Thursday, December 15, 2011

Merry Christmas from Jamaica....

It is 80 degrees today. The sky is very, very blue. The Christmas breeze is blowing my clothes dry on the line. The birdies are chirping. I hear the sounds of a normal day outside with cars buzzing by, workers working, and taxi's beeping their horns!

And yet it is Christmas time. The plaza downtown has some Christmas lights up. I walked in one store that had some Christmas decorations down one aisle, but nothing more. I shopped in the grocery store this morning and there was nothing that would indicate it is Christmas.

We hear much about commercialism in the USA, but not here. We hear much about happy holidays versus Merry Christmas, not here. I haven't heard anyone in a store utter any of those choices.

I remember being very embarrassed our first Christmas here. When our college students returned from holiday break, I excitedly asked what did you get for Christmas? The response was blank, silent, they said uuuummmmm nothing. It is simply another day for a special 6 a.m. service with a Sunday dinner menu for lunch.

This year I sent the students a questionnaire and asked specifically about their Christmas day. We have 2 Haitian students and their responses were quite similar. I thought you would find it interesting to hear about Christmas from our students.

Grand Market is THE event for Christmas Eve. It is a block party in the streets. All the vendors are in the streets late into the night when they usually leave late afternoon since it gets dark. There is lots of noise, music, the smells of cooking in the street. Interestingly the items for sale are pretty much those that you would see anytime of the year. You purchase clothes or shoes and your food for the next day. Lots of drinking and partying happen. You may spend the whole night in the town square.

Christmas morning begins with a 6 a.m. service. It is not abbreviated but the normal length of time for a service. Some churches will share fruit cake and sorrel. It is a service to honor the Christ child.

Then everyone goes home to a big meal. The usual chicken and rice and peas but more than just that! Curried Goat, pork, ham, jerked meats,fish, sorrel, Christmas cake. One of our students said that for Christmas dinner most will use a knife and fork. I took this to mean that it is a more involved meal with everyone seated around a pretty table.

I found it interesting that a couple of the students mentioned that the grandparents are the ones that make the Christmas cake. Some also mentioned that on Boxing Day, December 26, the families travel to the family members that couldn't come on Christmas day to share more food. Some of the students called Boxing day family reunion.

Everyone of the students talked about how the home is cleaned thoroughly for Christmas and the front is painted. They change out bedspreads and curtains. It sounded to me like a spring cleaning.

Not one student mentioned the giving of gifts, however one student mentioned that they exchange cards.

The jist of Jamaican Christmas is family. It is all about the ones they love. On New Years the same and there is also a church service for New Years no matter which day of the week it falls on.

I know that Christmas trees are sold in Kingston, I haven't seen any where we live. I haven't seen any Christmas decorations or wreaths realizing that anything that is outside will be stolen, maybe that is why. Denny has a beautiful collection of Nativities from around the world. I haven't found a Jamaican one yet. When it comes to Christmas decos you just don't see many.

Christmas is Jesus' birth. That's it and isn't that what it's all about anyway?

No matter where you live, Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

in the cleft of the rock....

Electricity is a luxury in Jamaica. Homes are not built for dishwashers, washers/dryers, air conditioners and the like. The sun dries the clothes, the breeze cools the room, mommy washes the dishes in cold water. People everywhere illegally tap into the electrical lines for bare necessities. So much so that legal action is rarely taken. Every once in a while we will see a billboard go up that talks about stealing electricity and that you shouldn't do it.

This mommy has hung out alot of clothes to dry in these past almost four years. Just the other day a little plant spoke volumes to me.

How in the world did a little plant seed lodge itself in the V of the clothesline pole? And better yet, how did it grow without being in the dirt of the ground? Life grows in the strangest of places. Today I came back from taking Renee to school and saw the most beautiful flower growing out of the rock wall out front. This too amazed me.

I began to think about the correlation of these plants to my spirit. Life is hard, harder for some than others. Each person has their element of "hard stuff" and it has gotten me thinking about how my spirit grows even in the depths of "hard stuff." Even in the hardest of times, I need to be aware that God is growing my spirit. There are times that one imagines that all joy, life, peace, calmness is gone. How can I see the treasure in the hard times? How many times can the situation look desperate and yet still realize that He is nurturing me with the light of His word, the water from His fountain, the soil (foundation) and depth of His love.

