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Jamaica Team 2011 (Diana is missing)

June 29, 2011

The VBS supplies are packed & ready to go. Our team is packing their belongings as well. As we head out on Friday morning, Toby, Ellen, Tina, Diana, Mimi, Carrie, Robin, Sarah, Lexii, Taylor, Jessie, Carissa & Millie covet your prayers for our safety as we travel, our effectiveness in ministry on the island to the people of Jamaica & to each other and that the Holy Spirit will move in a powerful way. Jamaica, we soon come back!

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1 July 2011 - Everyone made it to the airport this morning bright and early.  No problems getting through security. 

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Long layover in Atlanta.  The girls occupied themselves with cards while the adults perused the various shops along the concourse.

Everyone made it through customs in Jamaica, got settled into rooms & had their first taste of Jamaican food. Tomorrow we"ll rehearse the puppet skits & music for VBS & do a little team building. Can't wait to see what GOD is gonna do here!

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2 July 2011 - Working on the mission field can be an amazing experience. But to be the best team you can be, you need to spend time together & work together. Today, we worked on becoming a good team. After a bit of down time in the morning, some of us hanging out by the pool others at the beach, we worked on learning our songs & hand motions. Some of our songs were familiar to everyone & the motions well established. But a couple of songs were new to most of us with nothing to do but stand & sing. We fixed that! If you see one of out team members when we get back, ask her to show you "God is Love". Fun stuff Cool! Tomorrow we work on the puppet skits - the hard work starts after church!

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3 July 2011 - Today we went to the CTE Basic School Graduation & practiced our puppet skits. Of our teens, Sarah, Lexii & Carissa have been to Jamaica before but learning the tricks of puppeteering was a new expereience for Taylor & Jessie. Carrie gave it a whirl too. Try sitting in close quarters with 1 or 2 other people behind a well-constructed puppet stage, holding your arm up over your head with a little extra weight on it for 5-10 minutes, moving your hand to make the puppet talk at just the right time & you'll have the general idea of what it takes to put on a puppet show. You'll also see that puppeteering isn't as easy as it looks. Kudos to our puppet masters Laughing. We rehearsed for almost 2 hours so everyone who wanted a chance to work with the puppets could. Tomorrow we head out for our 1st 2-a-day VBS, one session in the morning & one session in the evening. Keep those prayers coming & tune in tomorrow!

 

Graduation Day- Today we went to CTE Basic School Graduation. For those of us who have never been to Jamaica, this was our first chance to see the kids. They were sooo cute wearing their pink outfits. The little girls wore pink & white beads in their hair.

The graduation was a chance for the school to say good-bye to their "school leavers", the 6 yr olds who would move on to primary school. But my favorite part had to be when the kids sang, though sometimes I could hardly understand them.

Pray for the kids in Jamaica. As they said at the graduation, they are the future leaders & workers of Jamaica. Our prayer is that our work & the work of other Christian missionaries will have a lasting impact on their lives. - Taylor

Jessie & Nigel
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Taylor & Lucille
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4 July 2011 VBS Day 1: Today was our first day of VBS. We started our morning at the CTE Basic School, then went to Norwood in the afternoon. In case you were wondering, the kids were adorable (and loved Taylor's hair). After a long day of worship, puppets, and crafts in the heat of Jamaica, the team to a 4th of July trip to TheJamaican Bobsled Cafe for pizza and ice cream. YUM! P.S. Happy Birthday, America! - Carissa

By the way, we had 34 kids plus 4 adults @ the Basic School & 60 kids plus 4 or 5 adults @ the Norwood Evangelistic Centre! Great turn out for our 1st day. Tomorrow we hope to multiply that number. Our God is a great big God & He has big plans for us. He's not pushing us out of our comfort zone, He's enlarging it for us Cool.

5 July 2011 - Today was a little crazy. There were 64 kids & 6 adults @ VBS @ the CTE Basic School - almost twice as many as yesterday! But what we would call a typical midwestern thunderstorm kicked up in the afternoon, flooding the streets & making it unsafe for us to head back out in the afternoon =/. Our driver assured us the children wouldn't come in the rain, but it was still strange to cancel. Tomorrow we'll finish @ the Basic School & do days 2 & 3 for the kids in Norwood. Since we missed a day, we could easily double our numbers from Monday. Just praying the rain will stop.

