Matildes and David van Rietschoten (Canada) met when they both served on Logos II 15 years ago. They say they were richly blessed by the families on board and always hoped for the day when they could return to an OM ship and bless others in the same way. It would take a decade to realise their dream to join the ship as a family. They had settled down in David's home country, where he had a job as a baker, and things were going well. However, when the opportunity arose for a short stay on Logos Hope in 2017, the family was ecstatic.
“It felt like coming home,” said Matildes (Brazil). “Our two children felt at home immediately and all my fears about 'could they sleep?' or 'might they fall off the ship?' were put to rest.” It was, however, emotionally tough to pack up their house to prepare for joining the vessel when they said yes to the offer to come and serve. What they thought would be only around five boxes of belongings turned out to be 50! “I realised I had been holding on to a lot of stuff,” said Matildes. “But I was sure it was time to leave the stuff behind.”
In January 2019, the van Rietschotens joined Logos Hope for a two-year commitment and found the people on board friendly and always willing to share their passions and skills. The hardest thing Matildes found about living as part of a floating community was the constant goodbyes to new friends – their fellow volunteers and people they met in port cities. The curtailment of public activities because of the COVID-19 pandemic meant that some people ended their commitment suddenly, which was difficult for the van Rietschoten family.
“We are learning to thank God for those moments. It's okay to cry, because God has given us the chance to love. And now there's a friend somewhere in the world we can talk to any time of the day! We also learnt to live each day intentionally, as we never know how long life will be. We cannot wait for tomorrow to show care to someone,” Matildes explains.
As a wife and mother on board, Matildes is learning to allow herself to be just that. For years, she said, she had been trying to meet the ‘must-dos’ of society expectations. But in the ship environment, she found the freedom not to have to say ‘yes’ to everything. Before Logos Hope closed to the public due to coronavirus restrictions, she had been active in the volunteer coordination team, as well as being involved in training, conferences and translation as the ship toured South America.
When life on board entered a different gear in 2020, Matildes has learnt to enjoy the blessing of still being involved in God's great purpose around the world in a different way. “God is God, not me. Though I am still, He is still at work,” she said, simply.
She is also learning the necessity of prayer and refers to something one of the ship’s leaders challenged crew with: “Every day I don't pray, is me telling God I don't need Him; that I've got it [handled by myself].”
As for the van Rietschoten children, Lucas and Lydia, the most precious gift is that of being together so much now they live on the ship. Lydia says, “I see Daddy all the time now!” while Lucas loves to live among people from all over the world.
David has served as Logos Hope's catering manager and baker, providing the daily supply of bread and baked goodies. Matildes and the children lend a helping hand in the bakery now and then, particularly over the festive season. Lucas has been so inspired by what his father does that he wants to follow in his footsteps and become a baker when he grows up. He doesn't even mind waking up so early in the morning to help his father in the bakery!
Their cabin is a third of the size of the house they left in Canada, but the family lacks nothing. “The world makes us believe that we need so much,” reflects Matildes.
She had also feared financial dependence on others by choosing to serve in a non-salaried position. By saving up their money, they had previously been able to fly to Brazil to visit her family once every year or two. “I thought I would never see my parents again as there would be no money to pay for the flights of four people!”
But, she says, the God who called them to serve Him in this way has been faithful in supplying their needs. The family managed to visit Matildes’ parents three times in one year (before the pandemic). Once was a stop-off on their way to join the ship, which was then in South America. Later in 2019, as the vessel was docked in Brazil, they could take a seven-hour bus trip home. Then, Matildes' parents and her sister's family were able to stay as guests on board Logos Hope for a few days.
“We definitely do not join mission to gain materially and must be ready to sacrifice. But our Master is good, and it is not His pleasure to make us suffer. He provides our needs, and also some wants!” said Matildes. The van Rietschotens have been invited to serve on board for a further two years and are excited for the opportunity.