It just takes a little breath to be alive! One heartbeat and you are still alive. I don't know how long these plants will live in their conditions but for now their beauty amazes me....growing in the cleft of the rock and the metal pole!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

....the Christmas breeze is blowing..

A beautiful thing happens at this time of year in Jamaica. Not a beauty to behold but rather a beauty to feel.It is called the Christmas breeze. In November the breeze wafts its way down the Gulf of Mexico and across the Greater Antilles. It cools the ragged chain of islands that grow out of the ocean from the Florida Keys to the brow of South America. Because they blow every year during the Christmas season these trade winds are known as the Christmas breeze. They are fabulous.

Along with taming the temperatures they get you ready for the holiday! The rainy, hurricane season is ended and dry summer weather is on the way. What a beautiful thing!

There is really something psychological about living in an island and enjoying the warmth all year long. At times I have to stop and wonder, what month is this? I never realized how much my internal clock was programed to the climate until living in Jamaica.

When the weather changes in the states the wardrobe changes and the holidays match the season! Here I wear the same thing all year and since Jamaica doesn't celebrate the same holidays, my internal clock is off! However when the breezes start to blow, I do remember that it is Christmas!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

tell your heart to beat again....

I listen to television preachers on Sunday mornings before we go to church. I am so glad for cable...keeps us connected to the American way. This morning a story from Joel Osteen blessed me so much I want to blog it just so I remember it.

He told the story of a doctor who operated on a lady's heart. When the surgery is performed the machine does the work for the heart. While the surgery is happening, the machine is pumping the blood, after the surgery the heart is connected and should respond and function normally. In this case the heart didn't respond, so the doctor did the next thing and used drugs to get the heart functioning normally, that didn't work. The doctor proceeded to do what he would do next in this kind of case and that was to take the heart into his hands and massage it to function again. That didn't work. The doctor didn't have another plan, he leaned into the patients ear and said, "Mary, tell your heart to beat again." And thankfully when he did that, her heart began to beat.

The point of the illustration was to say, sometimes we are knocked down so badly, given a bad break, disillusioned, etc. One can be living but not alive. Sometimes we have to literally speak to ourselves and tell the heart to forgive again, we have to tell our heart to love again, we have to tell our heart to beat again.

I've been there, maybe I still am at times. So disappointed and disheartened at life's happenings. The questions and bewilderment can be so strong that you wonder if God even remembers that your heart isn't functioning normally. Today I am encouraged and though the pulse is weak at love and dedication is strong and that keeps me remembering that He knows, He records, He is there....or should I say....Here!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

It's November 30! My day!

I always thought i had a special birthday, tucked in between Thanksgiving and Christmas. I loved that!

I volunteer in Renee's school library and the books are quite old. Libraries are hard places to fill here in Jamaica, books are extra costly and many of the books that the library has are from old estates and given freely. I label and shelve them when they come in.

This past week I came across one entitled, "Time Capsule/1956" which really got my eye since that is my year!

I learned some cool facts about what was happening around the world in 1956. The book is broken down into categories like National Affairs, Foreign News, People, Sports, The Theater, Music, Science and so on. It has really been a fascinating read.

In 1956 the top 10 television shows were:
1. The Ed Sullivan Show
2. The $64,000 Question
3. The Perry Como Show
4. I Love Lucy
5. December Bride
6. Talent Scouts
7. You Bet Your Life
8. The Red Skelton Show
9. What's My Line?
10. Disneyland

Looking at the list, I remember hearing about them or seeing them as a child except December Bride and Disneyland.

Another part of the book that captured my attention was a section in Religion. Apparently there was a question regarding Billy Graham and the validity of his message. The question in 1956 was, "Is ubiquitous Billy Graham good for Christianity?" Of course now in 2011 the answer is clearly yes. He was born in 1918 and by 1944 he was going strong. So by 1956 in his twelvth year of solid ministry people were beginning to take notice.

The article in the book I am referencing records that the Billy Graham debate was waxing hot in the pages of the Protestant weekly Christian Century.

It further states "An articulate anti-Grahamite is Union Theological Seminary's Reinhold Niebuhr. Niebuhr thinks that Graham is a throwback to the Theological past. He said, "Graham still thinks within the framework of pietistic moralism." He thinks the problem of the atom bomb could be solved by converting the people to Christ, which means that he does not recognize the serious perplexities of guilt and responsibility which Christians must face."

