Jamaica Mission Trip day 6

Note: I broke down and got on the internet early this morning.  I was just too happy to not share this moment with Troy.  I emailed him and told how amazing this trip has been, and asked him to sell the house, purchase a plane ticket, and meet me down here.  He said he would be on the next plane!

I have tried to keep Troy out of my mind during this trip, because I did not want my mind to be distracted.  This is a short trip and I wanted to stay focused on what I came to do.  I also tried not to think about Shelly and what she was doing with her group.  This morning they were both on my mind.  I emailed Troy and then (not knowing anything) Mark gave me an update on Shelly.  I let myself think about these two amazing people in my life and what they have been doing this week, and then it was back to work.  I have one more day of Peace Camp to focus on!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

I wanted to bring this little girl home - she would not hug me, but she would give me all the kissed I wanted.  Her mom kept handing her to me and taking pictures of us with her phone.  This was the only time someone from Jamaica took a picture of me with their own camera. 

The last day of Peace Camp.  Today it felt like the kids were finally starting to get into the routine.  They understood that there would be stations, and that they would get to visit every station eventually.  We have just started building real relationships with the kids, recognizing them, and getting to know their personalities, but now we are leaving.  Three days was not enough time. 

Listing things we learned about peace this week.

We made PEACE letters and glued pictures of the kids all over them.  They turned out great!  Towards the end of camp today each child got a chance to sign their name on one of the peace letters.  By doing so they were pledging to live a peaceful life and to help others do the same.  Throughout this week we have talked about different ways to achieve peace.  What does peace mean for me?  What does peace mean for us?  What does peace mean for the planet?  Hopefully they have taken something away from that.  Maybe they will remember that peace means reading a book because it brings them joy.  Maybe they will remember that peace means not arguing with their parents.  Maybe they will remember that peace means picking up litter on the ground.  I hope that at some point they each remember to... Stop... Think... Peace!

Peace Pledge letters the kids signed

Making Peace flags

We made bracelets for each of the kids.  They had 4 colored beads on them and each color represented something different.  After the kids signed their name to the peace pledge they came over and got a bracelet.  As I tied a bracelet on each one of those tiny wrists I thanked them.  I got close to them and whispered "thank you for coming to Peace Camp".  There is something about whispering...it's like a secret...it get's their attention, and because it's quiet enough for no one else to hear, it feels special.  I wanted those kids to know that I am grateful they came to Peace Camp.  My experience would not have been the same without each one of them. 

It took some persuading, and I had to give a few examples, but I finally got them to give me their "funny faces" for a picture. 

Saying goodbye at the end of camp. 

I have not told you about Sister Allen yet.  She is the financial officer for the Egypt Gardens congregation, but more importantly she was our contact, our cook, our worship leader, and a bright spot in our day.  It was clear from the very beginning that no one gets anything by Sister Allen, and when she has her mind made up on something she's not going to stop until everyone has agreed that her way is the best way. 

Me and Sister Allen.   

Sister Allen participating in the "funny faces" pictures

I mentioned that she was our cook for the week.  Her son Erlander came every day to help prepare our lunch, and together they worked in a HOT kitchen to provide a huge meal to us each afternoon.  As we entered the kitchen at lunch time to be handed our prepared plate each day I was in awe that someone would work in a room that hot just so I could have something to eat.  It was not necessary, but very much appreciated. 

The kitchen is behind the church. 

Inside the kitchen....where our hot lunch was prepared every day. 

Erlander doing the dishes. 

