The Little Moments

Cap Ines, Packer Avenue Marine Terminal, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA Trish Johnson, Seamen's Church Institute, Philadelphia

“Each time we prepare an issue of the SCI News we are tempted to go for the big story. Certainly there are enough of those at SCI. But, in our quieter moments, we realize that life at SCI, like everyone’s life, is more a pattern of little stories than a few big ones.

The day to day, one to one contacts between SCI and individual seafarers are the little stories from which the big one is woven. They form a pattern of caring that makes a big difference to a seafaring stranger in a strange land.”

-SCI Newsletter, Summer 1989

You may not have ever heard of me, but if you have read any communications coming out of SCI over the last two years it was me, Trish, that wrote them. And in the next few weeks, my time at SCI comes to a close and a new storyteller takes over.

I am beyond grateful to have worked at SCI these last two years. I’ve learned things about myself and the world that I couldn’t have learned anywhere else. I learned that it is possible to drive a 15 passenger van through Center City during rush hour. I learned that most of the stuff I use every day comes from all over the world. I learned how to not get lost in Fairless Hills, and how to avoid getting hit by a picker in a marine terminal. I’ve learned about humanity, how people suffer when they are isolated and away from their families for a long time. I’ve learned how little gestures (a box of donuts, sim cards, a ride) can truly make a difference in someone’s life.

So when I read this Newsletter intro from 1989, it couldn’t have rung more true. I’ll always remember the big stories I was a part of: the Nikol H being arrested in Philly for months, the Venta stranded in the middle of the river, the stowaway on the Sian C. And those stories are important, they illustrate just how dire things can be for seafarers. But the little moments: the meaningful conversation in a van, the smile as a Wifi unit gets borrowed, the joy of showing family pictures, helping a seafarer pick out just the perfect gift for his wife at home; those are the moments that make up the foundation of SCI’s ministry. It’s a ministry of comfort, a ministry of presence, a ministry of companionship.

We often think of seafarers as invisible, a population without a voice. It has been my honor and privilege to try to tell their stories over the last two years.

And, thank you, for listening.