Much has happened in Jamaica since our last report. In January, we took a construction team and helped the Stokes Hall community do major structural repairs on their church and we helped them re-roof it. We also helped finance the electrical wiring. The congregation helped paint and decorate it. There is a great sense of pride for their church now.
Stokes Hall Church before repairs (note wiring and pews and compare to below)
In February, we produced a new video about our mission in Jamaica. It is less than 10 min. long and highly recommended. Here is the link: http://www.isaiahsixeight.org/Video.html.
In March, we took what was predominately a youth group from Pelham, Alabama. This group primarily painted homes in the Seaside community, but we also had a project of building church pews for the Stokes Hall church as well. This group also spent some quality time in the schools, in particular, the Lyssons Special Needs School. We fed the children there and then we went to visit and feed some sick elderly people in Curtis Bottom and Arcadia. This youth group bonded greatly with the youth and young adults in and around Port Morant. Jamaicans are still asking about these wonderful young people.
Pelham youth group leading worship in repaired Stokes Hall church (also note new wiring and new pews)
Following this trip, we began giving financial support to get a soup kitchen started in Stokes Hall to feed the elderly and disabled. This is ongoing.
Our latest trip was July 17-Aug 2. This was mostly two teams, each for one week. Our first week project was to replace the roof and ceiling of the two special needs buildings at Lyssons Primary School. We had wanted to do this project for well over a year and finally got permission to do it. These buildings, built by missionaries over 20 years ago had leaking roofs since their construction. This had gotten worse as the plywood ceiling began to decay and fall. In addition, the rooms were dark and dingy - both because of dirt and the need for paint, as well as the fact that only about 25% of the lighting was functional. Also, electrical outlets dangled from the walls creating an electrical hazard. The first week, we removed the old roof and ceiling and replaced it with a commercial grade roof. Continuing into the second week, we cleaned the ceiling and walls, then painted all the walls, ceilings, trim, and refinished the blackboards.
Removing the old roof at Lyssons Special Needs School
Also, the first week, we had taken Rev. Al and Pashion Lewis with us. Al and Pashion are professional musicians. Al lived the lifestyle of a professional musician until he gave his life to Christ over 30 years ago. Al still writes music and he and Pashion have recorded 3 CD's. He also went to seminary and became a Methodist minister. He is the pastor of an inner city church in Birmingham, AL where he also runs a drug rehab program and a food ministry. Pashion operates a children's ministry called the Dream Garden. Here is a link to their web page: http://www.alandpashionlewis.com. Al, not only writes most of their songs, but plays the saxophone and sings along with Pashion. Here is an example of their music: http://www.lightyear.com/music/gospel/reval/index.htm. In the mornings of the first week, we met for devotions on Miss Patsy's porch for devotions and music. Some people walking along the street would join us. We had as many as 17 on morning. Then, every night except Wednesday, we would end work early and go to bars and gambling facilities for Al and Pashion to perform and for Al to preach. Also, on Sunday, he preached at Stokes Hall where one young man accepted Christ. On Monday night, we were at a bar and gambling shack in Cotton Tree / Curtis Bottom (Port Morant). They performed and Al preached from the porch of the bar. Sixteen people answered the altar call. Then as Al was leaving, he went into the gambling shack to say "goodbye" and a man asked him to pray for him. Al said he would, but the man wanted prayer right then. So every man in the gambling shack bowed their heads as Al prayed for the man.
Rev. Al and Pashion Lewis performing outside a bar and gambling shack
On the previous Saturday, a young man came to us before Al arrived and wanted to be with us. This was unusual because this man was never really close to us and had been under the an unhealthy influence of someone else in the ministry. On Monday, he showed up with his young daughter on our worksite. On Tuesday, he returned and we employed him to work. On the worksite, he broke down crying to Al and then recommitted his life to Christ - right there at the worksite. Later this young man told me that it seemed like every time he was in trouble or had difficulties, we were there on the island. I told him that was God at work and his timing. This was amazing considering what little time we are actually on the island.
Back to Rev. Al and Pashion - on Tuesday night, we went to a bar in Prospect where 3 answered the altar call. On Thursday night, they went to Leith Hall near several bars and shops. There were many people there and 40 people answered the altar call and gave their lives to Christ. It was an amazing night. On Friday night, we went to Pear Tree River outside a bar and gambling shack. This crowd was not very attentive and again, we had 3 to answer the altar call.
