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Thursday, was a great day for our team. It was all about the children of Hampstead. Some had sponsors and some did not. Sponsored children receive uniforms, a garden box, and tutoring.
We had the privilege of taking 15 1st graders that was paired with only 10 of us!! We paired up. Some with one and some lucky with two. I (Trish) had two precious children named Terri-Etana and Vincia. These children live in the mountains of Jamaica. Some have never left their community. They have never seen the ocean. Yes, they live on an island and have never seen the ocean!
Our job as the team was to love them and to teach them table manners. We loaded on the bus with our new friends and headed out on their first highway adventure of a field trip! We talked about colors, numbers, and learned about our families. They taught us songs. I felt like I was in the Wednesday night music makers class. It was so Cool!
The trip led us to their first restaurant called Glenn’s. We taught them how to use a fork, knife, and spoon. They served them chicken tenders and fries (an American kid favorite food). They wanted to try everything on the table. Let’s just say for the most part they ate anything and everything on their table plus some! When we finished we had the best ice cream. Some even shared their ice cream. Just ask Debbie about her story.
Our field trip did not end there as we had another surprise. We took them to Galina Breeze! Their an artist taught the children how to paint rocks. They painted rocks about their families. Their families consisted of mother, father, lots of siblings, dog and some had chickens and or goats. Goats in Jamaica are everywhere!! Literally everywhere. They like to raise them and eat them. Anyway, my friends loved to paint and loved mixing colors! As we finished our craft we moved out onto the balcony which overlooks something they were so excited to see! A “water pool” ( swimming pool)! They could no longer be contained. Chis’s boy was uncontrollable and Mike’s two boys were hanging like monkeys on him! They became energized. We toured the hotel to educate them about jobs and then took them down below the hotel to see the ocean! Kids were screaming with excitement. I am surprised we all just didn’t roll down the steps! They loved the sand. I think some of it went back in the ocean. The field trip was coming to an end and yet none complained. We loaded back on the tour bus and picked back up with our new songs we learned and headed back to Hampstead. Conditions of these homes are not like yours and mine but they do have a since of joy. Some were metal shacks with an outhouse, some were made of wood and if were lucky you had a home made of cement block . These children may have little but they also have much! They love to sing about Jesus! They have joy in their in heart. This was their favorite song- Jesus is on the telephone. Tell him what you need, tell him what you need. Jesus is on the telephone tell him what you need tell him what you need right now! Some want silver, some want gold but I want Jesus in my soul! Jesus is on the telephone tell him what you need tell him what you need right now!!
I tutored with Mrs. Caren and with Mrs. Martha. We were doing rhyming with 1 & 2 grades. The first graders had words that they needed to learn how to pronounce and read. I helped a kind shy young boy named Calvin. He learned at least half of his sight words. He was a very quick learner. And we were doing that for only 10 minutes!! We played a few rhyming word games. That was really great getting to meet them. The three first graders we tutored were Calvin, Kendrick, and Jermain. All sweet little boys. Then Mrs. Traci a lady from another team, read one of her books to the kids. It is a book about an oyster that is sitting at the bottom of the sea and animals come by and say things about themselves and say that the oyster couldn’t do that or didn’t look like that. It is a good book. The oyster makes a pearl and the animals are amazed. The kids made oysters from paper and had a pearl in the inside which was a cotton ball. When the second graders came, I got to meet a small girl named Shauna. It was cool because my family sponsors her. After we worked with rhyming words we got out bingo and taught them how to play. I won once ;)! Once they learned they got so excited when they got bingo!!! We ended up doing blackout and that was more fun because there were more kids shouting BINGO!!!!!!!
