Saturday, December 19, 2009

Destination: Florida, ETA: ?

Anything can happen on the East Coast in the winter months. Growing up in Pennsylvania you would be used to plans changing when the snow came! And how we would pray that the snow would come on school days! Hundreds of photos have been taken with the snow above my head. One of my favorite memories is skating on the town pond till dark, especially when school was cancelled! Ministry in Massachusetts would quickly change when a nor'easter would be predicted! Most of the time, if it was predicted it really did arrive. I don't remember too many false alarms!
When we booked our flights to Newark NJ a couple of months ago never did we realize that we would be traveling right in the middle of a great nor'easter. We arrived last night and oh what a night it has been!

We landed finally at 12:30 a.m. and the first thing Renee saw at the airport was a bubbler! A small USA treat!

Ry was there to meet us and take us to the hotel. One of the food groups that Renee misses the most is Taco Bell. Ry logs it into the GPS and the closest is only 4 miles away so he dropped us off at Howard Johnsons, Ry and Ney take off for TB. Her mouth watered all day for that dinner!
Boy did those tacos taste good at 2 this morning!

We then drove to Phoenixville to drop off luggage that won't fit in the car for Florida, pick up Ry's guitar and his luggage for the retreat and enjoy a Phillie cheese steak!

The trek to Florida begins! We left Phoenixville at 1:30 this afternoon and arrived in Manasas Virginia at 8:30 tonight. Den drove 35 mph for 7 hours only to go 200 miles! We laughed, we sang, we listened to christmas songs on the radio, we snoozed, we slid, we read, we played with the DS and we slid some more! We drove through PA, DE, MD, DC and settled in VA for the night! They say that maybe the plow trucks will be in operation in the morning! We will see! I think we will have church at Bedside Assembly!

This Christmas is going to be a different kind of holiday for us, spending it in hotels without all the wrappings of the holiday. I treasure the 4 of us being together most of all and am grateful that we are going to WARM country...that is unless this is the Christmas Florida sees snow!

Friday, November 20, 2009

It's Shoutin' Time in Heaven!

It seems surreal actually that this last week we walked through difficult times. It seems peculiar that I have a "grampies funeral" file folder for photos. It doesn't seem possible that for 2 weeks tomorrow Grampie Seler has a new home... heaven. It is indeed shoutin' time for him! He is with Nana, his bride of 64 years. My in laws loved to dance and I am delighted that Dad chose the song "Shoutin time in Heaven" to be played at the funeral. It is so appropriate. You see my father in law couldn't always dance for joy. He had a difficult life. For these past 32 years that I have been in the Seler clan, I have heard alot of history. He was born into a home nearly 90 years ago. It was, as we are aware today, a very dysfunctional home. This family had 3 boys. Edwin, Paul and Elmer. Elmer seemed to have been the black sheep of the family and was mistreated by his parents. When you hear people's stories it is very easy to understand why they make certain choices. Not to excuse them, but simply to understand. Dad Seler became an alcoholic and dealt with many issues in his own life. Just before I came into the family my father in law was born again! Born again to the point where he was delivered immediately from habits that were destructive. He has a beautiful testimony and was never afraid to share it.

Mom Seler passed away September 7, 2006, Dad passed away November 7. Mom was buried on September 11, Dad was almost buried on November 11, but actually was delayed till the 12th. It was so appropriate that Veteran's Day was celebrated on the 11th as Dad was a WWII vet. One of the photos above I love so much because it shows the American flag, the flowers and the cross. This is a picture of Dad Seler. He was so proud to be a vet. He reminded his pastor of the many times and ways our American freedom could be honored in church. He was patriotic. I love that about him.

The flowers that were sent to the church were to me absolutely stunning. Fall is a beautiful time to pass! The flowers were to me a picture of the beauty Christ brought into Dad's life when he was born again. He was a happy Christian. The cross is representation of the freedom Dad found in his salvation. Perfect no...striving to be Christlike...yes.

The wake and the service were beautiful. Death is not morbid for the beleiver. How Denny preached both his moms and dads funeral is past me. I don't beleive I could ever do that. He honored them to the max with how much care he gave their services. He is my hero. Both Ryan and Renee played violin solos for Grampie. Ryan had the opportunity to play for him while he was literally dying in the nursing home just days before the service. I thought it especially fitting that he combined 2 songs, a portion of the one he had played for his Nana 3 years ago. Holy Holy Holy and Adoration. Renee played Amazing Grace with Canon in D. Both were composed, sensitive and broken hearted all at the same time.

The graveside service was completely awesome. The color guard, the flag, the playing of Taps....oh my it was so emotional and so very beautiful. In the last 3 months Dad had 2 new homes. He loved the nursing home where he was placed when they found the cancer and now his second home...heaven...boy would I love a first hand report!

Denny and Ryan were able to see Dad in his new home when they went to his bedside to say goodbye. They remained until his passing of course and then when Renee and I finally arrived a day before the wake, Den took us to the home. They loved Dad there. We cried with those whom he left behind. Dad made a difference in the short time that he lived there. When Mom passed away, Dad didn't understand why he was left, but he told Jesus, "as long as I am here I will pray for anyone you bring to mind" and boy did he! I will miss his prayers, I will miss his words, I will miss the spirit in which he prayed. He pulled Ryan close to him when he was dying and prayed for him. Can you imagine the power of that prayer. Den said that when he was dying, it was as though he was living in 2 worlds. You could see that yes he was here on earth but it was as if his spirit was already in heaven. What a story, what a legacy he left. I love my in-laws. I miss them severely already.

