It was a great day in Jamaica for our entire team, including Taylor and me (Kristi Jackson). Yesterday had been a little tough for Taylor as she had realized how hot the Jamaican sun can be. She had taken two shorts naps due to head aches, likely from not drinking enough water. I was wondering if I had been crazy for bringing a 9 year old little girl on a mission trip, especially since she is the only child on the team. God proved that there is power in prayer and we were meant to be here. We prayed after a great breakfast that God would give us work where we could contribute, and that Taylor would not be too hot or have a headache. God answered our prayers and then some. We worked in the morning laying pipe to eventually connect the cistern to the well around the R.A.I.S.E. office building. Since the area was flat most of our team was able to work in sections at the same time with pick axes, a hoe, and many shovels. Although the work is not glamorous we truly enjoyed working together to accomplish a big task. I am the water lady. Meaning I remind (okay, nag) people to drink their water every 15 minutes. We are supposed to drink 8 ounces every 30 minutes. I even have permission to be a little mean if people are stubborn. I am quite good at that, just ask Taylor. Truthfully everyone did much better at drinking water today. Most people were on their third bottle of water by one hour into our work session. The work is very physically and we have been taking turns on various sections so that no one becomes too worn out. Remember our prayer was that Taylor and I could contribute to the work, as we did not do very much manual labor on Monday. Taylor took it upon herself to help smash in the dirt that we buried the pipe with after digging out the hole for the pipe to lay. Her way of doing this was to hop like a kangaroo, and say “Clear the way for the kangaroo…over and over again.” People would move out of the way and she flattened the dirt. Needless to say she had a ball while she was doing this too. I got to run the wheel barrel full of dirt up the side of the hill so that we had dirt to put back into the hole that we had dug for the pipe.
The R.A.I.S.E. project also has 36 or 37 goats. During the morning they are let out of their pen to eat the grass. Many of the goats are very little. Taylor ran with the goats, and even held one. This was her “rose” of the day. She now wants to move to Jamaica so that we can own a goat. I did explain to her we could just move out of our subdivision and have goats too.
After lunch Taylor, Jasmine, and I went with the other team that is here to help out with Vacation Bible School at the church that we attended on Sunday. It was a great experience to see so many Jamaican kids, and interact with them. The school children attend school from September to Mid-July. Therefore most of the kids walked to the church after school was over for the day. They all wear school uniforms, and their schools are basic, primary, and high school similar to ours in the US. We played hot potato, sang classic worship songs like Jesus loves me and This little light of mine, did a craft while seated in the sanctuary, had snacks, and closed with a few loud worships songs involving fun movements. In this one room church on the top of a hill, where we climbed 66 steps to attend 110 Jamaican children came for Vacation Bible School. It was pure fun to sing worship songs and do crafts with these precious children.
When we got back from VBS we sat down to a delicious meal of homemade fried chicken, red rice, dinner rolls, and wonderful pineapple upside down cake. Pinto is the Jamaican cook, and it was fabulous. She got a round of applause after dinner. Then we closed the evening with an outdoor performance at our guest house by the Murphy family. They are pastor of the church that we attended on Sunday, and leading VBS. Along with the parents, two of their adult children, and three young college students that put on a Jamaica musical performance involving bongo drums, guitar, singing, and dancing. It was simply incredible. This family is unbelievable gifted and talented. There were opportunities for us to dance with their group Jamaica style. I learned a few moves, which my daughter was quick to video. Needless to say it is quite comical. We learned a lot about their culture, which was a truly wonderful experience.
Overall it was quite a day. Only a few people had “thorns”, which involved being tired from the manual labor or being bitten by ants from the dirt. Our team is bonding, working together, encouraging one another, and truly thriving as we have laughed often today. It is incredible to see what can be accomplished as we work to glorify God and encourage one another along the way. I feel that we are in a bubble that is flourishing from everyone’s prayers and encouragement. Thank you to everyone that has supported us emotionally, spiritually, financially, and at home so that we can be here. We serve an amazing God!
Good night from Jamaica.