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

The sea like Covid 19 has taken its toll

Welcome to this Fall edition of ‘Ship to Shore’ which as the title suggests seeks to share with you the story of the seafarer and to bridge the gap that exists between those who work at sea and those of us who live our lives on the land. I took this picture of this ship towards the end of September 2020 and as you can see it has been through a lot and the storms have made their mark. This picture really spoke to me of the effect that Covid-19 has had on seafarers and gives me the opportunity to share how the Mission has responded and what shape we are in now. If you cast your minds back to the lockdown in BC in March 2020 everything came to a halt and in the interest of safety we closed our centres. My Chaplain colleagues and I were determined not to abandon the seafarers but rather and this developed as time went on,visit with the seafarers from the top of the gangways with masks etc . We put together ‘care packages’ made up of chocolate, chips, popcorn,stickers, a thank you message, prayer cards and other material offering guidance and encouragement.As the months went by the strain on seafarers increased, contracts which are on average 8-10 months became 1 year, 14 months and even 17 months as borders closed. The stress was made worse by them not being permitted to go ashore . Seafarers spoke of it being like a prison.Those who did get to go home were faced with up to 1 month in quarantine esp. in the Philippines and India.A real concern now is the safety onboard as fatigue and stress sets in.The Mission was receiving more cries for help to be able to go home, for groceries and every day items like phone chargers. The coordinated response to the plight of seafarers brought the Mission into closer working partnership with the ITF (International Transport Federation) and ultimately the formation of a ‘Vancouver Port Welfare Committee’ made of those with a stake in the welfare of seafarers to work to provide good shore based facilities for seafarers.This committee has been working to produce guidelines that assist seafarers right to go home and to shore leave, to put pressure on those with the influence be it the shipping company, the captain, the port, the local or national government. The result is that some seafarers are visiting our centres which reopened in July with all the precautions in place. There are more crew changes but as with shore leave it has a long way to go. Covid 19 has made it necessary as a Mission to look at what we do and how we do it and so we are reviewing our Strategic Plan.Like the ship in the picture it was time for a refit, a good paint job so we can continue to fulfill our care of the seafarer. We see the need to provide more onboard services such as shopping online as well as improving how we communicate with the seafarers via different forms of social media. Many of the seafarers I continue to meet look tired and yet they remain resilient , putting on a brave face because they are out there providing for their families.They have also been a saving grace in that when we went into lockdown it was these men and women of the sea who were a life line in keeping the supplies we needed coming.The crisis as with Covid 19 is not over and likely won’t be for a while yet so please keep the seafarers and the Missions work in your prayers and enjoy the rest of this News-sheet. For those who go down to the sea in ships God protect them.Peter Smyth Senior Chaplain, Port of Vancouver,BC

Ukrainian Cadet(L) 1 year service and Bosun (R) 50 years service! ‘. ‘The beginning and the end’
Vincent NG our intern has been a wonderful blessing to the seafarers esp. the Chinese with whom he can converse in Mandarin and Cantonese.

Change at the Mission- In October the internship of Vincent NG came to an end. Vincent has shown great dedication to the seafarers and esp. the Chinese. Vincent has also expanded our support of the seafarers coming to Port Moody. We also are preparing for the move of Chaplain Ernst DeVries of the Christian Reformed Church and wife Winnie to be with family in Alberta. Ernst has been serving the seafarers for many years by bringing fresh vegetables, bread and other goodies to the ships as well as offering comfort and encouragement and in more recent years working in the Roberts Bank Seafarers Centre. Ernst has always been willing to help the seafarers in whatever capacity. We pray for God’s continued blessing on Vincent and Ernst in the knowledge that there will always be a gangway waiting for them with a seafarer happy to see them.

Congratulations to Miranda a former intern at the Mission to Seafarers in Vancouver who is moving back to London to join the Community of St. Anselm at Lambeth Palace! The Community of St. Anselm is ecumenical and focuses on prayer, study, and service. Miranda was selected from hundreds of applicants to live there from January-August 2021 alongside 15 other young people from across the world for a year of silent contemplation, service work with London-based charities, and theological study. Community members live by a rule of life that is designed to create a strong spiritual foundation and equip them to live lives of integrity.

Cycle for Seafarers 2020

Cycle for Seafarers 2020 - due to Covid 19 the organizing committee had to be adaptable and so we did not hold the cycle event as before on a given day with a BBQ of appreciation but encouraged people to get out and cycle over the summer wherever they were and raise some funds for the Mission.The skills of the committee members in drawing up posters, obtaining corporate sponsorship, getting the word out made it a successful summer culminating in some riders heading out from the Waterfront Centre on Saturday 29th August on what would have been the day of the cycle.A big thank you to everyone who supported the cycle with the final total raised by both individual and corporate donations being a wonderful $45,000.