My tribute to Dad is I will continue to pray like he prayed, for anyone, at anytime, anywhere. I wonder if he is singing and dancing with Nana tonight...
I will arise and go to Jesus
He will embrace me in His arms
In the arms of Christ my Savior
Oh there are 10,000 charms
It's shoutin' time in Heaven
A sinner once lost is found
It's shoutin' time in Heaven
Salvation has been brought down
No wonder the angels rejoice to know
My sins have been covered by the crimson flow
And now I'm feeling fine
I'm walking on the highway with my Lord
My name is written down in the courts above
It's shoutin' time in heaven

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Calabash Carving

I love fall. I love cider. I love pumpkins and mums. I love the fireplace going. I love the leaves changing. I love trick or treat candy. I love the month of October! In Jamaica "October loves" take on new meaning!

There is a pumpkin patch in our yard. The pumpkins you will find there are green and small. They are used mainly for soup. Our house does have a fireplace but I doubt I will ever use it. Much too hot these days for a fire. In early 1900 when the house was built the climate was different in Mandeville, much cooler. Today they say the weather has changed because there is so much structure development and the buildings keep the heat close.

Something else that is in our yard is a calabash tree. It is beautiful. One of our American guests asked a Jamaican Bible College student if they could open the calabash and eat it. Othniel replied, you can if you want, but I don't! Subtle hint.....if a Jamaican doesn't eat it, you may not want to try!

In my natural desire to carve something in October I tried the calabash! Really hard to cut but I managed. I have enough drying right now to start my own little market! Calabash is only used for "stuff" not to eat! They are round gourds that grow in the tree and when they fall I hustle out there to collect them or you may see Den out there throwing another calabash up in the tree to get the really big one that is up there!! They lodge in between the branches and grow into really cool shapes. These really cool shapes make great purses and objects like bowls. The rastafarians make bowls, pipes, utensils out of the gourd.

Once it is open the inside would remind you of wet cotton, I scrape it out and when finished my thumb and first finger are black. I have opened so many this week that I am not sure if my fingers will ever be my normal color! Within this cotton like mush are seeds. I hope it is not poisinous because Mackee~poo has had her nose in the trash before I have gotten it tied off!

Another item that is made from the calabash are shakers, like maracas. I have a gourd drying now in hopes that it will be my first shaker! We will see. I hope it doesn't go the way of my first starfish drying episode.....really stinky!! But the end product is really neat! I know.... patience is a virtue that I need to work on!

When living in another country it is possible to fill the void that your memories crave, you just have to find a today I made donuts and carved calabash! Happy October!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

National Heroes Day is October 19.

There are 10 national holidays in Jamaica. 10 guaranteed days off from work!
January 1 - New Years Day
February 25 - Ash Wednesday
April 10 - Good Friday
April 13 - Easter Monday
May 25 - Labour Day
August 1 - Emancipation Day
August 6 - Independence Day
October 19 - National Heroes Day
December 25 - Christmas
December 26 - Boxing Day

It is always comical when someone visiting says "so... do you celebrate July 4th in Jamaica?" Den with quick wit always says "of course, we celebrate July 4 on August 6!"

Yes holidays are different in other countries! Renee goes to school and we teach on Thanksgiving day. Seems odd at first especially when you have to search real hard to find a turkey to have your own thanksgiving! Somehow it just doesn't seem like Thanksgiving eating spaghetti and meatballs!

You can get down about it or you can see humor in the situation which most times we try to do!

But tomorrow is a national holiday and the Jamaica A/G sets this day as the Women's Ministries conference. I will be able to go tomorrow into Kingston and check it out at New Life A/G. It is an all day affair, not quite what we do in the states for WM's! no retreat center, no 3 days away from the family, no high powered speaker or band, no bookstore to shop in, and the list goes on what it is not, but I will go find out what it IS! I'm sure it will be spirited, lively and fun!

Jamaica has 7 national heroes and the memory of them and the freedom Jamaica has is what we celebrate. These heroes represent the struggles for freedom, justice and equality.

Nanny of the Maroons is the first. She was a bold leader. She was born in the Ashanti tribe of Ghana, West Africa. She was captured and brought to Jamaica as a slave in early 1700. She led the slaves in a fight against the English use of slaves on their sugar plantations. The first Maroons were the slaves who ran away when the British captured Jamaica from the Spaniards.

In Africa the slaves had benefits and the land belonged to everyone. Not so in Jamaica, the slaves owned nothing, not even themselves. Husband and wives could be split up on different plantations, slaves were bred like animals. Women were raped to produce more slaves. Life was horrible, needless to say. Nanny and her brothers escaped from the plantation and headed to Portland where they set up a stronghold against the attack from the English. The town was actually named Nanny Town. The Maroons fought from 1728 to 1734.

Nanny was added to Jamaica's list of national heroes in 1975. Her image is on the
500 dollar bill and is actually called a "nanny".

The second national heroe is Samuel Sharpe. The fight against slavery continued for another hundred years. Samuel Sharpe was a slave and led the final battle in Jamaica in December 1831. He and his followers declared that they would work only if they were paid for their labour. He organized a strike that they would not work on Boxing Day. Instead of a strike, violence broke out in Trelawny, St. James, Westmoreland, Hanover and St. Elizabeth.

