Follow the Journey Team to Jamaica
Hello from Jamaica! And what a beautiful place it is! Today was our very last full day here but it was full of lots of fun and exciting experiences as we got to see how it feels to be a tourist on this lovely island! We got up and had breakfast at 8 and then headed out on our day of adventure! And boy did we ever have some adventures!?
We took a beautiful drive which was about 2 hours to where the main tourist area is that has a big market and is filled with people wanting your money! Because our skin color is white the Jamaicans automatically assume that we are rich and will be able to spend top price on their souvenirs. This is not the case for us poor college students. The market can be a little bit overwhelming, especially at first! The workers are all trying to get you to come over to their shop and get you to buy from them when most places all have the same thing. Being in this type of market is sort of like being in a game. First, you have to figure out what you want, then you have to find out how to get it for the lowest price while at the same time, try not to lose your mind in the process when dealing with the persistent Jamaicans! It can be very interesting to barter and at times entertaining to see how they instantly change their minds on the how valuable their stuff is when you threaten to leave. I felt that we were all quite happy with the outcome of our shopping. The rain came in full blast as we all took a break for lunch from our enthusiastic shopping. However, this did not put a damper on our time because the rain here seems refreshing for the most part. Yes, it can be annoying because it makes things harder and you do get very wet but the rain does cool off the hot sticky air of the island. My favorite kind of rainfall is when the sun is still shinning brightly as the water falls from the sky and since being here, that's the only type of rain I have seen. Though it falls hard, the storm clouds seem to pass quickly.
After spending a "bit" more time shopping, we all piled back in the van to drive to the famous Dunn's River Falls! This place in now one of my favorite places I have had the opportunity of visiting. The landscape is beautiful, the air is fresh, tropical trees, plants, and flowers fill the area, there is a beach with a bay leading into the Caribbean, and breathtaking waterfalls. The best part is that you can climb up the waterfalls! Ok parents, I know that may sound a little nerve racking to some of you but remember...."we can do all things through Christ who gives us strength!" And strength is what He gave us. That and a huge boost of excitement for the adventure that laid, or I should say rose, before us. We all concurred the long and challenging climb as a team and we where able to help each other out along the way. It was a great team building experience and we all felt very brave and confident after reaching the top. It felt wonderful to be able to look down after each rapid and see what we had just accomplished and that gave us the motivation to keep trekking on. I was so proud of everyone. I am very thankful that we had this opportunity to see a little bit more of God's amazing creation! Jamaica is beautiful in itself but being about to be at these falls and see the rush of the strong water as it flows and sprays over the rocks and to be able to face and complete the challenge of climbing up them was something none of us had experienced before (at least not on this level). Some even went a second time while others took pictures and played on the beach.
God is so big and it is nice to be reminded of how little we are and how much we need Him at every moment! He kept us all safe today in the van, at the market and at Dunn's River Falls. No one got hurt and no one got sick as we drove the crazy roads up and down the mountains. It is so hard to imagine that we are getting on a plane back home tomorrow. The days here seem so long and packed but yet the time goes so fast! It is hard to rap my mind around. I just praise God for all that He has done in and through us on this trip! We are sad to leave but we are confident that the "fruits" from our work on this trip (both physically and relationally) will continue to be lived out as they grow and develop even more. We are also excited to be able to come home to you all who have been so loving and supportive to us.
In Him, Stephanie Franks
Saturday morning we were able to sleep in a bit and then head out to a local market where many Jamaicans go daily to buy and sell all kinds of things. We took a bus to the market and the bus rides in Jamaica are going to be very memorable for everyone on the team. Buses literally race each other to pick up passengers, and everyone around here is used to it. For us though, watching buses fly by as the lay on their horns is definitely out of the ordinary. We arrived at the market around 10 or so, and had about 2 hours to walk around and observe. People were friendly, and some Jamaicans say "we respect the white man" when they see us. We bought some fresh fruit, mangos and Jamaican apples (more like our pears than our apples).
We headed to the grocery store from there so some of the team could buy Jamaican Coffee to bring back home. After that, we got lunch at Island Grill which is a popular Jamaican fast food restaurant. Today was Kyleigh Hallman's birthday, so we sang to her at Island Grill and we had cake at the Kay's house later on.
After stopping home to change clothes and gather equipment for our sports camp, we left for church. We had an evening sports camp for kids, and about 30 to 40 showed up. We had 3 groups: Soccer, Football, and Basketball. 3-4 team members helped out at each station, and we played different drills and games with the kids and then rotated groups after 20 minutes or so. It went very well - the kids had fun, and it was especially fun for Garrett Derr, Will Wilson, and me to teach some basic football skills to the kids. Football was the sport that they were least familiar with (they call it rugby here, because soccer is football).
After it was over, all the kids gathered on the basketball court and Garrett shared his testimony, as well as a man from the church. The kids listened well, and they all got "bag juice" at the end (literally a plastic bag full of juice - just bite a corner open and you are good to go).
We stayed around for about another hour and hung out with the kids, and then headed home and had a late dinner and devotions. It was a good day experiencing Jamaican culture and ministering to kids.
