Interesting tidbit: The electric company runs electricity along the main road and it is up to each family to get it to their own house.
Peace Camp started today!
Cousins attending Peace Camp together.
We needed to eat breakfast at 7 am in order to stay on schedule and arrive at the church early enough to get everything set up. Bad news: we couldn't find a restaurant that opens at 7 am. There is no 24 hour Ihop in Jamaica, and this island does not eat early. I got frustrated at home a few weeks ago because Sonic didn't open until 6am and I needed breakfast at 5:30. What a wake up call I had this morning when the only breakfast we could find at 7 am was at a gas station!
I did not pay any attention to the bathroom at the church yesterday, so I was in for a shock when I went to use it this morning.
This is the bathroom.
Thankfully it had a toilet in it and not just a hole in the ground! In the photo above you can see a shower that sticks out on the right side of the bathroom. At least I think it was a shower...that's what it looked like to me. I didn't even notice it until the last day when I was walking around looking for a quiet place to collect my thoughts. There was not a door, or a ceiling on it, but I was in there for about 15 minutes and many people walked all around me, but no one noticied I was in there (except a bee and he was NOT welcome company), so maybe a door is not needed! Another interesting thing to note is that we had to turn the water on/off each day at the main road on our way in/out of the neighborhood.
The bathroom was also the tool shed.
Peace Camp went well. It was not as organized as I would have liked for it to have been, but I am constantly reminding myself that not everything has to be perfectly planned out in order to be a success. The kids had fun and so I'm calling it a success. Elizabeth and I took on the youngest group of children, which should have been 6-7 year olds, but we had a lot of little brothers/sisters show up and we had kids as young as 2 in our group. There were over 50 kids at Peace Camp today, and almost half of them were 7 and under. That's a young group!
That's me looking crazy in the background. I guess happy and hot turns into CRAZY in photos!
I sang a lot of songs with them to fill in time while we waited for othe other groups to finish up their projects. I also taught them how to a do a "peace cheer" where we all put our hands in the circle together and on the count of three threw our hands in the air and yelled "PEACE" all at once. They loved it.
Doing a Peace cheer.
I have a hard time understanding the kids talk. We are both speaking English, and they do not have any trouble understanding me, but I had a hard time with them. I think it is a combination of the young age of many of them, the quiet voices they use, and the slight accent.
Drawing pictures about what makes them unique.
We sing songs, do crafts, play games, have snacks, and talk about peace during Peace Camp. It's like vacation bible school. At home we have activities for children all the time. I know that in my town there are lots of bible schools all summer long and kids are welcome at any of them. There are also programs through the local library, and other free activities nearby if you can drive a short distance. The families in Jamaica are so grateful for the three days of activites we have planned for the children because they don't have a summer filled with various bible schools, reading programs, etc.
Eager to see what's going to happen next.
I would love to spend a summer here and have the church open every day for a few hours where the kids could come and have a safe, happy place to hang out and play. I would have some organized activities/games/etc that are low budget (or even free) in the morning and then spend the afternoons visiting with families. I can see myself spending a summer here and loving it.
Here is the song we sang with the kids every day....
At the end of camp today we did a "shower line". The kids form two lines, standing shoulder to shoulder with the two lines facing each other. One person at a time walks through the middle of the two lines with his/her eyes closed. Each person whispers something nice about the person as they walk by. You have a great smile. Thank you for being a good friend. God loves you. I'm glad you're here today. I loved looking at the pictures once it was all done and seeing the huge smiles on their faces. It feels good to be showered with compliments!
Getting "showered" with compliments and kind words.
After we ate lunch, provided by Sister Allen and her son Erlander, it was time to start on our service project: painting the inside of the church. We got a coat of primer on today and will add paint later this week.
Some of the kids that stuck around to help.
We had lots of kids stick around to help out. They didn't just come to play, they actually worked. There was one little boy (2 or 3 years old) that was so excited that we let him have a paint roller. Eventually he somehow ended up with one that actually had paint on it....but it was ok because the church is still a work in progress and while we did the best job we could, there was no need for perfection, especially for primer.
I wonder what his mom said when he got home covered in paint!?!?
Mark took us to the Rock House for dinner. What a beautiful view! It was cloudy so we didn't get a perfect sunset, but it did peek out for just a little bit to give us a few good pictures. During dinner I found myself tuning everyone else out and just watching the sky change colors as the sun sank below the horizon.
I didn't hear a word anyone said while this was going on.
Enjoying the sunset with Carlene.
Breakfast: pastry and apple juice from the gas station :)
Lunch: fried chicken, mashed potatoes, coleslaw, salad (1 piece lettuce, 2 tomato slices, 2 cucumber slices), corn, fruit punch. Fruit punch is very common in Jamaica and it is very sweet. It is also important to note that Sister Allen and Erlander tried to provide us with more "american" meals, which was kind of them.
Dinner: jerk chicken fajita's (Sooooooo Good!)
The group eating lunch at the church.
Dear Lord, I worked hard today and it felt good. Thank you for this day. These children are such a joy to be around, and I find myself smiling at them and their eagerness to do anything we present before them. Children are a great reminder to spend more time enjoying life and less time stressing out. I miss my husband, but I can already tell that I will not have enough time here. There is so much I want to do and see and experience. I want to really get to know these kids and see where they live. I want to meet their parents and eat dinner with their families. Help me find peace in the short amount of time I have here. Lord, today I started painting a church and it felt great. Thank you for the opportunity to do something for this congreagation in return for all they have done for us. Give us all the strength to continue working throughout this week. Thank you for this splendid opportunity. Amen.