Samuel Sharpe was one of 550 slaves hanged. However, the message was clear to the slaveowners, the slaves were determined to be free. Samuel Sharpe was very intelligent and could read well. He was well liked and remained active in Christian work till he died. He used the Bible to declare that slavery was wrong and was a leader in the Baptist church. The community called him "Daddy Sharpe". Slavery was abolished in 1834. He never saw the day but he worked toward that end.

Another national heroe is George William Gordon. He was a church leader as well and as a businessman wanted to make life better for the poor. He was a Justice of the Peace and worked with peasant farmers who were once slaves. When slavery was abolished, some of the free people bought land and started their own villages. Others remained on the plantations and were paid for their labour. In 1860 people began to complain about low wages, irregular work, high taxes and unfair treatment in the courts. Gordon was one of the first to fight for justice for all. He also started a Baptist church.

One of Gordon's supporters and deacons in that church was Paul Bogle. He is the fourth national heroe. Paul Bogle, along with his brother and trusted friend formed their own court for the people that were struggling with hardship. The Governor of Jamaica didn't understand the problems in the country and had no sympathy for the people. He said they suffered because they were lazy. There was no justice in the courts for black people.

Through a series of events to help the poor and to reach the governor, Bogle led a rebellion. He and Gordon were both hanged in 1865.

The fifth national heroe is Marcus Mosiah Garvey. He has been called "the black Moses". He had a vision for the future of the black people. Garvey inspired civil rights and independence in the Americas and Africa. He was born in 1887. He along with his wife started the United Negro Improvement Association. He had branches in Jamaica, the Caribbean, North America, Central America, Europe and Africa. He also formed the People's Political Party. He called for low minimum wage, land reform, public housing, a department to assist the poor in legal matters and the setting up of a university. Not all of these things happened in his lifetime but today are established. His life is very fascinating and all he went through, even spent time in prison in the states.

The sixth national heroe is Norman Manley.He was even born on a special day! July 4, 1893. He believed in democracy and believed that each man should have a vote. He worked toward Jamaica's independence from Britain. He fought in WWI and lost a brother, together they fought in the British army. He returned to Jamaica after being away 8 years and became a lawyer. He set up Jamaica Welfare Limited. This was the first social development agency to be formed, all as a result of bananas! There were problems between United Fruit Company and Jamaica Banana Producers Association. The Jamaica team wanted more money for their bananas.

Manley also started, along with O.T.Fairclough, the People's National Party. Manley wanted Jamaica to prepare to become a nation.

The most recent national heroe is Sir Alexander Bustamante. Bustamante is the leader of the labor movement. He wanted improved working conditions for all. Manley and Bustamante led the country into independence in 1962. Jamaica became an equal member of the British Commonwealth and of the United Nations. Interesting Manley and Bustamante are cousins. Bustamante went through trials and ordeals all to better his country.

None of these national heroes had easy lives, but in spite of the hardships placed on them personally, they were successes and today are heroes that Jamaica celebrates.

ALl of this I have learned from Renee's reports at school along with a wonderful book, "Our National Heroes". Renee and I have learned alot since living here because of school projects! Thank you Belair School!

I will have a lovely Jamaica day off tomorrow while you my friends head back to the office on Monday morning!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The World's Largest Herb!

Yes, that's right, bananas don't grow on trees! They are the world's largest perennial herb. Here in the new house we have many banana herbs! This morning on our "property stroll" we checked up on all of the beautiful bunches that we have been observing for a month now!

At first the banana plant looks like a flower, then those little "fingers" appear (the baby bunches). It takes two months for the "hand" (the bunches) to fully ripen.

The mother plant dies after producing the bunch of bananas (I know, sad isn't it) but not to despair. From the growing point new "suckers" appear and lots of baby plants turn into mother plants, and so goes the life of the banana tree, largest biggest perennial herb!

So now you have viewed a piece of the yard this morning and I hope you enjoyed the show. Wish you were here for tea and banana bread!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Moving can be SO MUCH FUN!

We have had a great and exciting month! Renee was in a week long symphony project with rehersals every day culminating in 2 performances at the Little Theater in downtown Kingston. She started 9th grade and during this time our teaching schedule began at the college! Since we arrived in Jamaica last August our contract was up September 1 in the Spalding house so we moved from Spaulding to Mandeville. We moved from the country to the city! Well.... a little city!

We are thrilled to be 5 minutes from Renee's school, what a difference that makes on school mornings! The most amazing thing about the Mandeville house is how quiet it is. While we lived in Spaulding I don't remember ever going to sleep without the bars stacked speakers blaring music. The noise I have to say was undescribable. I do not miss it! Many nights the bar population started at 6 in the evening and ended at 6 in the morning. In the Mandeville house we go to sleep with the sounds of crickets and wake up with the birds singing. That really does put you in a different frame of mind. I would have to say that going without a good nights sleep for one year has been very draining.

I will miss certain things about the Spaulding house but certainly not the noise! When I did the final cleaning I thought you may like to know that I cleaned 288 individual window panes. Although I never measured them I would say they are 4 inches wide by maybe 18 inches long. The most amazing thing was I didn't break a one! Now that's a miracle! Since living in a house with tile floors I have broken tons of things. There is no mercy when you drop even Corning Ware on a tile floor! I have broken my phone, tons of dishes and even my finger. I have slipped and fallen more times than I can count but on the final cleaning day.....I had no worries mon!

