had so many experiences I will never forget.

Canary Islands ~ Voyage West ~ Nov/Dec 06

On the return voyage from Israel after anchoring off Malta for two days, we had to alter course toward the Canary Islands for engine repair and crew change. We were there for 10 days with a lot of drama. I'm not sure if I can give all the details so I will just tell of the fun times.

(Kris P looking through the engine cylinder)

I love the picture above. Kris P praying in the engine room. It was the story of our time in Tenerife. Every waking moment we were in prayer for our ship, the crew and our situation. God always answers, even if it's not how we were expecting.

(In Tenerife, Canary Islands)

This was my favorite street in town. At night they have all the streets lit up with different lights and this was the coolest. Pictures never do any justice but it was so beautiful.

Mr Hatt and Mr Trice took Debi and I out for dinner before they left, and I actually ate caviar for the first time. After fishing in Alaska and having the guys squish eggs out of the salmon, its just not something that interests me. A delicacy? I don't understand. We did have a good time and were able to see more of the town.

(De Tenerife)

Geoff, James, Jonathan and I hiked nearly to the top of this mountain to get a good look at the town from afar.

I was able to celebrate my 21st birthday in the Islands. I was working all day so didn't get to get off the ship; but the galley made Kristin (who's birthday is the same as mine) and I both a cake and we had candles. :) It was the best birthday I can remember having in a very long time. We of course aren't allowed to drink alcohol on the ship, so the next best thing was a pink Gatorade I was given.

(Plotting our position as Officer in Training)

Two of our officers flew out from De Tenerife leaving us with one remaining. Captain Stan, David, Dess and Joel flew in to sail with with us the remaining portion of the voyage. Capt. Stan was our Chief Mate and I was able to stand a watch as officer in training. I LOVE sailing, but on the way home talk about the stress on the bridge. The first night as officer I threw up the whole 4 hours I was on watch. Thank God that 23 days later (after mooring in Lake Charles) the stress had worn off.

(Bow of the Spirit of Grace)

02 January 2007 we arrived home in Lake Charles after four months of... ...Well... ....I don't think there is even a word in the dictionary that would describe those four months. I have the best memories of the Israel trip, yet also the worst. There were so many good time, yet I had many opportunities to grow and cling to God as my help. I thank my Abba for caring enough to give me a good pruning once in a while so that I will be able to bear more fruit. I wouldn't trade one moment I had for the world.

On 04 January I had to say goodbye to my friends and headed "home" to Arkansas. We all experienced so much together on that trip, it was like saying goodbye to your really close family and knowing that you would never see half of them again. Sad doesn't even come close to describing the feeling that day.

I had looked forward to this trip my entire time of being with Friend Ships. Nearly three years. I mean imagine… …The Holy Land… Once you’ve walked where Jesus walked surely you are a better and more spiritual person for the rest of your life... I came to realize that as wonderful as the trip was, that God is just as close to me in America or any other place, as He was in Israel. I don’t look back at the Israel/Canary Island trip as the MOST wonderful memory or experience. But I have just as fond a memories of the hard times in domestics, or being on deck carrying boxes of welding rod up and down a gangway in the middle of the Louisiana summer. The hard times are what have given me character; they have made me into who I am today. I guess what I am trying to say is that yes, the road to get to where you are going is just as or more important as the final destination. And I hope I will always remember that.

Pre Israel ~ At Sea ~ Sept 2006

(Running the Yard and Stay Booms)

I LOVE running the booms on the Grace and working with the rest of the Deck crew. We had so many good time at work and I miss it more than I ever thought I would.

(Tiles in Hold #2)

Loading tiles into Hold #2. I hate to say that when we arrive in Israel after three hurricanes they looked nothing like that. It was a paAAaaiin to get them out of the hold, but we succeeded.

(At Sea)

I love this picture! I can actually hear the sound of the ships engines when I look at it. There is something about being at sea that I can't even try to explain. Everyday there's something new or something different to see. I don't know if I can use the word diversity when talking about being at sea for 34days. But you were either seeing dolphins, whales, plankton, stars, sunsets or rises, waves or swells, rain or sun. I could go on for pages but won't. It was all so beatutiful, I miss that season of my life.

(Morocco, Africa)
I was so excited! We had just sailed across the Atlantic ocean, 26 day out with another week yet to go. It was still dark out, about 0330 in the morning and I was still on watch. I spotted land for the first time in nearly a month. Africa! And it smelled so beautiful, like fresh grass. I could just picture the wildlife and what it must be like to live there. And then to look off our port bow and see Europe!... Spain! The Straight of Gibraltar! I could see the lights of Tangier in Morocco. What an amazing time!
(Rock of Gibraltar)
Going through the Straight of Gibraltar. The Viking boat from Spain met us here and we were able to pick up the parts for our water maker that we needed.
(Looking out)

Standing a watch on the bridge, which I love! Looking for ships and anything else besides water we might run across. You can actually see 20 miles on a good day, I just think that is so cool.

