Monday: Allison shared her devotion first thing Monday morning and the main message that I got from it was that with faith comes presence and sacrifice.*
After pancakes and mangos for breakfast, we went to work on the RAISE farm for the first time. The pastor of the church that we went to on Sunday, Bethel United, was there to welcome us. (he works there as the manager.) We got split into two groups, April and I got to be goat sitters, and the rest of the group went over to an area to dog 18 inch holes in the ground. The project right now is to build feeding pen areas for their 36 goats, so posts will be placed in the holes and filled with cement. While goat sitting, one of the goats got separated from the rest because he was too busy waiting around the corner when his friends went further into the woods. The sound he was making was irritating, but April and I didn’t know that the sound was a cry for help until the Jamaican man we were working with, Jason, came and chased him back to the rest of the goats. So from this situation April had a revelation that when we as Christians are lost it’s important for us to cry out for help and Jesus will direct us back to our family in Christ. 🙂 I got to experience digging holes today too, and it wasn’t easy to say the least. Taranza and I were taking turns chopping up the clay-like dirt, but she got really dehydrated so Jason jumped right in and helped. Working side by side the Jamaicans has been amazing. Getting to hear what their hopes, dreams, and goals are, is really special. Jason is 22 and his hope/dream is to travel to England, and his goal that he is raising money for by working on RAISE is to go back to school for culinary arts. (His favorite foods to make are carrot cake and banana nut bread.
After RAISE we went to St. Mary Tech high school and taught a dance class to anyone who wanted to join. It ended up all being Seniors, a few teachers, and the nurse who joined the class. There were many spectators peaking out of their classrooms ,though. The dance classes we are ministering through consist of April talking to the group about how dance correlates with the Bible and how her testimony brought her to be a dancer for The Lord. We take the group through stretches, moves that can be done in place, moves that travel across a certain amount of space, and last but not least a full dance to the song Funky Jesus by Toby Mac. The Jamaicans catch on very quickly, which is awesome considering slim to none of them have participated in an actual/formal dance class before! Watching the dancers laugh and joke around with each other while learning and messing up is fun to observe. Nothing is better than getting to dance to make a difference and give hope through Jesus. The participants were very grateful fur us coming to them and are willing to have us back anytime.
*As an additional side note, Claire, Ally, and I got the chance to meet with 5 faculty members of this high school while the other dancers were teaching the class. (I ran back and forth between performing and talking.) We are all three interested in pursuing teaching degrees, so the opportunity to ask questions and learn about another culture was an incredible opportunity. A few. A few things we learned was that discipline/behavior problems is a pretty big issue in schools here. Secondary school down here starts in the 7th grade and ends in the 11th grade. This week is their last week of school, which is a lot later into the summer than when we end school back in the US.
Before dinner, Claire, Ally, and I sorted the books that were brought down here in our donation bags. There were so many that we were a little late getting to the dinner table, but that is a good thing because they will be huge blessings to the primary (aka elementary) schools that we are taking them to later this week.
This evening consisted of going to a potter’s house and seeing what beautiful art he and his wife make. They are very talented and make the skill of creating ceramics look so effortless. Their gift shop of pieces for sale looks like a White Castle. The outside and the inside is all white, so the color glazes on the pieces inside really stand out!
Next we got to travel in to town for ice cream! I’m an ice cream queen, so getting to see what their ice cream tastes like was a lovable moment. I got a scoop of cookies and cream and a scoop of star all. Their cookies and cream flavor tastes like our cookie dough flavor. (They don’t use Oreos.) the star all was my favorite. It’s hard to describe, but I’d describe it as a mix of vanilla, blueberry, and strawberry flavored. I want some more right now…..
Our night ended with Rena and Karen sharing their devotion. Their message was that no matter where people are, the message of God is the same. People in different areas may worship God in unique ways, but we are all worshipping the same God.*
P.S. Rena finally got her luggage from the airport that got left there, and thank The Lord that it was not a complication process like I heard it has been in the past when this has happened. They even got to help someone on the side of the road who had a flat tire. The person was the man that plays the keyboard at the church we went to Sunday. It’s funny how God perfectly crosses our paths with people isn’t it?