Sunday is a big day for Jamaicans. Stores are closed, and church is a big deal here (everyone dresses up for church and services are long). We left at 7:45 and got to church early. Today we got the privilege to:
-Sing two songs, one with all of us and one with 4 team members (thanks to Will Wilson for leading)
-Teach 2 Sunday school classes - youth group, and juniors (thanks Garrett Derr, Will Wilson, Ben Jackson, Faith Dunkle, and Olivia Rentzel.
-I had the privilege of preaching
Overall church was great - lots of energy, friendly Jamaicans, and we all got hugs or handshakes from everyone because we were visitors. After church we headed home for a late lunch, and then left for our last day of sports camp at 4 pm. We did everything similar to Saturday, except we added volleyball to the mix and divided kids up by size. It went smoother than Saturday, and Kat Ritter and Zach Rodgers gave testimonies. We gave the kids more juice afterwards, and we hung out with them for another hour or so. Some of the guys on the team played basketball with some Jamiacan guys our age. The church has a nice court, so guys come from all over to play. It was very competitive and we had a blast. The Jamaicans on the sidelines were all cheering for us when we played a good game against the best team there. We headed home for another late dinner, had devotions over dinner, and then hit the pool for a bit or headed to bed.
One thing we are continuing to learn about Jamaica - it is a very religious country. All kinds of churches are here, but sadly it seems that most of them are adding things to the Gospel. You must attend church on Saturday, or you must speak in tongues to become a Christian. We are realizing more and more that the consistent teaching of the Biblical Gospel - that it is all of Grace - is what will transform lives here. We are pumped that we are part of that process, and please continue to pray for us.-Tommy Ardt
Hello! Fridays are the gateway to the weekend and rest, but ours was filled with excitement. The team was able to sleep in a little bit this morning, providing some much needed extra rest. A wonderful breakfast and smooth morning sent us on our way to the church for another work day. The men went to collect a tent for future conventions, and were able to stop by some schools to pick up parts of the poles and such. They were able to see all the children at play in their uniforms. The girls painted a Sunday School room and bathroom with vivid colors such as yellow, green, and pink. Kat finished her mural of the sunset as well, and it looks quite marvelous. Once back, the men and some other helpers at the church were able to take off the braces from around the concrete the team completed the other day, and it looks very good. Being able to see the fruits of our labor was quite an incredible sight.
After a pick me up lunch, the team packed up and got ready to head out, but not before playing some quick games of soccer and basketball with the boys from the neighborhood who have been keeping us company all week. This afternoon back at the house, we enjoyed some pool time, relaxation, and quiet places. The ability to rest in Him and read through the Word is something we are finding ourselves needing more and more as we use all our energy working and serving. Beautiful weather and a great dinner (pizza anyone?) set the backdrop for a wonderful beginning of the evening. The team had some great conversations and we are continuing to grow deeper and deeper in relationships with each other.
As evening began, we got all dressed up again for street evangelism. It was a night filled with heartache as well as deep joy. The team evengelized down the streets of Irish Pen once again and was able to interact with many people. The Lord was magnified as we shared the true Gospel of Jesus Christ with folks both young and old. Perhaps the highlight of the entire evening came from the conversations the team had with many of the children and teens at the Church. There are so many kids who are yearning for life and are finally starting to progress towards a relationship with Jesus Christ. The children here are so rich of heart. We uphold richness in America, with cash and houses and things... but they are so rich of heart. And the moment you look into a child's eyes in Jamaica and you think about what he has been through, he'll give you the shirt off his back just to say hello... that is proof that there is something much brighter then any shadow this fallen world can cast.
A final thought from our team to you...
It all starts with the humility of knowing that we can do nothing on our own. And it doesn't matter what we are doing, whether playing sports or building a church roof - these things have the potential to become the living embodiment of Christ on this planet. It's the simple, humble who is faithful and attentive to the Holy Spirit - that's where this life begins. All of us have the tendency to become caught up in the hype. But the Gospel is about being humble to the point where you're willing to take up your cross (or your hammer) and daily pursue a communion with the gracious God who loves the world. He loves us so much that He gives of Himself for us to consume.
In Christ Alone, Danielle and Will
Hello America! It is our fourth day in Jamaica! The group woke up early again to go work at the church. Driving to the church always seems to be a fun bonding or sleeping time for the team. I am still not used to being in a vehicle on the left side! Anyway so we got to the work site around 8:30. Some of us were doing work on the roof, some were painting, and some were playing football, basketball, and soccer. I have learned this week that some times serving means waiting. At the beginning of the day sometimes it is hard to find something to do for everyone since the group is so big! A few times I got anxious because I just wanted to work! Waiting is part of serving though. A painful part, but a part. There were a whole bunch of kids there again! They are so full of life and they all wanted to help in the work project. It is cool how people from two totally different cultures can mesh together so well. I love how sport helps do that. Kicking a soccer ball is a universal language that can break any cultural barrier.