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Basic School - our biggest day here =)

6 July 11 - by Lexii

We are here for a purpose, maybe not to change culture but to change lives.

We are here to set a standard, maybe not to change a way of life but to give suggestions.

We are here to be missionaries. Not to be tourists but to be God in the flesh.

We are here to be Christ-like, maybe not to be crucified but to give ourself to Him.

We are here to be like children, maybe not to kick & scream but to be obedient.

We are here to love, maybe not hand to hand, lips to lips, but to show God's love.

We are in Jamaica to love, be missionaries, to be like children...like Christ. We are here to

share the Gospel to people whose religion may have been corrupted by the world.

We are Here...can't wait to see what's next!

7 July 11 - Flankers was an unexpectedly pleasant surprise. In years past, we've met in a basic school in Flankers that had some structural issues like a sagging roof that leaked. Last year we weren't able to share VBS in Flankers at all. This year, we met in Flankers Open Bible Church. To be in a ghetto area, the church is quite well-taken care of. The pastor's wife was there with us & it was obvious that the children respected her. We didn't expect the level of cooperation we got & it was such a blessing. One young man, only 9 yrs old, met us at the gate, took us inside & after introducing himself, informed us "this is my church". It was quite the blessing to have the children behave far better than we expected. And then at the end of our session, the ladies of the church fed the children AND us. Mimi put it perfectly when she said she was so blessed by the kindness of this humble church family. We look forward to returning tomorrow =).

We also shared some authentic Jamaica food from the Pork Pit - pork & chicken with jerk seasoning and cooked over open fires - delicious! We also had some rice & peas and festival, which is like a deep fried corn bread. Those a little less brave had french fries instead of rice & peas. Good Jamaican food, good Jamaican hospitality - this was a good day all the way around.

VBS @ Flankers
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8 July 2011 - Our final day @ Flankers is the completion of our 1st week of VBS. We had 108 kids today! This is our biggest single session this summer, possibly ever! God has been incredibly faithful to use these jars of clay to plant & water & nuture seeds of faith in the children of Jamaica who in turn sow those same seeds in their parents! We'll try to relax a bit over the weekend before a long 3 days on the mountain in Hanover Parish next week. Keep praying for us & for the people to whom we're ministering. Children are a blessing from the Lord no matter where we live & they are the future of every nation, the future of Christianity in the world. It's so precious to a small child come up and whisper the Fruits of the Spirit to get a little glow-in-the-dark bracelet that we can get at any carnival, festival, rodeo or fair. To live simply & honor the Lord, that's something to strive for. 

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Conquering the Falls!

9 July 2011 - What a fabulous day we had today! This morning, we headed out for Dunn's River Falls. We passed from St. James Parish thru the Parish of Trelawny to Ocho Rios in St. Ann's Parish. Along the way, we got quite the lesson from our driver Paul who is a most-knowledgable tour guide. He is quite proud of his country & eager to share. We stopped at Discovery Bay, the possible landing place of Christopher Columbus, then on to conquer the Falls.

Lexii, Sarah & Carissa have climbed them before, so they led Taylor, Jessie, Carrie & Mimi up. Taylor & Carissa went up for a 2nd go around =). Following our time @ the Falls, we stopped for a late lunch/early dinner @ Juici Patties - YUM! For those of us who've had them before & loved them, it was something we've been waiting 9 days to enjoy. For first timers to the island, there was a mixed response.

Then came the one place everyone visiting Jamaica should experience - the craft market. Jessie & Taylor thought it was quite fun, Mimi doesn't want to do it again, Carrie had mixed feelings but liked it for the most part, Robin is undecided. The ride back was restful & leisurely. A busy "day off" but really enjoyable! Tomorrow we go to church, Jamaica style.

 

10 July 2011 - Church in Jamaica is a very charismatic affair. Everyone comes in dressed in their very best, ladies in hats, men in suits & ties, little girls in fancy dresses, even little boys wear ties. The music is loud and upbeat and the hymns are familiar with a Jamaican flair. The message on God's favor was very timely and a blessing to the entire team.