Tuesday: 7 a.m. Devotion belonged to Taranza. Her main point was that Jesus was a busy man too, but He still kept His priorities straight and made time for God. We need to follow in His footsteps. Being here on this island, away from my normal daily responsibilities, has allowed me to experience God how I wish I could all day everyday back at home.*
First on our agenda today was going back to St. Mary Tech high school to present our team devotional to the whole school. Our topic is that we are all a part of the body of Christ. No matter who or where you are, you are an imperative part of God’s works. The school devotion intertwines worship through song and dance, bible readings, and participation games. We performed the dance we taught them yesterday, but only the nurse and one of the teachers was there to perform with us. All of the students had graduation practice. We also performed our dance to Wake by Hillsong. The message of the song aligns perfectly with the devotional topic! For the games requiring audience participation, Ally and I were in charge of going out and choosing random students. All of them were really reluctant to come up with us because they are shy, but some students stepped up and took a leap of faith for us! Besides some technology related issues, the school devotion went really well. I could tell it was something different and special for them to experience.
Next it was back to working on the farm! Four people volunteered to work with machetes, but I didn’t because I was afraid of hurting myself with it on accident. (At the end of the day I heard it wasn’t that scary, so I’ll take a leaf of faith tomorrow and work with one.) Today for RAISE, most of us went up one of the mountain slopes and drug left over, partially burnt logs and branches into the middle of the fire pit area so that they can be burned or burned some more. There were 4 to 5 different areas to walk to and do this at on the slope. The logs were not light and made everyone’s gloves and skin look like they’ve gone through some good wear-n-tear from the ash. We were doing this for Cilvia and her sister; their plan is to clear the whole slope of the unneeded trees and brush. They are going to grow their own produce there and sell it. There’s still a lot of work to do, but it’ll all be worth it for those two when the crops start harvesting.
And just like yesterday when April and I had our goat revelation, Allison and Ally had a pineapple revelation today! They were brave enough to work with machetes and one of there tasks was to hack away the weeds around the pineapple plants. Once the weeds were gone, they saw how beautiful the plant is. They compared this to how people’s beauty sometimes isn’t seen because of all the junk that blocks it from showing.
While we were on the farm, Dave Jamerson was leading a pastor training meeting. I’m not sure of the exact number of pastors that showed up, but I’d say it was a packed house. At lunch I asked him 3 things that he learned and he said 1) many of the pastors here are worn down and discouraged 2) Jamaicans may go to church, but eggy have a problem living out Christ-like lives 3) down here, if someone is a success or becomes successful, they do not see the need to still rely on God if they are not in a poor state of being anymore.
After lunch, most of us went to a different high school to teach another dance class, but some stayed to help on the farm. The venue at this school where we were dancing looked like a mini subway station. We have been blessed with the amount of dance space we have been given to work with. School was out when we got there (same with the school yesterday), so not too many people were there anymore. Most of them were hanging out in the streets. We still got a group of about 10 to participate, though, and of course some spectators! Those who were on the farm were driven up to watch the end of our class, and good thing they came because the roles switched today! After our class, the Jamaicans asked if we wanted to learn a dance, and of course we were exuberant to! So everyone from our team gathered in front of the stage, while 7 of the Jamaicans took the stage. The dance moves that they taught us are the ones they use on their worship team. It was such a rewarding experience. The dinky mini is my new favorite dance move now, as well as Steve’s 😉 we may get to go back there tomorrow and participate in a full length class of theirs.
One of the highlights of my day, this week, and my life occurred after dinner. The Murphy family and friends came to entertain us. They set up their instruments and projector under the chapel outside, which is my favorite place on this property. They taught us all about Jamaica’s history. For example, how it was founded, how it’s inhabitants came, how they eat, how they speak, how they dance, etc. Everything they taught us was taught through playing drums and guitar, singing, and dancing. They invited us up to dance, too! The dinky mini was one of the dance moves they taught us, which we learned earlier at their high school! In their culture, on the ninth day of a persons passing, they celebrate with dances like this instead of grieving. It is hard to describe how powerful their entertainment was, so watching the videos that people took will help. Let’s just say that God was definitely present. After their show was over they taught us a bunch of random dance moves, like the cow and soap. With all the hyped up energy in the air, us dancers ran inside the home and grabbed our outfits and tambourines to perform the tribal dance for them that we performed on Sunday at church. They loved it so much and shared with us that we are one of the most lively groups they’ve met. We just fellowshipped and after that Allison was doing the electric slide and other American dances with one of the girls that wanted to review her knowledge of common dances in our culture.
Last but not least the time came for me to share what I prepared for the team devotional tonight. The main point of my topic was knowing God is greater than any bad circumstance that floats our way. He is even more powerful that death because He has overcome it. He has bigger plans that we can’t even see yet.