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Haiti Mission - 2006

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Medical - Honduras 2004

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Relief Efforts  - Hurricane 2004

 

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Mission Reports:

Haiti Mission- January 2005

Medical - Honduras 2004

 

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TO SEE WHAT GOD SAYS IN THE BIBLE ABOUT HELPING THE POOR, CLICK HERE.

Friend Ships
The "Staff's
Eye Witness Reports"

Throughout the years, people from all over the world have joined Friend Ships to help deliver God's bountiful supplies to people in need. From North America, Europe, Central America, the Caribbean, West Africa, Eastern Europe and the South Pacific, each have "presented their bodies a living sacrifice" by volunteering their time and have made a great contribution! Some staff memories and insights are shared below. These are just a sample of the experiences of the thousands of people who have been a special part of Friend Ships.

Read about it from:
Chuck & Becky (Tennesse)  

Read past reports:
The Condron Family (Virginia) Jeremy & Stacy (Washington)
Kristin B. (Iowa) Kaylene (Australia)
Colleen (New York) & Gunter (Guatemala) Matthew  (Arizona)
Jayne (Australia) Betty (California)
Jordan (Washington) Omar (Guatemala)
Janelle (Montana) Captain Skip, Lisa, & son (California)
Aaron (Illinois) Aaron (Colorado)
Wayne & Nancy Elliot (Oklahoma) Jennifer (California)
Kristen C. (Michigan) Ovidio (Guatemala), Derida (Albania) & daughter (Texas)
   

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Chuck & Becky Miller from Tennessee

Chuck and Becky MillerWe applied to work with Friend Ships back in the spring of 2005 and were accepted by July.  None of us knew at that time that two Hurricanes were going to hit the Gulf Coast, but God did.  We weren't there for Katrina, but we got there just afterward - September 12th.

We began work in Lake Charles in the warehouse area sorting and packing clothes, food, and personal care items, toys, etc. and driving a forklift loading the palletized items into containers to go to the victims of Hurricane Katrina. Toward the end of our two-week-tour, we were chased out of Lake Charles by the threat of Hurricane Rita.  We evacuated to Gretna and to the safety of the ships Hope and Mersea. There we helped the Friend Ships outreach team sort mountains of used clothing and tons of non-perishable food and personal care items while the rain and winds from Hurricane Rita passed by.  Our last day in Gretna we went with one of the door-to-door ministering teams, bringing people food and hope.  Many of these people were living in damaged homes filled with mold and despair.  No other agency had come to help them yet - almost three weeks after Katrina, so they were very grateful for our relief supplies and prayers.  We cannot even begin to express the blessings we incurred while on this one-day mission.  After all the days of sorting and packing clothes and food we were finally seeing the end result of our work, and it was amazing!  The hope and thankfulness on the faces of the people will forever be burned into our minds, their tears will always be felt in our hearts, and the hope that we were able to give through prayer and the Word of the Lord was felt to the depths of our souls.

It's what will keep us going and serving the Lord wherever He leads us.  One lesson we learned from this is that in a ministry there really are no jobs that are more or less important than others, but if you're faithful in the little things, God will trust you in the bigger things.  We returned to Friend Ships in Lake Charles to assist with the neighborhood ministry outreach after Hurricane Rita hit. The base of operations was directly from Port Mercy.  For many of our neighbors, the tents erected outside the head office were a refuge from the destruction and chaos that had become their lives since Rita.  It was a place that many came for prayer, refreshing, and the restoration of the joy of their salvation. 

It was the best of times; it was the worst of times. Hey, that sounds like something out of a book!  Even so, it was very true in Lake Charles and in Gretna, and out of all the tragedy of the hurricanes, God has brought great changes.  Christians have united together with no talk of denomination or doctrine.  We all came together under the banner of love, with souls won for Jesus as the central focus.  God has turned this awful time into a time of great outreach and great renewal.  The four weeks we spent with Friend Ships were exciting, difficult, joyful, and hard work, but what did we accomplish?  We along with many others went to be the hands and feet of Jesus and we believe we were just that.  We helped to feed and clothe the poor and the not-so-poor.  We hugged and encouraged those who were without hope and we shared the Good News with those who would listen.  People gave their hearts to Christ or rededicated their lives to the Lord with a desire to lead their families in God's ways.  People came because of our love for each other and our love for them.  They told their friends that not only could they get free food, water, tarps and other physical necessities, but that at Friend Ships, they could get prayer, hugs, encouragement and love.

We are so impressed with the faith and sacrifice of the full-time crew of Friend Ships.  They are all examples and role models for us and many other Christians who want to serve the Lord, but just don't know where to begin.