For our part, we shared "Your Love is Deep", a song we do with the children @ VBS. The whole VBS team got up in front of the congregation during the singing part of the service & sang along with the CD, doing the motions we teach the kids. It's a fairly simple song with powerful lyrics. Half way through the song, some of the Jamaicans were singing along with us. At the end of the service, we were asked to come up and do it again and this time, the majority of the congregation joined us. It was touching to watch these adults worship so freely with us in the same manner as we worship with their children.

To top it all off, three people gave their lives to the Lord this morning. How wonderful it is to be used of God to contribute to leading someone to the saving grace of Jesus Christ. Our ministry plants seeds in the hearts of children who in turn plant seeds in the hearts of their parents. God sends others to water and nurture and harvest. It is truly a team effort.

Monday-Wednesday we'll be traveling up into the mountain of Hanover Parish to Chigwell Holiness Church in the morning & Great Valley Holiness Church in the afternoon. Being in the mountains is a far more rural setting than the areas of Montego Bay where we've been the past week. It's truly an experience all its own =).

11 July 11 - Our first day on the mountain in Hanover. This being a much more rural area, there are fewer children. But that doesn't matter to us. We don't focus on numbers, we focus on reaching children with the love of Jesus. That said, we had 25 kids @ Chigwell Holiness Church & 19 kids + a handful of adults @ Great Valley Holiness Church. This being our second week, we were pretty tired, so smaller groups were a blessing for us. And with smaller groups of kids, we have more opportunity to help them out one on one and get to know them a little better. And as always it's great to see familiar faces =).

Toby also preached at an evening service in Great Valley. It was a long day for the team but a good time of teaching for us all.

12 July 11 - Day 2 in Hanover brought a larger group of children at both churches - 38 @ Chigwell & 32 @ Great Valley. If I could give you an adequate picture of the of the church @ Great Valley, you would share our sense of awe at God's greatness. Every seat was full! It rained off and on all afternoon which kept the kids inside the church instead of out in the yard around the church. We offered glow-in-the-dark bracelets to the kids who could memorize our theme verse which is Galatians 5:22-23. They kept at it, many of them succeeding in quoting it to me after only one day =).

Toby preached again in the evening & a man who had turned away from the Lord for a time committed his life to Christ & our whole team was there to witness it! That is why we go to the mission field - so that everyone might hear the Truth of God's Word and know the Jesus loves them no matter what they've done, where they are, how they look or how they feel. It's a truth that so many people need to hear. Jesus died for the forgiveness every sin for every person. No one is too far gone that the love of Jesus can't save him or her. Praise God for the Blood of Jesus that takes away the sin of the world!


 

13 July 11 - Today is a day of lasts - our last day of VBS, our last day up on the mountain in Chigwell & Great Valley, our last day on the island, our last post from Jamaica for 2011. We had 48 rowdy, rambunctious children @ Chigwell today, including a few new older teens who most likely came just to get the "sweeties" we give them but who still heard the same message & got the same attention as the younger children. Some of the boys between about 9 & 13 were having some problems behaving, a fight broke out a time or two. That was the worst of our trip.

Great Valley was a totally different story. From about 2:30 when it started to rain, we were inside a 12X20 building (maybe) with 26 kids, 4 adults & our 11 team members, singing, reciting our memory verse, enjoying a fun puppet show & doing some crafts. The children were so well behaved & respectful. It was such a huge blessing. And if that weren't enough, the principal of the Basic School in Great Valley and another lady who is a church member made us some sandwiches & the Pastor who is our liaison with those churches cut 11 coconuts so that we could each have our own for some coconut water & cold jelly. There were mixed results on the coconut water & the cold jelly, but the sandwiches were much appreciated & if you could see the poverty of these people, you would know why we were so blessed by their kindness. God is surely faithful!

Tomorrow we travel back home; we covet your prayers for our safety as we go & for joyful reunions with our families. Thank you for praying for us, sending us, keeping up with us as we are on this mission field. May God bless you as greatly as He has blessed us!