It is a joy to live in Jamaica and teach at the college and because the housing situation is just makes serving here even more lovely!

I invite you to come to our little bed and breakfast! We would love to have you!

Friday, August 21, 2009


What a special day! Today we celebrate YOU. Your life is worth celebrating today and everyday! I imagine when you, the 9th child came along 54 years ago your mama must have been so incredibly weary, yet incredibly overjoyed that she had another boy! You were her 7th manchild! I can only imagine!

To buy a home in 1955 your parents would have shelled out $22,000. I wonder if the Troxelville estate came close to the average! Location, Location, Location!

Parents worried about their children seeing too much TV in 1955. Shows like Hopalong Cassidy and Gunsmoke. Technology, Technology, Technology!

An average income in 1955 was $4,137. Your daddy worked on the railroad to feed 11 hungry mouths, I wonder if his paystub came close to the average. Your mother was a stay at home mom long before the term was coined. I can imagine the ingenuity of your mom, sewing, preparing meals, making cards rather than buying them. In my 31 years of marriage to your family, I never remember seeing her drive the car although I know she had a license. I guess with that many children, she wouldn't have been able to fit them all in the car at once so she didn't have to worry about driving!

In 1955 when Mom Seler went to the store, she spent 92 cents on milk, 18 cents for bread, 53 cents for a 10 lb. bag of potatoes. She would have never dreamed of buying oreo cookies for 39 cents. Snickerdoodles and 1234 that's what the kids like! When the cantalope man came through town..fresh fruit was the treat of the day.

You have always said that your family had their own baseball team, their own volleyball team, the only thing that you all didn't have for your own was a bed! You spent so much time together as kids must be that is why you and your 6 brothers joined the military, you could finally have your own bed and some personal space!

When you were born,Dwight Eisenhower was the president and Richard Nixon the vice. When you were born you would have seen "I like Ike" posters around the community. When you were born Rosa Parks refused to sit at the back of the bus.
When you were born radios were tuned into baseball, remember the Brooklyn Dodgers and New York Yankee games!
When you were born, Albert Einstein died.
When you were born The Platters and Elvis Presley were hitting the airwaves.
When you were born a baseball glove cost $9.95.
When you were born Disneyland in California was built.
When you were born a postage stamp cost 3 cents!

Today living in Jamaica it is hard to imagine a stamp costing so little. When someone sends a package to us the cost is unreal.

Life has changed but how could so much change happen in only 54 years? At times don't you feel that you are still in your twenties? At times don't you feel like it can't be possible to be this close to 60?

Since I am unable to run to Macy's to get you a new shirt and tie for your birthday or go to Brookstone for a new gadget, I am dedicating this blog to you. I give you words. You continue to tell the kids that words are captivating. Words are worth studying. Words are intriguing. You tell the churches where you preach that you love words. You preach sermons distinguishing the many meanings in just one word. Your youth groups have always teased you about teaching them new words and using words above their intellectual ability!

Within our little family, words mean alot! Maybe the 3 of us are vocal because you have taught us the importance of words. Maybe we are chatty because you taught us so many meanings to words. Maybe the 3 of us never meet a stranger because you have modeled the wonderful use of words.

Because of your words, you are a wonderful father. You made tapes when the children were young and you were traveling. Your written notes are something that both Ryan and Renee treasure. Your daily morning email to Ry while we are in Jamaica and he is in college have many times been the key to the success of his day. Your lunchbox notes brought great pleasure and when not there could traumatize them!

You are a man of words. Thank you for sharing them. Thank you for not clamming up and keeping your words to yourself. Thank you for realizing a long time ago that since we only pass this way but once, your words would bring healing and not death. Thank you for speaking into my life since the day I met you with words that were appropriate for the moment but have lasted a life time. Thank you for in the most precarious of times your words were like apples of gold on a tray of silver. Thank you for talking, thank you for correct verb structure, thank you for your written and spoken words! Thank you for teaching us how to be deliberate with our words. They are treasures to your 3 greatest fans!

Happy Birthday Den! I wish you:

Happiness.....deep down within
Serenity......with each sunrise each facet of your life
Close and Caring friends
Love....that never ends
Special memories...of all the yesterdays
A bright today...with much to be thankful for
A path....that leads to beautiful tomorrows
Dreams.....that do their best to come true
And appreciation ..of all the wonderful things about you.

Sweetie, I wish you a year of God's most precious Word...written and Rhema.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Kudos to American Airlines!

It is not too often that I rave about an airline's efficiency and care but today I will! Yesterday we left Miami to come back to Jamaica, our flight was scheduled for 1:35. Because of weather we were a little late in boarding but not too bad. We of course were not complaining, we didn't want to end our time in the states and so we were happy to be detained! One more browse through Border's!

We boarded and pushed away from the gate and sat on the runway for over an hour. In that hour of waiting in tremendous heat on the plane my Dramamine kicked in and Renee was quite content with her DS!

All of a sudden, the airline personnel ran down the aisle and loudly called for a doctor on the plane. When nobody came to their aid they got the medical bags from the overhead bin. Quite soon the plane turned to go back to the gate. Just as quickly as the plane came to a stop the Miami-Dade Rescue team was on that plane and giving medical attention to the person.

