Jamaica Spring 2008 Newsletter
Since our last newsletter, we have been quite busy in Jamaica. God has blessed us and our ministry greatly. In January, we built a home destroyed by Hurricane Dean in September, we repaired a damaged home where 14 children lived, we did major repairs on two other homes, as well as repairing the roof on a Special Needs School. We also rented a mission house. Bobbie and Hank Langer, missionaries there in Port Morant, have sold their Port Morant home, necessitating the need for renting of a home there. Jerry Cole's team from Blackstone, Virginia came and made significant improvements on the property. The Langers also supervised and worked to have our rental home painted and cleaned. Then, they were kind and generous to move many of their furnishings into the house and to leave most of their tools for future missions. Also, in January, we had discussions with the Catholic Church in Port Morant to jointly set up a computer lab there onsite.
In March, a team of two went to Jamaica to do some work at the mission house/compound and to make arrangements for summer mission teams. A very significant need was identified that could not wait for the summer and provisions were made for a house to be built.
For the summer, we are planning for mission teams to be present June 28-July 19. This will probably be mostly 3 one week teams; however, there are some team members who will stay longer than one week. We also know already that these teams will represent at least 3 different church congregations.
Also, please keep Vickie Moore's misison team from Virginia in your prayers. They are conducting a medical mission there in the St. Thomas parish. Also, keep Hank Langer in your prayers. He is having some significant heart problems and has been in the hospital.
Many details and stories are below:
Mission House / Compound
Details of Summer projects
January 2008 trip
March 2008 trip
June 25 - Donnie Cantley and hopefully at least one other person will go as an advance team to purchase supplies, ready the rental house, survey the projects, and get materials in place.
June 28- July 5 - First week mission trip - The plans are to work in Seaside to finish the work on Ms. Morrison's home. Some of you will remember this as the home in the swampy area with collapsing wall and ceiling that houses her grandson. His room was the one that was inhabited by pigeons as well. (We are happy to say, that at our very strong recommendation, the pigeons have been eradicated). A second project will be to build a house in the Prospect area. The current house is a house made of tin (they call it zinc) walls and roof. There are hundreds of holes in the walls and roof. The house is leaning badly, it has a dirt floor, and there is no electricity. The mom of the house has been very sick because of the rain and inability to restrain the wind. There are also 3 children living in the house. We may also begin work on a computer lab to be housed at the Catholic Church - depending on interest of team members; this project may be continued or delayed until the other weeks.
July 5 - 12 - Second week mission trip - For years, the Langers have told us that the Basic School (kindergarten) in Stokeshall was the worst they have seen. Also, the Hurricane destroyed 1/2 of it in September. The building housing the Basic School is very unsafe as well as the attached church are in danger of collapsing. We have decided to build a replacement Basic School approximately 250 feet from the existing one. Also, we are considering conducting a Vacation Bible School (VBS) there as well. This week of VBS could be interchanged with one listed under week 3.
July 12-19 - Third week mission trip - There will be building this week - probably completion of the Stokeshall Basic School as well as some other projects God will show us in the prior weeks. We hope this week to also do some ministry in the Duckenfield area. Duckenfield is one of the most economically depressed areas we have seen. It is the area around the sugar factory which is populated mainly by sugar cane cutters and a few factory workers. The work is seasonal and they only operate approximately 6 months per year. A cane cutter is paid by how much cane he cuts by hand with a machete. The pay is about $1.25 (U.S. equivalent) per ton of cane he cuts. As you can see, this is a very depressed area. We plan on conducting a VBS here and possibly a youth rally or youth ministry depending on team composition. Also, Billy Graham, the Jamaican evangelist, will set up his tent in Duckenfield for our use and he may do a revival at nights in the area.
Note: We are hoping that some youth leaders and musicians will be among our team members. Depending upon the team makeup for the particular weeks, we could move the Duckenfield ministry and the Stokeshall projects to make the best use of team members.
Cost: The high cost of oil has caused an increase in airfare. As a result, we had had to increase the cost of the trips. We have set the price at $1,200.00 U.S. for the usual one week trip. This will include transportation to and from airports, airfare, meals in Jamaica, room, board, building materials/mission supplies, and one day of group sightseeing/tourist activities. The only reason you would need additional money is for souvenirs, incidental snacks, and donations for other needs you may desire to help.