I find this section of the book interesting in that even in "the good ole days" there were those who despised the work that Christians were doing. So many times we "wanna go back" to those days especially when we look at the state of affairs today. But I would presume that this "attack" against what Billy Graham stood for was quite intense even then just without the added input of CNN and FOX news.

Funny how when you look back in the time that you are born you are amazed at what was going on around the world, I was simply living, growing up, being loved, going to school, enjoying my family and friends....simply living. I am grateful for my "cacoon of care" my family is great! I am blessed!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Did you know that:? Part 2

Some more interesting trivia!

1. Did you know that there are two major political parties, the Jamaican Labor Party (JLP) and the People's National Party (PNP) and whenever they are in conference or rallies the JLP wears green and the PNP wears orange? Hundreds of people in the same color.

2. Did you know that high schools are called college and colleges are called universities? So in reality Renee has already had 4 years of college!

3. Did you know that dancers dance with barefeet?

4. Did you know sliced bread is called hardo bread and it is quite firm and very yummy?

5. Did you know that many Jamaicans are afraid of the ocean?

6. Did you know that Jamaican music (Reggae) just makes you want to move your feet and in reality move your whole body even if it is Christian music?

7. Did you know that jewelry is made from beans, seeds, and nuts?

8. Did you know that the way to remove sea urchins spines from your limb is to soak it in urine?

9. Did you know most homes are built from cement?

10. Did you know that maybe that is why we hardly ever see a fire truck? just wondering!

11. Did you know that one reason for anyone in school of any kind wears a uniform is to get a better price from the taximan?

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Did you know that:?

Here is a bit of interesting Jamaica trivia. Enjoy!

1. Did you know that hamburg and hotdog buns are not precut?

2. Did you know that sixth, eleventh, twelfth and thirteenth grades take government exams and that the entire school year is dedicated to passing those exams? The sixth grade exams are called GSAT, the eleventh grade exams are called CSEC, twelve and thirteenth are called CAPE.

3. Did you know that milk is sold on the store shelf and kept in the cupboard until use?

4. Did you know that jerk is not a derogatory term,it is a sauce for chicken and pork?

5. Did you know that when tourists come they say that Jamaicans drive on the "wrong" side of the road?

6. Did you know that Rastafarianism is a religion?

7. Did you know that taxi cars have red license plates?

8. Did you know that there are no "self service" gas stations?

9. Did you know that you can be fined for driving through a rain puddle and getting someone wet? The fine is 5000 Jamaican dollars.

10. Did you know that a horn is a very important car instrument. A driver will use the horn to say hello, say goodbye, come ahead, get out of my way, hey what's up and many more expressions?

11. Did you know that shopping buggies never leave the inside of the store unless managed by a store employee, that means someone always brings your bags to your car?

12. Did you know you can also be stopped by a police if you flash your lights? If you flash your lights here it means come ahead and turn in front of me rather than GET OUT OF MY WAY!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

forever grateful...

Today is our fourth Thanksgiving day in Jamaica. Since it is our last year here I decided to make a "Miss" list! We have missed these things for four years but next year Thanksgiving sights, sounds, and smells will be in our house!

1. fall flowers
2. Christmas radio music
3. pumpkins sitting on the porch
4. my Springfield fireplace
5. nip in the air
6. if not snow flurries
7. turkey centerpiece
8. school break
9. Springfield turkey trot
10. sweet potatoes with cinnamon and brown sugar
11. turkey stuffed to the gills
12. Black Friday alarm clock
13. football hoopla
14. special friends
15. Thanksgiving services and sermons
16. holiday goodies
17. Salvation Army kettle
18. large garden Chrysanthemums from Jones Farm
19. stocked frig
20. eggnog with a sprinkle of nutmeg
21. indian corn on the front door
22. corn stalks with beautiful fall ribbon bows
23. dried leaves and Lexsigirl running in them
24. cider
25. donuts
26. candy corn mixed with cashews
27. sweatshirts
28. Uggs
29. apples and caramel
30. cranberry sauce
31. Ryan's miada
32. cranberry sauce
33. family fun
34. cooking
35. festivity everywhere
36. craft fairs
37. Silver Dollar City in the fall
38. Silver Dollar City in the winter
39. Silver Dollar City anytime!
40. Thanksgiving Eve Service
41. Branson Christmas shows with my 2 violinists and Miss Starla's group preshow!
42. punkin' pie
43. grapes
44. long scarves
45. mittens
46. drying the wishbone
47. leftovers
48. Walmart on Sunshine and ByPass
49. butternut squash
50. elastic waistbands

Thanksgiving was never meant to be shut up in a single day so I will have Thanksgiving thoughts in my heart for always...

