Jamaica Blog 2018

Day 1

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Despite the weather and a delay, our group finally left Louisville and are on our way to Jamaica. They are so excited and ready to serve.

Day 2

Sunday, January 14

Today we spent the morning exploring the grounds of Tan y Bryn Estates. The students hiked up the hill, found an orange tree and picked off ripe, sweet, and juicy oranges. We then met Dr. Wendell Able, the owner of the estate who spoke of the history of Jamaica and how the community of Walderston, where we are serving, came about. Mr. Walder (whom the town is named after) dedicated his life to serving the poor. The home we are staying in is over 150years old.

We walked the road where we learned about the many beautiful varieties of vegetation - including a poinsettia tree.

This time was followed by a great afternoon at Mt. Olivet Boys Home. Friendships began among the children and young adults. Soccer, basketball, frisbee, and just running around together led to an exhausted group of St X students. After dinner and time for reflection, they headed to bed ready for a good nights sleep. We are blessed to be here and are ready to continue our service to Mizpah Primary School tomorrow.

Day 3

Monday, January 15, 2018

Our students had a tremendous day serving the children of Mizpah Primary School. They had many projects to accomplish. Assisting teachers by tutoring in the classrooms, teaching volleyball and badminton, cleaning up and organizing the library/reading room, and playing with the children during recess. The end of the day included painting four classrooms. They worked so quickly that the director asked us to paint more tomorrow. All 29 of us painted and worked together. What a great addition to the school and a bonding moment for our guys. Tonight we are enjoying fried chicken and Jamaican vegetables. This group of young men have respond to the call of Xaverian education by reaching out to the poor and marginalized and building relationships with those less fortunate than them. They are a blessing and have emulated what it means to be a man for others.

Day 4

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

“The harvest is plenty, laborers are few, come with me into the fields.” A quote (adapted) from scripture that speaks to what we did today. We labored in many ways to make the school beautiful by painting another classroom, cemented an area of the driveway, worked on the outdoor learning center benches, cleared an area by knocking down a shed, and cleaned up a classroom space. Of course the students continued building relationships by teaching a volleyball clinic and spending recess time with the children. Although exhausted, and the rain was falling, there was still enough energy for time at the boys home playing soccer and basketball after we left the school. They truly worked so hard and never complained - only asked what else they could do. We are ready for dinner, reflection, and a good nights rest. We will continue our labor tomorrow and look forward to being with the children again.

Day 5

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

A bitter sweet day for us. The students have completed so many projects at Mizpah Primary School. The most important thing they’ve done, though, is formed friendships with the children. There were so many smiles today as we entered the school, and a few tears and sad faces as we left for the last time. One student remarked that it did not seem like only three days ago we met them. We hope we left an impression on them and that the ways we left the school a more beautiful place than we found it was our hope and dream. As we have heard before, “The gifts we have received, we give as gift”. (Fundamental Principles of the Xaverian Brothers)

We have truly received more gifts for these children than we ever thought imaginable.

Following a quick visit to the Boys Home, we stopped at a local market where the students replenished their snack supply. They were amazed by the cost and found some fun things to eat.

Dinner tonight consisted of a Kentucky Fried Chicken! Surprised that they had that here, but it isn’t the same as in the US -much different spices and flavors.

Tomorrow we look forward to visiting a local Catholic Church for mass, followed by work on local farm, and a final visit to the Boys Home. That too will be difficult as those times with them have been stronger bonds than we imagined.

Continue to keep us and our work in prayer, especially the children we are serving.

Day 6

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Our day began with Mass at Sacred Heart Church, which is a Passionist Community. Our students participated fully and even sang a cappella! Quite beautifully. We were welcomed by the pastor and the deacon. One of the messages shared was a message from Pope Francis to young people. He said, “A better world can be built as a result of your efforts and your generosity.” That message is truly what our students have been about this week. Following the Mass, they took up a collection to contribute to the church - all on their own. It was a wonderful witness to their generosity.

We then headed to a favorite local place called Juici Patties. This is all over Jamaica. Our students tasted the beef and cheese pattie, the chicken pattie, and some had soup. They are much like a giant empanada. We enjoyed the hustle and bustle of the town and walking through the farmers market.

Our plan was to do some farming today but weather prohibited that as it rained most of the day. The students got a chance to have some down time and to catch a nap or play some card games.

Our final time at the Boys Home this afternoon was so much fun. The rain stopped just in time for us to go back and play soccer, basketball, frisbee, and just be with the boys. The final goodbye left us sad and they followed after the bus as we drove away.

We returned to the house welcomed by a Jamaican pasta dinner, which was very filling. We will end the night with our daily reflection time and look forward to our day of fun tomorrow. These students truly earned the day.

We give thanks for our experiences and the many relationships that have been built with the children we have encountered in Jamaica.

Day 7

Friday, January 19, 2018

Today we were treated to a fun time at YS Falls. About 90 minutes away and a welcome change of scenery. We stopped at a roadside stand to enjoy fresh coconut water cut open by a farmer freshly picked. All of the students tried a taste and really enjoyed the freshness of the water. When we arrived at the falls, the first thing experienced was swinging off a cliff into a fresh pond of water flowing from a waterfall. All of the students then went zip lining - even the ones afraid of heights. A variety of foods were eaten for lunch, jerk chicken sandwiches, fresh beef hamburgers and salads. The skies opened to a very hard rain but that didn’t deter the students from swimming in the pool. After purchasing some souvenirs we headed back to Manchester. However, a final stop was made to pick up some other items - mostly shirts and coffee.

Our final night includes a special dinner of jerk chicken, festival, and assorted vegetables. Visitors will arrive from the places we served and we look forward to celebrating our time with them.

Once again, a group full of grateful hearts have experienced a blessed mission trip and we look forward to coming home to share our experiences and live the love we have received here in Jamaica.