Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Our Man in Jamaica

Hey Americans

I just did my laundry for the last time by hand. The little old Jamaican lady that helps me with it can hardly get around, but I'm convinced her arms are stronger than mine with the way she scrubs those clothes. I definitely won't ever take having a washing machine for granted again!

Since I last wrote, we built six homes for community members in need as well as planting foundations and moving rocks for future home construction. The fish farm's filters, plumbing and pump are all implemented. As soon as the tanks are filled with water, there will be shrimp and tilapia growing that the community can eat or sell to other markets. We also helped with the construction of a community center that will house changing rooms for the nearby soccer and cricket field, a general purpose room to hold wedding receptions or other community events and an office for Won by One's Jamaican pastor, Clinton. Clinton is a real asset to the community.

He is also a cultural bridge to the Jamaicans. Won by One plans to be active in Harmons for a long time, but it's better to be raising up local leaders than to stay dependent on the Americans that come down. Clinton is not only concerned about the spiritual needs of the community but also their economic ones. He recently worked with a bank in a neighboring town to set up savings accounts for all the workers. This is huge in that most of the people of Harmons have never had any sort of bank account.

Last week and this, there have been no American visitors. This has given me much freedom to be out in the community with no particular agenda. I like to walk around talking to people about whatever's on their mind and seeing if they need help with any projects. I was also able to get to the infirmary for a full day, something I've always wanted to do. When Americans come, we take them there for about an hour and a half, but there are just too many residents to visit. If these people don't get any other visitors throughout the week, that's less than 1% of their time that they get to see someone else other than the nurses that are already too overworked to talk to them. My travel to and from the infirmary was quite interesting. It took two taxis and a flatbed truck to get in and three taxis to get home. Once you ride in a Jamaican taxi, you won't ever think an American taxi driver is crazy again!

I attached a picture of my friend Mutta. It's from my first weekend here, so I'm a little tanner now, but he's about the same color. We like to listen to music, play basketball and just talk. He told me about how he got saved a few years ago but won't go to church, since he's not baptized. When I asked him why he wouldn't just get baptized, he told me he didn't have nice enough clothes. After almost two months of talk on the subject, I finally got him over the Jamaican legalism enough to get into a church yesterday morning. Being in the church isn't the most important thing, but to a young believer, it's pretty close. In the afternoon he told me he wished he could be there everyday. Pray for our relationship and his growing relationship with God.

I can't believe I only have two more weeks here. In some respects, I feel like my work here is just beginning. As far as construction goes, I've been able to be involved in the completion of many projects. As far as building relationships goes, I'm only now gaining the trust of some people and getting past small talk and into more substantial conversation. All I can hope for is a productive end of my time here and to get back soon. I have faith that there will be others coming after me that can continue the work I started.

Thanks for your continued support.