Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Homeschooling Field Trip...part 2

We left the fishing village and headed toward Rest. In Rest we took a left toward Alligator Hole! Sounds like a fun place, doesn't it!

When we arrived at Alligator Hole, it was a man sitting at a picnic table and a couple small buildings. I headed toward one of the buildings and he called out to me...hey, I'm over here! Deacon was his name and he was our guide! I asked him about the alligators and how many we would see....his response, none! We have crocodiles! OH GREAT!

Renee is not so sure of this place! Here she is checking it out!

And this is Deacon! A wonderful person that indeed felt badly that we didn't get to see a croc or a manatee. He said if we come back Thursday, we would see some!!
We jumped in the canoe and down the river we go!

The closest we got to a crocodile was the skin in the Interpretive Center.

It wasn't all in vain though! The day was so hot, so the breeze off the water was delightful and we enjoyed the company of Deacon!

We went on our way west to Alligator Pond. The road was horrendous. It was an adventure for sure! Walked the beach there for a bit and headed home to Mandeville! It was a great field trip!

And our treat to end the day.....chewing on some yummy sugar cane!

Our Homeschooling Field Trip....a blast!

For a long time I have been planning a field trip to celebrate Renee's four year long journey of homeschooling American History. Finally yesterday was determined the day, and what a great day it was!

We left the house at 8:30 and headed to the South Coast. Our first stop was Monymusk Sugar Cane Fields. There is a huge production for the making of sugar cane. After speaking to persons that work there we find that production had just stopped for the day so we couldn't tour the facility. We saw the fields, the wagons, the workers residences, the factory itself and the steam coming out of the smokestacks.


 We left the sugar factory and headed north and then west through RaceCourse, Springfield, and landed at Milk River Hotel and Spa.

The sign that directed us to the Spa said #1 in the World. How could we not visit a place with that kind of credential?!

It was really a fun stop! We enjoyed our 15 minute mineral bath and lunch there at the hotel.

When we left the spa we noticed a sign for Farquhars Beach. It appeared to be really close to the spa so we went to check it out!

Surprise it was a fishing village not a swimming beach. So here are some shots from our visit there rather than a swim!

Sunday, May 27, 2012

A great day in Stony Hill....

Den was invited to preach at Abundant Life A/G in Stony Hill today. It was a beautiful day inside and out. We have had rain for over a week and today at departure time 7 a.m. the sun was shining, the birds were singing and we made the long 2 hour trek to Stony Hill, just a little north of Kingston.

The church was celebrating Children's Day and what a special day it was. There were children galore! There were so many people in the church that all chairs were used and it was standing room only!

  Stony Hill Primary and Junior High School gave 2 presentations. It was their first time to visit the church. What a precious group of students!

 The music was fantastic. Songs that the children knew and loved and worship songs. A great time...

 One of the Bible College students daddy is the pastor. Machelle accompanied us to Stony Hill with her belongings to return to her parents home for the summer.

And what a surprise when we arrived at the church, we jumped out of the car and she said. I have a presentation to make! She presented us with a monetary gift collected from the students and surprised we were! What generosity and kindness. It totally took us off guard!

 We have been wanting to purchase a particular book as a keepsake from our time in Jamaica. This afternoon before leaving Kingston we were able to find it! Now to find all the students to have them sign it....that might be a challenge! We will give it our best effort though..we love them so much.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

God's Will Hurts Sometimes...

Little did we realize that when we moved to Jamaica, Jamaica would move into us. Getting ready to leave the island has become quite painful.

In 2008 we brought a little 12 year old with Polly Pockets and Barbie dolls. In 2012 we will leave with a beautiful 16 year old mature young lady. Renee is an A+ Missionary Kid. I can't even call her a child anymore. She is much taller than me. She is much more advanced than I was at sixteen. She is a thinker, an analyzer, a reader, a motivator. She is a leader, so talented and confident in who she is.

This week, however, has begun the emotional departure roller coaster for her and thus for me. We are spending alot of time with tears, tight embraces, and snuggles. What can you do when words don't fit and the realization of leaving is boring a hole straight into our heart every waking moment?

What has become an easy pattern in our 34 years of ministry has now become a  stark reality in a teenager's life and it isn't so easy anymore. Picking up and moving on and loving on new people in a new place isn't something that she wants or even cares to navigate in.

Since we have had Ryan and Renee, Denny often says our children will either love travel and adventure or they will never leave the county line of the town they settle in! I am still not sure how they are going to be in their adult years. It really could go either way!

So tonight with a month to go in this beautiful land I dedicate this song to Renee. She is my gift from heaven.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Love you Jamaica...

Yesterday we had a farewell luncheon with the A/G missionaries and our area director from the states. The three missionary families that remain are leaving around the same time. One couple leaves the island June 23, we leave June 27, and the other couple leaves June 30. At this present time no other missionaries are being assigned to Jamaica.

 I have really been thinking about our purpose as missionaries. When missionaries go to a country how long should they stay? Is it sensible for Americans to remain in a place that the organization is up and running on its own? Do we overstay our welcome? Of course by "we" I mean missionaries as a whole in any given country? Is it possible that once the organization is founded, churches are planted, Bible College is established, orphanages are founded and filled to capacity, basic schools and feeding programs are up and running, the national church can fulfil the great commission on their own?

Is it possible that the country can become dependent on the American dollar and personnel and forget that the Great Commission is for every country? Will there come a day when the Jamaican A/G starts sending missionaries to every country? Will there come a day when the Jamaican A/G has to start its own AGWM?

