Last Day – Sunday

Sundays are always our best and worst days.  Rev. Campbell (the pastor of the church) always gives us free reign in the service and this year was no different.  Miss Carmen (aka Auntie Una, aka The Jamaica Project’s best friend) started off with some songs, prayer and a few announcements then turned the service over to us and which time Jason and Noelle sang a lovely rendition of “Good, Good Father.  Then Lyndon and Doraine led the congregants in a rousing medley of Jamaican choruses “SKA” style (google it) They had the church going.  It is the liveliest we have ever seen that tiny church!!!  It was awesome!

Dan then preached a message about not getting distracted by the world and following the dreams the Lord gives you.  While all of this was going on Kathi was interpreting everything in sign language for one of the members of the community, Rolando who is deaf.  It was so great for her to be able to use her gifts in this way.

Saying goodbye to our friends is always very hard and this year was no exception.  A year between visits goes so quickly, but at the same time much changes in that year.  Some children move away, others outgrow our program, still others go away to college and/or start working.  There are many things that change over the years, but the one thing that stays consistent is that the community knows that we care about them.

church1

After church Lyndon Dorraine and their kids joined us for lunch and then we all went back to the community so that everyone would have a chance to meet our new friends: the Gloria and Rudolph Trails, Mrs. Wallace, and Wenda.  What a wonderful time we had listening to their stories and sharing the word, song and prayers with them.

We were able to drive up into the hills a bit farther and find the ruins of the first Baptist Theological Seminary in the western hemisphere.  The land is still owned by the Jamaica Baptist Union.

After we arrived back “home” it was time for dinner, a bit of reflection and time to pack.

Every year there is a different feel for each of our trips and each of our teams.  This year: “The year of the Mighty 6”, was one of the best years yet.  The team was unified from the beginning and “gelled” really well.  This trip was incredibly easy and things were kept very simple.  We did things differently than we have in the past, and while we were not able to do as much as we usually do, in other ways, the difference added greatly to what we were able to do.  We are grateful for this team and for this time.  To God be the Glory!!!

 

There is a little hole in the wall with ice cream just down the road from the church. Man was it good.
To the right is the McFarland family who are really a part of our family. Just above them is Fluffy.
Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Friday – Last Day of VBS

What a great day!  It was out last day with the kids and we had a wonderful time. The older kids got to celebrate the Resurrection of our Lord and talk about it together.  The “littles” had fun coloring and watching more Veggie Tales.  Then it was our last day at the beach.  Everyone loves this time so much young and old alike.  This is the time we really get to just love the kids and have fun with them.

It was really great having Dan join us with the children for the first time  since we have started the ministry (although he kept saying things like: “construction is so much easier”, and “being with the kids is exhausting, I am so much more tired with them than when building”.  The rest of us just shook our heads and smiled.)  Kathi loved seeing him interact and love on the children.  He was so great at it and it was really awesome for Kathi to share this part of the leadership with him.

After lunch, the ladies (Noelle, Laurie, and Kathi) dropped off the groceries to Mr. and Mrs. Trail, Mrs. Wallace, and Wenda.  It was such a blessing to be able to do this for them.  In everything we have done this week, in many ways we have received more of a blessing than those we are trying to bless.

The guys stained the picnic tables with a couple of the boys from the community, they look so great sitting in the community center.

fri7

Afterwards everyone headed to the Infirmary for our last visit with our friends.  Once again it was a roaring good time had by all, with Lyndon in charge of the music.  The ladies were able to go into the women’s dorm to read to and pray with some of the residents that are unable to get out of their beds.

As it is every year, saying goodbye comes very hard.  We feel very strongly that we are saying goodbye to our friends and we don’t know when we may see them again this side of Heaven, so our ride back “home” is always very somber.

tyandjason

Here Tyler and Jason are reflecting on their experience at the infirmary, and how this experience has changed them forever, and how hard it is to say good-bye.

We had an additional treat this year: as we were leaving the Matron of the Infirmary (the Director) Tracy and her assistant Tracy asked Lyndon to play a couple beautiful choruses that they sang.  It was quite a moving experience which none of us are likely to  forget.

matron - Copy

In the foreground is the Matron Tracy, with Kathi and Tracy’s assistant, Tiffani. Tiffani has been there the entire time we have made visits to the infirmary and Kathi and Dan have grown pretty close to her.

Many tears fell this afternoon as the goodbyes were said.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Day 5 Thursday

Sorry this blog is so long in coming. Between the WiFi issues in Jamaica and trying to readjust to being home, we are a bit behind.  We will start catching you up now.

On Thursday the older children that are still with us watched the arrest and crucifixion of Jesus on the movie. Sadly we have lost some of the older teens as we just don’t have the manpower to have something specifically for them.  Those that were there were very attentive and reflective during the movie and were responsive during the discussion time.