Fishing in Alaska #2 ~ July/Aug 06

(My King Salmon)

In July and part of August I was able to make my second trip to Alaska for another season of salmon fishing. The fishing wasn't that great (as you can see from a half empty tote) but my best friend Amanda and I had a BLAST meeting all kinds of people and doing random things to keep ourselves entertained for the summer.
(Best friend Amanda and I)
I look at this picture and miss fishing so much. I don't know why but I actually enjoyed laying in the fish. And yes now you all know that I really am crazy. We had so much fun!
The season was slow so we had a lot of free time. Amanda and I started our DnA (Danette and Amanda) of God ministry. One day we decided to go to the retirement home, bring bouquets of flowers and sing them Amazing Grace. Well, I like to sing but I'm not good enough to just go out and sing to someone. Well, now Amanda LOVES to sing! And I don't know why God didn't give her the voice of an angel, but she can't carry a note to save her life. (Amanda, I love you so much!!) So anyways, we're at the retirement home and I don't remember if we had sung to some others already or if this was our first one. It doesn't really matter. Anyways, so we knock on a door and this sweet lady finally answers, has her TV blasting and is talking really loud, she's like sorry I can't hear very well! I look at Amanda and I'm like "sing your heart out! She can't hear you anyways." We did an awful job and after we left we just lost it. I still think about it and laugh.

(Only half way up the mountain)

Amanda, Skyler, his little brother and I hiked "Skyline". I don't even remember how high up it was or how long it took us to get there, but it was a hike! Straight up and into the snow. It wasn't a lot of snow but it was flipping cold. I thought I was going to die by the time we had reached the top and then came all the way back down. It wouldn't have been so hard if I hadn't sprained my ankle a couple weeks back; but that gave me just a bit of a challenge on the descent trying to remain on my feet.
I managed to do a pretty good job except for the time Amanda and I were picking raspberries over this hill. I was leaning a bit to far over the embankment and started to fall, it was the slow motion kind; where you think you can stop yourself but you don't succeed. So I fall into the raspberry patch down this hill wondering why Amanda didn't grab my shirt or something. I just look up and ask why she didn't help me or at least try. She says, well, you always recover so gracefully so I was just waiting to see how you got out of this one.

Washington DC ~ June 06

(The White House obviously)

My dearest friend Debi, Geoff and I made a trip from Blacksburg, Virginia to Washington DC. We had such a blast.

Debi and Geoff were dropping me off at the airport so I could get to Alaska, and we all thought it would be fun to spend the day in DC.
So what exactly do you do first? The Gallery?... Sure... So we spend most of our time trying to get into the gallery. It was like a scavenger hunt. Everywhere we went people would send us to some other place to get more documents. The last thing we needed was an orange ticket. So we finally find a guard that can help us. The door is all the way down that hall and on your right, he says... So the only door in sight is the emergency exit. Do we take it? Sure. There is a guy setting out in the middle of nowhere with his umbrella and stand talking on a cell phone. We decided to go check it out and as it would be he has a stack of orange tickets on his little cart thing. While he is talking on the phone he just hands us a ticket. After all that running around he didn't even check our IDs... I had more fun running around looking for all the right stickers and ticket to get into the gallery than to actually sit in the empty room wonder what the heck actually goes on in there.

...We had a lot of fun and thought it was funny how many different places we had to go to get into the House Gallery.

(Debi and the famous orange ticket. Notice also the sticker she is wearing)

Almost to Arkansas ~ June 06

(Andrews car)

After we returned from Haiti/Jamaica, my friend Andrew, Sarah and I got in a car and stared toward Arkansas. About three hours into our trip a car pulled out infront of us and we totalled Andrews car. Sad story! Andrew and the guy in the other car were fine, Sarah had a good seat belt mark across her chest and I sprang my ankle and hit my head on the windshield. I did however learn my lesson about always wearing my seat belt. And I think the knock on the head helped with my memory problem.... But probably not....

(My very sad ankle)

I wonder how I will ever be able to get back into ballet after all the things I have done to my ankles.

Jamaica ~ June 06

JAMAICA! Fun times! On the return trip from Haiti we stopped in Jamaica for nearly two whole day to shelter from a hurricane. Poor poor us!

Of course everyone was singing the Beach Boys song:

Aruba, Jamaica ooo I wanna take you
To Bermuda, Bahama come on pretty mama
Key Largo, Montego baby why don't we go
Down to Kokomo
We'll get there fast
And then we'll take it slow
That's where we wanna go
Way down to Kokomo........