We hope and pray that many more of God's people will go after what He has put in their hearts and step out in faith and just do it - even if it doesn't always seem sensible.  Noah was given a task that seemed ridiculous to others, and maybe even to him, but he was obedient to God, and we all know the rest of that story.  We believe that Don and Sondra Tipton were given a vision beyond their capabilities but for the last 20 years they have proven that with God all things are possible!  So far the Hand of god has been evident in everything they've done.  Only He knows the rest of the story.  We can only imagine what's next, but we hope we can continue to be a small part of the Plan.

In Christ's love, Chuck and Becky

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Glad to take you call, Kristen from Michigan.Kristen C. from mostly Michigan.

Since my arrival at Friend Ships in Lake Charles, Louisiana, I have done a back flip and cartwheel for God.  He is so amazing and has provided such a peace and joy in my spirit.  I have fallen in love with this ministry and absolutely adore being an active part of the body of Christ for a world in need.  One of the huge lessons this ministry has taught me, and forced me to put into practice, is the truly active body spends a lot of it's time waiting on God.  I've learned the greatest and deepest blessings come with waiting for Him to move, and moving with Him.  I have come to a place of deeper trust in God, I depend more fully on Him, and as I am sensitive to the Spirit's nudging - He blesses my obedience!

I would love to be able to explain, from my point of view, the work that goes on here but without your own hands-on experience, it would truly be an inefficient explanation.  There's a complex infrastructure that just does not make sense unless you are submersed in it, and then often times it still doesn't!  I think it's because this ministry, to talk water, rides the waves God makes and simply responds to His lead in the stills as well as the
swells.

I was given a piece of advice when joining my first overseas team that has helped to prepare me for any type of ministry.  This was the word "Don't go into this with any expectations, and don't go in with your own agenda.  Your expectations will not be met, and your agenda will only hinder your work.  You are being sent to minister with a team that is already established, so catch their vision and serve them."  Amen!

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Jayne from Australia.

Serving God is the best thing we could ever do with our lives. If you are a Christian and your life is boring, you’re not living the Christ way. I have done missions in the Philippines and in Egypt and have experienced God in incredible ways. I came to Friend Ships 3 months ago. Coming to the States, I didn’t expect to experience God as much as I had in third world countries but I was wrong. I have seen donations coming in and going out on a daily basis. I see the generosity of people as they give and I hear of the gratitude as needs are met. The day I arrived in America, hurricanes were sweeping through. Then came hurricane Ivan that caused such devastation in Florida and surrounding areas.

God is an exciting God! I had the opportunity to ride in ANGEL OF HOPE. Jayne from Australia.

God is an exciting God! I had the opportunity to ride in the "Angel of Hope".

It is people’s nature to want to help but many times we don’t know how to help.  Friend Ships said, “Here am I Lord, send me.” As we prepared to set sail, donations of supplies, fuel and finances came from all over. I was so shocked, amazed and blessed by the generosity of those who could give.

 

I have felt very warmly welcomed by the crew at Friend Ships and feel a part of what God is doing here. I see the needs and I see how Friend Ships is actively responding to those needs.

If you want to experience missions and experience God, I would say, “come”… or as Jesus said, “Go”. Friend Ships is truly going out to all the world. If you want to be a part of what God is doing, this is one great way to do it.

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Full time volunteer Kristin working with children on medical outreach in Honduras 2004.Kristin B. from Iowa.

I have been with Friend Ships for almost 3 years now.  I normally work in the office at Port Mercy but I got to go on the M/V Hope on the Mission to Honduras 2004.  I was part of the domestics department and also during the mission I was the Guest Coordinator for those coming in for this mission.

What was the most significant thing during the mission?  At the medical outreach sites getting the opportunity to personally assist the people in need.  Leading a woman to the prayer tent, she was crying during prayer and seemed to be impacted a lot and opened up to those praying.  Also seeing how eager the people were to wait all day in order to be seen by the medical teams.  It was wonderful to pray with every patient that was treated.

I had the opportunity to go with one of the doctors from the medical team with a pastor, and translator to a house in Tegucigalpa.  There we visited a man that was dying, it was incredible to see the faith of his family that prayed for a miracles and believe something had taken place.

Being part of the Friend Ships team is really hard work but, you'll be so rewarded.  You make great memories and in the end you're very glad that you helped to accomplish something for His Kingdom.

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Matthew from Arizona.

I went on the M/Hope on the Mission to Honduras 2004.  I have been with Friend Ships for over a year now and continue to do so.  I got to work in the engine room on the ship while at sea and worked on the medical outreach teams.  I learned a lot during that mission.  Probably hundreds of people accepted Christ in some of the tents were I worked during the outreaches.  I got the opportunity to pray for physical healing for many people and I believe in faith they received it.