Sunday, November 6, 2011

The oddball of the family

Not quite sure why I am the oddball. The genes in my family are to stay put. Born in an area, grow up in that area, marry and stay in the area, die in the area and the cycle continues.

Me ... I left Mansfield at 17 and haven't lived there since. How come? My siblings all live near my parents. My cousin's, nieces and nephews live there and I am the oddball.

I don't get it. Maybe I was adopted!! no....just kidding. I look like my mom and act like my dad so I know I am a "Hall" and have their genes! I am just not sure why my life is full of boxes and shallow roots. My root system can be easily pulled up without too much pain.

Maybe someday I will understand why Jesus required me to be on the run. On the run in a good way. Always another state, another country, another group of students that need the Seler touch!

When I married Denny we never talked about "student ministries" and never in a million years did I think I was marrying a professor. We started out in youth ministries which lasted 19 years counting the missionary journey to Spain to teach in the Bible College-a different set of students! Then we pastored for 3 years and then returned to student ministries again. Students in Latin America and now Jamaica. So out of 33 years of marriage, 3o years of student ministries. My goodness, never would I have dreamed it!

This weekend we have started "boxing" again! Packing up things to ship back to the states come June. We are not overly anxious, just has to do with "If you give a mouse a cookie!" Easier to pack than to find a new place for the shelves that sell!

I don't regret this "boxing" lifestyle, I just wonder why He chose me and not my sisters or brothers!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

If you give a mouse a cookie....

What a crazy weekend! The plan was to have a yard sale in the house. The plan was to pull out stuff we can do without and sell it quick as a wink. Didn't happen that fast!

One of my children's favorite book series was If you give a mouse a cookie, If you give a pig a pancake, If you give a moose a muffin, etc. The moral of each story is that whenever you have a plan to do something, that plan leads you to another something, and another step takes place and eventually it goes full circle, resulting in repeating the original step again, which, of course, leads you back through the cycle. The books are great!

That has been the story of our weekend. When we unloaded a bookshelf to place in the sale, we had to find boxes stashed in a hard to get to place, to pack the books. When we went for another item to sell, we had to unload my special teacups and saucers. Then we had to find the china boxes in a hard to get to place and so on and so on!

At one point Den said, "I am getting to old for this!" The next field we go to, guess what? Nothing is going but the shirt on our back!! We are too tired to keep lugging and unpacking and packing and yard saleing!!

Life is full of work, work, and more work. Hope Den has the strength to preach in the morning!

Thursday, November 3, 2011


Something I love about living in another country is learning the differences in speech. What we call one thing in America is called another thing in Jamaica. What we call one thing in Costa Rica in Spanish is another thing in Spain.

At Renee's school and at the A/G College a snack bar is called a tuck shop. Another term is a cook shop. One time I had to drive to Montego Bay to do an airport pick-up so I took a student with me for safety and he said "on the way can we stop at my auntie's cook shop?" I was expecting a restaurant with seats. I didn't envision something big but rather a place for customers.

Coming upon a little community, he said, there it is. Stop right here. Stop right here? Whatever is he looking at? It was just a little stop off the road and if you blinked you would miss it. Certainly not a place to sit and chat, but rather a take out kind of counter.

There is a construction project going on right here next to us. I love their little "tuck shop"! A little lady comes up the road around 10:00 in the morning and sets up shop. Many of the workers are transient workers. They see a project going on, ask for the supervisor and ask to be employed at least for the day. So this little lady decided to get in on the "groundfloor"!

Soup anyone??

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Canned Green Beans...just what I needed!

It's taken over 3 years to find a can but we did it! Here in Jamaica the price goes down if you buy 3 of one thing so I didn't just get one can, I got 3!

I have a theory, way off, but a theory nonetheless. Shopping in Jamaica has been a real experience and that is where my theory comes from. I think that the storekeeper in any town gets a catalog from Customs. He pages through to the item he is looking for and sees one hundred of that item for a price. Finding the lowest price for those 100 items he checks it and goes to the next item on his list. When those items come in, he only has one hundred of them. If they are great, so be it. If they are bad, so be it. The item goes on the shelf 3X the price he paid, with the custom price added to it and the transportation price to get it from the dock to his store, adds the GCT (government tax) to it, which is 17.5 on most everything, all other costs like paying employees to shelve it, cash it, carry it to your car and wha-la, the customer pays the piper.

