Wednesday, February 27, 2013

God's Protection

A lady in my BSF (Bible Study Fellowship) class shared with us this morning about God's protection.  She is a widow (her husband passed away a year ago today) and works at a Dollar Store.  Recently her 18 year old neighbor came over to help her unload some heavy sacks of feed.  They talked about how all of the Dollar Stores in this region have been robbed expect her store.  He asked why she thought that was.  And her amazing answer and show of true faith was, "because the wings of an angle cover/surround the store!"  Each day before she goes to work she prays for herself and her fellow workers and God has protected them because of her faith and prayers.  Her story brought tears to my eyes.  Just this morning I prayed with the boys and said amen and then "o wait,  God protect Jackson, Jeffrey, Daddy and Mommy as we are at school and work today,"  It was an after thought with little heart behind it.  I want to be more like my friend who passionately prays with great belief.  I believe God's armies protect us each and every day from unseen spiritual and physical focus.  But I don't pray like I believe it and thus miss out on blesses. 

Lord, give us the faith to pray in belief!  Amen.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

The Triumph Lessons

When traveling
  • always take a flash light and extra batteries.
  • take wet ones or baby wipes.
  • book a room with a balcony.
  • pack extra underwear.
  • also have a set of dominoes and a deck of cards.
  • take full bottle(s) of medication.
Spiritual lessons
  • God (Emmanuel) is with you always!
  • God is in control!
  • There is always something to give God thanks for even when drifting at sea.
  • God will provide even if it is an onion sandwich or a cold dark shower.
The sixth day on the ship I read Proverbs 12:25 which says,  "anxiety in the heart of a man causes depression, but a good word makes it glad."  This is so true when we were around others that were making the most of our situation I was happy, but when we were near the ball of negativity lady I felt sad.  This was a good reminder to always speak kind words so that others can be encouraged. 
Each month of 2013 I am memorizing two verses of scripture.  I had memorized three before we left and they all applied to our situation on board.
"Therefore we make it our aim, whether present or absent to be well pleasing to HIM (God)."  2 Corinthians 5:9  Paul writes about his ultimate goal of pleasing God during his time on earth and in heaven.  I have made it my goal no matter if I am on land or at sea, in a good situation or a bad one to try to please the Lord.
"The Lord will guide you always; He will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame.  You will be like a well watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail."  Isaiah 58:11  All of our needs were meet on our sun-scorched boat :)
"Trust in Him at all times, you people; pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us."  Psalm 62:8  How I did pour out my fear to the Lord that Sunday morning.   Thank you Lord for being my refuge and giving me peace!
Upon returning home I picked my next verse, "Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content."  Philippians 4:11  I picked this verse because I felt like I did a pretty good job most of the cruise being content.  Now I just need to work on being content in everyday life. 
I had no idea I would grow and learn while on vacation.  Thank you Lord for never taking a vacation.

God's glory at sea!


Friday, February 22, 2013

The Triumph After The Fire!