One of the biggest blessings was the enthusiasm the short and long term volunteers had during the mission to serve, it kept me going every week.

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Jennifer from California.

The voyage to Honduras was nothing short of miraculous.  I am completely humbled that God allowed me to have a part of this trip.  I witnessed so much of his power and love that it is difficult to find words to share the experience.

The day we left was nothing short of perfect.  The water on the river as we headed out was dead calm and reflected the trees and the clouds like a mirror.  We set sail at 6:00 a.m.  At 8:00 a.m. I reported for my first watch, I was assigned to work on the bridge for the voyage.  Alternating between steering the ship as a "Helmsman" or watching out for obstacles and other traffic as a "Lookout".  I was really nervous and unsure of my new duties, but the two men that I was on watch with, taught me well and put me at ease very soon. I was on duty from 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. then again at 8:00 p.m. to 12:00 a.m.  In between the time I was off and I was able to do what ever I wished.  There were great opportunities to sunbathe and get a fabulous tan!  I also spent a lot of time on the bow of the ship with friends staring down into the crystal blue waters.  They were fun times watching the fish being caught and seeing beautiful sunsets that will not soon be forgotten.  All in all, the trip down was more like a vacation for me then work.  It took five days to reach the Island of Roatán.

Once we reached Roatán everything changed quickly however.  It was time to do what we came for.  It was busy and hot and difficult, but very rewarding.  We did three clinics on the Island.  The first was in Coxen Hole, one of the biggest villages on the Island.  It was in a very poor barrio and the need seemed great.  I don't remember the exact numbers but it was somewhere around 1500 in the first three days.  Two things stand out the most: First, being present as a husband and wife together chose to invite Jesus into their hearts.  Second, seeing an old man dying from AIDS who had only days or hours left in his life, He was shown love, forgiveness, compassion, and tenderness.  He too chose to give his heart to Jesus, and I was lucky enough to be witness to it all.  God is so beautiful. His beauty and love revealed even in such difficult moments.

Our next clinic site was in French Harbor we were there for three days as well.  During this first week I had the opportunity to work in the same tent with my good friend Michele from Ohio who is a nurse.  It was so great to be together again and now working together for the Lord.  We saw many patients and worked until we were exhausted, but really felt what we were doing was making a difference.  We were not just giving these people medicine and sending them out to get sick again.  But had the opportunity, freedom and encouragement, to pray with every single patient.  People really opened up to us about the hurts in their lives and we were able to lead them to the ultimate healer, Jesus. 

Main land Honduras:  A clinic site in the near by village of Choloma. When we arrived the first day there were people lined up in every direction and it was very over whelming.  The people at this location were affected by much worse illnesses than those we had seen before.  We saw a large variety of Tropical diseases including Malaria, Dengue, and Tropical Ulcers.  It was also very dark spiritually.  In the past this village had been very active in witchcraft, and there seemed to be a darkness that lingered.  The people were very hungry for the Gospel, and we (as a team) were witness to many decisions for Christ.  I had a very emotional week at this site as I witnessed to people who were very sick and/or dying, and then sharing great joy as they and others gave their hearts and lives to Jesus.

Next Tela, Honduras.  After a short voyage we arrived in the most beautiful and tropical site to date.  We stayed at anchor just off shore and spent a lot of time traveling back and forth to the site, either by helicopter or by shore boat then driving.  The most amazing case at this site was Baby Melissa.  You can read more about her story on the mission report. It is an awesome testimony to God's goodness and the fact that He is still the God of miracles!  I made good friends with my interpreters here (and in the other cities).  We also had a chance to get a day of R&R and went to a national park that was very close to a Jurassic Park experience.  I expected dinosaurs to appear at any moment.

I had a very memorable encounter with a 12 year old boy who stood in l line all day (from 7:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m.) just to get a worm pill.  After receiving it he sheepishly asked if he could get some for his 3 younger brothers and sisters.  After getting him vitamins and worm pills for all of them, we had a conversation about Jesus.  After learning that he could read, the young man left with a bible in his hand and a hunger in his heart to know more about this Jesus.  I will not forget this young man anytime soon.

Tegucigalpa, Honduras clinic site - next two actually.  Our team along with the Bomberos loaded up all of our gear and traveled 7 hours across Honduras to the Capital.  At this clinic it turned out that God had bigger plans than we could have ever imagined, the people responded wonderfully to being fed free meals and loved and prayed for in addition to the free medicine.  These two clinics were the most challenging by far.  Joining our team was some of the local Honduran doctors that came to help, we saw over 800 patients a day, many of them very ill.  One of the miracles I witnessed here was God multiplying our medicine and somehow making it last far longer than we every expected.  This was a direct answer to prayer and still leaves me in awe.

