Jamaica Blog 2019

Day 1

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Jamaica 2019 got off to a great start. Although it was early Saturday morning (4:45 am) the group arrived at the airport with excitement to get going. We arrived in Jamaica with no problems at 1:30 to 85 degree weather. A blessing for us as we weren’t in snow and ice. The lengthy travel to Tan Y Bryn House included a stop for Jerk Chicken. The students took to the spice immediately. Upon arriving at the House we had dinner and organized our groups into rooms. After a good night sleep we are ready to get to work tomorrow.

Day 2

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Our morning breakfast of saltfish and ackee was delicious. Everyone was willing to give it a try. On to Sunday Mass at Sacred Heart Church and then time for a hike around the property to learn about farming. Lunch consisted of Jamaican patties, basically a large spicy hot pocket of meat or chicken. They were consumed within minutes. The highlight of the day was our time at Mt. Oliver Boys Home. The students played soccer, catch, basketball, and just spent time with the boys. Relationships began and as we were leaving the children wanted to jump on the bus and come home with us. We assured them that we were returning the next day. Following a dinner of fried chicken and rice, we reflected on our day and shared our hopes. We will be ready to start our service at Mizpah Primary School tomorrow.

Day 3

Monday, January 21, 2019

After a breakfast of banana porridge, we broke the students into four groups and headed out to service. One group worked at Mt. Olivet painting the exterior walls of the dormitory. Hard work in the sun but we accomplished a great deal in just one day. The other groups went to Mizpah Primary School. They taught in the classrooms, led a baseball clinic, spread gravel and worked on the outdoor learning area, and played basketball with the children. Even though they were exhausted, they still had enough energy to spend time with the boys at Mt. Olivet after school playing soccer and frisbee. We headed home to a delicious dinner of curry chicken and rice and sautéed vegetables. The most beautiful part of the day was the evening reflection time when the students shared how much they have opened their eyes and hearts to specific children and that they often take so much for granted in their family, school, and home life. We look forward to another day of being and recognizing the light of Christ with those we encounter. Continue to pray for us and the children we meet.

Day 4

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

The group was excited to get started again to serve. We changed groups of students so that they had the chance to work in a different location. Coach Lyons took to the field and worked tirelessly teaching baseball. The hope is for these children to begin a little league program. Students also spent the day working on an outdoor learning center. We started last year along with Malden Catholic. It's so wonderful to see further progress on it. Of course there was more tutoring and playing outside with the children. The final group continued the painting project at Mt. Olivet. The outside room where the barbershop is located was painted as well as more exterior walls. Of course we had to replenish the snack supply so we headed to the market to by “sweeties” for the children. Following a delicious dinner we reflected on how we need to live in the moment and find ways to be present to others by making our own experiences our own.

Day 5

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Today we experienced a new site, Sacred Heart Primary School. We joined the children for their weekly mass and spent the day helping in the classrooms, playing outside, and watching them learn dance and badminton. We even had Saint X vs the students. It seems that Seth Poe of our group was the champion. They were welcoming and hospitable to us and would like to see us come back next year. The afternoon was time for rest or for some, visiting the Boys Home. The relationships that have developed there have strengthened and it will be hard to say goodbye tomorrow. The evening was filled with a dinner out at a local restaurant. Many had the jerk chicken pasta. There was music and dancing and they had a great time. We are beginning to feel the strain of work, but the excitement that tomorrow will bring will fill us with more energy.

Day 6

Thursday, January 24, 2019

We were ready to complete our service today but with some hesitation as we knew we would have to say goodbye to our friends at Mizpah Primary School and Mt. Olivet Boys Home. We completed the outdoor learning center by finishing the painting of the tables with chess boards and tic-tac-toe. The students couldn’t wait to come over and use them. They enjoyed more opportunities to learn about baseball and some of our students continued to help in the classrooms. The students from Mizpah learned a lot from us this week but I believe we learned more from them. Our reflections in the evening were about the children and the many experiences we had with them that impacted us.

The evening meal included some of the boys from Mt. Olivet and the director, Mr. Newman, who shared some very influential words of wisdom with us. “Think about the kind of man you want to be and make wise choices that bring you to the point of maturity.” We were able to give them the many donations that we brought and they were so overjoyed with what we shared ... many clothes, shoes, and supplies for the barber shop that we painted.

The night concluded with a bonfire and a lesson on how to cook a special Jamaican dessert. Then some hot chocolate and off to bed to get ready for a day of fun at the waterfall park.

Day 7

Friday, January 25, 2019

The day was filled with fun at YS Falls. The students swung on a vine into the basin of a waterfall, some went zip-lining, and others just relaxed in the water. A much deserved day of fun as they worked very hard completing the tasks which were set out for us to accomplish. The evening was a gathering of Jamaican food, and learning some dance moves taught by “Explosive Dancers”. We are ready to return home tomorrow filled with new insights and changed hearts. We are grateful for the many thoughts and prayers shared for our group by so many and we felt them all week as we grew as new persons of faith and hope.

To read about last year's trip, visit the 2018 Blog.