The adventure begins!
Sunday, Feb. 10, 2013 I awoke at 5:30am to "Alpha Team, Alpha Team report to engine room six!"  My immediate reaction was who pushed the wrong intercom button.  I thought this was just for the staff rooms and not the whole ship.  I then turned on the little reading light about the bed and went to the bathroom.  When I stepped out of the bathroom I smelled smoke.  I thought "O great did I lay my pillow on the light".  I quickly realized that it was not from my pillow and it was a lot of smoke.  Josh is awake by now and we both know something is wrong.  Then the light goes out and we are in complete darkness.  We open the curtain to allow the moon to shine in and see lots of smoke coming from the ship.  In a panic we quickly dress and find our passports, my camera (Christmas pics are still on I really do need to upload) and a couple of pieces of jewelry that have sentimental value to me.  As, we were getting these things together several another announcements were made about staging areas.  We had no ideal what was actually happening--it was terrifying!  Josh and I sat on the edge of the bed looking out into the dark ocean with life jackets near just waiting and praying.  My prayer was "Lord just get me home to the boys" over and over again.  At some point an announcement was made that there was a situation in the engine room that was under control.  There was no need to report to your muster stations and you were allowed to move about the ship.  Since, our room was smokey we walked up to the back of the boat on deck 10.  The fresh air was much needed.  From this vantage point we could see even more smoke coming from different areas of the ship.  As, we were standing looking off the back deck Josh said lets pray and give thanks.  So Josh prayed and thanked the Lord for our safety and that of the crew.  Which to me is just amazing because I was still trying to be calm and all that was going on in my head was get me home Lord, get me home to the boys.  Josh showed me a great example of eucharisto at that moment; the first of many lessons we would learn or be reminded of during our extended cruise.  Some time later we were told that there had been a small fire in one of the engine rooms.  We had lost power, which meant the fresh water system and the toilets were not working and we would now had to wait for the engine room to cool enough for the crew to go in and assess the damage.  Since, this was to be our second fun day at sea it almost felt normal.  We went back down to the room I changed into my swim suit got a book and headed back up to deck 10 to lay out and read just like I would have done if there hadn't been a fire.  It was a sunny, warm, beautiful day which would have been perfect expect that we were just drifting out at sea.  Late in the afternoon an announcement was made that the engine room had finally cooled and the crew was able to go in and assess the damage.  At some point that day the crew got the water system working, which was huge.  Since, toilets were still not working an announcement was made that you were to urinate in the shower and red bio hazard bags were available for bowl movements.  Not a pleasant thought, but it was like camping.  Some time that evening another carnival cruise ship stopped by and gave us food and supplies.  The crew from our ship lowered a life boat and ferried supplies over from the other ship.  This took several hours.  That night we carried bedding up from our room to deck 10 port side and created our little "camp site."  For the next few days we would live at this site only going to our room as needed.  We were told that the engine could not be repaired and a call was made for tug boats.  The tug boats would take us to Progresso, Mexico.  We would then be bussed to Cancun where we would fly back to Houston or one's final destination.  Also, all emergency contacts were being contacted. The wind was pretty strong that night, but not too cold.  The comforter from our bed kept me plenty warm.  The wind reminded me of the Bible story were the disciplines were in a boat out at sea when a great storm arose.  They were scared and quickly woke Jesus up asking how can you sleep?  Jesus calmed the winds and questioned the disciplines' fear since He was with them.  Another lesson: Jesus is always with me and is in control I have nothing to fear.
The 1st ship to bring supplies.

Monday, Feb. 11, 2013 was a long hot day for Josh, but it was a toasty warm day for me.  There were no clouds in the sky so the sun was blazing down on us all.  Many including us made tents from bedsheets.  These tents shielded us from the sun and lessened our chance of sun burn.  For breakfast we ate cereal and bananas, but there was much more to choose from.  We just didn't want to wait in the long long line.  At lunch and dinner we could choose from salads, fruits, sandwiches (yes there were onion ones, but there was also turkey, ham, cucumber, tuna, etc) and several desserts.  The crew was able to get one grill working, which meant hamburger, hot dogs and grilled chicken were an option, however the wait was hours and hours.  The toilets were still mostly not working.  Ours never worked after the fire, but some worked the whole time.  The crew was working nonstop to get the public toilets working.  We were able to shower, but some couldn't.  It was a cold quick shower, but a shower non the less.  Finally around 4pm the Mexican tug boat arrived and we were waiting for the tug boat from Alabama to arrive.  Two other carnival ships stopped and gave us supplies.  Whenever, a ship would stop everyone would go out to the top decks and try to get cell service.  We were able to text my Mom and brother-in-law.  It took sending the text 20 or so times before it went through.  It was very exciting once they went through.  It was dark (not sure what time) once the second tug boat arrived and started taking us to Alabama.  The decision was made to take us to Mobile, Alabama since we had drifted about 90miles since the fire making it about the same distance to Mobile and Progresso.  This was good news for those without passports and it felt good to be heading back to the USA.  Our activities this day including walking around the ship, cartoon trivia, reading and talking to fellow passengers.
Our deck camp site.