Do you know someone always takes your groceries to the car for you? It is not just for a job and a tip, but rather to protect the buggies. You never see a buggy outside the store walls. They would be stolen. An employee brings the buggy to your car and he is the one to return the buggy to the store. Interesting isn't it?

One week we may find sour cream, and then not find it for a month. Moral of the it when you see it! And when you do find something you really need all of the stores will have it. You can always tell when the new shipment came in or at least when it cleared customs!

This is not little America. My friend called me and said, "Now Debby you need to go to the Dollar Store and pick up some of these. You will love them!" ummm I don't have a Dollar Store. "Well then get to your Michael's and you will find the same thing, you will just have to pay more." ummmmm, I don't have a Michael's.

Now to my green beans! There are lots of things I miss, canned green beans is one of them. We were in Kingston doing our grocery shopping and for the first time I found canned green beans, not a cheapo no name brand, but Libby's, french cut!! Oh I was so happy. We have eaten 2 cans, I think I will save the third can for my birthday!
I am so happy to that store keeper for going down the Customs catalog and finding Libby's. He made my day, my week, my month!!

Man I would love to go down to Customs and check out that catalog for myself and see what order I could place or maybe see what China is selling today!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

What's in a name?

It surprises some to hear that Jamaica has alot of corruption, violence, and danger spots. For the size of the island, it is quite dangerous. A couple of months ago there were 5 beheadings in a matter of a few days. We received again this week an email from the US Embassy cautioning us to be wise and careful and the email mentioned a specific area where there is an increase in carjackings.

This morning's paper reports an 8 year old died of a throat slashing right here in Manchester and her mother that is struggling to hold on in the Mandeville Hospital for the same reason.

So many sad things. A couple of weeks ago one of Renee's friends asked her at school if she had heard the gunshots the night before. We hadn't, however a doctor was shot right near to our home and today is in a coma, holding on. What brings it closer to home is that his daughter goes to Renee's school and the principal has asked the students to give her space and not bombard her with questions. The next day a businessman was killed in our town at his place of business.

Last Sunday a new prime minister was sworn into office. His name is Andrew Holness. I have been thinking about this country we live in this week, asking God to bring "wholeness" to the beautiful Jamaican people. Like every government, Jamaica's leaders need much prayer. If I were to report in this blog the state of the government as far as the public news goes, one would think, is there any hope? Thank God our confidence is not in government anywhere in the world, our hope is in Christ. In the meantime we persevere in training young leaders ministry concepts, courses and church administration.

I pray that this year our churches are packed with "lost" people in need of a Savior. I am praying that Prime Minister Holness will be "whole" and Jamaica will realize a new season of "wholeness". How we desperately need it.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Hats on Parade!

Today is a holiday in Jamaica yet there is another national event that takes place every year on Heroes Day. It is the A/G Women's Ministries Convention. I love to go to take it all in! It is an occasion for sure!

There is something to be said about women coming together, leaving the babies at home, eating rice and peas and some chicken on the lawn in your finest clothing! Of course they don't sit on the lawn, they stand there. There is something to be said about corporate worship and preaching from the director in the morning and the superintendent in the afternoon. It is a spectacular day. This is the last one for me, next Heroes Day we will be living in Phoenixville, PA, on loan to VFCC, so today I wanted to get everything I could in my memory bank. I don't ever want to forget the excitement of these beautiful Jamaican ladies and their.... HATS!

As I watched the ladies today I kept saying to myself, ooooo I like that one! No, I like that one better! Then another one would go by and I would say to myself, oooo that one is the best! If they knew I was their secret fashion admirer today, I wonder what they would think!

Sunday, October 16, 2011


I have been thinking about heroes alot this week. Naturally so since the country is gearing up for another National Heroes' Day tomorrow. It is always celebrated on the third Monday of October. Heritage concerts and programs, parades and award ceremonies. It is a pretty special day here in Jamaica. Renee and Denny get a holiday from school and that is something to look forward to!

National Heroes' Day began in 1971 and it took the place of Queen Elizabeth's birthday, I wonder what she thought about that! Jamaica has named 7 National Heroes. They are Marcus Garvey, Paul Bogle, George William Gordon, Norman Manley, William Bustamante, Nanny of the Maroons, and Samuel Sharpe. Each has an incredible story and it has been really fun learning about each one with Renee in the Jamaican school system. She knows American History and now Jamaican History.

