Making Strangers Welcome
When we first established AOS in the parish many years ago, one of the first ships we visited was the Eva Maria Muller. The "Eva", as we know her, has a twin ship, the Monika Muller. Both of these ships have been visiting Sharpness nearly once a fortnight bringing cement from Santander in northern Spain. We have come to know the captains of these ships very well and one of them, Andrew from Poland, has become a good friend. Recently we were told that the contract these ships have is not being renewed and we will be saying goodbye to them. When I started out with AOS as a ship visitor I never envisaged that making strangers welcome could be so fulfilling and it is quite a sad moment for us. In these 12 years we have discussed our families, political situations and sport, always with great humour. At one stage when my eldest son was in Iraq and later Afghanistan I found it very cathartic to be able to discuss my worries and concerns with Captain Andrew who was a very good and sympathetic listener. He in turn was worried about his daughter leaving home to get married and live in Finland. We were two strangers sharing our experiences and helping each other. In reality this is all a very small change in a constantly evolving world but it reinforces in me the importance of welcoming and befriending strangers. They will one day become friends.