The Love Boat.

205066 10150144975076498 660391497 7118471 678883 n

                 Couple #67 from Fiji on board the first Mercy Ship, m/v Anastasis

Some call it the Love Boat--and not without reason for there are over 300 "documented" couples who met and married as a result of their time on board a mercy ship. There are even patients who have gone on to get married because they no longer have a cleft lip or a missing nose. But today I'm taking this Love Boat motif to the next level.


The Professor

Meet the Professor--my long-suffering Guinean French teacher. It's embarassing for me to admit that I've lived in and out of French speaking West Africa since 1990 and still can't speak French, but there it is. The Professor, who gave it his best shot the last time we were here, tells me that I'm making a religion out of being a beginner and it's high time I move on. But I just can't deal with all those verb acrobatics and don't get me started on the irregularities or the spelling. What is up with the spelling? 

But I digress. In addition to Carys and me, the Professor tutors two other crew members.  But today classes are canceled because he's getting married! 

He lost his first wife to illness eight years ago and hasn't been able to re-marry because the non-negotiable bride price is too steep. I encouraged him to just hire a maid (for cooking and cleaning purposes only, of course) but he said that it isn't proper for a Muslim man to have a woman in the home who is not a family member. 

So here's the deal. As mentioned, there are several of us being tutored--and he's really good, so this is not an act of charity. (Ok, maybe he's not good enough to move me on to intermediate, but then I don't think that is his issue.) Anyway, unemployment, inflation rates, and political instability being as they are--there isn't much of a market ashore for a French Professor--even one who trained in Paris! And so the Professor found himself in debt to various family members and struggling to pay the rent and keep his three children fed and cared for.

But all that changed when a big white ship arrived in port and four die-hard anglophones decided it was high time to step up their French communication skills.  In the five months he's taught us, he paid off his debt, fixed up his flat, and the elders recently completed negotiations on a suitable marriage partner for him!

As he was preparing to leave yesterday, he leaned across the table and confided, "You know, it's all gift. Everything that we receive is a gift from God. Before the ship came I prayed and prayed that God would help me to find work so that I could afford a wife. I know that he sent you people here to help a lot of other Guineans, but I feel like you are here just for me! God is good and I see my wedding tomorrow as a gift straight from Him!"

I agree with the Professor. It is all gift. And what a gift his skill and friendship have been to me--conjugations and wacky spelling notwithstanding.  ...And the Love Boat adds another notch to her belt with couple number 339!


© Susan Parker 2016  All rights reserved.