Monday, July 2, 2012

Goodbye Jamaica....we love you.

Today I am thinking about the last four years and how to conclude this blog site. When we left America in 2008 for the island, we had no idea how deep the Jamaican people would root themselves into our hearts. A beautiful people. Relationships we guard closely.

We arrived on Jamaican soil in August of 2008, the night before Tropical Storm Gustaf! We stayed in a hotel for 3 nights with no electricity, water and little food! It was a blast! We were running on sheer adrenalin!

After those 3 nights, we realized we wouldn't be able to afford much more so we went in search of "free housing"!! The Bible College where we were assigned to work didn't have a place for us so we contacted the A/G children's home  in the same town as the Bible College. Thankfully, they let us stay in a room alongside a Missionary Associate couple and during this time, Renee's school and the Bible College classes had both started. We were working on visas, our shipping container, having Renee's uniforms made, eating out where ever we could find. Crazy days for sure!!

I will never forget the day our shipping container arrived! We were so excited to set up house in Spaldings, the town next door to Christiana. The freshmen class came over and helped us deal with boxes and paper so we could store them for the departure which at that time seemed so very far away!

We traveled to the A/G churches on Sundays. We got acquainted with the pastors, preached and did music in the churches, fellowshipped with the congregations. In our travels we got to know the layout of the land, traveling from north to south, and east to west. We taught in the Bible College, attended faculty meetings, Board of Administration meetings, missions meetings, participated in devotions, had the students to the house hundreds of times! made lots of American goodies, preached in chapels, prayer meetings and anything we could do to be connected. We attended National conferences, conventions, General meetings. We conducted Children's Ministries Seminars across the island, taught clowning, ballooning, face paintings, how to conduct kids crusades and the like.  We also led the way for the refurbishing of a church building and restarting it through the momentum of several different teams.  We fell in love with the people of Bath, Jamaica.

Both homes in which we lived served as a Bed and Breakfast for many people! Evangelists, guests and friends. We were blessed in so many ways as we opened our lives and our home.

We got to know people in both towns in which we lived. Spaldings and Mandeville. We found different ways to love on people. That is what we were there for. Our assignment was the Bible College but a missionary can't become so one-tracked that they teach and then go home and do nothing else. Everything we do is to connect people to the God that has sent us there.

Renee's busy life was another point of contact. From dance to art to violin! From her school days at Belair to PTA. We met so many wonderful friends along the way. She played her violin for the Governor General, the Japanese Ambassador and gave her Valedictorian Speech in front of the Minister of Education who was so very complimentary.

Our four years of ministry in Jamaica are over although friendships and memories will last a life time! 2012 brings us to a new ministry, that of Den being a lecturer in Valley Forge Christian College and Renee being a student at the same college. During the next two years we will be itinerating to raise and secure the budget to go on to the next field. We don't know yet where that will be but stay tuned! We will be in touch!

One of my favorite sayings is "It is bettter to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all." Maybe the reason I love the saying is because as missionaries we are always moving on to another situation or place. It would be easy to say, "I won't be here long so I am not going to make friends" or to say " It is too painful to think about the goodbye so I won't build a relationship in the first place."

I am going to continue to choose to love, knowing how painful goodbyes really are.

1 comment:

  1. I lived in Mandeville and went to Belair School in the early 1980s. The place doesn't look all that much different now. At any rate, we were there as part of the ALPART business consortium. As I have gotten older, this time in my life has grown in importance for me. I long for those days and would love to re-live them again. Since I was young at Belair (also started in 7th grade), I quickly picked up the Patois and still largely retain it. When I go back to Jamaica for visits, I am like in heaven. I am glad you enjoyed your time there. I recall some missionary kids being in the school with me. I'm not sure if they were from the same church as you, but perhaps they were. I feel confident that this time in your life will always be a very large part of your life. Yeah, mon, everyting be irie you know! Me a wan go a mi yaad in Mandeville, Jamaica!