I has a blast checking out Montego Bay and making the group I was with (Murray, Sarah, Dan and Joel) hike up this hill so that we could actually say we made it further into Jamaica than Montego Bay. Anyways, I thought it would be a great place to watch the sunset also since it was so high up, and as it would turn out we missed the whole thing. All the building were in the way. Sorry guys!
(Joel, Danette, Sarah, Dan and Murray is MIA)

The next day my sister and I spent the whole day in the water. Later we were joined by pretty much the rest of the crew. And man (said with a Jamaican accent) were we red by the time the day was over! Captain Jake, Sarah and I turned out to be the only ones to jump off the bridge deck. What a blast!

(Dolphin in the Caribbean)

And all together now... Oh Yay! Oh Yay! Oh Yay!

Haiti trip #2 ~ May/June 06

(One of my favorite pictures ever)

(Ballet class in the "hospital")

In May I made my second trip to Haiti on M/V MerSea. Sarah (my sister) joined Friend Ships and was able to come with us on this trip. We had three weeks of medical and childrens outreaches. Upon arriving I knew I would be working with the children but had no idea I would be put in charge of the girls children's ministry, I couldn't have done it without my sister. At the beginning of the day I was able to give a short ballet class to the Haitian girls, this of course was very special to me because before I joined Friendships I wanted to join a dance ministry but couldn't find anything that seemed to suit me. I had no idea almost three years later I would be teaching in a foreign country. Childrens ministry was a lot of work with sometimes over 200 children, but all the hugs, kisses, laughter and smiles make me want to do it a thousand times more. God has giving me a special love and burden for the Haitian people that I haven't felt for anyone else.

(Sarah, Jerry and I off loading buckets of rice)

(Sarah and I with our BEAUTIFUL children)

While we were in Haiti, for lunch the galley girls would make soup for the patients and some other food for the crew and the Haitian men working on the hospital that was being built. My sister Sarah and I worked with the girls doing bible stories, teaching ballet, playing games, giving out cereal and teddy bears and doing other things. This one day Murray did a story for us because we didn't have one prepared. It was the story of the fish and the bread. (John 6:1-.15) How God was able to feed the whole crowd with just two fish and five loaves of bread. We told the story to nearly two hundred children and then went on to games. A couple of the ladies from the food department came and told me they were going to get about 10 of the smallest girls and feed them because they had a little leftover from lunch. So they went and were fed. When they still had some more food left, they came and got about 15 more. Still more food so they came and got about 30 more kids. After this happened a couple of times we put them all in the food line and were able to fed every single one of them, some of them twice. There had to have been at least 200 kids. And there was still food left! God is so amazing! This could have happened any other day, but it didn't, it happened the day we told the story of the fish and bread. God is so amazing. ...That is just one story of how amazing God is.

Miss Sophia! The sweetest little girl I have ever met in my entire life. If she didn't have a family I would adopt her in a heartbeat. I love and miss her so much!

Hurrican Katrina ~ Sept/Oct/Nov 05

(damage in New Orleans)

(damage in New Orleans)

In September, October and part of November I was in Gretna/New Orleans, Louisiana area with Friend Ships for Hurricane Katrina response. I was asked to be Chief Steward of the two ships we sailed over, Hope and MerSea. It was a great growing experience but I wouldn't want to do it again. While in Gretna we (as-in the other people besides myself) went door to door to every house in the town and wrote down the peoples needs and then went back the next day and gave them exactly what they asked for. We had a distribution point in New Orleans, but most of the town was still evacuated. I can't even discribe the devistation.

Also, anyone who needed their roofs temporarily patched would call the mayor and then we would get the list and cover their roof for them with vynal. I spend most of my days working on the MerSea, we had over 800 volunteers come through those three months so I had my hands full. If we had a day where there wasn't anyone arriving to help, Murray would let me out to help Debi and the roofing team tarp roofs.

(pretenting like I am hammering for the picture)

After Katrina, hurricane Rita hit Lake Charles. The Friend Ships crew in Lake Charles evacuated to Gretna with a few staying behind to watch over things at Port Mercy. There wasn't a whole lot of damage but we lost the roof to the helicopter hanger and then a couple of our buildings needed repair. There was a construction team from Washington that came down to help for about a month after the hurricanes, they were such a blessing. Construction really isn't one of my favorites, so I really wasn't looking forward to returning to Lake Charles from Gretna knowing everything that was going to need to be rebuilt. They had most of it finished by the time we returned.