This week in Renee's school there will be a Heritage program. Here is a photo of the national costume which is so beautiful.

As I think about the heroes significant contribution to Jamaica's society I ponder the contributions of heroes I have read about. Funny thing, heroes don't set out to be heroes. If you ask a child what they want to be when they grow up, they respond, fireman, nurse, doctor, lawyer, truck driver and such. I have never heard a child say, I want to be a heroe. They may say I want to be like Michael Jordan because Michael is my heroe.

Heroes aren't born with a heroe gift. Heroes respond at the moment, right on time, in a crisis situation. The heroes of 9/11 didn't plan on being heroes that fateful day. Captain Sully didn't start those jet engines preparing how to save people's lives that cold day in NYC.

Christa McAuliffe didn't plan on being a heroe. She was a teacher/astronaut. If she knew ahead of time that the Challenger was going to explode, she would have chosen to stay with her husband and beautiful children on planet earth. Heroes are made in the moment, not born.

I love this particular holiday. It makes me ponder and meditate. It is not a meaningless holiday like some. I have some heroes. They haven't saved my life from drowning or rescued me from a fire, they have inspired me to be tough when it counts. They have pushed me to holiness and right living. They speak into my life when I see what they are enduring in their own personal lives. Heroes are worth looking up to. Funny though, real heroes don't want the credit, they just do what is right in that moment. Remarkable.

Sunday, October 9, 2011's feeling like a snow day in Jamaica!

Today is the first Sunday in three and a half years that I was cold in church! It was a b-r-r-r-ry kind of 70 degrees! I am even surprised the thermometer hit 70! It feels like 60. I asked the hostess at church with the gigantuan umbrella what was going on and she said that it is simply a cold front coming through. It is dark, gloomy, raining cats and dogs. A typical October day from where I come! Of course the only difference is in the islands the windows are open and the chilly wind breaks through and chills you to the bone. It reminds me that next year when we live in Phoenixville, come October, we will be wishing for the island temperatures!

Truthfully it felt like a snow day in the Northeast! Let me tell you why. When we arrived at church there were very few cars. When we ran in through the rain there were maybe only 20 people in the pews. That is a common occurrence because we are in Jamaica and there is a time culture as in every country. The only difference was even by 10:30 the pews were quite empty. There was this feeling of how I remember snowed out services! Church not being cancelled yet a realization that few would be in attendance and those that are in attendance are feeling lighthearted, warm, and happy to be in church with just a few. You know on snow days there is less formality, maybe a little more music than normal and just an overall feeling of family. I counted 50 people in a church where we are usually sitting shoulder to shoulder and bursting at the seams with 200 or so. Maybe that is another reason I am usually so hot in church!

The worship was great, I may even say better than ever! It was an all male team. One guy sounded like Israel Houghton and another guy sounded like Andre Crouch! What a great sound! I was blessed. After an hour of worship the Pastor tagged onto the last song to go right into Communion. The song was "I am redeemed, bought with a price, Jesus has changed my whole life. If anybody asks you just who I am, tell them I've been redeemed!" The words are fantastic and so is the melody. Pastor Davis exhorted the few in attendance about the power of redemption and instead of serving communion at the end of the message he did it after the worship. One of those "snow day" kind of changes! It was great. He preached then and the only thing that could have made the service more special was if there was a fireside room where we could have had hot chocolate and cookies!

A great day to be in God's house but now I am glad to be home in my sweatshirt! B-r-r-r, let's make some hot chocolate and dream of a white Christmas!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Purpose in Prayer....

Living in a country with deficient libraries brings me to my old books on the shelf. One of my traits, good or bad, is the non-love of reruns! If I see a movie, I don't need a DVD to rewatch it. If I read a book my custom is to shelve it or give it away. Since being in Jamaica from lack of bookstores and libraries, I find myself walking to my bookshelf quite often and checking out those old treasures!

Funny thing..I volunteer at Renee's school and work in the library. It is a room full of antique books unfortunately. This week the librarian asked me to start sorting! Throw out all the old books. Now that is something I can handle! Only thing is I found myself throwing more than I was keeping. Books from the early nineteen hundreds. Found many from the thirties and forties. I thought ok this is gonna be fun! I was especially interested to see which book I could find from 1914 (when the A/G was founded) then after that one, I was especially interested to find one from my in-laws year, 1919. Then I got excited about finding one from 1956, my year! It was a cool day looking at the relics. I read pages before I would toss them. So interesting the words chosen, the style written, the author's take on the subject. I really pondered over which year to begin the "Keep" pile. I chose 1970. Anything before that I threw in the rubbish pile. When the librarian came to check on my progress she asked, "what have you decided on?" When I told her 1970 she looked at me really strangely. After she left I thought, oh man, she probably thought why 1970 they are old too, she was probably born in the late eighties! But for me 1970 was just a couple of years ago, wasn't it?!