The 2nd ship to bring supplies.

Mexican tug boat

 Alabama tug boat

The 3rd ship to bring supplies
 Trying to get cell service!
Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2013 was much of the same as the previous two days.  The big event of the day was a Mardi gras parade on the lido deck.  The musicians and dancers played instruments and throw out beads, tshirts, and candy to the crowd.  It was a lot of fun trying to catch these items most likely because there was just nothing else to do.  We were able to shower Tuesday morning, but later in the day we started listing the other way and "stuff" started coming back up the drain so we know we had had our last shower of the trip.  We also had run out of clean clothes :( 

Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2012 Happy Birthday Josh!!  Josh had a unpleasant wake up call this morning.  I was awake and saw the dark clouds and felt the colder winds.  And then a few rain drops began to fall.  I quickly reached over to wake Josh and grabbed his face and began to shake--oops.  We quickly grabbed our things and headed in before it really came down.  After breakfast we walked around the ship again, played win lose or draw, watched a table artist and then had lunch.  That afternoon power was working in the Rio lounge and the crew played movies.  We napped on one of the lounge couches during Toy Story 3, I read during Ace Ventura.  Josh waited in line for dinner during Ace Ventura and most of Grown Ups.  After dinner and finishing Grown ups we played bingo.  Josh was one away from winning.  It was pretty exciting.  We meet a couple on their honeymoon who live near us while playing bingo.  Today was the day for activities.  After bingo we watched the liar's club.  A word was given and each of six players had to tell their definition of the word and the crowd would vote by applause whose was the real definition.  It was hilarious!  The last show of the night was a variety show.  The singers and dancers did a wonderful job with little light, one mic and no props.  Since the weather had turned cooler many who had slept outside the previous nights including us were sleeping indoors.  We had camped out in the Rio louge all afternoon and choose to stay there for the night.  Most everyone had cleared out expect for about 50 people.  Some had sit up camp like us, others were changing phones at one of the plugs that actually worked, and some where watching another movie.  A girl we had nick names the "ball of negative" walked by our couch and asked if we wanted the movie turned off.  I was reading and said it was not bothering me and Josh was watching it, but said it didn't make a difference to him.  She then went down to the crew member that was playing the movie from his laptop and they talked.  Then all at once she raises her voice and slams the laptop closed.  We ended up getting another show.  She made a big scene dancing in front of the screen and said unkind things.  Security had to be called.  She was moved out of the lounge, the movie resumed and I fell asleep. 
 Josh, Jen (the cruise director) and Suzanne
Suzanne and Josh on the forward deck
Thursday, Feb. 14, 2013  Happy Valentine's Day
This day seemed the longest, because we knew we would be getting off the ship.  Not much was going on activity wise.  We checked the room once more to make sure we had packed all of our things.  We sat for a couple of hours charging Josh's phone.  We met some nice people while we waited.  Since we were in the channel near Mobile news helicopters were circling over head.  And of course there were many people out on deck trying to get their 15 mins.  That afternoon customs came on board and we went through customs, which surprisingly didn't take very long at all.  That evening we listened to one of the musicians sing and play the piano.  He was amazing!  Josh and I watched from a window in the casino as we arrived at the Mobile port and docked.  It was to cold for me to be out on the open deck.  We could hear our fellow passengers and the crowd on land cheering.  Much of the media was out to capture our arrival on camera.  Finally about midnight we walked off the Carnival Triumph!  Once on land we saw many carnival staff members.  We were handed cold drinks and some got bags of McDonald's, but some how we missed that.  Every passenger was now to load a bus unless family was there to meet them.  A bus would either take you straight to Galveston ( ~8hr. drive) or to New Orleans (~2hr. drive).  Once in New Orleans you would check in to a hotel and then wait for a flight.  We choose to go straight to Galveston as that was the quickest way to the boys.  Getting everyone on the correct bus was a mess.  There were no signs directing people.  There were many carnival staff, but they didn't really seem to know what was going on.  Josh said they needed the Houston Rodeo committee to organize the bus transportation.  When we got on the bus we were given box lunches, a pillow and blanket.  Buses are not designed with tall people in mind.  After 7 1/2 hours on the bus Josh and I had lots of pains in our legs--it was probably the most uncomfortable we had been the whole trip.  We arrived back in Galveston about 7:30am, called my aunt and then headed home.  It was so nice to get home and see the boys.  Jeffrey doesn't give out hugs and kisses often.  You have to steal them from him, but he has been giving me lots of hugs and a few kisses since we got back.  Jackson was very excited to be home with mommy and daddy as well.
 Phone charging area!
Will we cruise again?  Most definitely!  We had a blast bad situation and all.  

