As you may recall, Easter on board the Africa Mercy is quite a special occasion. You can read about my experience last year on this post. This year was similar, but one big difference was the production of Godspell. A few weeks ago, Chaplaincy announced that the ship would be putting on a production of the famed 1970s musical for Easter and that anyone interested should sign-up. I had my 15 minutes of fame back in elementary school, when I was in several church musicals (Angels Aware and Sending Out Love, anyone?), so I expressed an interest to help with a more behind-the-scenes element. It was soon decided that I would be in charge of props and costumes. Godspell is basically a crazy, 1970s "hippy-fied" retelling of the book of Matthew. In the original movie, there is a lot of bright colors and tie-dye and bell-bottom jeans and afros...you know, all that stereotypical 1970s stuff. For the sake of making the production more relatable (read: not scaring away the non-Americans who probably lived a very different decade), I translated the crazy costumes into paint-splattered garments. It was a bit time-consuming, but the end result was totally worth it. I found old clothes (shirts, a skirt, scrubs, etc.) in the ship's Boutique (our free, thrift-store-esque dumping ground) and covered them in acrylic paint.
My costume helper, Brenda, also did a fantastic job making special outfits for Jesus, Judas, and John the Baptist, as well as special prop costumes. The show was one night only, on Good Friday, and we had a packed house! There was a lot of laughter, so I think it's safe to assume that everyone enjoyed themselves.
Saturday night a group of us went out to eat to a local restaurant called Greenfield's. One of our friend's, Amy, parents were visiting, so with them as the guests of honor, we filled up on delicious, brick oven pizza in the airy outdoor courtyard of the restaurant. Greenfield's is one of my favorite places here in Lomé and I plan on going back at least once more before I leave.
On Sunday morning, I got up early (5:30!) for the sunrise service on Deck 8. Despite still being dark outside, the air was thick and humidity hung in the air. The crowd was definitely large than last year and we spent about an hour in worship as the sun came up and lit up the port. Workers in the next bay over gathered in a small cluster to see what was going on and they were soon singing and dancing right along with us! After going back in side, friends and I got together during the coffee and snack hour and shared some blueberry coffee cake that I had made the day before. Then I ironed my clothes, took a quick shower, and went to the International Lounge for main Sunday service. We opened with the customary ship responsive call of "Christos Anesti!"..."Alithos Anesti!" which is Greek for "Christ is risen" and "Truly, He is risen!" Then we sang traditional Easter hymns like "The Old Rugged Cross," "Christ the Lord is Risen Today," "When I Survey the Wondrous Cross," and " I love these older hymns and they were a welcome treat, contrasting nicely with our usual, more contemporary song selections. The service also included Communion, the children's choir, and the adult bell ensemble.
My favorite part, however, was at the end, when about 40 crew members went up front, each representing a language or nationality on board. They went down the line saying "Christ is risen," in their native language or dialect. It was incredible to see all of the diversity on the ship represented in such a simple way. Isaiah 14:26-27 says "This is the plan determined for the whole world; this is the hand stretched out over all nations. For the LORD Almighty has purposed, and who can thwart him? His hand is stretched out, and who can turn it back?" It never ceases to amaze me that the Africa Mercy actually functions. If you look at all that it has going against it, then it really logic would say it shouldn't work. A crew of nearly 40 different nationalities and even more languages? Different cultures, customs, and practices, living and working together in a 500 foot long metal box? Delivering first-world medical care in the forgotten regions of the world...for free? The world says that the ship should not work, but God says differently. As the passage states, his hand is outstretched and no one can change that! His hand covers all nations; even those that the world has forgotten, He has not missed one second.
After church, we gathered to take some photos and then we got in line for EASTER BRUNCH!
Me and my buddy (and occasional shadow) Savannah, also known as "Small Small"
Group jump shot
This year, the dining room had two lines: one for the "BR" of brunch and the other for the "UNCH" of brunch. We had bacon, egg bake, home fries, bacon-wrapped figs, baked ham, baked pasta, mashed potatoes, meatballs and brown gravy, baked pasta and more. Then there was the infamous table overflowing with fresh fruit, breads, cheese, cookies, and cupcakes. There were even caramel-covered apples! The galley team definitely went out of their way to provide with a feast...I didn't eat the rest of the day after I finished!
On Easter Monday, it is a ship tradition to have the Easter Open Cabins. People volunteer to open up their cabins to the crew and serve special snacks. You can meander throughout the ship in the evening, going from cabin to cabin (10 participating cabins in all) and just mingle and snack with the other crew. This year, I made it to 7 of the 10 and ate plenty of hors d'oeuvres.
It was hard to shake off the four-day weekend and get back into the work week, but we all managed to do it. Thank goodness it is almost the weekend again!