It looks like the gypsy blood has been passed on to yet another generation. My 19 year old niece, Emily, left today on what might very well become the adventure of a lifetime. She plans to spend the next two years serving on the missionary ship, MV Doulos. Following a ten day conference in the Netherlands, she’ll join the ship at Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia. We’re not certain where the next two years will take her but the ship is scheduled to spend the remainder of this year visiting Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand.
Emily isn’t the first of her family to set foot on the Doulos. Before she or any of her five siblings were born, her parents, my sister, Linda, and her husband, Jeff, spent time serving on both Doulos and her sister ship, Logos.
Originally launched in August 1914, the Doulos is recognized by the Guinness Book of Records as the world’s oldest active ocean-going passenger ship. Originally a freighter, she was converted into a passenger ship in 1948 and in 1952, further remodeling transformed her into a first class luxury liner. In 1977, she was sold and altered once again. Renovations included the removal of the swimming pool to make room for a covered book exhibit.
The name, Doulos, is Greek and means bond servant or slave. Volunteers on board seek to serve God and the nations they visit. We aren’t sure yet what Emily’s role will be but, according to the ship’s mission statement or purpose, “Doulos visits port cities throughout the world, supplying vital literature resources, encouraging inter-cultural understanding, training young people for more effective life and service, promoting greater global awareness, providing practical aid and sharing a message of hope in God wherever there is opportunity.”
Known for her floating book fairs, she also carries donated books to schools, libraries, colleges, churches and universities in developing countries. Conferences and workshops are held on board and Doulos volunteers engage in a wide variety of relief projects on land including constructing orphanages, building shelters for the victims of natural disasters and distributing medical aid, food and supplies where needed.
Over the years, Doulos has visited over 100 countries and more than 20 million visitors have been welcomed on board. Over the next two years, not only will Emily learn to live in very close quarters with an international family of volunteers, she will also see many new and exciting places and rub shoulders with people of many different cultures. I have no doubt that it will be a time of great personal and spiritual growth. What an exciting opportunity!