The person in need was actually a missions team member. We had noticed this team at the gate wearing matching shirts with a Jamaica flag on the front. One of the students had a seizure I learned from one of the chaperones later. The medics got him off the plane and then we waited for the luggage to be found underneath. Around 4:00 we were on our way!

During that time of waiting on the runway a person seated next to Den started having a panic attack from claustrophobia. Denny talked him through the pain and they continued conversing for the entire flight. When we landed in Kingston, the gentleman said "If you hadn't done what you did, I would have never made it."

We had a tremendous month in the states, had success at the Jamaicam consulate in Miami and arrived home ready for another school year to begin. Of course alot has to happen before that day! One of the highlites will be Ryan coming after the Chosen tour concludes and for that we are very excited!

We spent some time at VFCC this month and so Renee was able to see the school and really see where Ry lives. The photo is Renee in front of a VFCC bus with Glen helping to get our luggage off at the airport. He was so kind to drive us in to Phillie and blessed our lives with good conversation and laughs of when he came to Jamaica as a newlywed!

We are so blessed and realize it over and over again! God keeps showing us care and kindness though the people he sends into our paths and that makes a world of difference!

Even the kindness of a flight attendant can make someone's sure did in the life of that missions team member. The kindness of Denny to care for that man so much to put aside the textbook he had planned on reading.....

Kindness is the virtue that has sustained me these last 4 years, to me it is worth more than gold. I guess that is why when someone expresses it, it stops me in my tracks, because life is so easily the opposite......

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Bauxite never had meaning to me before this!

We live in the parish of Manchester. Renee is an honor student at a school in the Manchester parish that was organized 40 years ago to fill the academic and social needs of expatriot children. These expatriots were brought to Jamaica to work in the bauxite mining production, the greatest export that Jamaica has. Third largest producer following Australia and Guinea.

Up till now, the bauxite mining industry was a significant source of employment. In 1956, the year I was born, the nation's take from bauxite went from US 2.2 million to US 11.7 million 2 years later. Imagine what the nations take was in most recent years. The 1950's figures are small potatoes compared to the nineties. I read in one article that right here in Mandeville there is US 300 million dollars worth of bauxite.

Aluminium is made from bauxite. The photo above is the field right here where we live. It has become increasingly quiet. Some of my friends husbands have been employed with Windalco. The company has 2 plants and the one pictured above is here in Manchester. They have now closed the plant due to declining global demand for aluminium. Chemists and engineers have now returned to their native countries.

It is always fascinating to me to follow the trucks that you know came from the field because although they may have been painted white, the only visible color is red. Bauxite red! Come to think of it, I haven't seen any of those trucks lately.

Another interesting fact about the bauxite field is that the dirt remaining has no value.In the process of extracting the bauxite, all vital nutrients are stripped as well and the dirt is absolutely worthless.

Now that the mining has stopped and foreigners have returned home, I wonder what will happen to these fields. In 50 years will Jamaicans look at photos and say, I remember when this development was just a red field. Look at what it is now!

Which brings me to my pondering, what will happen to Belair? The school initially began as an international school and eventually was governed by the Jamaicans. Today it is basically a Jamaican private school with a few whities interspersed like Renee! I sure hope just because the demand for aluminium has decreased that Belair won't go into decline because of the economic crisis.

Renee has had an incredible year in Belair. I am so grateful that we live in Manchester parish so that she can be an alumni of a great school.Funny the things that had no meaning even a year ago, today have tons of meaning and ramifications. So goes life!

Friday, June 5, 2009

One smart teenager!

My Renee turned 13 this week and just when her birthday came, a wisdom tooth broke through. Timing is everything isn't it!! It was kind of bizarre when she asked me what was going on in her mouth. She knew she was getting a tooth but was quite surprised when I said it was a wisdom tooth! What do you know, my teenager is one smart cookie!

Tonight we celebrated 3 June birthdays! Patrick and Nicholas are 2 of our wonderful students in the college. They are staying at the college for the summer so we brought them to the house for a fun birthday party! Renee's birthday was Wednesday, June 3, Nicholas's is today, June 5 and Patrick's is June 25.

Patrick is from Haiti. Playing Wii is a great way to learn English! Renee has had one year of French, it always neat to hear her communicate to Patrick.

Renee has had a great year in 7th grade. Just think, learning 3 languages at one time! She has French and Spanish in school and then she is learning Patois from her friends, the heart language here in Jamaica. Did I mention she is one smart cookie. Funny what a new tooth can do!!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

A month of Blessing!

Sometimes in ministry and in life, God lets you experience a season of rejoicing. The month of May was that for me. A wonderful CBC student came on May 2 for one month to experience missions firsthand. Sara attended our college classes, attended Renee's classes even her after school art sessions, Renee's violin lessons, AGBC graduation, field fellowship gatherings, and lots more. Sara is a Deaf Ministries major so we connected her to the deaf village ministries here in Jamaica and she was able to participate there quite often. She went to both of the A/G childrens home here on the island. She ran her little legs off with our crazy schedule. We were in different churches each Sunday and in the middle of all that Ryan came for 10 days and he too ministered in the church with his violin. It was so cool to have 2 college kids in the house! GO VFCC and CBC! Ryan attended 1 semester at CBC so we do have some loyalty there!