I have grown and been stretched on this voyage and have learned many new things that God has revealed to me.  One of the best things he showed me on this trip was the incredible beauty of the body of Christ.  Every day I was given a new opportunity to meet Christians and see the role that God gave them.  Every day I got to see members of my fellow crewmen grow and learn new things and new ways to serve God.  Every day I saw something that made my heart swell at the beauty that Christ brings into ordinary people.  The entire crew I worked with was just ordinary people, who with a spirit of humility and willingness, God used to accomplish extraordinary things.  I am so blessed to be part of such a fantastic family.  Everyone had a role, whether is was praying, cooking, cleaning, driving, lifting, providing medical assistance, interpreting, working in the office, providing supplies, doing laundry, or just listening.  Everyone had a part, and every part was important.  I am so thankful and grateful that I got to go and learn and see.

May the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all! 

Completely sold out for Jesus, Jennifer.

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The Condron Family  from Virginia.

Mission to Israel:  My family and I began this journey to Israel two years ago when we said "yes" to the Lord and were sent out by our congregation in Virginia to assist in the Friend Ships ministry.  We had no idea where we would be going or to whom the Lord would be sending us.  Within one month of our arrival at Friend Ships in Galveston, Texas, we were asked to travel up to Seattle to re-activate the Spirit of Grace, which had been in lay up for about 3 years.  In February 2002, we drove up to Seattle from Texas with several other crew to join the skeleton crew who were living on the ship maintaining it in Seattle.

It was a time of much learning and hard work to get the ship ready to leave in 2 ½ months, but we sailed in April 2002 for the Panama Canal and Galveston.  When we arrived in Galveston, we performed an overhaul of the ship, getting it ready for a long trans-Atlantic voyage.  Many improvements were made and God taught us so much about the ship and ourselves.  The most important lesson we learned is that when you determine to follow God on His timetable and for His purposes, things do not go according to your timetable.  Many times we felt like we would never be leaving for Israel.  But the Lord was showing us that it was not by our own power or wisdom, or capability that we can accomplish anything worthwhile for Him.  He had purposed in His heart to bless Israel and He wanted to use us to do it.  During the two years we worked on this mission, we have seen people come to Friend Ships, serve some time, and move on to other pursuits.  But those who stayed were blessed to see the fruits of the labor and waiting.

On 1 November 2003, we sailed for Israel!  At times, security was tight and we could not even discuss where in Israel we would be going.  In fact, we knew very little of what we would be doing there.  But the Lord knew and He revealed it to us in the proper time.  When we arrived in Ashdod on Christmas Eve, we had such a warm welcome from the Israelis.  They invited us over to a Christmas luncheon at a banquet hall on the Port property.  We felt like kings.  We had come to bless Israel, but we ended up being more blessed by them.  Everyone we met wondered, "who are these supplies for?" and "why have you come?"  The answer was easy to give.  We love Israel and the people of Israel because the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob loved us enough to send His only Son, Yeshua, to die for our sins.  Each of us has a past, but thanks be to God that our future is in His hands!  And that future included being a blessing to His people Israel, even as He promised long ago through the prophets.

The warmth and friendship we felt from the Israelis was incredible.  Many people were amazed to see our children as part of the crew, but God even used them to show He is no respecter of persons.  They had a chance to visit and play with Israeli children and enjoy the Land the Bible speaks about in the many stories they have heard.  We toured all over the country on our time off with a wonderful guide arranged by Friend Ships.  It was both safe and incredibly informative.

On New Year's Eve, the Port of Ashdod had a dinner for us and prepared a party room.  We all gathered in the party room and prayed for the New Year and especially for God's blessing on Israel.   The Holy Spirit will testify in the hearts of all who love God.  And this is our greatest lesson, that God is doing a work in Israel and He has allowed us to be a part of this work.  There are plans for many more trips to Israel with Spirit of Grace.  I would encourage anyone with a heart for God to come and see what He will do with you.  You will never be the same again.

The Condron Family (David, Diane, Nathanael & Elise)

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Wayne & Nancy from Oklahoma.

Mission to Israel:  One of the highlights of our trip was the New Year's Eve party!  The hospitality of the port personnel has been awesome...the food was great!  After dinner, we all got in a prayer circle and sang Hallelujah and other praise songs.  Then we all took turns praying for Israel.  It touched the hearts of the port personnel there!  They felt God's awesome power and love!  "What you all have is real, so is your God!"  This and seeing one of the children's centers meant a lot to us.

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Gunter from Guatemala and Colleen from New York - met and marriedGunter & Colleen at Friend Ships.

Gunter: Every trip has its good things and its own flavor. However, my first voyage overseas to Russia sticks out the most. It was the first country I helped. We were part of the most important relief mission for them, as it was within six hours of the fall of communism and the coup d'etat in Latvia.

