Jamaica Mission Trip day 3

Monday, July 9, 2012

The view from my new hotel room
We started the day with awesome devotions led by Carly.  We closed with a specific prayer for each of the groups as we prepared to head our seperate ways today.  I love that idea as it gave each person something specific to listen for and pay attention to.  I want to keep that in mind for the future. 

The two Mandeville groups headed out right away.  It was exciting to load up the vans, as that signified that we were finally heading out to do what we came here for: Peace Camps.  My group and the Deeside group had a bit more time to hang out before saying goodbye to each other.  Most people took the opportunity to get on the internet and update their facebook status.  It was hard to not participate in the wi-fi sharing.  While I don't mind others getting on facebook, I am trying to stay away from it while I am here.  I can easily get sucked into the distraction of so many status updates from my friends, and that is not why I'm here.

Shelly and I preparing to head our seperate ways.
As we drove to Negril I was at overwhelmed by the beauty of this country.  We are driving along the coast line and there is the ocean on my right and the mountains on my left.  How lucky these people are to be surrounded by such beauty.  I can not imagine being able to see all those shades of blue every day.  I was glad I sat in the front seat and had my sunglasses on because the tears were rolling down my cheek.  I am grateful for this long awaited opportunity. 

We picked up Sister Allen in town and then to her house to drop off her purchases.  This was my first time driving through a neighborhood and seeing where people actually lived, the roads they walked every day, and what they could see from their front porch.  I noticed that as people realized we were visitors they (especially the children) got curious, and perhaps a little excited.  The children would run to the side of the road and smile and wave at us.  As we took Sister Allen back home later on today she was immediately met by neighbors who I assume were asking questions about who she was traveling with. 

Welcome to the Egypt Gardens Community of Christ!

Inside the church

The Egypt Gardens Community of Christ church is down a muddy, bumpy road, in the middle of a neighborhood.  For some reason I was expecting it to be near a main road, and was suprised that it was "hidden" back in a neighborhood.  The church is a new building with concrete walls and floors, a metal roof, and beautiful windows.  They built this church around the old one.  There is no sign of the old church anymore, but I can easily share in their excitement of this new building.  As my own home congregation continues to raise money to build a new church, I was excited to share in in this congregations bigger and better church. 

Passing out flyers for Peace Camp

We spent our time at the church walking around the neighborhood, passing out flyers, inviting kids to Peace Camp.  This has been the highlight of my trip so far.  I'm finally starting to work on what I came to do!  I could have spent a full day (or days....weeks) doing this.  At first it was slow because it had just finished raining and everyone was inside.  We found a few kids here and there and we would give them a flyer and explain what we were doing, then they would take off on their bikes and a minute or two later they would be back with more kids.  Every time I turned around there were more and more kids following us.  They were excited.  They wanted to walk with us, talk with us, sing songs with us.  They wanted to show us where to find more kids, and they would run into homes and get the parents to come out and talk to us. 

This group was eager to show me around, and they became some of my best helpers once Peace Camp started. 

One group of kids said they would take me to a family with lots of kids, and so I followed them behind a large cement home that looked empty, wondering why they were taking me behind an abandonded home.  Once we rounded the corner and I saw where this family was living my heart dropped.  Wood sheds that looked like they would blow over with a strong wind.  Probably 5 or 6 one room wood sturctures with sinks and open fires outside for cooking and cleaning.  I looked around and was ashamed to think about my own home.  Troy and I live in a three bedroom house with a large kitchen and more space than we really need.  Here there were 5 or 6 kids coming out of a house that was not much larger than my bathroom. And they were happy.  They were happy to have me at their house and never showed that they felt any shame about where they lived.  I was the one feeling shame for having so much in my life and taking it for granted.  For the first time in my life I felt like a greedy, selfish American and I was embarrassed by all that I have.  How can we be so much alike, and yet live in such different circumstances? 

This kid stood on his porch and watched the parade of people (us) go by. 
We had dinner at a restaurant on the beach tonight.  It was after sunset so the ocean was nothing more than darkness, which made the sound of the waves even more prominent.  At home I have a sound machine that plays "ocean sounds" and I will sometimes listen to it as I fall asleep.  I listened to the real thing today.  This was not my first trip to the ocean, but that didn't make it any less momorable.

Walking to dinner barefoot.

Breakfast: pancakes and bacon
Lunch: we ate at a Jamaican fast food restaurant: Island Grill.  I had a "jerk cheeseburger" that was not even a little bit spicy, french fries, and a coke.  Larilyn got "festival" with her meal, which is a common side dish of fried dough.  It was good, but not something I would want to eat all the time. 
Dinner: Snapper with calaloo (which looked like spinach), steamed vegetables, rice-n-peas. 

Lunch at Island Grill. 

Dear Lord, I am so grateful for today.  Thank you for the beauty of the the lush green mountains and many shades of blue in the ocean.  Thank you for the sound of children singing, and for the ocean water washing over my feet.  I met so many new people today whose names I do not remember, but their spirit has touched me.  I have prayed for this day for so long, and as I met each new family I felt myself achieving a higher level of happiness than I had with the house before.  Please be with me this week to be mindful and appreciative of the Jamaican people as I get to know them better and learn more about their culture and traditions.  I hope that they will gain something from me in exchange for all that I have already gotten from them.  Today was a great day - thank you!  Amen.

Trying genips for the first time!