Being on our recent mission trip to Jamaica, it was obvious that God had prepared the way and was with us. We accomplished every task we had planned – a very full agenda, but as usually happens, God showed us other needs, He gave us added energy, and He found the resources for us to address these needs. Also, the community responded and we planted some seeds that already have been harvested by a subsequent mission team.
On Sunday, we attended a local Methodist Church and then Rev. Jack Hinnen and about 6 of our team members rode in the back of a pickup truck for approximately 8 miles into the jungle to preach at another church. On Sunday afternoon, the entire team went to Muirton Boys Home, the boy’s orphanage where we planned to begin working on Monday. Our plans were to show the entire team what the projects were there and to evaluate the various projects and plan the strategy to attack the projects.
We had originally planned for a team from Alexander City First United Methodist Church to stay in the community of our mission home in Port Morant Monday through Thursday doing a Vacation Bible School in the mornings and other work in the community in the afternoons. However, after seeing the condition of the Boys Home, things changed. As one of the ladies on the team said: “it looks like a prison without bars”. So, immediately, they hatched the plan to paint a lot of the rooms and paint a large mural on the community room wall. This would require them to ride for 55 min. each way in the afternoon to get to the Boys Home for these projects. Of course, neither the extra two taxis each way nor the paint was in the budget.
Also, that Sunday afternoon, we learned that the bathrooms were locked. Why? They had no water. None! And they had not had any for quite a while. We also learned that the boys had to walk down the mountain for approximately ½ mile to bathe in the river. We learned that even when they had water, there was no pressure during the day. They would collect it at night for use in the kitchen, etc. Part of this was because the pump that was needed to pump the water from the public source up the mountain was broken and had been broken for over two years. So, while this was not a project we had planned to do, our team decided that not only would we try to repair this problem; it would become our most important project. Needless to say, this was also an expensive project which we had not planned. More about this later.
Back to the Vacation Bible School – the Alexander City team was wonderfully prepared and had the help and support of several members of the Port Morant Methodist Church as well as a few others. They built many friendships with the other workers, but what about the children? They were planning the VBS for Monday through Thursday and were using an “Around the World” theme. For example, on the first day, the country was the U.S. They played baseball; all were given a baseball cap, etc. Also, the team gave each child a sandwich to take home, knowing that they may not have anything else to eat.
There was some publicity before we got there, so some of the children were expecting the VBS. To put things in perspective, excluding our mission team and another small mission team visiting, the attendance at church on Sunday was approximately 40 people – mostly adults. On Monday, the VBS had 65 children and everyone was please with the turnout. On Tuesday, there were 85 children. On Wednesday, 100. On Thursday, 125. On Friday, 150. The problem was, that VBS was only Mon – Thur. So, 150 children showed up on Friday and some of the leaders of the children at the church had to come and provide some activities with the children. So, I guess you could say that the VBS was successful.
Back at the Boys Home, we had a team remove a floor in one of the bedrooms, replace all the floor joists, put in a sub floor, install luan, then place vinyl tile on the luan. This repair allowed 3 more sets of bunk beds to be moved into this room.
Another large team built 30 lockers for the boys. These lockers were approximately 18” x 18” and stood approximately 5 feet tall. They had doors and we installed hasps with combination locks. This does not sound like much until you realize the boys had no place to store any personal items. Some of us saw an amazing site – one of the boys lifted up his mattress on his upper bunk and there between the 4” foam mattress and the plywood on which the mattress rested, he had probably a hundred items – essentially all his material possessions – a set of tempera paints, CD’s, cards, a power supply, combs, photos, etc. This was his only personal area until he got his locker. Obviously, they were very excited about the lockers and many of the boys help construct them also – giving us a chance to minister to them and be a father figure for them.
We learned more about the chicken house. They had recently been given the funds to purchase 50 small chicks, but within 3 days, all were killed - obviously either rats or mongoose. While we were there, large rats were coming in and out – so realized the problem. To stop the rats, we concreted the floor, and then built an internal room-size cage for the chickens. Also, there were dangerous electrical wires and light hanging from the ceiling, etc. So, this was all repaired. We did not get to finish the chicken house, but we left money and a worker to complete it and we left money and instructions to buy chicks and feed.
As mentioned before, the big project became the plumbing project. Again, God assembled the right team. We had a plumber and two additional guys who work for companies that build/supply pumps. The water supply was over 400 feet down the mountain in a jungle like area. This team had to repair numerous leaks, install a pump after pouring concrete into the pump house, secure the pump, ran over 400 feet of electrical wire in new conduit, install switches, etc. All of this and they also discovered that poison ivy grows in Jamaica. This was a major project taking a lot of work, was very expensive, but there was an incredible need and as always, God provides.
Also, as mentioned above, the VBS ladies traveled to the Boys Home every afternoon to paint and to work with the boys. The boys got so excited about the mural that two of the older ones took over and would not even let our people work on it. It was quite impressive. On one wall, amongst sports equipment painted on the wall was a scroll with Philippians 4:13 (I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.). Then at the other end of the room are the painted flags of the U.S. and Jamaica with “Whom shall I send? And who shall go for us?” (Isaiah 6:8).
Also, the VBS team made tie dye tee-shirts – both at VBS and at the Boys Home. Also, they built two soccer goals for the boys.
Not only were we witnesses for Christ’s love to the boys, but a donor had given us youth Bibles to take to Jamaica for the boys. We left those there for the boys. Only last week, we learned that following that, another small mission team and a pastor went to the Boys Home. Several of the boys as well as our favorite taxi driver gave their lives to Christ.
Our team had some very spiritual devotions as well. This was an incredible team. Despite temperatures in the day in the high 90’s and in the mid 80’s at night with mosquitoes and little air movement, we had an extremely hard working team that never complained. It was the body of Christ, doing Christ’s work for the lost and forgotten.
The missionaries who were our hosts are growing old and want to come back to the U.S. Their home is a great mission house and has a lot of potential for future missions. They have offered it to our mission organization to purchase for 53% of the appraised value. While that may seem crazy, God sometimes ask us to do things that seem a little crazy – just look at the story of Noah. However, I believe everyone who went on this trip realizes what an impact we have when we go and how much more we can do if we have a mission house and how vital this house is to our future efforts in Jamaica.
Finally, we would like to thank you for your prayers and support of our mission efforts. We would appreciate your future prayers and support as we expand our missions there and consider the purchase of this mission house. We know we cannot do it alone, but with your help and with God’s guidance we can.
If you have any questions about our trip, future trips, our future plans or the mission house, please fill free to contact us. We would be happy to discuss this with you.
“Whom shall I send?”
Help us answer that question.
Isaiahsixeight is a Christian mission organization which focuses on an extremely poor area of eastern Jamaica. Please visit our web site: www.isaiahsixeight.org.