Today our wonderful month came to a close and the house seems so empty with just the 3 of us together again! Sometimes normal is not the normal you really want! We left for the airport at 6 this morning for Sara's flight. Since we were there so early we took advantage of the beach. Since we had to pull Renee from school for the 2 hour drive (one way) we decided to make it really worth it! Tonight we are crispy critters! But happy crispy critters! Lots of snorkeling and shell finding! That never grows old!

To everyone who made Sara and Ryan's time here so special, I thank you! A moment invested into the lives of students who are completely dedicated to entering full time ministry always has rewards and you my Jamaican friends made it a great month!

Sunday, May 31, 2009

What's a lychee?

This very beautiful, old tree is in the front yard of the house we rent. For a month we have been watching fruit form. This past week it became a very popular place for school children, neighbors, our landlord and then those that appear after dark! I was sitting at my desk one evening and heard some very familiar sounds, I flipped on the outside lights and grabbed a flashlight to "spot" the tree! Sure enough there were some lychee hunters!

Today Paul and Dulcie brought some of the New Vision Children as well as 2 of their girls and you will see in the photo some very happy children! They were eating as they were picking! What a precious sight!

I took a bag of lychee to my friend in Mandeville and she held the bag to her chest as though I had given her pure gold! She said, "Do you know how much lychee cost?" She continued to say, "400 Jamaican dollars a pound." That is costly. Of course most things are expensive in Jamaica, but this little fruit is a prize!

So there you have it, we have added another cultural experience to our lives! By the way green = sour, red = sweet! Oh it is tasty. I told the children today to save some seeds and start a tree there at New Vision Children's Home, they said, "But Miss Debby, we won't be here to enjoy it. It takes to long to get a nice tree like this." My response....."but what a legacy you would leave! Children many years down the road would really appreciate your effort!"

Along with the lychee, we have a couple lime bushes, 2 avocado trees, a sour orange tree just for making juice, a fig tree, lots of cho cho, a beautiful tangerine tree right here in the yard! Behind the house in the garden are banana trees, yam and sugar cane! Aren't we blessed!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

"A Happening!"

Ryan was not scheduled to come to Jamaica this week, but through some very difficult moments and growing pains on his part, daddy used air miles to get him here for an emotional boost. When he arrived, he was absolutely exhausted. His tank was running on empty in every way! He is drained physically, mentally and emotionally. Our mission this week is to build him up in every way, hands on instead of long distance. I am so grateful he has a break in between tours for us to do this.

When Ry was here at Christmas time, Renee's violin teacher was on Christmas break so he was unable to meet Miss Moyah. What a lady, what a teacher! So on Thursday, he joined us for Renee's lesson. Ryan serenaded Miss Moyah with "Adoration" and then she suggested that the 3 of them play "Canon in D". This is what my friend, Lu, would call "a happening!" When words cannot describe the event, Lu would walk away and say, "Debby,that was a happening!" Oh I wish my friend Lu could have been in Jamaica Thursday night, I know just what her facial expression would have looked like as she said those words!

What a joy it has been to have Ry with us for 10 days. never in my wildest dreams did I ever imagine parenting to be so momentous and yet so stressful. Numerous times this year, Denny has said, "Do you think our parents experienced these same emotions!" My question is, "And if they did, why didn't I notice!!!"

Growing up indeed is hard to do. I remind myself that I have done everything in my power to give him wings. And now that he is learning to fly solo, we too are learning to fly with him! We have never had a college student before! I sure hope it gets easier with Renee!

We have had many "happenings" this academic year with both Ryan and Renee.How proud we are of them. God's gifts to us, that's what they are!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

AGBC 2009 Commencement

We celebrated today with 40 Bible College graduates here in Jamaica. It was indeed an exciting day! It is very hard to beleive that we have finished our first academic year at the college. It seems like we just arrived yesterday....well no not yesterday, maybe last week!

17 of the students were resident students. 7 were Carribean School of Theology students and 16 were extension students. We had direct contact with the 17 resident students. They were our teachers as we endeavor to learn the Jamaican way of doing things and we were their teachers in the classroom. Precious students....may they do well as they enter their place of ministry.

In the beginning of May we started seeing rain daily. One of our rooms in the house was flooded this past Tuesday, what a mess. All of a sudden, overnight, the rainy season began! Wouldn't you know it minutes before the graduation was to begin, the downpour arrived in Christiana. In the meantime, I was running frantically looking for bobbypins to hold down my mortar board! No success, so 10 minutes till one I was running downtown to a little store, hoping they would have them!

The processional began to Chariots of Fire! Awesome! The program was going along fine when it was the Kingston Extension students turn to give their item (special). The first note sounded and I gasped! Uh-Oh! It was the same song that I had practiced with the resident choir.

Let's just say we took that Uh-Oh and saw God use it to confirm His message for the day!

Give myself away so He can use me

Here I am, Here I stand

Lord my life is in your hands

Lord I long to see your desire within me

All my dreams, All my plans

Lord I place them in your hands

So I give myself away

So you can use me!

This is a commitment that even the audience can make along with the graduates as well as the lecturers. It was a powerful ceremony and to think that it is over makes me a little sad! Saying goodbye to students that we have grown accostumed to over the months brings transition and change. Not always a pleasant feeling.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Your gifts make way for you!

