Our first morning in Jamaica began a little earlier than expected with some laughter and much confusion as the man who stayed up all night walking around the property keeping us safe began ringing the bell at the church over and over and over again…. at 6 a.m.! The Praying Pelican Missions (PPM) staff jumped up and ran outside to figure out what was going on. Typically church bells are only sounded when someone dies. They thought maybe there was an emergency that he needed to wake us up early. Nope. As I heard through the window the man simply replied to the curious men, “It’s 6 a.m. on Sunday. We always ring the bell on Sunday.” 🙂
Needless to say we didn’t have to wait for anyone to be ready on time that morning. The guys were over in the common area (also where the girls were sleeping) and ready for breakfast long before our amazing cooks served up our scrambled eggs, collard greens with cod fish, fruit and toast. The good news is that it gave us more time to prepare for the ministry we would do at Fullersfield Church that morning.
One of my favorite moments of the trip actually came on this first day. Instead of just having one or two of our team share a testimony in church, we decided that we all would share very briefly with something called “cardboard testimonies.” Each of us basically summarized something God had done in our lives in two short words of phrases. We wrote one word or phrase on one side of a piece of construction paper describing the situation and then the other side was another word or phrase that showed how God had changed the situation. Some examples from our team:
- Loneliness – Never alone with Jesus
- Orphaned – know God’s love through adoption
- Worry – Peace in Christ
- Disbelief – Clarity with God
All 15 of us took turns, with “Amazing Grace, My Chains Are Gone” playing in the background showing the congregation the first side, then flipping it over. It was definitely a powerful moment for our team realizing that God has worked in every single one of our lives.
Church was definitely different than what we are used to at First Trinity but a fun way to begin meeting some of the people we’d be interacting with all week. Church was set up in such a way that we began worship but after about 20 minutes broke up for “Family Bible Hour” (some what like our “Sunday School”) before coming back together, sharing what each age-appropriate group discussed and continuing with the service. It was really hot and long (nearly 3 hours… and we left early in order to get back to the other church in time for lunch with the other teams), but neat to worship in new ways.
Lunch that day was fried chicken, pork, rice and beans and pasta salad. It’s tradition to have the big meal of the day at lunch on Sundays and then something smaller for dinner. (For us dinner was tuna sandwiches and “bun and cheese” which is traditionally and Easter food and was basically some kind of cinnamon raisin bread with cheese in between slices.)
In the afternoon we were scheduled to go out and do invites for VBS later in the week and a prayer walk around the community where our church was located. However, a large thunderstorm dampened our plans. We did go for a bus ride to see the work site where we’d be pouring concrete later in the week and managed to do about 20 minutes of a prayer walk before the rain started up again.
After dinner Sarah and I had a chance to teach Samantha and Zach from another group some worship songs they didn’t know so they could join the praise team for the rest of the week. It’s was so great to worship each night with all 3 church groups along with all the PPM staff… to reflect on the day, what God did and receive some encouragement before heading into our individual groups to debrief the day a little more. We also spent time making final preparations for VBS.