Colleen: The Russia voyage was a missionary's dream. The hours were long, but the country had been so shut off from God that when we arrived with Bible tracts, the people flocked to read God's word and receive salvation. The crew all rushed through dinner so we could hand out tracts in the streets of Russia. We carried trash bags full of them, and we still didn't have enough.

I remember, one day during a crusade in Russia, we began early in the morning, after many late nights, filling thousands of grocery bags with food to give away to those who attended the service. We were hard at work in a back room of the stadium while a service was being held in the main arena. Suddenly, someone ran into our room and said, "Come on Crew, you've got to see this!" Not knowing what to expect, all of us rushed into the main seating area. It took a moment to fully realize what we were seeing - but as we did, chills ran through us. Almost everyone in the entire stadium had come forward to accept Jesus, we had tears in our eyes. Honestly, it seemed as though we had died and gone to " missionary heaven."

Gunter and Colleen: To become a successful crew member, a person must want to serve God and have a heart to help people. Since we need people in several areas at different times, people must be willing to do whatever needs to be done.

Gunter: I had some prior diesel mechanic training, but since joining Friend Ships, I have not only learned about ships and but also about respecting people, knowing each one's limitations, and being a servant. I am constantly reminded that the ship is just a tool, and that our main purpose is to help people. Learning this has been a process. I have always been in the engine room, starting out as a wiper, then oiler, then engineer, and now, the head engineer. God has given me all the grace I have needed to make decisions. I enjoy helping others achieve their goals and teaching people about the engine room the best. We could really use new crew members in the engine room who have specific knowledge in particular areas, like refrigeration and DC electricity, as well as machinery, or a basic mechanics orientation, not necessarily diesel mechanics.

This ministry reaches vast numbers of people that can't be reached in normal neighborhood surroundings. I don't know of many other organizations that reach as many people as we do, helping them physically. Friend Ships is effective.

Colleen: I have learned not to be afraid to do anything with or without training, and to do my best doing what needs to be done. I have also learned that not everyone thinks like me, especially people from different countries. We accept people with their strengths and weaknesses, and we help each one grow and stretch into their potential. You have to be a hard worker. Friend Ships challenges people. One can go as far as one wants to go - there are no growth limits. The leadership encourages learning and flexibility. Friend Ships is truly a "walk of faith" both, personally and corporately.

We can't be compared with another organization. For ten years, I have had three meals a day, clothing, and a place to sleep, sometimes with no support and at other times, with some outside funds. The Lord provides. Having more support helps and makes it easier, but it's not essential.

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Janelle, from Bozeman, Montana.

At the heart of why I want to serve with Friend Ships, is summed up by this excerpt from the book "Jesus & Company", written by Don and SondraJanelle Tipton the founders of the ministry:  "Success in serving God wasn't based on me, or on anyone's great knowledge of the Bible or thundering spiritual ability, but on the love that God has for the poor, hungry and dying people who are perishing without knowing His great love."  When I first read the book, it resonated with what I understood was God's will and His purpose for my life.  There was no doubt that this was where God wanted me because only He could put the desire in me to serve Him.  

I have been with the ministry over a year.  I have done domestic work mostly during the preparation of the ship going to Roatán, Honduras for its' next mission trip.  There I will have the opportunity to stay and work along with the staff at the Friend Ships Village there on the Island.  It has been my privilege to help keep things clean for the staff.  I consider it a true blessing to support my brothers and sisters who share in following the commands of Jesus, to feed the hungry and bring them the gospel.  

In closing, I encourage you with these words from "Jesus & Company" that echo what I feel and show the faith and compassion of those at Friend Ships:  "We were the fortunate ones, born in the land of milk and honey (with granaries running over) and free to worship God.  But now we knew we were obligated to others.  The Word of God tells us over and over that we are responsible . . . knowledge of the Word without putting it to the test is only knowledge, . . . it's easy to say we believe and trust God; the hard part would be putting our faith to work . . . We knew this move would take trust, complete trust.   We would be totally dependent on the Lord to provide our food, our clothing - everything . . . from this point on we chose to take whatever remaining time God granted us to live as if we had died to our selves . . . doing all that we could to advance the Kingdom of God."

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Betty from Los Angeles, California.

One thing I have seen at Friend Ships, like no other place, has been the power of prayer. Whether it has been asking God for ship supplies, healing, or even a jar or peanut butter, He answers prayers. I have worked in the galley, hospitality, laundry, supplies, and even the engine room, doing stats. I am blessed to do what's needed. The people are great. They are available, have different backgrounds, and do all to God's glory. I would do all of this over again, given the opportunity. For people considering Friend Ships, visit the ships and pray, there are miracles here on a daily basis.