So back to my subject! I am re-reading E.M. Bounds (1835-1913) book on prayer. He was a powerful writer and I learn something each time I read the book. Is there ever a day when you don't have to way. Just when you think everyone is doing okay you receive another prayer need via facebook or a phone call. It is a subject that we as christians will never tire of. We can't. It is our mission. It is our mandate. It is our life. Praying 24/7.. sometimes with words, sometimes with tears, sometimes with thoughts, it doesn't matter how, it just matters.

E.M.Bounds writes a story that makes me pause.

"A friend of mine in Cincinnati had preached his sermon and sank back in his chair, when he felt impelled to make another appeal. A boy at the back of the church lifted his hand. My friend left the pulpit and went down to him, and said, "Tell me about yourself." The boy said, "I live in New York. I am a prodigal. I have disgraced my father's name and broken my mother's heart. I ran away and told them I would never come back until I become a Christian or they brought me home dead." That night there went up from Cincinnati a letter telling his father and mother that their boy had turned to God.

Seven days later, in a black-bordered envelope, a reply came, and it read, "My dear boy, when I got the news that you had received Jesus Christ, the sky was overcast; your father was dead." Then the letter went on to tell how the father had prayed for his prodigal boy with his last breath, and concluded, "You are a Christian tonight because your old father would not let you go." (page 82)

Our purpose...pray.
Our people enough to take their needs as if they are our own.
Our purpose...pray about everything and everyone.
Our purpose...make prayer a priority rather than a last resort.

Prayer....not letting the prodigal go.....

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Another special Sunday...

Some days are really special. This one was. Denny was invited to preach at Top Hill Assembly. Pastor Millens wanted to hear Renee play her violin again. Sheldon, one of our students, called and wanted to go with us. Top Hill is his home church. He got a taxi to downtown Mandeville to meet us and we went on our way.

Today Pastor Millens was spotlighting the youth so needless to say Den felt in his element and preached a great message about the family. Renee played beautifully, as a matter of fact the pastor asked her to made a CD and he would be the first to buy one!

There was also another special element to the day. Today was baby dedication day and 2 babies were dedicated to the Lord. One of the babies belongs to one of our married night students. The night students come to the college on Tuesdays and Thursdays and it takes them 5 years to complete the program. Clifford is one of those students. A couple of years ago he and his sweet wife lost their almost one year old after surgery and so little Rebecca is pretty special. She will never replace Ruthie, but she is a blessing from God. So to see her dedicated today set a beautiful stage for Den to preach.

Another element is Pastor Millens. He is a gem. I have told Den many times I wish we lived closer to Top Hill! I would love to attend the church more often! The pastor is Jamaican but his family migrated to England when he was a boy. He had a business in England selling Jamaican products. Drugs were put into one of his shipments from here and he was thrown into prison although he had nothing to do with drug selling and the like. He was also a pastor of a church and the story is quite riveting. Today he gave me one of his books and I read it on the way home and seriously can't take my nose out of it. It is a testimony of God's grace and forgiveness. He was cleared of all charges in 2001 so it is a recent testimony. He then came back to Jamaica to pastor and I am so glad he did!

Friday, September 16, 2011

No Surprise There!

Today's Gleaner responds to a CNN travel report that Dunn's River Falls is one of the worst top 12 travel destinations.

When we brought a missions team here in 1984 our free day was spent at Dunn's River Falls and eating at the Ruins. We saw it for what it was and enjoyed it. Nature at its best! Cool, clear water falls. Since we have lived here we have taken visiting family there and enjoyed it as well. It is one of those things that Jamaica is known for. If you don't have a shirt from the falls you just haven't had a complete Jamaica trip!

However, reading this report I understand how it made the top 12. There are some things that are just "givens" in the Jamaican culture. Since we live here we are used to those "givens" but when you are a tourist and not used to those "givens" uncertainty may arise and frustration step in.

