In 1991 we started working in Port Elizabeth harbour. We started off with a half-time worker but it has now grown to a full-time post!
We have an office near the harbour where the missionary can store Bibles and other literature, as well as use it to talk to seamen.
Missionary Worker at work
A crackling voice, starting hesitantly and barely finding the right note, starts singing as if by accident, ‘Happy Birthday'. Other, more harmonious voices join the shaky voice and the birthday song sounds joyfully in the dining hall of the ship.
Receiver of the wish is Apolito, a Philippine seaman with a flourish of dark hair and the face of a young boy. He is sitting at the end of a long table. He is holding his knife and fork in either hand. His expression shows a little embarrassment as the other members of his crew delightedly applaud and wish him well. Some shake his hand and others give a hearty shoulder tap.
The chief chef enters carrying a tray boasting a silly orange cake baked specially for the occasion. The cake is presented proudly and for a moment the atmosphere is light and congenial.
Danie is visiting and also receives a large portion of the flame orange cake. A few minutes later Danie gets a brief opportunity to talk to Apolito. Apolito is very grateful that his fellow workers remembered the day, but the more he talks to Danie, the clearer it becomes that Apolito's heart is broken. Today he misses home more than on any other day. He also misses his children and the joyous, excited way in which they woke him on his birthday. He misses coffee in bed and receiving a small, carefully chosen gift from his wife. But, that is the price he has to pay... he will only see them again many months later.
Danie knows that from all the items in his backpack he can put together a nice gift for Apolito. He finds a nice study Bible and music CDs. Yet, the most valuable gift is the prayer that Danie shares with him, praying for him and his family. It does not replace the longing for his loved ones, but Apolito explains that it makes the day more bearable.
Perhaps it does not sound like much, but if all and everyone you love are so far away, a small act like this is worth more than gold.
That is what our donors did again. The donations make small acts possible, but those acts are valued as miracles. Small acts, but enormous gratitude. The men working at sea value that more than anything and we thank you from our hearts for your sincere contributions.