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Jordan from Spokane, Washington.

I first heard about Friend Ships when my youth pastor was planning a missions trip to Roatán, Honduras, two years ago. My sister went on this trip and decided to join, full-time, so I escorted her to Roatan. On the way to the Roatan airport with my return ticket in hand, God placed in my heart that He wanted me to join Friend Ships for a period of time as well. So, the taxi turned around, brought me back to the facility, and here I am.

I spent the first three weeks in Roatán, then I was transferred to the "Spirit of Grace." I've worked in the engine room and on deck for the second voyage that brought relief supplies to victims of Hurricane Mitch, and now I'm on deck and bridge for voyage three to Honduras and Guatemala.

Friend Ships is a working ministry. Some times the work gets difficult, but the rewards are beyond description. God has used this ministry to pull out my potential by testing my endurance, both physically and emotionally. I am learning so much.

The people are so precious to Him. He blesses us with so much that I have been able to be here with less than $10 a month support. I remember praying for Q-tips & now I have a year's supply. This is where it's happening! In good times or in tough times, I'll stick it out, because God works in all situations. Knowing what I know about Friend Ships, I would do it again and recommend it to anyone, short-term, long-term, whatever God says.

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Omar from Guatemala City, Guatemala.

During the Spirit Ship's visit to Guatemala, the opportunity arose for several of us to join the crew. The excitement of being on a ship and crossing the Atlantic appealed to me. It also coincided with my desire to serve God and people. My family is proud of me. Personally, God has used Friend Ships to help me grow up, teach me how to handle situations, and strengthen my trust in Him, without doubting. Friend Ships trains people well.

OmarI have also developed lifelong relationships with people here because of the openness and honesty. At first the language barrier was difficult. So, I learned English with the help of the crew. Since then, I've worked on deck, progressed to the bridge and now I'm an officer.

My most memorable experience remains the time we went to Albania. A few of us traveled to the highlands to deliver food. The hunger of the people struck my heart. They were so open to the Gospel and that's when I realized that my work moved the "Kingdom" forward. As a part of the Body of Christ, Friend Ships affects many lives around the world, through delivering love and food to people. We do not realize, from the comfort of our own homes, that all around the world, people cry for food and the basic necessities. If someone wants to be part of a team, then come along with us. Jesus has something special for each one, and He'll show you what people need.

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Jeremy from Copalis Beach, Washington and Stacy from Spokane, Washington - met and married at Friend Ships.

Jeremy, bos'n on Spirit of GraceJeremy:  I remember being at the Urbana conference, a place where ministries recruit people once every three years. Once I saw Friend Ships, God made it plain this was where he wanted me. Since arriving, I've sailed on three voyages, helped break ground in Roatán, Honduras, and have seen, first-hand, food delivered to the victims of Hurricane Mitch. Some times have been easier than others. God taught me so much through each circumstance. God called me to be a pastor ever since I was little. Through Friend Ships, I am learning to trust God, follow Him, and grow in Him, better than I ever dreamed. When we were chipping paint, that's when God started showing me how to live. People here are ordinary people with ordinary problems. Their obedience and faithfulness makes each one special. This is real life experience. There are other benefits as well. For instance, I have learned to weld, drive forklifts, dump trucks, road graders, and learned about the ship's deck department. It's not just learning to work stuff, but learning how each thing works. God provides for all my needs. I have always had food, clothes, and a place to sleep. Some times, from outside Friend Ships, I have had more money than needed, and other times, no money for months. The greatest key for anyone, anywhere and in any situation, is to be faithful.

Stacy working and smilingStacy:  Ever since I was little, I dreamed of being a missionary but didn't know how. To me, missionaries settled in a far off village overseas. I never thought of being one on a ship. When I arrived to Friend Ships in Roatán, it felt like home. Since then, I have worked on the island, aboard the ship in the deck department and hospitality, and now, I'm learning the bridge. Everyday is different from the last. God shows me so much here - His hand moves everything forward. I enjoy living at Friend Ships because I can see His love and power. Now, not only did I meet my husband here, but I also work with him, doing what we love to do. I feel like the most blessed person in the world!

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Captain Skip, wife, Lisa and son, Dane from California.Captain Krantz or

Lisa: We heard about Friend Ships through a pastor friend who used to be a missionary. Apparently, he heard Don Tipton speak and was impressed by Don's "go-for-it" attitude, rather than excuses why something could not be done. Then, as Skip was reading Jesus & Company, he'd say "Wow, you gotta read this," or "Amazing."

Dane  - Captain-In-TrainingSo, out of curiosity I read it too. We finished the book in a day and reread it since then. We want to read it again too. The book influenced us so much that we wanted to meet the people of Friend Ships.