The little ones colored and watched Veggie Tales in the community center, and then it was everyone to the beach. Its funny how we pick up a few more kids at the beach and then serve lunch to quite a few more kids than we had for the VBS; but we are there to love them and if that means feeding them in Jesus’ name, then that is what we will do.

Jason and Giovan                                      Dan and his Star Fish; Joanique

After lunch, the ladies:  Noelle, Laurie, and Kathi had the opportunity to visit with a few more members of the community who were unable to leave their homes due to health issues.  As previously mentioned, we are very excited about this new endeavor.  The ladies were able to go to a section of the community that none of the teams had ever been to before. It was so great to see a whole different area with people to minister to.

The first person they visited with was Mrs. Wallace.  She was a delightful 86-year-old woman, who was such a joy to be with.  They sang together, read scripture together and prayed together. From there they visited with a young woman named Wenda who was non-verbal and had physical problems confining her to a wheelchair. Next door to Wenda lived a sweet lady named Vie and her son Danny.  Vie is elderly and Danny has had a stroke.  They were able to pray and sing a few hymns together.  At each one of these homes, they were asked what kind of groceries we could bring them.  They could have asked for anything but choose the simplest things; some cereal, milk, bread, etc.

The men stayed back at the church to finish the picnic tables with the teen boys, while the ladies headed to the Infirmary.  The previous day (wacky Wednesday) we had lost power at the church and were unable to do any work at all. Instead we spent the afternoon with some of the boys and that was a blessing. But, because we didn’t want to leave with unfinished tables, we felt that since we had power today, we should finish today. This time 5 boys showed up to help: Rojay, Bobby, Jordon, Rodane, and Sheldon.  We were able to make quick work of those tables completing one large one and one smaller one for the smaller children.

Meanwhile at the Infirmary, Lyndon brought the guitar in and sang Jamaican choruses with the residents.  Their faces lit up with joy to hear some of their old songs they knew as children.  But the ladies also loved those new songs and it was no surprise that by the end of the week, we were all humming and whistling those catchy little refrains.

This is Phyllis                                                      Neville

Malcomb

The ladies were able to sit and talk and pray with some of the residents that were unable to make it out to where the music was going on.

After the infirmary, Lyndon took Noelle, Laurie, and Kathi to a HUGE grocery store to buy groceries for those they visited earlier in the afternoon.  What an experience that was!!  Good thing they had Lyndon with them, because they were unsure of what some of the items even were!

It was lovely to see grateful smiles when those items were delivered with the love of Jesus.

“When you did it to the least of these, you did it for Me”

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Belated day 4: Oh no, Wednesday

It is a long tradition of the Jamaica Project that Wednesday is a day when just about everything goes wrong. There are actually 2 parts of the tradition; but first let’s do the 1st part.

As we get ready for the VBS we want to try to hook up a large speaker that belongs to the church. We usually bring our own big speaker but it’s so bulky that with only 6 of us, we elected to purchase a smaller speaker, about the size of a textbook. It isn’t bad for using the included microphone and speaking to the kids, but when we hook up the movie to it, you really have to strain to hear anything.

So we see that the nice speaker at the church has blue tooth and we pull it out and get it all connected and ready to go. But that was before we tried to use for worship. It didn’t work. Not only did it not work, but it also ceased to work for the movie.

So, we all just say ‘Wednesday!’ and go with the small speaker again.

The ladies this year are visiting some adults in the community that we have never been able to minister to and it’s become something that we are all very excited about. Each year God has us do something new. This year He has tossed a couple of new things in our lap and this is the one that we are all jumping up and down about.

Robert’s House                                 This is Robert

Robert is a shut in who lives in this tiny little shack. Due to diabetes he has lost both of his legs and the ability to care for himself. It is with shear joy that we can now look forward to expanding our reach to these who’s faith continues to inspire us.

Today we did not visit the infirmary. We like to leave Wednesday open to see if we can have a night time meeting, movie night, or something like that. This year we learned of a ‘Street meetin’ that was put on by one of the local churches. We decided it would be a good idea to go and be present for that so that those who have not seen it before, can experience a different type of worship.

And it certainly was different. At one point, one of the women with a microphone mentioned that they had some visiting missionaries, and would anyone of them like to say something. The way every head in the group turned toward ME was perfectly choreographed. So I didn’t have much of a choice. Admittedly there is no quicker way to flip my switch than to put a microphone in my hand (not sure if that is arrogance or ham)

All in all today was a magnificent day. That, by the way, is the second part of the tradition. God always more than makes up for the little things that go wrong and He turns it into the best day ever and this Wednesday was no exception.

Our God is an Awesome God.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Belated Day 3

Well, this would not be a mission trip if everything went right, and to be sure we have had our share of ankle-biting annoyances not the least of which is no wi fi. As a result, I have not been able to post anything. But Praise God the technology is finally working so here goes.