I think that it is possible! Jamaican leadership nows directs the Bible College. The two children's homes (orphanages) are now directed by a national. There are no Americans pastoring a Jamaican church. The Jamaican A/G is celebrating their 75th anniversary this year. In 75 years much as transpired, however there are only 70 A/G churches on the island. There is much work to do. I think they are on the way!

God bless Jamaica and I am so grateful we had a small "4 year" part in Bible College students lives. One day, God willing, we will return to see the fruit!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Labor Day...May 23,2012

Today is Labor Day. In Jamaica, Labor Day means community building. Different projects are chosen and people come together to WORK! Now that is a twist. In the US we take Labor Day off to REST!

The newspaper puts it this way.."putting labor into Labor Day!" Even the mayors get involved with cleaning, bushing, and painting. One town is cleaning up the community center and giving the town square a facelift. It sounds like the communities basically do "spring cleaning" and doesn't that always make the family feel better!

And so along with all the work comes a lot of lunch! The newspaper calls it "yard food" and it is something different than the curried goat or daily chicken. They prepare protein dishes since so much energy is being expended.

Things like green-banana dumplings, run dung (simmering salt fish with vegetables and seasonings in coconut milk till it cooks down to a custard-like consistency), salt fish and susumber or cod fish and susumber. Susumber is also known as "gully beans." It is a relative of the eggplant.

On Labor Day these meals are prepared in the yard and lots of fruits are on hand, mangoes, star apples, otaheiti apples since all of these are in season for Labor Day. The drink of the day is limade. We don't have lemons so the lemonade is made from limes.

So a little recap of Jamaica's Labor Day, I think I will go get my work gloves and get busy!

These photos are from the newspaper site this evening. Hot off the press. What a great day..

Monday, May 21, 2012

Memories flooding my mind...

Yesterday, May 20, my first pastor's wife, Pauline Valimont, passed away. I can't begin to record all of the memories that have been flooding my mind as I think back over my childhood and the influence she had on me. My parents worked alongside Ray and Pauline to build the Assemblies of God church in Mansfield, PA. So I have been told that I was on the church bench nearly the day I was born! My mom and dad had lots of responsibilities in the new church plant so they couldn't miss a Sunday!

I had a great childhood and my church was the best! I loved the pastor's family so very much and spent a lot of time with the Valimont kids. I wore argyle knee socks because Margie did. I played the organ because Patti did, I had a big smile and welcoming demeanor because Connie did, I named my daughter Renee because Pauline did, I thought Jerry was the most handsome guy in town.  Connie and I were closest in age and I remember spending many days and hours at their home, riding horses, watching Cinderella, eating, having loads of fun. Pauline was a great mom, a great wife, such a classy lady.

As I think back over my choices that I made as a kid, I can't help but think that this family had great influence over my life. I knew that I wanted to go to Bible College and be in the ministry full time when I was nine years old. They were my pastors till I was around 16.

Pauline was 85 when she passed yesterday and such a beautiful lady. In 2009 Renee and I had to leave Jamaica because of visa issues so we went to Mansfield for a month. While there Mom and I went to see Pauline and we found ourselves gathered around the piano with Patti and Connie singing our hearts out. A great day. One that will live in my memory.

She was widowed for 16 years and still attended the church she and her honey founded. I am so proud to be a "product" of Highway Tabernacle, now named New Covenant. I am so proud that the Valimonts were my pastors. I am sad. I can imagine the reunion yesterday was pretty awesome.

This is a photo that my friend sent me. Pauline on the left, Jane Hart in the middle and Donna on the right. Jane was my second mom growing up and Donna, my still childhood friend!

Friday, May 18, 2012

something I will NOT miss!

There are many things I will miss when we leave, but this little guy and his friends I will NOT miss!
He is spending the evening with me at my computer!! outside of course! If he were inside I wouldn't be sitting here!

the countdown has begun...

I am starting to think about the things that I will miss. This is one of those things. People, traffic, lots of movement. This is downtown Mandeville, a street that we use daily.

It's all about the students!

The purpose of the college is to teach students who are sensing some sort of ministerial future. Some are called to be pastors and evangelists, others fall into a support role to their pastor at home. They come to the college to be further trained in what they sense is a "call" to full time service.

These four years have brought us in contact with some incredible students. Everyone of them have burrowed themselves into our hearts and have become big brothers and sisters to Renee. We will miss them severely. They have been our life for four years, how can we let them go?

AGBC...our college here in Jamaica..

The Assemblies of God Bible College is a small school. Around 35 resident students each year and around 15 night students.

We both taught the resident students, Den taught the night students on Tuesdays. These are vocational students who cannot attend classes in the daytime.

The property was given to the Assemblies of God by Jimmy Swaggert in the eighties. Most of the students come from the coast so when they arrive in Christiana, they have a major adjustment. Christiana is located in the center of the island and in the mountains. It is much cooler than they are used to and more damp. Although the rainy season lasts from June to December, here in the mountains we have rain all year through.

The college has a director who is a pastor and lives far away, an academic dean who lives on campus, professors (who are called lecturers) some are pastors, some are missionaries, some are layman. The college has a cook who comes in each day and prepares lunch. The students do the cleaning and such. So basically the college is run on a shoe string budget and accomplishes what it is designed to accomplish.

While we have been here there have been 2 directors. Rev. Kincaid was the director when we arrived. He is a missionary from England. He is a Jamaican but lived in England for many years and is supported through there. He was also the superintendent of the Jamaican Assemblies of God for many years. He resigned a year ago and the new College Director is Rev. Pitkin, the A/G superintendent and pastor in Montego Bay. I think it might be the norm for the superintendent to be the director. They wear many hats.