I joined Tiff’s folks two Sundays ago to visit the Doulos, which (until yesterday) was docked at Manila North Harbor. Wow, I never thought the ship was so big. I had been expecting something about the size of Big Blue (the liveaboard we stayed on in Palau), but this was much bigger, more on the order of a frigate or a small passenger vessel. The only bigger ship I had ever been on in my life was the Queen Mary. (Did you know the Doulos has been in service since 1914? That’s just two years less than the Titanic.)

It being a Sunday, the ship was brimming with visitors. We lined up to climb the gangway along with hundreds of other people, and were greeted on deck by crewmembers from various ethnic backgrounds. (Yes, P. Mark, I know their greetings were sincere. :) From there we went down a flight of stairs and passed through a deck crawling with children, who ran about and clambered through the props of an indoor mini-playground and exhibition.

Out a door and around the corner, and we plunged into the Doulos Bookshop, which that day probably had as many people as books in it. What a mob. I didn’t find a Parallel Study Bible in the Christian section as I’d hoped, but I did get a copy of Dickens’ Bleak House (Jim’s recommendation) for only P100 (that’s just two dollars!), and Tiff snagged a book on Christian perspectives on Advent. We almost got a few C.S. Lewis books, but we found the prices for those were even cheaper at NBS.

Forward from the main bookshop, there was a special discount bin, where, for P200, they would give you a Doulos bookbag, and you could stuff it with as many books as you could. That sounded like a nice all-you-can-eat deal, but to my dismay, all that was left in the crates was Heartsong Christian romance novels. Gag. (I did get a nice laugh out of the brand of crates the discount books were stored in: “The Great Aussie Crate… Mate!” I swear, you Aussies are crazy.)

The M/V Doulos itself is an impressive ministry. There are about 300 people on board, most of them full-timers who live on board with their families. They sail around the world, selling books, going on medical and humanitarian relief missions, and providing support and encouragement to Christian ministries internationally. Now, wouldn’t that make an interesting missionary opportunity…