Today (remember this is Tuesday) was a great day. We had a few more kiddies than we did yesterday and as such things were a bit more squirrely. Since the littlest ones can be a bit distracting we’ll try a different approach tomorrow; but still the discussion time went pretty well with the older kids remaining somewhat engaged.

Everyone had fun at the beach and after that it was building time!

IMG_3888

Jason, Bobby, Dan, Roget, Tyler

We need another table or two in the community center so that was the project for the day for the guys. Kathi was feeling a bit ill so she stayed back at the house while Laurie and Noelle visited with a lovely shut in couple not far from the church.

This is Gloria, Rudolph, with Noelle, Laurie and Mrs Green the church secretary

At the infirmary we had a special treat when Lyndon, our long time friend, driver and music teacher joined us with a guitar. I cannot fully describe how amazing it is to see people come to life when they hear music; especially anointed music.

lyndon

We passed out a few tracts and just enjoyed the music. Some of these people can hardly talk, but one thing that just does not leave them is the Spirit of God. You see this Spirit when they come to life and remember hymns that they learned when they were young. They sing these hymns with heartfelt simplicity and it’s beautiful.

Lyndon who had never been to the infirmary before was amazed. Most Jamaicans don’t visit the infirmary. I suppose it’s fear and maybe a bit of ignorance about these residents. But each one of these people have a story. A story that they want so badly to tell.

Top left is Fritz Barton, top right is Robert, bottom left is Tyler reading to Mr. Cooper and bottom right is Barrington Clark

Lyndon promised he would visit again and hopefully inspire others to do so as well. For us the infirmary was never an original part of the vision. But every year God expands our vision and skipping the infirmary is now not an option that anyone would entertain.

It is amazing to see those forgotten ones, who seemingly have so little, inspire, encourage, and change your way of looking at the world. When you follow God’s call and do what He asks, he blesses in amazing ways; ways you would never have anticipated.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Day 2 VBS begins

As our day begins we had the usual array of little things that went wrong, but fortunately it was nothing huge. I forgot the computer which we need to show the movie and there were a couple of other things but everything worked out in the end.

At first there were not too many kids but Jason reminded us that God was in control and giving us only what we could handle. It was a good word from the Lord. We wound up with about 20 kids. We didn’t have very many little ones so instead of breaking up into 2 groups we kept everyone together and played 15 minutes of the Jesus movie.

We then talked about the movie and it was really marvelous. The kids were engaged and they answered questions. We did have to prompt them a bit at times but on the whole it was a wonderful discussion about why Jesus had to come and what it meant to these kids that God’s Son came as a suffering servant as poor materially as they were.

We then spent some great time at the beach just loving these kids and spending time with them.

One little boy speaking to Tyler said, “Some people just think of you as the white people that come, but I think of you all as friends.”

That was a heartwarming confirmation that God is touching lives with the Jamaica Project.

Later in the afternoon we did not have any of the older boys show up for construction, so we scrapped the construction day and instead spent some time with a group of local lost boys who were kicking a soccer ball around.

They let us join them and while it wasn’t a time or place to talk about the gospel, these boys who were smoking and drinking at least had the white people from the church reach out and spend time with them without judging them. We hope and pray that this will lead to an open door at another time.

At the infirmary we spent an hour with these wonderful forgotten ones. We talked and laughed and marveled at how many songs these people knew. Tomorrow we will be back but this time we bring a guitar.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Welcome Home!

As we got off of the plane I right away smelled that amazing Jamaica air and new I was home (my second home at least).

It has been a year since I was here and usually I am here a bit more often so it was a sweet homecoming. To able to share this with those that are accompanying me made it all the more sweet.

I wish I could have photographed the face in particular of our young Tyler. He was so excited and you could just see it on his face and that excitement brought a huge smile to all of us.

Our itinerary was first to go to our favorite jerk shack to give our newest colleagues a taste of real Jamaica food. We pull up in the bus and as soon as you open the door you get a whiff of that jerk chicken. Oh my. What a great meal we had with great food and fellowship.

Then after a trip to a modern grocery store for supplies it was off to the neighborhood to let the kids know we are here. As we start to walk down the road to hand out fliers we find that we did not have to walk far. The kids came running to us. I cannot describe the feeling it gives to see this beautiful children running to meet you.

I wish I could have photographed the faces; they eyes that lit up; the overwhelming smiles; but it all happened so fast that we were just not prepared. Before you knew it we were surrounded.

After walking the community and talking to so many new and old faces, then doing some prep for lunch tomorrow and getting back to our house we all felt exhausted. It was a great feeling knowing that God accomplished so much on the first day.

Can’t EVEN wait til tomorrow.

Stay tuned.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment