Things that make Volunteers Feel Good

by Joyce King, volunteer Watch Keeper

It takes very little to make volunteers feel good about what they do - mostly just a small inkling that what they are doing is being appreciated for what it is - a hand held out in friendship.

Like the seafarer from one country which does not accept religious teachings, who looked longingly at a Bible published in his own language.  I told him that it was free and he could take it if he wished, but he did not have to take it if he did not wish to do so.  I put the bible down near where he was and was most gratified to see that it quietly disappeared.

Or the Filipino seafarers who visited near Christmas time.  One batch of them helped to put the Christmas tree up and then put the lights on it.  The next batch finished the decorating - both had tons of fun doing it.

One seafarer wanted to get in touch with one of his children who was shortly to be confirmed.  We put him in touch and when he came back into the lounge he was grinning ear to ear.  It makes you happy when you see smiles like that.

When a spanking new Swedish ship visited I met a young woman who was the cook on board.  She wanted to go to a grocery story but was riding a bicycle.  I spoke quite firmly to her about keeping as well off the roads as possible.  I had heard of a young person who was cycling on a highway out west and got sucked under a transport and killed.  I did not want this to happen to her.  Nevertheless I showed her how to get to the Superstore and off she went.  When she returned she knew what I meant about the roads but still wanted to see the city.  I made arrangements to pick her up the next day.

She came with three really young men, not much more than boys, in tow.  I took them all over the city sightseeing and then dropped them off so they could do some shopping.  Their ship left early the next day.

Imagine my surprise when I found a basket of Swedish goodies waiting at the gate.  Coffee, cough drops, candy, biscuits cookies even a bit of caviar - all to thank us for the visit.    It goes to show how much they appreciate anything that gives them a change of scene.  They get so tired of being confined aboard their ships working with the same people day in, day out. 

Finally there was the Russian who was looking at one of our Russian language bibles.  "These," he told me "are written in old Russian and not in our newer language.  My mother would really love to have one like this though" he said.  When I told him that he could have the bible he could not get over the fact that it was a gift.  He took the bible and tucked it away and I could see he was thinking of his Mother at the time.

Usually when a seafarer shows curiosity about a Bible I let them know that they are free, then I just put the bible on the table.  Nine times out of ten, they quietly pick them up.

I've had lots of fun.

Mission to Seafarers: Port of Thunder Bay Home Page