I Wouldn’t Trade This Week

Jesus said that it’s more blessed to give than receive. I’m pretty sure that explains why going on a mission trip to the impoverished interior of Jamaica in which you do more physical labor than you do the rest of the entire year, sweat 24 hours a day, and go without any kind of modern conveniences, is for many people the best week of their year.

For the past three summers I’ve had a chance to join others from The Crossing on a one week missions trip to Harmons, Jamaica. One of the unique things about the trip is that it’s designed for high school students and at least one of their parents. It’s hard to put into words what it means to work alongside your teenager serving other people. Pretty cool.

Anyway I thought that I’d share a few things that we did and throw in a few pics.

Diana’s House Dedication

The team built two houses (a house is a 12 x 15 room with two doors and two windows) and two foundations that a following team will build houses on later in the summer. In this picture you can see Diana and her 9 year old daughter Chevanaise (I probably misspelled that but you’ll never know).

When Diana found out that she was pregnant she applied to Won by One for a house. Because she lives outside of the typical zone that the ministry works in, it didn’t look like Diana’s house would ever be built. But she persisted in praying to God and talking to the ministry leaders. Nine years later our team got to be the answer to her prayers. This picture is of the house dedication in which we gave her a Bible, prayed for her, and handed her the keys. Diana read a thank you note to the team she’d written the night before. Pretty moving.

In the middle of the week we take a break from physical labor and head over to the infirmary. Each of Jamaica’s 14 counties has a state sponsored “poor house” for the old, sick, disabled, and mentally handicapped. It’s a place that’s hard to describe. It is incredibly sad and yet there are pockets of hope. Most people in the infirmary end up there when their family deems them to difficult or too expensive to support. The conditions are dirty, disgusting, deplorable. Often the Americans teams are the only people that visit. Whatever hope is present is due to what appears to be, on the behalf of some, a genuine faith in Christ.

Madeline at the infirmary

We spend time talking to the people, playing dominoes with those who can, reading Scripture, and just taking an interest in them. Last year one bed ridden woman told my wife that she listens for the sound of airplanes. That sounded a bit odd because I don’t think that I heard an airplane the entire week I was there. Christine asked her why she listened for them and the woman answered, “When I hear a plane, I pray and hope that it might be one of you coming to visit with me.” The picture is of my daughter and a couple of men at the infirmary.

One of the things that’s hard to capture in a blog post but made this trip enjoyable for me is the interaction with the Jamaicans. I feel like I’m starting to get to a better relationship with some of them. They know that I care about them and I think the feeling is mutual. One night each week our team divides up and goes into the community to eat dinner in the house of a Jamaican family. There’s something special that happens on a personal level when you sit in another person’s house and share a meal.

Everyone that’s gone to Harmons learns that each of us has a “Harmons” in our own backyard. You don’t have to travel to serve the poor, needy, hurting, and marginalized. But sometimes God takes us to far away places in order to open our eyes to what’s right around us.

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