Monday, April 28, 2008

Deck 8

I really should have posted this yesterday while it was still fresh in my mind. Actually, if I were as tech. savvy as my friend Mary from work, I would have had my laptop in church with me to take notes, and could have written in the moment. My memory is still pretty good, so I think I'll be fine.

We sang Glory in the Highest yesterday in church. You can listen to it here if it doesn't pop into your head. I don't know about the rest of you, but every once in a while a wave of emotion hits me more quickly than I know how to handle. I nearly had to sit down in tears, happy ones, not sad. That's what happened during worship. I love that song. You know how sometimes a song, or a smell, or a taste takes you right back to another time and place? All of a sudden I found myself on Deck 8 of the Africa Mercy. I'm here now, and I know I'm right where I'm supposed to be. I'm not exactly sure why, but that's for my Father to know and me to trust. Sometimes, though, during worship, He takes us back to other sweet times with Him. Deck 8 is one of those times/places for me.

Deck 8 is one of the few places one can go on a ship with 350-380 crew and a hospital full of patients. For single crew members, the only place you can really call your own, is your pillow. Even then, if you're on the bottom bunk, you cabin mates may use it for a sofa. Needless to say, some days you need some alone time. I was sad to realize when I sat down to post this that I don't have any good photos of Deck 8. At the end are a few to try to give you an idea. It's the very top of the ship. There are cranes, storage for old resin lawn chairs, the bridge (where the capt. and officers sail the ship from), extra small freight containers, AC vents, lifeboats, and a lot of machines that look like things that someone with no sailing experience should leave alone. The other thing that is to be found there is a lot of open space and solitude. Especially if you're wise enough to go there around 1 or 2am, you feel like you have the whole ship to yourself. It's a great place to go to pray, sing, be still, read the Word, or listen to your iPod.

At least once everyother day I found time to go to Deck 8 to get away from it all for a little while. During the night you could see the stars, hear the waves, watch the UN guards patrolling the dock (or budding romances that weren't yet ready to expose their relationship to the grapevine;), smell the saltwater, not to mention the funk coming from water in the bay that wasn't fit to swim in. You could also look out over the city. It naturally brought me to prayer, both for the crew and patients in the 7 decks below me, as well as the people of Liberia that I know He loves and wants to draw to Himself.

You don't need to be in exactly the same spot every time to replicate sweet times with Jesus, but when a memory hits you so hard, it's hard to not want to return. Yesterday as we sang, that's where I was. The beauty of Deck 8 is that between the roar of the diesel engines and the wind, I could listen to that song over and over on my iPod, singing as loud as my lungs would take me. Even so, the people on the dock rarely heard, or at least were kind enough not to jump off the dock in misery:) I love to sing in the car and the shower. I love to sing with others too, but it's fun to let it rip when no one else is listening. (I know y'all know what I'm talking about.) More than once one of the ship's Nepalese guards came around the corner of the funnel to find me belting one out all by myself. hehe
This isn't a great picture of Deck 8, but you can see, on the ship on the right, that there is a lot of busyness going on on the top of the ship.

The side of the funnel. Every time I looked at the funnel, I had to think of Loveboat.
The Peet family, from England, was living in the city, and then came to volunteer on the ship. Much later than expected, their pool that they had ordered finally arrived. To the benefit of the crew, it now sits on Deck 8. This is a recent photo of Sally trying it out.

Oh yeah, you can watch some amazing sunsets from Deck 8 as well. I never tire of the beauty of water, clouds and light! Thanks for letting me ramble and reminisce. Hopefully we all can find our own Deck 8 from time to time.


Mary said...

I used to go up on mom and dad's roof to have my deck 8 experiences when I was in high school, I haven't found an equal since then. I'm always on the lookout though and have certainly found places and made use of them while they were available to me. Nothing regular though.

Rosetta said...

Once again, your writing was an inspiration to me! Thanks for sharing your experiences at church and about Deck 8. I know the feeling of emotions coming when least expected. One advantage of living alone in a big house like I have for the past 12 years-I can sing, pray, cry, holler or whatever, whenever...and I have! My "Deck 8" has been in the living room in the other part of the "big house"-away from the phone, door bell and other distractions. Thanks for sharing from your heart.

Nicole said...

I am with ya girl on that song! It was a great worship time on sunday!! I love learning more about you! As a mom my "Deck 8" is wherever I can grab 5 seconds or 15 minutes! Sometimes locked in a bathroom :) or out on our patio at night! Thanks for sharing once again! I am proud of your blogging :) Man whoever encouraged you to start blogging again must know what she is talking about! :)

Sherri said...

I enjoyed reading this beautiful post, Cheryl. You really painted a wonderful picture in my mind and I almost felt like I was there myself.

By the way, you have an awesome voice and those that overheard it were probably thinking that angels were flying overhead. :)

heather said...

Wow Cheryl....Neat post. I really wish you'd blog at least once a week. You encourage me in my own walk. I love to hear about the amazing experiences you had on the Mercy Ship.