New people. A different country. So many emotions. It is hard to summarize my trip to Jamaica…only 5 days but so full of experiences and memories and feeling SO close to God.
Wednesday afternoon I flew from Provo to Miami and had a night there before my flight out to Montego Bay the next morning. My motel wasn’t quite as close to things as I was hoping, but I ended up with a wonderful chicken & rice microwave dinner that I ate while talking to my family (on a CELL PHONE, shocker! First time in a month and a half!), and then nutella and oreos. Yes, I was treating myself because food was not imported and thus relatively cheap. ;) I crashed early because it was an early morning start the next day.
I arrived in Jamaica around 11 am and then had some much needed time reading the Word as I waited for some others to arrive. The backstory on this is that I talked to someone involved in ACWR from my home church about how feasible it would be to visit Jamaica on my break, and then it so happened that he and the rest of the ACWR Jamaica board were going to be there the same time. It was really God working things out for me! Plus I got to see a familiar face! I cannot tell you how blessed I felt by the team that weekend…everyone made me feel so welcome and included. My “honorary dads” were so great with conversation and hugs and council…I could not have asked for a better or more needed experience.
Blake, one of the missionaries there, picked us up at the airport and then we headed to an open-air thatched-hut place for dinner. Served family style, we had jerk chicken, rice and beans, festival—a delicious sweet breadstick type thing, and ting—Jamaican grapefruit-flavored soda. I soon found that ting is a common and delicious drink and I would get lots of it! Then we started the 2.5 hour drive to the middle of the island—Mandeville—where Erin, another missionary, lives. That was my first exposure to Jamaican roads, which are narrow, full of switchbacks and pot holes, occupied by crazy (SPEEDY) Jamaican drivers, and on this night happened to have some downed brush and trees from the recent rain. Of course I thought it a wonderful adventure but I know some in the car (who have made the trip more times than me!) did not think it quite as much;)
After meeting Erin and Tashi (Blake’s wife) at CCCD, we all unpacked into the Great House and crashed pretty early. The next two days were wonderful for me to learn about ACWR and life in Jamaica. We visited New Hope Children’s Home which is exactly the orphanage you picture in your head: cribs of kids with their arms reaching up, crying and wanting to be held. You just hold as many as you can and wish you had more arms! The second day when just Erin and I went back, it was a bit drizzly outside and I sat on the cement porch with sometimes three kids on my lap with their arms tight around my neck. I can’t imagine this life but pray for those who work here and the kids who live it! The kids need your prayers so much!
Saturday night the team went out to a nicer restaurant on a hill overlooking the city, and it was beautiful to see the city awash in lights and the red-orange moon rise. Made me think of the contrast in lives I’ve seen here, and in the past month. I’m still not sure what to take from this, but for now I just know I have been blessed. Abundantly.
Sunday morning was church at the Jamaica Deaf Village which was a different experience and a bit hard. God has been working with me to learn trust in Him and HIS plan for my life, and that morning I was just thinking about the meaning of that. We learned about Joseph being sold into slave and the mighty plan God had for him; while we all can say we trust God, isn’t it so much harder when God asks you to do something hard, that you aren’t excited about or don’t really want to do? I know God is watching out for me but lately I have felt led in some new directions that I’m not so sure about yet. I am usually a very enthusiastic person and I know I will get to the point of excitement, but it’s going to take some faith! Anyway, I had some very humbling, emotional, and wonderful conversations with the team that day and left feeling exactly as I should have: on the ground before Jesus. It’s not a fun place to be but is certainly the best starting place for trust. Erin had arranged a driver to drive me the few hours back to Montego Bay, and so I had a good long time to think and pray on the road. It was an amazing drive with the forests and fields and hills, and even a stormy sky for a while. Definitely still crazy driving though—at one time, one these skinny windy roads, we met a funeral procession and there was only room for one car to go by and my driver wanted the hearse to get over! It was TIGHT but we ended moving to the edge of the hill and the hearse squeaked by.
After checking into my lodging for the night, I went out and enjoyed the sunset and got some dinner before deciding it was probably safer to stay in. It was a 4:45am early morning to catch my flight back to South (first to Miami, then Provo, then South), but I had a wonderful talk with my mom in the Miami airport and then read exactly what I needed to in Jeremiah and Isaiah while waiting for my flight. God just knows exactly what we need! I was so thankful to end break on this high note, ready for another 6 weeks on South Caicos!
I'm a twenty-something from the Pacific NW making home in new places as I follow where God leads.
My intent is to show Christ's love to the world and use business to solve some of the social problems we face: hunger, illiteracy, healthcare, economic hardship. For now, I'm in a stage of learning. A little adventuring, a few books, some good friends, and a whole lot of prayer and life runs on.