The first visit to the UK for most of the crew of the Lan Hua Hai to Tees Port could not have come at a better time for the AoS chaplain Deacon Peter Barrigan as a recent addition to the Volunteer Ship visiting team were Billy and Jun Li Barnett.
Jun is Chinese and her husband Billy had spent time out in China. Jun accompanied Deacon Peter on his visit to the ship and the crew were, to say the least, surprised and delighted to find a fellow country man so far from home.
Although delighted to meet Jun and Deacon Peter they were a little subdued as they had been at sea some time without shore leave and they had assumed they would not be allowed ashore in UK.
Deacon Peter made a couple of phone calls and cleared up the misunderstanding for which the officers and crew were thrilled. Jun and Billy volunteered to look after the crew during their stay.
The Tees team organised shopping trips first of which was to Tesco. With 16 crew all lined up at the checkout some of the locals were a bit put out as they had to wait as Jun had to help each seafarer with translation however when she explained to the waiting shoppers where the guys were from and how long they had been at sea the locals were quite happy to wait their turn and were asking questions about them.
Most of the purchases were treats and gifts to celebrate the recent Chinese New Year. Another trip was for fishing equipment to use whilst at sea. They also took lots of photographs as a momento of their visit.
As the ship left the Tees heading for Murmansk Deacon Peter gave the Captain a Bible in Chinese which was accepted with some curiosity.
A few days after they left the team received the following message which Jun was able to translate:
We had not been ashore for 2 months, it’s was very stressful.
We really appreciated the chaplain contacting the agents for us to make sure we could get ashore。
We’ve been sailing more than half year. It’s so good to see another Chinese in another country, especially during Lunar New Year.
If there was no Billy and Jun we wouldn’t have been able to go anywhere and would have not been able to shop and sort our things out.
We will keep the Bible to learn other faith/culture better while we sail to other countries.
More photos can be seen on Facebook here.