When we chose to come to Jamaica and teach in the Bible College our greatest concern was of course, our 2 wonderful children. Leaving Ry in the states was tough and wondering how Renee would fare in a new country was tough. Now that we have been here a few months, we just have to give praise to God. Renee and Ryan have had so many wonderful opportunities. Their gifts really have made a way for them.
Renee has played her violin in many special venues that we could have never dreamed of. At the beginning of the year she was chosen for a special art class as the teacher saw some untapped potential in her. Just recently that teacher who is an artist opened an exhibit and asked Renee to play for the opening program. The photos above show her playing and a picture with a friend from school that attended the exhibit.
Although Jamaica is an English speaking nation the heart language is Patois. I still have to ask people to repeat themselves! Renee has grasped the language quickly and it shows as she has been on the honor roll and high honor roll for both terms so far. Her teachers are very proud of her.
In the winter months, she auditioned by request of her violin teacher for the Jamaica Youth National Symphony and made it. Just yesterday she and 3 girls from her class represented their school in a French competition in Kingston. Renee and Ryan both have such full schedules, I sometimes don't know how to keep it all straight!
I do know that when you consecrate your babies to Jesus He makes a way for them. He gifts them, He anoints them, He protects them and for me this is a great Mother's Day weekend because they both have chosen Jesus. For both of my babies this school year has been one of great transition, ups and downs, successes and failures, homesickness and contentment, but through it all we are learning to trust in Jesus and we are learning to trust in His word that never changes.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Travel Advisory!

We spent a couple of hours at the airport today. Being the people-watcher that I am, it is always a fun couple of hours for me to wait outside the customs door for arriving guests. Den and Renee find a stoop and read their book! These guys never go anywhere without their best friend...a book! Not me, how can you stick your nose in a book when there are people to watch!

4 planes landed at the same time this afternoon so you can imagine how many hundreds of people came through those doors. Interestingly, I saw only one with a mask to guard against the swine flu. I saw hundreds though, that came through dressed for the beach.

Go figure, what has happened to traveling with style? I am bewildered. There is no way you can go from traveling all day directly to the beach. There are alot of stops in between! What about the immigration/custom window? What about the transportation from the airport? What about checking into your room? What about traveling with others in mind? The tourists I saw today had one thing in mind, Jamaica=Beach!

How can you leave the cold winds of Chicago with such little clothing on? Tourists with alot of money but not much sense. I do think they forgot to look in the mirror at 6:00 this morning when they started their vacation!

I am happy to report that Jamaica is more than tourists at a beach and that is why we were at the airport. A friend who is a CBC (Deaf Ministries) student is visiting Jamaica for a month of missions experience. As Sara is with us, she will indeed get an overview of what being a missionary in Jamaica is like! College life, classes and graduation, children's homes, a chuch plant with no building yet 100 children gathered for Sunday School in a field, Sunday ministry in churches, visiting a deaf ministry that has a factory, apartments and a deaf church, and some God appointments that we don't even know as of yet!

It will be a very exciting month and who knows we may even get Sara to the beach, but I know we will be prepared for all the stops in between! God has a plan this month and it will be fun, a lot of ministry fun!

Monday, April 13, 2009

A ZBI flashback!

I attended Zion Bible Institute when...........well, when it was called Zion Bible Institute! I was a student when the school was located in East Providence. I was there in the days of Dr. Leonard Heroo, Mary Campbell and Alice King. And I was there in the days of blue uniforms for normal days and a white uniform for Easter, which brings me to my flashback!

Since we arrived in Jamaica almost 8 months ago we made a choice to attend a different A/G church each week. We are on a cultural learning curve and learning from the churches is a great avenue. We are learning from the Bible College students and their distinct churches.

On Sundays the services start at 11:00 which makes it wonderful for travel time. We don't have to leave the house in the dark! But today the church we chose to visit moved their service to 9:00 which is early for Jamaica. Because we had a 2 hour drive it had been an early morning. I dozed off pretty good before we arrived at the church. When we drove into the church lot, I opened my eyes and thought I was dreaming! A deja~vu kind of dream! All I saw was WHITE, men in white suits, ladies in white dresses. White, white, white everywhere. The platform was decorated with white touling draped over white pillars. I had worn black, Denny was in black, Renee in pink! Wow did we stick out! But hey, we're learning culture! We will wear white next year!

All of a sudden I thought I was back at ole ZBI!!! When school started in September we wore blue uniforms. Through the winter we wore blue uniforms. But when Easter came, out came the white uniforms and if you happened to have a sweetheart, a beautiful corsage adorned your neckline! When Easter hit the calendar in those days the girls were required to put on the white uniforms. We all looked so pure, so clean, so bright. It was an absolutely beautiful sight! If my children were to see ZBI today as it was then, they might laugh. However, back in those days the white uniforms were quite refreshing after the long, hard, New England "blue" winters!

