For many years many people in our congregation and the wider community have been involved in supporting the Mission to Seafarers, by way of knitting beanies. The crews of the many ships that dock at the Port of Brisbane get to know that this is the place to come for a beanie for those cold nights on board ship in all kinds of weather at all latitudes.
Over 4000 beanies are donated to the seafarers and the beanie babes from Toowoomba make over a quarter of these. This time we provided 320 and just as well, because they were down to their last 20. Each year, the mission has visits from over 12,000 seafarers. Depending on the duration of their stay, the mission transports them to various places to shop or they can just enjoy the hospitality of the dozens of volunteers who attend the centre each day.
There were over 100 people who attended the 125th anniversary function, and we heard many stories of exceptional people who have dedicated their lives to this mission. One was Marcia Scholes who received a framed certificate recognizing 70 years as a volunteer. About 1000 seafarers lose their lives at sea each year throughout the world, sometimes enduring very harsh conditions. Having a place of refuge, where they can pick up a beanie, grab a magazine or book or simply just use the internet and wi-fi freely available is such a blessing and there is always an encouraging word or pastoral assistance available well into the night. Their world on board is quite drab with greys and blacks and tight living quarters. Here they are among colourful surroundings and having a bright beanie is something special.
Elizabeth and I were blessed to attend the function, and caught up with one of the beanie babes, another Marcia, who spent some time at Symes Thorpe and has very poor eyesight but knits about 10 beanies a week. Now she is being encouraged to knit scarfs.
The mission to seafarers centre at the Port is a very special place, and anyone is most welcome to visit and have a wander around and most likely you can even have a chat to the crew of some ship having a fleeting visit to our part of the world.