I miss Jamaica. This week and the previous one mark my two-year “Jamaica anniversary,” so you can guess where my thoughts have been! 🙂 I am still really hoping to go back sometime, but since I have left the timing in the Lord’s hands for Him to determine, I’m just learning to be patient and to pray.
And you know what? I’m able through His strength to truly rest in Him, knowing that His timing is perfect!
I actually began the writing process for this post several months ago, hoping to publish it sometime soon thereafter. However, for me, writing an article about Jamaica is not an easy or quick process, especially when I get lost in my thoughts and memories and journal entries and pictures, remembering the unique experiences with a smile on my face as the sights, smells, sounds, and feelings flow through my brain. But I also just had to tack on some photos at the end!
If you read the first installment of this Jamaica series, you already know the basics – but if you haven’t read it or forgot (I don’t blame you…it’s been a while), go read it now, then come back to this. 🙂
I was originally casually invited to go to Jamaica in January of 2013, while Grace and I were in Guyana on a short-term mission trip. I didn’t really consider it then, but when I got an email a month or two later inviting me again (Grace was invited, too, but she decided against going), I started seriously praying and thinking about going. I had the choice between music camp with Grace or Jamaica by myself, and I knew that music camp would be more comfortable for me. However, I didn’t really have the same passion for music that Grace did, so I was unsure of what to do. I made a detailed pros and cons list for each option, and through this list, Mom & Dad’s input, and lots and lots of prayer, I reached the point at which I knew without a single doubt that God wanted me to go to Jamaica.
Honestly, I didn’t “want” to go to a third-world country by myself for two whole weeks.
I would be on a team of four, without anyone from my family or anyone even less than twice my age. This didn’t excite my introverted, steady (read: shy and NOT change-loving) nature, but since I knew it was the Lord’s will, I obeyed. The Lord blessed me in a big way by answering my prayer that I would feel excited about the trip, which was yet another encouragement that I was indeed doing the right thing.
So I made arrangements, packed my bags, and flew off to Jamaica! I was recently reading through my journal entries about the trip, so amazing memories are floating through my head. 🙂 One of my favorite stories is from our last evening there. Pastor Kerron Simmonds (the pastor of one of the holiness churches down there – he actually went to Union Bible College in Indiana for a few years) took Neena and I, along with his mom and aunt, to an expensive restaurant, Little Ochie, down at the southern tip of Jamaica. It was a two-hour drive, and after a few stops, we finally got there around 8:00 PM. The restaurant was directly on the beach, so we ate…..(drum roll)….seafood! They stored the fish in deep freezers, and customers would pick out their fish and bring them to the cooks. The sight and smell disgusted me, so I was thankful when Pastor Simmonds’ mom chose the fish, and even more grateful when they offered to cut the head off of mine before serving it!
I was apparently showing my apprehensive feeling toward the whole situation, and P. Simmonds decided to take advantage of it. We were inside a dimly lit open-air building, with rock music blaring so loud my heart throbbed and a mixed smell of raw fish and salt water in the air. He snuck up behind me, grabbed me by the shoulders, and shook me as he shouted in my ear. I jumped and shrieked, and Pastor Kerron laughed SOOO hard at me (and for the rest of the night)…I think he had the time of his life just watching my face. 🙂 He also teased that I “didn’t want the fish looking at me” – which, of course, was true.
It was a really good fish, though! Its unexpected deliciousness may have been partly due to my ravenous hunger (it was 9:00 at night..), but I’m pretty sure they told me that it was one of the best kinds of fish around, “jerk fish,” I think it was called. The blaring rock music and the obvious impurity of some of the late-night restaurant-comers did quite a bit to dampen the mood, but it was an enjoyable and most certainly a memorable evening!
We dubbed this the worst photo that we took down there, but this was taken after supper that night. 🙂
One night as I was journaling my adventures and thoughts, I realized that God brought me there to pray. Anyone can pray, but we all know how much easier it is to pray when you have some specifics. There are soooo many needs in Jamaica, and so few prayer warriors fighting for them! I wrote down all the people and things that I noticed needs in – a list I still have and use, though sadly not as much as I should.
I miss Jamaica a lot, but I’m thankful that God knows what He’s doing and He knows what is best for me. It’s a little ironic, actually, since my time in Jamaica was not at all luxurious, and I can’t say that I enjoyed it to the fullest, due to sickness, homesickness, out-of-my-comfort-zone assignments, and more. But for some reason I feel like I left a bit of my heart there….perhaps with the children.
One thing I know – God brought me to Jamaica for a reason, and He taught me more in those two weeks than I could have learned at home in several months. I am soooo thankful for the opportunity I had to go, and how gracious my team members were to a naive fifteen-year-old girl!
I appreciate you reading my heart through this extended article…but since they say a picture is worth a thousand words, I figured I should silence my words for now and just save y’all some time by using pictures instead! 🙂
Sister Street leading a Bible School song
This was taken on July 4th – I even unintentionally wore red, white, and blue that day! It’s unusual to be in a foreign country on the July 4th, though. 🙂
Giving my testimony publicly for the first time at the 400-member primary school!
Now THAT is a hairpin curve!
Neena and I among some of the many photogenic kids at a school
These two guys were characters. 🙂 Kevin is on the right and Nathaniel on the left.
We made hundreds of balloon animals for the daycares!