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Ship to Shore SPring 2020

‘For those who go down to the sea in ships’ Psalm 107:23

Mission mandate: ‘To promote and provide for the spiritual, physical and mental needs of all seafarers (Vancouver 2016)

Welcome or as I was reminded when I visited recently a crew from Cuba la bienvenida , to this edition of ‘Ship to Shore’. It aims to share the work of the Mission and to provide you with a window into the lives of the seafarers we serve. Covid-19 has introduced many new things to our lives such as physical distancing, and living in quarantine. I have been listening and reading about how humans are social beings, we need to communicate and to experience touch for the good of our health making these days of Covid-19 all the harder. We are having to adapt and communicate in new ways and it has brought technology to the fore be it for meetings, worship or such as chatting with granny. Seafarers have much to teach us as they live isolated and quarantined lives wrestling with the tension between being onboard for many months in dangerous conditions to support their families and wanting to be at home with them.Covid-19 has only emphasized and added to this with Mission centres needing to close and services to seafarers being reduced or altered. In Vancouver although the centres are closed we have maintained ‘gangway’ ship visits asking crew how they are and if they need anything. One visit led to what you see in the picture above as we worked with the Philippine Consulate to bring comfort items to some crew on a ship who had been onboard for as long as 12 months. Seafarers around the world unable to go home because of travel restrictions are having to sign new contracts and of course remain away from family for longer. Seafarers are not allowed to go ashore due to company policy, Transport Canada rulings and some apprehension.The ship has become as several seafarers have expressed to me a prison. Robert Lewis-Manning, President and CEO of the Chamber of Shipping and Chair of the Mission Board of Directors said “During this pandemic, the challenges of life in a ship are extraordinary. With numerous nations not allowing crew changes and a near shutdown of international airline travel, a significant number of seafarers are unable to return home to their families through normal crew change procedures. As anyone who has spent time at sea will know, we must all come together in a crisis and support each other in all possible ways”. It is why a phone call or gangway ship visit matter. Please hold in your prayers the seafarers, their families and the work of the Mission in the days ahead.Peter Smyth - Senior Port Chaplain

Prayer for Seafarers-Be with Seafarers, Lord, on all their voyages, to cheer them and keep them safe in all dangers. Let nothing afloat or on shore cut them off from you. May they please you in everything they do. Bless all on board their ship, whatever their responsibility. Enable everyone to do their duty. Help them to be good shipmates and bring them back again safely to their homes and to those who long for their return, through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

Check out this link by highlighting and pasting into your browser (i.e. Google) to read about the plight of seafarers unable to go home. https://www.scmp.com/magazines/post-magazine/long-reads/article/3082297/prisoners-sea-stuck-board-cargo-ships-crews-find

Volunteering with the Mission by Peter Goodwin- I first became acquainted with the Mission to Seafarers through my parish, St. James Anglican Church, which previously hosted the annual diocesan Sea Sunday Service and established the Mission to Seamen a forerunner to the present day Mission. When I retired from full time employment and was looking for meaningful volunteer activity the Mission’s Senior Port Chaplain spoke to our congregation encouraging us to come and volunteer. His presentation inspired me to visit and begin what has been approximately 15 years of fulfilling volunteer service to the Mission. While allowing me to engage in meaningful activity it has provided an understanding of the Port and life circumstances of those seafarers aboard ships anchored in the harbour whose work is vital to our economy though largely hidden from sight. For the past few years my chief task has been to make weekly bank deposits and previously I also shopped weekly for food and other items for purchase by the seafarers. Other tasks included assisting with preparing the Christmas gifts distributed to seafarers and in obtaining auction items for the previous annual “Evening at Sea” fundraiser held at the former Cannery Restaurant. Motivating and inspiring me in my commitment to the Mission are thoughts of thanksgiving for the seafarers for what they provide for our daily needs and the lives they lead. Confronted with ongoing challenges and uncertainties in an effort to provide for their families they may be away from home for almost a year if not longer. Some may face adverse conditions while at sea due to ill health, horrific weather and poor if not dangerous working conditions due in part to negligent and uncaring ship management sometimes leaving workers stranded in port with no means to get home. While facing uncertainties modern social media and internet has brought them virtual access to their families which happily they can enjoy when experiencing ‘a home away from home’ atmosphere while visiting the Mission. May they be ever in our prayers especially at this time of Covid 19.

Volunteer - Peter Goodwin
A section of the Roberts Bank Seafarers Centre empty during Covid-19 as seafarers remain unable to come ashore

International Day of the Seafarer : Thursday 25th June 2020. The IMO ( International Maritime Organisation) has designated this as a day to recognize the unique and vital role of seafarers in the global community. If we have learned only one thing from the Covid-19 situation it is the importance of gratitude for what we have and for one another. That gratitude has been raised up for frontline workers, essential personnel who have been working as nurses and doctors to care for the sick, make deliveries, drive buses, operate a till in a grocery store. I also hope that people see the essential role of seafarers who bring us the essentials that we need. As we raise a thank you, bang a pot, press a heart shape or rainbow to our windows let us also do so with gratitude towards the seafarers. THANK YOU SEAFARERS

Highlight and paste the following link into your browser (i.e Google) to watch a brief video of appreciation to seafarers by the IMO (International Maritime Organisation) https://youtu.be/kMlOwfNyzC0onal

Seafarers life onboard in these Covid-19 days.Picture taken in Vancouver following a Chaplains visit.

Cycle for Seafarers 2020 - ‘Joining Seafarers in their Isolation’ To cycle and or to sponsor a cyclist is a great way to show gratitude to seafarers. This year we have had to adapt to the new reality and the committee has decided that the ride will be launched on the International Day of the Seafarer June 25th when you can register to ride. You then have until Saturday August 29th to ride what ever distance you like and we will have some suggested routes as well as the GPS. Sponsorship raised, money donated will be gratefully received hoping that people will have fun outside and become more aware of the plight of and be thankful for seafarers. Further information will be put up on the Mission website shortly www.flyingangel.ca

The Mission AGM was held online for the first time ever on Monday 11th May 2020 and it did add some pep to the meeting.The AGM is a time to make appointments, have elections, present the finances and the budget, give reports and encourage one another for the year ahead.....If you would like a copy of the finances please email m2svancouver@gmail.com. Consider becoming a member and receive a copy of the FAN (Flying Angel News) and vote at the AGM. The $25 membership fee can be paid by Cheque to the Mission to Seafarers or on the Mission website under ‘Donate’. We are grateful to Philan Policar, Christopher Loat and Oscar Pinto for their service on the board and welcome Alexander Novakovic and Terry Duggan. In the coming months an important part of the work of the board will be reviewing and adapting the existing Strategic Plan so that we are effective in our care of the seafarers going forward.

Donations to support the seafarers can be made by; Cheque to Mission to Seafarers. Cash. Credit card- under ‘Donate and Tithely on our secured website www.flyingangel.ca or through the Vancouver Foundation. Always received with our gratitude.

Contact information- 401 East Waterfront Road, Vancouver,BC, V6A 4G9, Tel: 604 253 4421. Email: m2svancouver@gmail.com Facebook: @mission2seafarers Twitter: @MtSVancouver