Sunday, July 31, 2011

Emancipation Day~ August 1

Tomorrow is a holiday in Jamaica. Click on the link to read the reason for the holiday.
Emancipation and the Emancipated

Saturday, July 30, 2011

One Night at the US Embassy

I am still so excited that I was chosen from the US Embassy Facebook fan list to attend the first ever facebook reception!

The process to be chosen was easy, just click LIKE on the US Embassy page and wait for the drawing of the names! How easy is that.

What impresses me the most is that the US Ambassador to Jamaica is thinking about the avenues that people use today and especially the young. You had to be 18 to qualify but I was so impressed with the young adults that were present at the reception. They are truly desirous to see the US/Jamaica relations be strong and helpful to each other.

What happened a year ago with the extradition of Christopher Dudus has left a bad taste in many Jamaican's mouths regarding the United States. Ambassador Bridgewater was appointed by the president 2 months after the violence in Tivoli Gardens. She came into a hot spot for sure.

Ambassador Bridgewater was born in Virginia. She is the daughter of a jazz trumpeter. Her staff introduced her to us last night with naming some of the famous songs he played. I thought that was really neat. Ms. Bridgewater has held posts in Brussels, Benin, Bahamas, Ghana, South Africa where she was a personal friend of Nelson Mandela. President Obama appointed her to Jamaica July 9, 2010.

It truly was an honor to meet her. She is a people person for sure! She loves to chat, loves to socialize, loves to smile, and loves to say positive things! I like that!

I received an email of instructions before attending the reception with the dress code, what would happen when we arrive at the compound, how to address the ambassador, and basically what to expect while there.

(Me and the beautiful American flag on the compound)

(a picture of the official invitation and the napkins with the American eagle symbol)

After arriving and presenting my passport and leaving my phone with the officers, I went through the metal detector, then I was escorted through a courtyard to the library. The library has all American resources and is available to anyone. There we were introduced to some of the public relations staff. Everyone was giddy! Everyone was laughing and talking and getting to know one another. I mean we are all friends, right?? We are on Facebook!!

At 5:00 we were then lined up to enter another part of the embassy and this is where we would meet her Excellency. The initial email said that it is proper to address her as Ambassador Bridgewater, Madame Ambassador or Your excellency. I chose to say Madame Ambassador.

When the photo op with the ambassador was concluded we then proceeded to the food table and drinks. Lovely callaloo quiche tarts, ackee quiche tarts, jerk chicken wings, tuna/chicken salad sandwiches, vegetable tray, festivals, fruit tray.

Everything was delicious and many times the ambassador was heard saying, eat some more. Keep eating! She was a beautiful hostess and made sure that all felt comfortable and "at home." I was so very impressed. I have been in way too many "stuffy" cold situations unfortunately. Those receptions don't go down in the memory bank as enjoyable. Last night was truly enjoyable with all strangers! wait, they are not strangers....we were chosen because we are facebook friends!!

The ambassador went to the microphone to answer some questions that had been asked. Some were government related, others were personal, like, "what is your favorite Jamaican food?" Her answer.....pumpkin, ackee and callaloo. No wonder the quiches were ackee and callaloo! Another question was, "where is your favorite place in Jamaica?" no surprise, she became very diplomatic as everyone began cheering their home town and she responded..the shores of Montego Bay, the mountains of Mandeville, the beauty of Portland, and so on! She knew her audience!

A gift was given to the person who had become the 9500th facebook fan! That was really neat. She received a Kindle reader with 250 books already loaded. That was a special moment and then after that they asked the ambassador and the 9500th fan to cut the cake!

The cake was the US Embassy facebook page! so neat!

Another surprise happened, when I left the large room and would enter the courtyard there was a reception gift for everyone! I was so happy to receive a mug and 6 postcards of the Obama family. I look at it this way. They are beautiful photos and wonderful prayer reminders, not cards that I want to send but cards to remember this moment of one night at the US Embassy!

There are over 700 photos posted on their facebook page this morning so below are a few of them!

Well time for Dunkin's coffee in my Embassy mug!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

ouch..sea urchin stings are no fun....

Having family and friends here on the island is great fun. Going to the beach and stepping on a sea urchin is no says Renee!

