Maxine Darknell
November 2016

Christmas at Sea - Ditty Bags 

Last Tuesday, seven of us drove to the "Seafarers of the Golden Gate Mission" in Oakland. We delivered the 110 ditty bags that were made and filled by our ABW (American Baptist Women) group with all the items that were donated by our church family last August.

Thank you to all who were able to contribute! We carried the ditty bags into the mission and immediately joined the people already working there from other churches. While some of us stuffed additional ditty bags with items collected by the mission, others took the ditty bags already donated by other churches, tied them to avoid items from falling out, and then put 10 ditty bags each in large plastic bags to be carried to a storage area. We ended up with more than 30 plastic bags, which is over 300 ditty bags that the Seafarers Mission can use to continue its ministry. 

How the ditty bags are distributed. The Mission Chaplain, or a representative of the mission, makes contact with each ship prior to its arrival in Oakland in order to know how many seafarers are on board. In addition to the ditty bags, each ship also receives a new board puzzle. Last year, the mission collected and donated over 600 ditty bags, and it hopes to donate more bags this year. This is the 70th year of this special Seafarers ministry, providing gifts for those who are away from their families for months at a time. It's a lonely life, especially at holiday times.

Over the years, the Mission Chaplain says that he has seen grown men cry when the gifts are brought on board. One seafarer told him that he had been going to sea for over 20 years and had never received a gift before! Of course, the greatest gift offered to the seafarers is the love of God that is shown by our gifts, as well as the spiritual literature, counseling and help offered by the Seafarers Mission Staff.

We all enjoyed being able to have a part in this special ministry. After we finished our work, the mission provided a lunch of pizza, soda, fruit and cookies for all the workers.