The Canadian Government has partnered with other stakeholders including Welfare organizations like the Mission to Seafarers to support seafarers in the formation of the National Welfare Board.Click the following link to read the official announcement https://www.canada.ca/en/transport-canada/news/2020/11/transport-canada-and-marine-stakeholders-establish-the-seafarers-welfare-board.htmlorm

Looking for a guest speaker to lead a webinar, preach online on a Sunday or another time then the Rev’d Peter Smyth, Chaplain to the Seafarers in Vancouver would welcome the opportunity to speak about the seafarers and the response of the Mission esp. during this time of Covid 19. If such an opportunity is there to connect online then please do get in touch.The Mission to the Seafarers is a ministry of the Diocese of New Westminster something for people to know about and take part in with the support of the seafarers gratefully received.

Click on the link below to listen to a recent webinar hosted by the Philippine Consulate General in Vancouver at which the Mission’s Senior Chaplain the Revd Peter Smyth spoke on the subject of Ship to Shore’ -Our Care of the Seafarers. https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=2767237910269139&id=100009488718911

The divider in the Waterfront minivan used to transport seafarers complete with plastic window.

Partnerships are vital to the effectiveness of the Mission in assisting seafarers and one such partner is Lighthouse Harbour Ministries with a seafarers centre on the Fraser River and the N.Shore in Vancouver. The divider in the picture above was graciously made at no cost by Ray Hanna from Lighthouse and all of us at the Mission want to thank him for his generosity. May God continue to bless our partners in ministry.

Christmas at Sea Appeal 2020 is going ahead-Just as the Chaplains have visited the ships throughout the year from the gangway they will do so again this Christmas to show support for the seafarers.We are aiming to put together at least 1200 gift bags with items such as toques (made or bought), socks, soap,toothpaste and toothbrushes, shampoo or body wash,calendar,souvenir,chocolate,sticker, card, devotional leaflet. All donations would be gratefully received at our Waterfront Centre 604 253 4421 as would monetary donations details of which you can find below.Whatever you do please do it safely. In gratitude for your care of the seafarers.Do call us if you have questions.

WANTED - Jigsaws and puzzle books. Covid 19 has kept seafarers onboard and they are looking for things to do.

It makes a difference’ from the Mission to Seafarers regional director of Latin America the Rev. Ian Hutchinson Cervantes, located in Panama about a visit to the ship MSC Vidisha R " A good conversation was had with Keshav the Deck Cadet who made the connection when he saw the Flying Angel symbol on my Hi-Viz vest and went on to speak very highly of the MtS centre in Vancouver and the warmth of welcome received in Seattle. He was so grateful to have had the opportunity to go ashore and walk on land. It was the first time he and his crew mates had stepped ashore in 8 months. He liked the centre very much indeed and said most of the crew was able to go ashore, do their shopping at the centre and enjoy being in a good, welcoming and safe space. He was clearly touched by the fact that the volunteers went out of their way to fetch them and transport them to the centre."What this short paragraph does not capture or communicate was the depth of feeling with which he spoke or the sincerity that underlay his expression of gratitude. Whatever is being said about centres (cost, viability, etc) those that are open and able to welcome seafarers are offering these seafarers an invaluable "oasis”.

A tree donated to the crew in 2019 made all the difference when away from family.

50 years and going strong- Our partners in caring for the seafarers the CRC (Christian Reformed Church) are celebrating 50 years of ministry and to find out more click on the following link http://marereport.namma.org/index.php/2020/09/21/a-50-year-commitment-ministry-to-seafarers-vancouver/

Lest we forget’ those who go down to the sea in ships’ http://marereport.namma.org/index.php/2018/11/07/remembrance/

Please pray for: A Filipino seafarer whose mother and a Myanmar seafarer whose sister died from Covid 19 while they were onboard.The seafarers on a ship from Madagascar and Samoa for 19/20 months when contracts are 9 months that they will get to go home.The Vietnamese and Myanmar seafarers going home to see their new baby.That shipping companies will see the importance of and so provide seafarers with Wi-Fi onboard esp. during Covid 19 when life is so much harder. For Shirley and Al and all others needing held up.

VOLUNTEERS - Thank you for all you do in using your different skills to make what we do together for seafarers possible. Shirley,Victor,Peter,Denis,Evelyn,Janet and Bill,Douglas and the people in churches and elsewhere who coordinate the gathering of items for the Christmas Appeal and other times of the year. To one and all you are a blessing to the seafarers. If you are reading this and would like know how you can volunteer including from your own home get in touch and ask for the Rev’d Peter the Senior Chaplain.

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