We were encouraged to volunteer, part-time, as the captain because we knew our family would benefit from the experience and the fellowship. The level of commitment and faith in God by the crew impresses us. Each one causes the ship to move closer to its goal. We see both the spiritual aspects as well as the work and both are good. I encourage any Christian, with or without training or experience to participate with Friend Ships, in one way or another.

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Aaron from Chicago, Illinois.

Aaron, engineer in training.I remember looking for a place to help. Then, my buddy and I stopped into a church in Anaheim and spoke with the youth pastor. He mentioned they were heading to Friend Ships the next day with the youth and wondered if we wanted to go. "Sure, sounds cool!" so we tagged along for the ride. We just thought we'd be gone for the summer, helping the youth group, but when we saw Friend Ships and the food program, we fell in love and joined up. Now, I've worked on two of the ships and been to California, Texas, Honduras, Guatemala, and am on my way to more countries.

What I've learned here not only includes technical skills applicable for employment as a marine engineer, but I've discovered that it's also a "mission field" of experience and life skills. It's a great step before college where I'll study to be a computer engineer. This has truly been a learning experience and a time of growth. I've made life-long friends.

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Aaron from Niwot, Colorado.

There were many opportunities to do a one year mission's trip, but at the last minute, I decided to join Friend Ships. This is the first time I have been away from my family and school friends. God has taught me so much here. I've learned about being humble and patient, about my relationships with God and seeking Him, whole-heartedly. It amazed me to learn how much I crammed into my life that took away from just a simple relationship with Him.

I have also learned skills on the deck, at the warehouse, in the engine room, and the bridge, that include radar plots, driving forklifts, warehousing, plumbing, and working with tractor-trailers.

My favorite time, so far, was when I lived on the "Faithful" in Los Angeles. We had four single guys about my age in one section of the ship. This made for awesome discussions, and life-long friends. I enjoyed helping the Hurricane Mitch victims in Honduras and giving food to people in Los Angeles. Friend Ships has a great orientation program too. It reminds me of a week long Bible study and it taught me a lot. God works through Friend Ships and in Friend Ships. This is a good place to listen to Him and to serve.

The leadership genuinely cares for my personal growth, always helped me, been patient, and is understanding and compassionate. Truly a superb choice for a one-year mission's trip and the only qualification to join: willingness to serve!

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Kaylene from Australia.

Ministers in a working ministry.After being involved with World Vision several years ago, I knew that it was the kind of work that one day I would like to work in full-time. I grew to learn a lot about Friend Ships through a friend, who had left Australia to join the Friend Ships staff in Los Angeles. I had read the book "Jesus and Company" and was so amazed at the faith of two people and the Awesomeness of God. I knew that God was calling me to go, my pastor, my friends and my family all confirmed it and so l went.

I guess the main reason I wanted to go to the mission field was that l wanted God to change my heart. The cry of the hungry and the orphan have always tugged deeply at my heart. Seeing the vast needs of so many, l knew l couldn't go out and save them all, but I could be a part of a team who were making a huge difference in many nations. Bob Pearce of World Vision once said "Let my heart be broken by the things that break the heart of God," that has been my prayer, and as I work daily, hearing the great needs of missionaries around the world, and working to send out ships carrying thousands of tons of aid to the needy, God is changing my heart, building my faith, and lifting my eyes toward eternity.

Another reason was that l believed as a Christian, I needed to sow into another nation and help to provide humanitarian aid where it was needed. I had always thought that perhaps, maybe one day we might be the ones in need of other nations help.

I think of the thousands of Christians in Honduras fasting and praying and standing on the promise of Gods' word, "If my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray, then l will hear from heaven and heal their land." Faithfully and fervently they prayed, then one unsuspecting day Hurricane Mitch came and hovered over their nation for three days. The land was devastated, thousands killed, more than a million left homeless, but the Christians stood firm on Gods word.

I know that God's ways are not ours and his thoughts are higher than ours. My desire is to see God move across Australia and turn that nation upside down with the gospel of Jesus Christ, but I also wonder what it will take to change the heart of our nation. And so I believe the principle of sowing and reaping goes far beyond our finances.

There's a scripture in Ecclesiastes 3:11, that says . . . . "that he has put eternity in their hearts." I have thought so much about that verse, and asked God, "what does it mean to have eternity in our hearts?" And He showed me that if we have eternity in our hearts, then we will look ahead and see that eternity is moving toward us daily, and that we will see that the time we have left before the return of Jesus, is short. And if we have eternity in our hearts then we will look at the time we have left and see souls. There's the promise of ,"no more tears, no sorrow, no pain" and so on . . . . " and in that time we will never want again, life will be perfect, we will be perfect." And so with the promise of that, from now until then, with Eternity in my heart I want to use that time wisely to reach the lost, and fulfill the great commission. For me, being here has been more fulfilling than I imagined and I am learning that in God, there are no limits.

