Jamaica Mission Trip days 1-2

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Shelly and I heading out at 3am to catch our flight. 

We arrived in Montego Bay this afternoon. It is exciting to land next to the ocean.  I am not in Kansas (City) anymore.  I will be rooming with Claymil and Jill, and am thankful that they assigned our roommates for us.  This will force me to get to know new people.  As it turns out Jill and I were both at Graceland at the same time.  Something I would not have learned about her if we were not roommates.  I enjoyed getting to know her as we both drifted off to sleep. 

This evening's activities were mostly just "getting to know you" games and ice breakers, with a big welcome to Jamaica, and some basic info for everyone.  Some people have already ventured outside of the hotel and checked out a few souvenir shops.  I'm not quite ready to tour the city on my own yet.  Still seems a little scary to me!  Looking forward to tomorrow, when we will find out more about what we will be doing this week.  I'm ready to do something...but man do I need some sleep right now.  Hopefully this cot is more comfortable than it looks!

Claymil (Dominican Republic), Me, and Jill (Texas)
Dinner this evening was bbq chicken (Jamaican style), rice and peas (rice and kidney beans), and coleslaw.  The rice was really good, and I enjoyed it with some of the extra bbq sauce on it. 

Dear Lord, thank you for this opportunity.  Thank you for getting us here safe and sound and please be with the three remaining people who are still traveling.  I am excited to a part of this trip and am looking forward to what will come out of this week.  Give me patience, strength, and an open mind as I begin this mission trip.  Amen

Sunday, July 8, 2012
Today was a planning day.  We have been divided into four small groups that we will be working with in different congregations this week.  We spent all morning in our small groups going over activities that we will be doing at the Peace Camps.  I am struggling to find my place in my group.  I keep reminding myself that I do not have to be the one that has all the answers.  I do not want to step on others toes, or make them feel unwanted/uncomfortable, but at the same time I feel that my input is needed.  Where do I fit into this group, and what role will I fill?  I'm not sure of the answers yet, but I have faith that it will all make sense eventually.  We will have a few more hours of planning tomorrow afternoon and I'm hoping we make lots of progress during that time so that I can go into the first day of Peace Camp with confidence. 

We got a few hours of free time this afternoon and were were free to explore the town as we wished.  Many people went to the beach.  There is a public beach just 1 block away from the hotel, but everyone that went there came back right away, as they did not feel welcome/safe.  There is a pay beach a few blocks away, and I heard lots of great comments about that one.  Hopefully I will get a chance to check it out before we leave.

Shelly and I decided to spend the afternoon on "Hip Strip" - a street with lots of souvenir shops.  I was expecting the sales people to be pushy, but they were even more pushy than I remembered them being last time I was in Jamaica.  One came to us on the sidewalk and immediately took my hand and asked if we were on a mission trip.  (I quickly learned that there are lots of mission trip groups in Jamaica.)  He informed me that he was also a Christian and asked us to visit his craft booth.  Since we were planning on hitting up the craft market anyway we went ahead and let him lead the way.  The craft market was down an alley, behind the stores of Hip Strip.  Booth after booth of Jamaican's attempting to get our business.  They all say "because you are a friend I will give you a good deal".  They don't even know my name, but now we are "friends".  I was very uncomfortable in the craft market and was relieved when we finally made our way out of there.
Our hotel was so close to the beach

We visited several shops, but did not buy anything today.  However, we did stop into a supermarket to pick up a few snacks to get us through the week.  It was more like a tiny convenience store, with just two aisles of mostly snack items for sale.  This was my first opportunity to spend my Jamaican dollars. 

Jamaican money.
This evening I led devotions for the whole group.  I encouraged people to remember that we are here for more than Peace Camp.  Don't forget about this group of Young Adults, the adults we meet while doing Peace Camp, and the people we meet while out shopping/walking around.  What is it you can take from them and what is it you are giving to them?  When you focus on others, that is when you truly shine.  You will become the best version of yourself by making sure those around you are taken care of. 

Breakfast: eggs, sausage, french toast (yum!), and fresh fruit including papaya.
Lunch: coleslaw, rice and peas, garlic bread, chicken in a sweet sauce (similar to what we had last night) with potatoes and carrots. 
Dinner: salad, garlic bread, and spaghetti (not too bad but it sure wasn't Prego!)

Dear Lord, thank you for this day.  Thank you for the opportunity to stretch myself outside of my comfort zone.  Please guide me as I attempt to help those in my group feel welcome and important.  I am happy to have such a diverse group of people, and am looking forward to seeing what makes each of them shine.  Please be with us as we have a lot more planning to do tomorrow.  I am excited to finally travel to Negril where we will be conducting the Peace Camps.  Please watch over the vans as each of our groups leave Montego Bay to travel to their designated congregations in the morning.  Amen.