Team composition: We can accommodate no more than 21 missioners at any one time, so please sign up early. We accept Christians of any denomination, but we retain the right to interview the team members to determine compatibility with team members, etc. and we reserve the right to refuse anyone.
Contact: Please contact Donnie Cantley to reserve a spot or for further information at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 205-967-7999.
May 15, 2008 - Isaiahsixeight will need a nonrefundable deposit of $600 by May 15 and the following data faxed to 205-969-3797:
Name on Passport
Date of Birth
Expiration Date of Passport
June 15, 2008 - Isaiahsixeight will need the remaining $600 (total of $1,200) along with a color copy of your passport, completed medical information and release.
Tax Exempt Status Obtained!
We are extremely pleased to announce that Isaiahsixeight has received its tax-exempt status under section 501 (c) (3) of the Internal Revenue Code. This tax-exempt status is retroactive for contributions from March 9, 2007. You may now make contributions directly to Isaiahsixeight; however, Riverchase United Methodist Church, the church primarily involved with the formation of Isaiahsixeight will still take donations made out to it and earmarked for Isaiahsixeight. Some other churches may also forward contributions to Isaiahsixeight, but one should get permission from the church before doing so. Soon, we hope to have the ability to accept donations via credit card.
Mission House / Compound Rented in Port Morant, St. Thomas, Jamaica
Since the foundation of Isaiahsixeight, we have been faced with the possibility of Hank and Bobbie Langer, the missionaries in Port Morant, might move. They have been trying to sell their home and move back to Missouri. Isaiahsixeight entered negotiations to buy the house, but it was sold to a man from England. We feel God was in this, because we found a great house to rent just two lots north of the Langer home. The house needed a lot of work to make it suitable, but the expense and investment of buying a home was avoided leaving Isaiahsixeight with the ability to direct more of its funds toward meeting needs and less toward meeting mortgage payments, etc. See more below:
Mission House / Compound
Features of Mission House / Compound:
-Compound is behind Ms. Patsy Lindsey's house and is surrounded by a masonry wall with padlocked iron gates
-Prince, the Langer's German Shepherd, is Isaiahsixeight's guard dog and lives within the fenced area
-The house and store rooms have iron bars protecting all windows, doors, and veranda/balcony
-House has 3 bedrooms, two full baths, a small kitchen, small dining room, a large den and small balcony.
-House is furnished largely through the generosity of the Langers
-The two large bedrooms will each have 3 sets of bunk beds
-The smaller bedroom has one set of bunk beds and a single bed
-Total sleeping capacity in beds in house is 15
-In addition, we have had a small concrete patio built to accommodate plastic chairs and tables
-We have built two outdoor showers in addition to the two indoor showers
-All showers and kitchen have hot water
-In addition, in the back of Patsy Lindsey's house, we have rented two large secure store rooms for tools and materials. Adjacent to these is a 1/2 bath that is ours.
-If a team exceeds 15, we have arrangements with Patsy to rent a large room contiguous with our store rooms and 1/2 bath. That room has a set of bunk beds, a queen size bed, and a twin bed giving sleeping arrangements for up to 6 more missioners.
-Kitchen area has a gas stove, microwave, hot and cold water, a twin sink, and a large refrigerator
-All beds in the mission house will be outfitted with mosquito nets
-There are ample electric fans, but there is no air conditioning
Ms. Morrison's house / Seaside:
Ms. Morrison is an elderly lady in the Seaside community with a home in the marshy area adjacent to a swamp in the Seaside area. Two rooms - her bedroom and the one her 5 year old grandson uses are both about to fall down. The side facing the sea, from which the rain comes, has old rotten newspaper covering the inside walls to keep the rain out. In January, there were 4-5 pigeons on the young boy's bed, tables, and other furniture. The floor is falling, the roof rafters are rotten and falling and in places and sticks are holding the walls up. We made temporary repairs in January and now we plan to come in with a masonry foundation and erect 3 walls to attach to the structurally sound existing portion of house. The addition will be approximately 12' x 22'.