(The Full House ~ Daniel, Debi, Danette, Janna and Jordan)

Fish'n in Kenai #1 ~ July/Aug 05

In July I flew up to the Kenai Peninsula in Alaska to commercial fish for salmon. It was gill net fishing (set net) and lasted about 5 weeks. My best friend Amanda, whom I met at Friend Ships, had fished the season of 2004 and asked if I wanted to fish the 2005 season with her. I arrived in Alaska not really realizing what I was getting myself into. I was not much of the fishing kind of a girl prior to arriving. I think I had caught one catfish when I was a little tyke and had someone else take it off the hook for me. The first day out Amanda showed me how we were to remove the fish from the nets; I thought there was no way I was going to survive the salmon season. After about a week I got used to the fish and gurry and actually really started to enjoy it (and when I say enjoy that word is used very lightly). It was a lot of hard work and we were pretty much fishing around the clock so of course it was very exhausting. I was able to meet some very cool people and make some good friends.

(Amanda, Mark, Bill, Danette, Ryan)

We only had one man over board, but unfortunately it wasn't fatal. No, just kidding. Amanda and I were both freaking out because he ended up at the stern and the prop was still a spin'n. We were able to shut the prop off and the guy back in the boat, then all but one of us had a good laugh.

(Amanda and our first message-in-a-bottle. And our Christmas tree.)

We fish all four tides in the day. But usually the low tide is to low to be able to push our boats out into the water. So we'll push-out and get on our buoy several hour before we can actually pick the fish. Now this leaves Amanda and I with more spare time than should probably be allowed to the two of us. So for entertainment we send out messages in a bottle, decorate Christmas trees, go swimming or something. The tide goes both ways so we were able to make friends with both our neighbors. I won't mention the name of the sight to our port side looking toward the water for fear of them tracking me down and making me tell our Sturman secrets. Just kidding. But anyways, we were able to make some pretty cool friends from our messages and had a lot of fun.

The coolest guy ever, Fred, who is the owner of the fish site, had a big cook-out and we invited the guys from the next site down the beach over. We had a good time and I beat the guys in "tying bowlines the fastest"... Yay, go Danette! (a pat on the back for me)

(Amanda and I in our hott slickers! *Super Staz*)

When the fishing season closed, I went up to North Pole, Alaska and spent a couple of days with my cousins Adam and Kim and their kids Lydia and Ben. It is always good to see them.

Roatan ~ April 05

(Beautiful Island of Roatan)

April 2005 I was able to get on my first international flight and head south to a beautiful island of Honduras. Roatan. Roatan is an island in the Caribbean just off the coast of Honduras. "The Village" is a relief and development program of Friend Ships International.

(The coolest people ever! Ron and Leah)

I had a FABULOUS two weeks there, which I was able to spend on the beach soaking up the sun with my great friends Ron and Leah. Among other thing, they took me zip-lining through the jungle, and then we took a scuba trip with Gary to the claimed second best place in the world to dive. I didn’t think it should qualify for second best; but of course I haven’t been anywhere else except Beaver Lake. The guy we went with, Wolfgang took us to see a sunken ship which was of course the coolest ever and then to explore a cave. I had a great time but found I enjoyed snorkeling more. You're able to see just as much without having to try and equalize your ears.

(Oh yeah baby! Me in my scuba gear.)

The locals hunt Iguanas, so to get them out of the jungle they set it on fire to scare them out. Friend Ships, being the fire department in Roatan, were always having to go and put them out. I was able to go with them several times to help. It was quite an experience and I had a lot of fun. I actually was in such a hurry once that I went in my flip-flops.. That was not a wise idea!

Haiti trip #1 ~ Jan/Feb 05

(Spirit of Grace at sea)

After nearly 10 months of being with the ministry Friend Ships Unlimited I was one among a crew of 38 that were able to make their way to an impoverished and helpless land. January 2005 all lines were cast off and the Spirit of Grace a 344ft, 3805ton vessel made her way through the Calcasieu and unto the open waters. We arrived in Port Au Prince Haiti after six unbelievable days at sea. It was an experience never to be forgotten.

(Haiti from the sky)

In 1804 Haiti was used as a safe haven for slave traders to deal in human beings. The people of Haiti made a pact with satan to gain their freedom and agreed to be bound to his rules for 200 years in return. In the year 2004 this deal with the prince of the powers of darkness ended, now is a time of new beginning for these people.

(A typical day at work)

After Arriving in Port Au Prince we commenced the off loading of the Spirit of Grace and set up a medical/dental clinic in the town of Carrefour. We were able to give the food, clothing and other supplies that were brought to the pastors of local church's, making it possible for them to help their congregation and others in need. While the patients waited in line to see a doctor they were feed, prayed with and able to watch a Jesus film in their own language. I was among the deckcrew back at port off loading the cargo. It took the whole three weeks to finish the off loading process. The reason being, we only had one semi truck to transport the cargo to Carrefour which was over an hour away.