I travel with my camera and unfortunately, we left the house so early today I forgot to put it in the car! Today would have been a great photo op! I haven't thought about those uniform days in a long time but today, well......let's just say I must be getting old because all during the service I saw Raymond Goodwin leading the Gospel Temple in the great old hymn, "He Lives" in only the way he could direct. I heard Sis. Chase at the organ and when Dr. Heroo stood to speak using those picture word sentences as only he could, I found myself wishing that I was a ZBI student one more time! Where does the time go and I wonder what ever happened to all my uniforms!!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Prayer Prompters

Funny the things that remind us to pray! Since we moved to Jamaica and left our boy at VFCC, you can imagine how many times a day our thoughts turn to Ryan and if not careful a few tears will run at any time, at any place.
The first time we found a coin on the pavement one of us said, pray for Ryan! Well it stuck, now 7 months later, we have quite a collection! 147 coins that when spotted, Ryan came to mind! As if we needed a reminder!
Actually the majority of the coins are worth 8/10 of a penny, not very much value at all. But let's talk about the value of the spontaneus prayer. Could it be that when we found a coin he was driving alone, feeling homesick? When he was nervous about a recital, did we come upon 8/10 of a penny? When he was struggling financially, did we spot a coin? When the enemy was tormenting him, did the three of us say, "Oh God remember Ryan" when finding a very damaged coin, run over by more than one truck?
As a matter of fact, we have a lot of prayer reminders in the house! We have a gift from the first children's ministries group we served in our first staff position. Everytime I see that heart hanging on the door I say a prayer for little kids who are now adults and have long forgotten who the Seler's are!
The little dish that holds our "Ryan" coins is also a reminder of praying for a person who literally despises me and caused severe damage to me in every way. As difficult as it is at times, we have to pray those kind, you know, the blessing kind of prayers. Everyone in a group of 100 people was given a dish like this one, that is why I received one. I am not sure why I didn't toss it away or put it in one of my many yard sales, could it be that even my spontaneus prayers have value for a person like that?I know it has value for me.
Prayer is so powerful. What still amazes me is that I can be here and Ryan there and prayer supercedes all geographical boundaries, it supercedes me "knowing all the details". Prayer supercedes all my hurts and lasting memories. Prayer goes far beyond anything my natural mind can comprehend. Prayer is supernatural. Prayer is so far reaching that even when my prayers don't make sense, God makes sense out of them.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Nothing attractive at all about trash!

Driving downtown Kingston, Jamica I saw a remarkable sight! Goats in the trash on a major street! What in the world could they have been drawn to? Jerk chicken bones, dried up rice and peas, cho cho or maybe some yam. I wonder why animals love the trash? This particular goat was not giving up his territory for anyone or "anygoat"! There were many right on his tail hoping for just one little morsel!

This "photo op" sent me to pondering which is something I like to do. My ponderings never get an audience but I amuse myself by pondering! I love clean! I love a freshly scoured sink, floor tiles that sparkle, freshly laundered clothes. I love a clean house and a clean car and a clean purse! I ponder, is this how we are made? Does being made in HIS image have something to do with this innate desire to be clean?

If this is how we are made, why, like the goats are we so drawn to trash? Of course I don't mean the trash bin or the outside dumpster. I mean the trash that comes along so innocently and comes without an obvious odor. Somehow I think it really does! There is quite a distinct odor to the things that are repulsive to the Savior if we just have the spiritual nose to detect it!

Funny how the simple things in my life become complicated. A word that comes out wrong is trash. A thought that really stinks is trash. A scheme to get what I want is like going to the trash barrel. A fight with a friend, a disregarding of the poor, ignoring the "still, small voice of the Master", a really trashy attitude...well it is all something to be thrown out with the rubbish.

If I work so hard to keep my surroundings sparkling, I must work double to keep my spirit sparkling? The enemy isn't after my sparking house, but he is after this temple! Everything I do in the flesh is as trash, everything I do with a wrong motive is trash, everything I do to get myself noticed is trash, everything that I do to bring discord is trash.

Boy, with all the trash in my life it's a wonder I don't have billy goats tracking me and nipping at my heels!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

A photo is worth a thousand words and more!

The ministry of Irvin D. Clown (Children's Evangelist Kevin Ross) has eternal value! A conservative total for salvations in the last 2 weeks is 3300 people! We are sorry to see him travel on. Kevin is a person that a missionary would love to have on the field full time! Jamaica has been highly impacted from the center of the island to the coast in the last few years with Kevin's ministry and we are so delighted that he chose to come to our area a couple of weeks ago.
Once Kevin gets dressed as Irvin in the morning, he stays that way till the ministry for the day is complete. As we would pass through toll gates or red lights we would forget why people were staring in the car! We got so used to Kevin and Renee dressed as clowns that they began to look normal! As a matter of fact one morning when traveling to the ministry site, the local police stopped us and it was all because of Irvin D. Clown! So glad Irvin didn't go to jail that day, we had a lot of ministry planned!
Another thing I really appreciate about Irvin is that wherever we were he used the opportunity to share Christ with his rope tricks or whatever he had in his pocket at the time! After one Sunday afternoon of minstry we stopped at a little place along the road to get a coke and while Renee and I were waiting in the car we saw the family that owned the little shop(that was closed at the time) congregating in this little store front. Kevin was sharing the good news and 3 were saved on the spot! I mentioned the location and the family to the pastor the next day so that she will be able to follow up on these new converts.
We were at a fast food restaurant one other day passing through to the next ministry spot and because clowns are not a normal sight on the island, Irvin D. had an audience! Adults and children alike have been given the gospel and that my friend is what it is all about!
Denny, Renee and I are still on cloud 9 for all we have seen Jesus accomplish in the last 2 weeks. We are motivated even more to train the students in all facets of ministy. God uses everybody and every gift to glorify Himself. Keep praying with us for the island of Jamaica, although a religious people, violence and crime are ever increasing. Domestic abuse and rape are on the rise. The enemy is making claims to the country and its people, however NOW IS THE TIME for Jesus to break forth and shine!