I'm a picky eater, and I knew going into this trip that I would be eating foods I did not like.  I was ok with that.  I can get through a week of chicken with lots of random bones in it.  I can eat rice for every meal.  Sure, I'll try that gooey looking orange fruit.  But when Sister Allen handed me a plate with a fish head on it I didn't know what to do.  My meal not only still had bones (something I really don't like), it had teeth and eyeballs, and even though I couldn't see it I knew that somewhere in there there was a brain.  I might have to draw the line at food that still has teeth.  I picked around the fish for as long as I could, trying to decide which pieces were safe to eat, and wondering how long it would be before everyone else finished their meal and I could attempt to hide my toothy fish under a rock somewhere.  I didn't want to be rude, really I didn't, but there was an eyeball on my plate.  Everyone else had sucked the bones clean and there were fish skeletons laying on their plates.  I thought fish skeletons only exisisted in Garfield cartoons, and here I was surrounded by them.  Eventually Sister Allen took pity on me and chopped the head off, leaving me with only a small section of fleshy fish stomach.  Much better! 

See those teeth?  Sister Allen ate them for me! 

Our closing activity with the kids, the members of the congregation, and the people of this community was a campfire we led this evening.  The ground is very wet, so we could not have a real campfire.  It's not the same without a fire to stare into, but we did our best.  We taught them some fun new songs and sang some favorites they already knew.  It's hard to believe, but I didn't cry!  I think my tears may have gone dry already this week. 

Elizabeth and I peeking out the window.

Once we were done the kids descended on us for hugs.  Lots and lots of hugs!  I tried to share a moment with each child and whisper something directly into their ear as I hugged them.  Some of the older kids got long hugs because I had a lot to tell them.  I told them how much I appreciated their help and how much the little kids look up to them.  I encouraged them to stay in school and graduate.  I reminded them that they are role models and that it was my hope that they would continue to be good examples and leaders in their community.  For the younger kids it was simpler: you have a beautiful smile, you are so smart, keep reading, I'm glad you're here.  Every kid I hugged got something whispered in their ear.  I'm sure most forgot about it right away, but I know there are some that will take that moment with them.  I want them to remember Peace Camp.  It doesn't matter if they remember me, but I want them to remember the feeling they got when they were inside this church and someone told them they were special.

Saying Goodbye

We went out for a late dinner tonight and enjoyed a meal that did not include rice-n-peas!  I actually like rice-n-peas, but I didn't complain about a meal without it.  We went to Margaritaville and sat on the beach.  Not near the beach, ON the beach.  I got to dig my toes into the sand while we ate! 

Breakfast: pancakes, bacon, scrambled eggs, fried potatoes
Lunch: fish head!, coleslaw, rice-n-peas, mashed potatoes, salad
Dinner: Chicken and avocado sandwich with fries

Dear Lord, I came here to help facilitate Peace Camp and today that came to an end.  Thank you for the peace you have provided me the past 15 years as I prayed that this experience would someday happen.  I have grown so much in that time and this trip means even more to me now.  I view my life through new eyes after meeting these people.  Thank you for the excitement in their voices as they greeted me each day, and the plea's to have me return... it has given me hope that my time here was not in vain, that they got something from me, just as I got something from them.  These children, their parents, this community, and the Egypt Garden congregation will be in my future prayers, but right now I ask that you be with the children as they go back to their day to day lives and promote peace.  Give them the strength to be a voice of reason and to remind each other to stop, think, peace.  Lord, please be with me the next two days as we have free time, as I am not excited.  I am struggling with so much free time when I came here to do mission work, but I'm trying to find peace in what the days will bring.  Thank you so much for this trip - a dream come true.  Amen. 

What a cutie pie!


  1. I am so thankful my girls got to experience this Mission Trip. I am also proud that we raised such loving caring children. Thank you for all your hard work (in doing the Lord's work}, and for sharing your experience with everyone who wants to hear about it. Your momma's prayer for you is that you will continue to feel led my God in spreading the good news of God's love and peace.
    Love you and Shelly more than you realize is possible! Love, Mom
    p.s. aren't you glad I taught you that even though you might not like the food placed in front of you, you must try to eat it so as not to hurt someones feelings, and to always remember that there is someone going hungry while you have a plate of food in front of you and have a choice to be full, or go hungry?... fish head, bones and all :)

  2. thanks for sharing.


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