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!