Ms. Morrison's House
Middle and right portions are to be replaced
Bedroom with newspaper on wall (note stick holding rafters)
Little boy's room. (note pigeons)
House at Prospect:
This is the house of a family of 4, a mom and 3 children. The walls and ceiling are made of old rusted reclaimed tin with hundreds if not thousands of holes. The entire house is leaning and it has a dirt floor with scraps of carpet lying on top of the dirt. The house is approximately 10' x 10' and there are two full size beds in it. There is no electricity or running water in the house. When we saw her, the mom had been sick for several weeks. We paid for her to go to the doctor and for her medication. She had been getting cold and wet. (Yes, even we got cold in Jamaica at night). Her house has so many holes that the wind and rain blow right through it. We plan to have some Jamaicans build a masonry foundation before we arrive. We plan to build a house with plywood walls and a tin roof. The finished structure should be about 14' x 14'.
Stokeshall Basic School:
Stokeshall is a small community between Port Morant and Duckenfield. You drive through it on the way to Muirton Boys Home or to Port Antonio. The basic school is attached to the back of a church. All the structures are masonry, but old and apparently built before steel was used routinely in such structures. The school had 2 rooms, but the roof of one was destroyed by Hurricane Dean in September. The remaining room is approximately 10' x 10', has a concrete floor with a slant of approximately 15 degrees. The room shares a wall with the back of the church. The church wall has numerous cracks in it, at the top; it has moved approximately 6 inches from the roof and is leaning approximately 10 degrees toward the children. There are large cracks (some you could stick you hand in) in the nearby wall that have sun shining through them. The school had 30 children prior to the hurricane, but has had to reduce that to 20. There are 20 children and one teacher in this 10' x 10' room. We are very concerned that this tall leaning cracked wall could fall killing many of the children. Also, since Jamaica has many earthquakes, the chance of this happening is great.
Our plan is to go to a level lot approximately 250' away and build a free-standing building, approximately 12' x 20'. We will ask local labors to build a masonry foundation before we arrive, then we will build a building with plywood walls and a tin roof. We may have to do the internal electrical connections and some plumbing as well.
Room destroyed by Hurricane Dean
Room for 20 children. Note slanting floor and wall on left.
Duckenfield is a community that surrounds the sugar factory in the cane fields on the eastern most point of Jamaica. The area is quite flat and low. Thousands of people live in this area and it is very economically distressed. To our knowledge, there are no mission efforts or relief efforts in the area. Billy Graham, a Jamaican tent evangelist, targets this area frequently. Bobbie Langer, the American missionary, has told us of the great needs in the area. Apparently, once they announced they were bringing some used clothing and hundreds lined up to get some of the clothing. She said one elderly lady came up and was asked what she wanted or needed. The lady said: "If I could just get anything, I would be happy."
I have asked people familiar with the area if there were ever any Vacation Bible School programs in the area for the children. No one had any knowledge of one having been conducted in the area. So, we have decided to try to have a Vacation Bible School there. Logistically, it will be a little more challenging, but it is greatly needed in the area. Also, Billy says the youth there have nothing to do, and he says that it is worse in that respect than Port Morant. So, if we can get the right kind of team with youth leaders and/or musicians, we hope to do something with youth in the afternoons or evenings. Billy will also set his tent up in the area and we may use that as well.
When the Langers, the missionary family, first came to Port Morant, Jamaica, they had approximately 8 computers set up in their dining room and used them as a computer learning laboratory for the local children. During the morning, many of the area Basic Schools (similar to our kindergartens) would bring their classes to the house for computer learning. After school, children would line up in front of the house. They would allow 8 in at a time for 30 minute computer lessons. After a while, they would have hundreds of children line up in front of their gate. Eventually, the public elementary school had to choose which children could come to the lab. Over time, with the many power surges and low voltage, the computers died and the computer lab ended.
Obviously, computers are rare in the area. There is one computer in the public library. The Basic Schools do not have them, and we doubt there is much availability in the elementary and high schools. We have over the last 14 month been purchasing toy Barbie computers for the Special Needs School in Lyssons and many have been placed in the Basic Schools. These Basic Schools have no technology of any kind. These Barbie computers have been very well received by the students and the teachers.
We have wanted to re-establish a real computer lab in the community, but we have had trouble finding the proper place. Recently, we began discussions with the local Catholic Church which had an old non-operating computer lab. We have reached an agreement with that church to jointly provide the computer lab. The church will provide the space, utilities, security, and personnel whereas we will provide the computers and the technical expertise to set up the lab. Plans are to complete this on our summer trips.