The poor thing is really hurting. As soon as it happened she got out of the water, seeing no blood I said, I don't know what the pain is but there is nothing on the bottom of your foot! Real sympathetic, wasn't I?!

A few minutes later the shooting pain was so great that Daddy took a look and saw more spine needles than he probably wanted to say for making Renee afraid. Den's sister had tweezers in the car so he was able to get some of the needles out.

We left the beach and went to change our clothes and did what we we could do for her. It was not a happy time. If you know the first thing you are supposed to do for a sea urchin sting you know why it was not a happy time!

When we arrived home Den put icthamol salve on it with a bandage and today they are beginning to protrude from her skin.

While sea urchins are some of the least aggressive animals in the ocean, they are nevertheless responsible for injuring numerous divers and swimmers who inadvertently step on their spine-covered bodies. Sea urchins actually have two different defense mechanisms. One are the spines that produce the puncture wounds and smaller, delicate seizing organs called pedicellaria that lie between the spines and release venom when they attach to something (or someone). Puncture injuries from a sea urchin may result in swelling, redness, pain, and infection, and multiple deep punctures may even result in paralysis, respiratory failure, and death. It is important to treat sea urchin puncture wounds right away in order to avoid complications. (How to Treat a sea urchin sting |

I am scouring the internet tonight to find out what else to do for a sting. So while I look, Renee has her foot in a basin of white vinegar. I mean at this stage of the game we will try anything!

They are so beautiful to collect and so painful to bring home in your foot!

Monday, July 25, 2011

sad times.....

It is a sad day again in Jamaica. In the last week there have been 4 beheadings. It has taken the whole country to an awareness of the violence that is in the infrastructure of the island.

3 of the beheadings happened before Sunday. On the way to Kingston for Sunday morning service we picked up the Sunday Gleaner newspaper and there on the front page (above) was the notice of another one. This just blows my mind. I went into the service with this on my mind. There have been times when we have felt insecure here and at times have been afraid. Yesterday though, I went into the service not thinking about us but the beautiful Jamaican people who are living in terror, especially those in August Town.

Antioch Assembly of God was alive with worship, prayer and the word. It was a great service. When the church sang J-O-Y, nothing will steal my joy, I thought about the fear that the people in the church may have been experiencing yesterday in the light of the recent news. Then we sang Things are getting better, Things are getting better, for the Lord is on our side, Things are getting better, Things are getting better, Things are getting better.

How can you sing Things are getting better when everything looks bad? And it just doesn't look bad, it IS bad. But when the church went to prayer...oh boy. We prayed against the violence, we prayed against the work of the enemy, we prayed for the island to be turned back to God saving grace. It was powerful.

I am so happy we went to Antioch yesterday. God ordained it!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

King of the wall!

We live on a road that should have a sign, "Goats Crossing!" Of course most roads in Jamaica should have a sign like that. Wherever we go we see goats. Rural roads, town roads, city roads, the main highway that has a tollbooth, cow paths or your own driveway!

Goats everywhere. I never see bunny rabbits, nor do you see squirrels, but goats you will see everywhere!

Curried goat is quite tasty but that meal falls in the same category for me as eating rabbit. I just don't like to eat the animals that to me are pets.

My sister has had many a goat as a pet. So cute! I have had many bunny pets. Just can't eat um!

I think the goats should put up a sign that says "Don't choose me for dinner!"

Friday, July 15, 2011

Some surprises are so pleasant!

There is a really neat thing about life and that is all the people you meet. My mom used to tell us "it takes all kinds to make the world go round." How dull our lives would be if we didn't have people in it!

We had another wonderful experience last night. At the beginning of the week we received an email from a gentleman who was in Kingston this week for his work. He wrote to the 3 A/G missionaries here on the island and asked if anyone would like to have dinner! What a pleasant surprise!

If you know anything about us you know we love to do dinner and we love to go to Kingston! His email explained why he was on the island, who his pastor is in the states, the church he attends and so on.

Den responded to the email and said that we would love to meet him and told him that we have a 15 year old, would it be okay to bring Renee. Denny also asked if had anywhere in mind to eat. Here is his response....let the girls choose! Now that is a real gentleman! I was so impressed and we were so anxious for Thursday to come and to meet Greg for dinner.