After our lunch of peanut butter and jelly we laid out by the ocean under the sun...actually no we mixed concrete. We shoveled, poured, climbed, and did everything that making concrete entails. It is quite the learning experience seeing how it is all done. The coolest part of the day was the fact that it started raining right after we were done our job. Some call it luck, but I call it the sovereignty of God!
A few things I am thankful for about our trip so far
1. Kat Ritter's amazing painting ability. She pained two murals in the church. One is of a sunset and the other is of Noah's ark.
2. Food prepared for us when we get back. Today was tacos!
3. A team of people who are determined to serve no matter the cost~Em "Wilson" Taylor
Today was our third day in Jamaica, and our second day spent at the Spanishtown Tabernacle worksite. Though yesterday was a heavy work day spent pouring concrete for the churches roof structure, today many of us spent painting the churches baptismal and the sanctuary pillars. Others were also able to help construct and set up the roof mold for tomorrows concrete pouring. The churches location is a great blessing in that it sits right outside of the Spanishtown ghetto. The churches yard, including its basketball court, has given our team the opportunity to make connections with the local people. Today was another milestone in those relationships in that we had a lot of returning teenage boys come back and not only help work, but also be able to play soccer, basketball, and football with as a brief break. Its neat to see how these relationships have grown and deepened in only a matter of two days. We hope to continue to pour into their lives as we continue to work at this site for the next couple of days. Tonight, we were also given the opportunity after dinner to head back to the Spanishtown Tabernacle and do some team street evangelism throughout the ghetto located not far from the church. This was a new experience to many of the people on our team, but also very neat. We were able to approach the people and invite them to our sports camp on Saturday and Sunday afternoon, invite them to the church service, and also ask them about their beliefs. The Jamaican people are honest people and received our questioning and invitations really well. It was also neat to be guided through the ghetto by the teenagers that we were able to connect with at our worksite. Continue to be praying as we go deeper with the Jamaican people, as well as for health as we continue to work long hours at the worksite. Thanks!Jamaican Journey Team Member, Olivia Rentzel
From Monica Horning:
Hello everyone! Wow, what a day! We ate breakfast at 6:30 this morning and then headed out to the church, Spanishtown Tabernacle, to start our work project for the day. Our goal was to pour concrete for a beam around the top of the church. We spent our time before lunch working on putting up support for the footer and bringing and unloading the supplies needed to mix the concrete. We took a break for lunch and then began the process of mixing and pouring the concrete. Everyone worked very hard and we got the job done despite the heat and wobbly scaffolding. The Lord was gracious to us with the weather as there were periods of clouds throughout the day which helped us to stay cooler and holding off a sprinkling of rain until after the job was completed. It was a blessing to be able to help build a place where people will come to listen about Christ and possibly come to a relationship with Him.
Throughout the day there were several teenage guys and a few girls that were helping us with some of the work and hanging out with us. During periods where we didn't have much to do we played some basketball and soccer with them. It was cool being able to connect with them in that way. A few members of our team were able to have really good conversations with some of the teens and it was a blessing to begin relationships with them. It was eye-opening for us to see the differences in the culture and how blessed we really are here in the U.S. We're hoping to see some of the same teens tomorrow when we go back to the church, and hopefully go deeper into conversation with them.
With sunburned faces and tired bodies we returned to Bud and Lynda's house at about 4:00. Some of us jumped in the pool or got a shower, and a few of us went for a run into the town. Tricia and Olivia prepared a delicious dinner for us and then we spent some time debriefing about the day as a team. Various people shared about what stuck out to them as they worked and interacted with the Jamaicans at the church. It was neat to be able to learn from each other and spend time hearing others' perspectives. The Lord has been faithful to us even on the first day and we look forward to how He will continue to use us and work through us. Your prayers are being felt here and we appreciate them very much. Hopefully this update will be able to give you a small glimpse of how we're doing here even though it only scratches the surface. Again, thanks so much for your prayers and supports... this trip and the impact we're making wouldn't be possible without you!
In Christ, The Jamaican Journey Team
We left LBC at 1 am today (Monday) and started our journey to Jamaica. Praise God everything went well on our flights and after a quick layover in Miami we arrived in Kingston at around 12 pm. We met missionary Bud Kay and family and we enjoyed a delicious lunch that was ready to go for us when we arrived at their home (which offers a breathtaking view over Kingston). Bud's parents also live in their home, and it was awesome to see 2 generations working side by side for the advance of the gospel.
Needless to say we were all pretty tired from the early morning, so all that was on the schedule was a brief orientation and some time to relax - swimming, napping, basketball, and a little bit of time spent helping Bud prep for our workday tomorrow.We had a light dinner and some great discussion about ministry with our missionary hosts, then had devotions and that was it for the night. We appreciate your prayers very much! More to come tomorrow or Wednesday.
5.11.13 - 5.22.13
Leaders: Tom Ardt and Tricia Becker
Team Members: Garret Derr, Faith Dunkle, Stephanie Franks, Ky-Leigh Hallman, Monica Horning, Ben Jackson, Kathryn Ritter, Olivia Rentzel, Zach Rodgers, Danielle SaxVanderWeyden, Emily Taylor, Will Wilson.