Credit should also be given to Yukman, Richie, Nikki, and Hortense from Stokes Hall. They provided the sound system and performed with Al and Pashion as well. This was really big for them as well - to be able to share the stage with some real professionals.
A small team worked on the computer lab we had installed the previous year. Minor repairs were made, Microsoft Office was installed, as well as several copies of Mavis Beacon and other software.
While at the Special Needs School, we were asked by many people about the scrap materials. The Principal told us about and later introduced us to a lady named April. April has five children, one is a special needs student, and in June, her home had burned. We were asked if she could have some of the old roofing material. We went to visit April and see her burned home. Next to it, was a foundation and poured floor for a 12' x 12' house. We told her we would build her a house on Monday. Our friend Rev. Al, encouraged her to enlarge the house by adding another 4' to one side. When we arrived, she had added a total of 12' - 8' more than we had planned. We built most of the house on the 2nd Monday and continued working on it on Tuesday.
April's new home with 2nd week team (note curtains already up)
On Wednesday, we went to Spring Bank to build a Basic School. The remainder of the week, our work teams worked between Lyssons Special Needs School, April's house, and the Spring Bank Basic School.
Then there was Vacation Bible School. We had 3 ladies, who along with Jamaican helpers from Port Morant and Stokes Hall, did VBS in both Port Morant and Stokes Hall. It was an incredible VBS with DVD's projected on a screen, a lot of singing with motions, puppet shows, crafts, games, lunch, and juice. Cheryl and Taylor had incredible energy and really motivated the children as well as the ladies and the youth in both communities. In addition, they left them with music and lyrics for the songs the children leaders wanted to continue to use in their children's ministry.
Vacation Bible School in newly repaired Stokes Hall Church (Note electrical work and new pews also)
It was an incredible two weeks. Here is an incomplete list of what was accomplished:
• Replaced the roofs, cleaned, painted, replaced/repaired lighting, repaired electrical outlets, and resurfaced black boards in 4 special needs classrooms (two buildings) at Lyssons Primary School
• Donated approximately 11 Barbie computers, many teaching aids, and size 17 and size 14 shoes (for a large child who could not buy shoes on the island) to the Special Needs School
• Had concerts and sermons at bars and gambling shacks on 4 nights with over 60 people giving their lives to Christ. We also made sure each got a Bible
• Had devotions on the street and at the worksites with Jamaicans
• Serviced the 7 stations computer lab we had provided previously in Port Morant and installed Microsoft Office as well as many copies of Mavis Beacon and other software.
• Built a home for a mother and 5 children who had lost their home due to fire
• Built a Basic School (like a day school/kindergarten) in a community that needed one.
• Had Vacation Bible School in two communities serving over 120 children and inspiring many youth and adults
• Visited children, the old, and disabled in Seaside and Curtis Bottom
• Provided 5 additional Barbie computers, several Leap Frog Caterpillars and many teaching supplies to several basic schools
• Provided school supplies (crayons, pencils, notebooks, markers, color pencils, glue, etc.) for hundreds of children
• We gave reading glasses to many people who had difficulty reading
• Many people were touched and their lives made better - some of these were the Jamaican's who worked with us - those helping build, those serving as taxi drivers, and those involved in the music ministry.
Poor special needs person receiving a Bible and reading glasses
As you can tell, it was an incredible two weeks. Many Jamaicans as well as some of our new team members could not believe how much we accomplished, how many needy people had been helped, and the impact of our trip. It was amazing - and not something humans alone could do. This was God's work and there is no doubt about it. God opened many doors and many hearts. He had us there at the right time. He had touched many of our supporters - both financial and prayer - so that we could do His work He had put before us.
You know, some people think we sacrifice to go to Jamaica and suffer the heat and inconveniences, but the blessings we received by being there and watching God work far outweigh the sacrifices. We are benefited more than even we can imagine.
We would like to thank all our supporters for allowing us and making it possible for us to be involved in God's work in Jamaica. May you be blessed as richly as we have been by this work.
A Christian Mission organization
Isaiahsixeight is a Christian mission organization which focuses on an extremely poor area of eastern Jamaica. Please visit our web site: www.isaiahsixeight.org.