Matthijs Hoogendoorn (Netherlands) serves as Logos Hope’s Personnel Manager. He and his wife Marjet joined the ship in September 2015, along with three sons under the age of six. Their youngest was just four months old when a mission ship became the family’s new home.
The couple’s vision to join OM Ships was born before their children were. On their first date, Matthijs and Marjet discovered they had a passion for outreach work among people from other cultures. Having studied Human Geography, Marjet followed the worldwide voyages of the now-retired OM ship, Doulos. The couple visited the newly-launched Logos Hope at Scheveningen, near The Hague, and felt a strong calling to work on board.
It took some years for all the pieces to fall into place and a role to become available. Matthijs and Marjet prepared themselves by going to Bible college. They also started their family. Eventually, the Hoogendoorns walked up the gangway in Malaysia, with Levi (5), Rafael (2) and baby Manaoh, to begin their new life on board Logos Hope.
The first thing to adjust to was the lack of space. They had left a house, to live in a two-room cabin. With thin walls. Three energetic youngsters and not a lot of soundproofing mean the neighbours need to be understanding…
It can be a challenge to separate work from family responsibilities in a place with little privacy. It’s natural that people bring questions to Matthijs whenever they run into him. That could be as he’s walking his sons to the on-board school, or when he and his wife are dealing with mealtime tantrums: “we eat together in a big dining room, and when the boys are grumpy and you have to discipline them, everybody sees!”
There are around a dozen families on board Logos Hope, and more than 30 children. Matthijs has noticed that Levi and Rafael are learning English quickly and have friends from many nationalities. He says they’ll get an unparalleled life experience over the next two-years: “it’s giving them an amazing perspective on the world, broadening their horizons.”
Family groupings add a sense of normality and community to life at sea, particularly for those who’re missing their own loved ones. “We have our own ship’s family - we are 13 people from different countries. Marjet and I are mother and father, and we get together once a week to eat and do something fun, explained Matthijs. "Our kids give the single people joy.”
It’s Marjet who’s had to make the biggest sacrifice for them to serve God in this way, says Matthijs: “My wife is very clever, she has lots of talents and giftings, but she came with the understanding, “I will be a mum, family manager, rather than following a career path”. She is a mentor for some girls, discipling them, and she has been speaking at some events on board."
“But doing ministry projects, we are limited in the sense that if I do it, Marjet is taking care of the boys, putting them in bed. With me having a busy job, I am not scheduled to go out for Connect days in a port, because we feel it is important to have family time as well.”
It can be a tough balance to achieve, but the Hoogendoorns feel they’re where God has led them, and their blond boys enjoy being everyone’s little brother on board Logos Hope.
You can follow the family’s blog here: https://familyhoogendoorn.wordpress.com/