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Ovidio from Guatemala and Derida from Albania - met and married at Friend Ships.  With Daughter Albana from Texas.

Ovidio: I joined Friend Ships in 1992 and I can A family ministry truly say: Friend Ships has been a blessing for my life. It has been a school where I've learned not only technical skills (started as a wiper in the engine room and now I am an engineer), but also spiritual truths, right there in the middle of putting together motor parts, with my greasy hands. It's strange to realize how short of knowledge you are, as you try to do something you've never done before, and then look up to God and say through you I can do it, teach me Holy Spirit. Challenges like these are not rare in Friend Ships, but just like Peter, we can walk on the water as long as we look up to Jesus for answers. And the Holy Spirit is there to teach us and anoint our hands for the work that needs to be done.

It's not about abilities, (even though we can use a lot of skilled people!), it's about being willing to be used and seeing yourself as an empty vessel in need to be filled by God. As I look back to the years before I came to Friend Ships, I see a lot of changes in me. God had to change and renew my heart in order to create a servant's heart out of it. And He is still working, molding and testing me each day. It feels good, even though sometimes it's hard. I like to see how the principle of sowing and reaping is in full use in Friend Ships; you bless and get blessed, you love and are loved, you learn and have the opportunity to teach others that come along.

God has blessed me in so many ways, taking me to so many countries, allowing me to meet so many people, know so many cultures and realize that he loves us all in the same way. I don't have much to give to Him in return, but my life and hands and I'm thankful to God for using them to further His kingdom.

I'm glad God called me to this ministry. Here I even met my precious wife and now are both blessed with a beautiful baby girl. It's so special to serve as a family and look forward to more miracles and blessings that God has in store. Have I used the word blessing very many times? Yes, Friend Ships it's a place filled with them. Are you looking for a place to serve? Come, don't wait anymore, join the Friend Ships team and experience God first hand for yourself.

Derida: When I was little, talking and playing with my friends, often the question: "what are you going to be when you grow up?" would come up. A lot of my friends answered: a teacher, a doctor, an engineer, an artist . . . , but my answer was a strange one: I wanted to travel on a yacht and go to different islands. At that time Albania was under communism and to leave the country was beyond a dream, you couldn't even think of it. But I used to close my eyes and allow myself to dream away.

Years went by and I even became a French teacher and translator, but no yacht on the horizon. And the dream started to fade away. Soon after the first church in Albania was open up, I got saved and a couple of months later started to work for a humanitarian organization called "God loves Albania" and then "Hope for Albania." We distributed aid to needy people in Albania and preached the gospel any chance we had. It was a good job, very fulfilling.

Then Friend Ships "Spirit" came to Albania and with it the calling of God to be part of the crew. I couldn't understand at that time why would I leave what I was doing and join Friend Ships, but the calling was too strong inside of me. And I became part of the crew. That was in itself a dream. I was the second person to leave Albania as a missionary, and God opened doors that were never opened before.

I ended up working on the bridge, steering the ship and then being the navigating officer (which school did I study in? That of the Holy Spirit, like so many of us.) And one night during my night watch at sea, God remindedBridge officer, on the job training for a willing heart. me of my dream . . .  He had given me the desire of my heart: instead of a yacht, a 338' ship, instead of a yacht for pleasure, a ship filled with His Love and Blessings, so that I could be blessed and bless others in His name! And Galveston, Haiti, Roatan, San Lucia, San Kitts, Antigua, Jamaica are some of the islands God took me to, to proclaim His name and help the needy. The list continues with quite a few countries, each of them an unforgettable experience: the wonderful people we meet, the great crusades where thousands got saved and delivered from bondage, the testimonies of answered prayers through Friend Ships, the tears of goodbyes as the ship pulled away. 

What can I say, how can I count all the many blessings and wonderful lessons and experiences in these seven years with Friend Ships? All I can say is that they have been the best years of my life. God has loved me, cared for me, blessed me, changed me, tested me, strengthened me, allowed me to grow in Him and taught me how to do all this for others in His Name. It has not always been easy, but then again God never said it will be, he just promised that He will always be there! Friend Ships is a great place to serve and I praise God for what he has done in and through a bunch of people like us, not because we are special, just because we said:  "Yes, Lord. Send me."

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Updated April 2006       
Park West Children's Fund, Inc., a.k.a. Friend Ships, is a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit charity in the state of California. Any use of materials, logos, or the names of Park West Children's Fund, Inc., and Friend Ships, without prior written consent is prohibited.  Jan. 1999