There are going to be hagglers, there are going to be people in your face. There is going to be begging. There is a different English called patois. The impoverished and needy recognize that people who visit the falls are people of great wealth (in their eyes). Desperation will lead you to the tourists as will deception. A friend told me recently that in our town a particular beggar knows no other way of earning money and he has begged so long that he has a house and a car. He still goes "to work" everyday on the street to beg. Doesn't make sense does it?

So in thinking about the report this morning I wonder if we were down and out without Jesus and no means of support what would we do?

Den calls it culture shock confusion. Maybe people have to have an intercultural class before vacation!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Seaside Therapy!

What a fantastic weekend we had! A few months ago our field retreat was scheduled for this past weekend because our stateside boss and his wife would be in Jamaica for a national meeting on Friday so after the meeting we would all meet in Ocho Rios.

Renee was so anxious to get through her school day because we planned to leave when we picked her up from school. We arrived at the resort around 5:00 just in time for dinner. It was great. Eventually everyone arrived and how sweet it was to sit around the tables and just BE, be with one another, be with people like us, be in a place where no one needed us, be with people with the same purpose and calling.

You would think that because the island is so small the missionary families would be together alot, but not so. Sometimes we don't see one another for months. One family has been here for a year and we had not met them yet. What a beautiful weekend for Renee to be a big sis to the two little ones that belong to that family!

Swimming, snorkeling, eating, sitting, laughing, crying, pools, ocean, sand, fun, fun! We had a Sunday morning service that was especially memorable. We sang and then our boss gave a devotional and then had prayer time together. It was so valuable to all of us. After a weekend like we just had, you kind of feel the energy to press on. You feel like others can relate to the struggles, the financial pressures, the work that is so great here in Jamaica. We encourage one another in the Lord. What a special time.

Friends that I have love going to the mountains and relax in solitude. Some I know prefer Disney and high strung activity. Some like to stay home and turn off the phone. What I like to do is go to the water. It refreshes me. The sound of the waves, the sun in all color and vibrancy, the magnitude of the sand, the never ending horizon, the shells, the sea life, it truly is a therapeutic place for my spirit! If only the Bible College was located on the seaside! Then I would be craving to go to the mountains for some cool weather!

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Avocado season..

Here in Jamaica avocados are called pears. We have 2 beautiful "pear" trees in the yard and an abundance of these beautiful fruit!

All this fruit led me to ask on Facebook last year at this time for avocado recipes which was successful. So along with the old recipes, this year Den went to the Internet for avocado recipes. This years recipes include a soup and a bread.

Well guess what! The bread is a winner and tomorrow we will see how the soup comes out! The reason I don't like to experiment is I hate to throw out something that is inedible! So when they are winners I have to share! The ingredients remind me of zucchini bread that is wonderful but I don't find zucchinis here so now I have a replacement!

Avocado Quick Bread

1 cup and 2 tablespoon flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1 tablespoon soft butter
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup and 2 tablespoons avocado
6 tablespoons buttermilk
6 tablespoons chopped pecans
2 tablespoons raisins
1 teaspoon orange zest

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour one loaf pan.
Sift together all dry ingredients in one bowl
In another bowl cream together butter and sugar will light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then mix in the mashed avocado.

Fold in the mixture into the dry ingredients with the buttermilk. Fold in the nuts, orange zest and raisins.

Put in loaf pan and bake one hour or till pick comes out clean.

This is a fabulous recipe, so go collect the "pears" that have fallen and enjoy!
The gardener for the property uses a big stick with a Y attached at the end to get the pears off the limb. It kind of looks like a great big slingshot!

The seed or pit looks like a brain to me!

Thursday, August 25, 2011 favorite day of the week!

Last Sunday we had a real treat. It isn't very often that you get to see another missionary in action. There are missionaries on the field and sometimes it is rare to hang out with them let alone be where they are on a Sunday! Gary and Peggy live in Kingston but travel the island in conducting HIV/AIDS awareness seminars. Gary is the preacher and Peggy is a registered nurse. Their presentation was tremendous and we are so glad we visited Top Hill A/G on Sunday.

The pastor was very brave and had them come and do their presentation on a Sunday morning. It was fantastic. They spoke to a full house. Interesting that the people didn't shy away from the subject but rather came out in full force.

AIDS has become an epidemic here on the island and thank God this pastor wants his people to become informed and more than just being informed, begin ministering to the people that suffer.

A side note, it was pretty cool that the worship team was dressed in purple and so were Gary and Peggy!