We chose the Devon House. One of our favorite historical sites and located in Kingston.

The Devon House Mansion is the architectural dream of Jamaica’s first black millionaire George Stiebel. Stiebel was among three wealthy Jamaicans who constructed elaborate homes during the late 19th century. Daniel Finzi and the Verleys were the other families that resided in the area, however, both homes were eventually demolished to make way for development ventures including the construction of Abbey Court Apartments. Stiebel’s legacy lives on with the beautifully maintained Devon House, which was declared a national monument in 1990 by the Jamaica National Heritage Trust. (

The restaurant was fantastic, the food delicious, and the company terrific. Greg told us his story of travelling for his work and making it a practice to contact missionary families and blessing them. He is so special. We absolutely loved our time together! He treated Renee so very special and made her laugh. We learned about his family and his church. We enjoyed Devon House ice cream! The night ended too quickly!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Taking a Leap....

I took this photo as we were waiting at a red light in Grant's Pen the other day. It is a picture of where my mind has been for the last couple of months.

Ryan graduated from college May 6th. He had his resume out there, spent lots of time in prayer and meditation, pondered this way and that, but ultimately put his guitar and suitcase in the car and drove to New England. What did he have to go on? Sheer faith.

This photo reminds me of Ryan. Taking a leap from the last step into the unknown. He followed God's prompting. His ears heard walk this way and he did. The only thing he had to go on was what he felt in his heart. He had nothing to go on but God's leading. He is with a pastor's family that has open arms, open hearts and a wonderful ministry. He is happy. I am happy.

A picture is worth a thousand words.

Island Living....

We are now on the countdown for leaving Jamaica. In less than a year we will pick up and move to the next assignment. Just tonight Denny said, "One of the things I will miss is the weather." While we have lived here we always have open windows, except for the hurricane winds, of course. The home, the car, the Bible College, Renee's school, the breeze comes through the windows and gates. We haven't missed ice and snow at all, Renee misses the fall temps and pretty leaves but the ice and snow is something we will have to get used to again.

We live in the center of the island and in the mountains. We do not have the extreme high temps that Kingston and Montego Bay have, although it gets very hot here, but in comparison those areas are much hotter. When we have the chance to go to the beach we all get excited because we do not live near the beaches. For Renee's birthday we had planned a weekend in Montego Bay, it was cancelled because of the horrible weather we had that weekend. We rescheduled our getaway for the end of Renee's school year. So we combined birthday and completion of 4th form and went away! Sunset Beach had a great price and has a wonderful resort. Great fun. Water, kayak, dominoes, skipbo, sunbathing, swimming, good food, chess, checkers, pool volleyball, sand, beach, all around fun!

Here is a pictorial blog!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Bible College Ministry

Tonight I saw a photo on a fellow missionary's page and Denny and I are in it. A photo from 1988. Is 1988 really that long ago? Where have these past 23 years gone? We look so young in the photo. Let's see that would put us in our thirties. Yes I guess it was a long time ago!

Seeing this picture took me way back in my memory bank. We didn't have Ryan and Renee yet, we had just left a successful youth pastor position, we had been through a very rigorous 11 month itineration cycle to raise the budget and we had spent one year in Costa Rica to learn Spanish. We were finally in Spain. Denny's original plan was to work with teenagers in France. But in December of 1987 we very excitedly landed in Madrid.

As I am thinking about our history tonight, I am trying to figure out why Spain, why the Bible College? Why missions? How do all the life puzzle pieces make sense? We certainly had no idea when we left Zion that we would be in Jamaica today at the Bible College.

All the things that you dream of don't always come to be, other things come in and take their place and new dreams are realized. Denny was not going toward a ministry of education way back in the early days of our marriage and then suddenly Spain changed our direction. Because of that one decision to go to Spain the rest is history! Today Den is coming down the home stretch of completing his doctorate of missiology. Teaching in the Bible College is where he is most fulfilled. I wonder if the professors he had in Zion would be surprised! I don't have to wonder, I KNOW they would be surprised, shocked would be a more appropriate word!