January 2008 Trip Report:
The trip in January was fantastic. We had a rather small all male team, but we hired a few Jamaican's to work with us to multiply our effectiveness and to minister to them on the job site as well. Our main project was to rebuild a house on a hill that had been totally destroyed by Hurricane Dean. This house was approximately 16' x 16' and housed a man, wife, a daughter and a grandchild. The location was difficult to access because it was up a very steep hill with no road. There was initially no electricity and there was no water. We used a generator until it burned up 2 circular saws. We also had a nonfunctioning air compressor. This house was completed in 3 days. We had a dedication of the house and the wife started crying, dancing, and praising God. It was probably the most moving experience we had ever had in Jamaica. Those 10 minutes on that hill were worth the entire cost of the trip.
Our next project was to help an extended family of 18 living in a 3 room house with each room being 10' x 10'. 14 of these people were children. The room housing 8 of them had several large holes in the roof and the tin had been damaged by Hurricane Dean. Also, before the hurricane, they had a small lean-to room on the side of the house that served as a kitchen. Since the hurricane, they had been doing all their food preparation outside in an unprotected area. Imagine cooking outside for a family of 18. In November, they had rain every day with flooding. We built two small attached rooms for kitchens and repaired the roof. The following Sunday, we saw 17 of the 18 in church.
Next, we helped provide temporary repairs to Ms. Morrison's house (see above - to be one of the projects for this summer).
We also made repairs on the leaking roof at Lyssons Special Needs School.
Lastly, we helped Ms. McKenzie. Ms. McKenzie is in her late 70's. She lives in a one room house that is about 10' x 10'. She has a dirt floor with plastic sheeting and carpet scraps on it. The foundation is just a pile of rocks. Her house is about 18 inches above sea level and her dirt floor is always damp. The roof was tin and had numerous holes. She had pieces of plastic bags attached to rafters to divert the largest leaks away from her bed. On the floor is a charcoal stove where she cooks. Carbon monoxide poisoning is not a concern because there is no way to block the air. The front door was a sheet of tin she bends back to open. When we realized we had time, we tore off her old roof and replaced it. We build a new hinged window and a hinged plywood door with a hasp so she could lock it. We visited with her in March and she was very happy. Ms. McKenzie survives on approximately $25 per month.
Was this trip a success? One of the team members who was in Jamaica for the first time sent us the following email: "I am looking forward to the next trip. As I told you I would like to bring my 16 year old son. It will probably be summer before we can go but all the same I look forward to it. Doc that was one of the most rewarding experiences I have ever had."
Ms. McKenzie's House
House with 14 children after Hurricane Dean
Inside small kitchen
March 2008 Trip
The March trip was primarily to prepare the Mission House for the summer teams and to search for summer projects, but God showed us a need. In the mountains west of Duckenfield in an area called Rollinsfield, there was a man, his wife, and a young boy whose home had been destroyed by Hurricane Dean. The family was living in the crawl space of a church. There was no electricity, no water, no toilet, and they had no fuel for their camping stove. The Jamaican government had given them enough money to purchase approximately 30% of the materials needed to rebuild his 8' x 12' house. The husband had gone into the woods cut poles with his machete and skinned the bark off them. He had used these to frame the house. He needed more plywood, more tin, nails, concrete, and hinges as well as some carpentry help. We planned to take this as a summer project until we learned that the church was evicting the family from the crawl space on May 1. So, we bought them a tank of propane for cooking, then purchased all the needed supplies and had them delivered to the site. We also paid to hire two carpenters for 2 days to complete the house. This cost approximately $500 U.S. that we had not expected to spend. 3 days after we returned, I was relating the story to some Christian friends. One pulled me aside later and pulled a previously completed check for $500. God had put it on this man's heart to contribute almost the exact amount even before he knew the story. God is great!
Crawl space beneath church
Living conditions in crawl space
Terry and family on floor of home site
As you can see, we have been quite busy in the last few months and have great things planned for the summer. God has been very good and faithful to us. Please pray for Isaiahsixeight and Jamaica. We hope you can join us in our mission by traveling with us on a team, helping us financially, and/or praying for us.
Thank you for your support!
Isaiahsixeight is a Christian mission organization which focuses on an extremely poor area of eastern Jamaica. Please visit our web site: www.isaiahsixeight.org.