Thursday, February 21, 2013

The Triumph Before the Fire!

Josh and I were on the Carnival Triumph cruise! I would like to share our adventure with you.  It will be three post: before the fire, after the fire and lessons learned.

This cruise was Josh's birthday gift from me. About 5 months ago I thought a cruise is just what Josh and I need. I wanted a relaxing trip, just the two of us, unplugged and spending time together. Since Josh has not cruised before I thought this would be a great birthday gift. We sure did get some time together! 

Thursday, Feb. 7, 2013 Josh and I dropped the boys off at my parents and then headed to Galveston. We parked our van at my aunt's house and she drove us to the port. The lines were pretty short so we got through check-in quickly. Once on board we walked around a little bit and then went to get lunch on the lido deck. We debarked from Galveston about 4pm and our "fun cruise" began. That afternoon and evening was spent exploring the ship, unpacking, dinner in the Paris dinning room and the welcome aboard show (the dancers and singers were great!).

Friday, Feb 8, 2013 was our first fun day at sea. Since Josh and I are so used to getting up early we were up early this day as well. We both got a work-out in in the ship gym and had breakfast in the Paris dining room. I met a couple from North Texas that have cruised a lot and they shared some tips and I also meet a young couple from west Texas--they were sweet. Most of the day was spent laying out in the warm sun reading--just what I wanted. We also played bingo. We did not win, but it was fun. That evening we watched the Around the World show. The costumes were amazing! We also attended a comedian show with a lot of potty humor (not my cup of tea), but was funny anyway.

Saturday, Feb. 9, 2013 I got up early ago, but Josh was able to sleep in. I got a good run in--faster than normal :) and then stood out on deck 10 which would become home in the next 24 hrs. and watched as we arrived in Cozumel and docked. I talked with an older gentleman about Cozumel and the changes it has had over the last 20 years--interesting man. After a shower and getting ready for the day Josh and I had breakfast on the lido deck and then headed into to Cozumel for some shopping. Now we had booked a snorkeling excursion, but it was cancelled. This happened to me and my sister about three years ago on a cruise in Cozumel we booked a snorkeling excursion and it to was cancelled. I guess God is trying to tell me something, but I sure do want to snorkel. Josh and I did a lot of walking, shopping and stopped at the Blue Angel for guacamole and drinks. The Blue Angel is a restaurant and hotel right on the water. It was a beautiful relaxing time. Once back on board we got cleaned up and rested a bit before dinner. After dinner in the Paris dining room we headed back to the room as we were both so tired after having walk about 7 miles in Cozumel. I fell asleep and awoke several hours later. Josh and I then went out to the very top deck to look out. A dance party was going on on the lido deck at the time and we were able to watch from the top deck. Then we attended the midnight Mexican food buffet. After eating too much we fell asleep fast upon returning to our room. I thought that I am definitely sleeping in. Little did I know that all was soon to change.
The Triumph docked in Cozumel, Mexico

Suzanne in Cozumel, Mexico