Greetings from Jamaica!!! Yesterday was a great day of worship at Church on the Rock. Today was a busy workday which included weeding one of their gardens and then measuring for a fence to surround a second garden. The garden we weeded was on a mountainside and we were surrounded by banana trees, plantain trees, and palm trees. The crops grown are used to provide meals for the mission hotel where we are staying. Some of the things grown are sweet potatoes, irish potatoes, carrots, pumpkins, greens beans and herbs. One example of the way this mission supports families is by purchasing freshly processed chickens which are raised by a local and this in turn supports a single mom and her family. We had the pleasure of eating fresh coconut and some of us experienced fresh sugarcane for the first time! After a lunch of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, banana chips, and fresh pineapple we went to the parish infirmary. This was a special time as we ministered to these loving but lonely and often neglected elderly and mentally challenged. This was a very difficult and humbling experience and we all depended on our Lord to help us be His very hands and feet. There is no way words can even describe the emotions we experienced as we fed them soup and gave them water which they were all desperate for. Even though they were hungry and dehydrated they had smiles on their faces and patiently waited their turn. After the meal time we provided much needed human touch by rubbing lotion on their arms, legs and feet and hugs were plentiful. We left with a spirit of thanksgiving for our many blessings but also with a sense of discouragement over the many needs that we couldn’t fulfill. We look forward to seeing what God has in store for us tomorrow and the rest of the week as we interact with these special people.
Caren Walker, Debbie Crawley, and Martha Cornelius
Well, God is good (“All the time!”); and all the time (“God is good!”), even when an hour or so wait at the Montego Bay airport turns into ~3 1/2 hours with piles of suitcases, much of that time with Trish “Vanna” Caston holding up the ACE sign for the other team’s drastically delayed arrival! It was all good. Even got our first (for everyone but Laura) Jamaican patties and ginger beer! (kind of like a soda) Then we drove ~2 1/2 hours with our driver/tour guide, Peter “Harry Belafonte” Taylor, singing and pointing out the cultural highlights of the trip. He even threw in some Jamaican lingo (some of which we caught, some of which we couldn’t understand through his beautiful accent or process with our very much drained attention spans).
However, it’s safe to say that all of our challenges of Day One were supplanted with one blessing after another on Day Two, beginning with the view that we woke to this morning. WOW! Only God could create such a masterpiece of life and landscape, water and waves, sights and sounds (there’s some pretty funky critters making music day & night around here!), all to His glory! Then, some lovely local coffee (not a real drinker, but enjoyed a light, sweet cup!), breakfast (served with the assistance of part of our team – rotating KP duty; if you don’t know what that means, ask anyone with military service under their belt), then off to worship. And let me tell you something, brothers & sisters, Jamaican believers really know how to worship! It was wonderful and powerful! (& largely familiar, too!)
Then, we came back for lunch (had our first real driving adventure: let’s just say, back seat driving is not always a bad thing!), and got down to some serious work with an extremely old craft: basket weaving! (the underwater course was too advanced; I failed my certification attempt shortly after donning my goggles) It was really neat, and we’ve got a great connection if you ever are in the market for some awesome wicker furniture!
After some time by the shore, some makeshift dodgeball water volleyball (Breck & Laura have some work to do on Caleb’s scoring integrity!), some heavy duty rain showers, and another meal, we had a brief meeting about the culture we’re about to immerse ourselves into. The emphasis was on what it’s like to deal with poverty mentality, coming from middle class mentality. Marla (ACE’s founder) has had to learn a lot the hard way, and she shared some of her experiences with us. It’s definitely a very different world out here.
So, tomorrow’s our first real day of getting down to ministry (although, the Lord’s already provided some “God moments”). And, our room is part of the KP duty, so I’d better get this message off and get some shut eye. We really covet your prayers for those we’ll get to engage this week, as well as some issues members of the teams are facing, here and back home. And we thank God for you and your prayers!
The team has arrived safely at the hotel, had supper and orientation. They are worn out after a long day of travel but “wired” at the same time. They are physically exhausted but spiritually full as they have seen the Lord work already during their trip in providing everything that they have needed.
Join us in praying for the team and this incredible journey!
The Jamaica team has hit the ground running – at least through the airport. They landed at lunchtime, ate, and met up with the ACE staff to be transported to the ministry center. Everyone is doing well. They hope to be able to share some photos this evening. They will be working in a variety of ministry settings this week. They will work construction, tutor children, provide meals at the “poor house”, and even more. Please join me in praying for them as they work and labor for the King and His Kingdom this week.