Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Mission team in Jamaica; Day 7

Monday:  

Today we are going to paint a homeless shelter that the church owns.  We have never been to see this place and I haven’t really planned this day, so I’m not sure what to expect.  Richard meets us at our hotel, we stop to pick up Ms. Pat, and then we make another stop at the hardware store on the outskirts of town to pick up the paint.  As the story begins to unfold, we learn that this house used to belong to Ms. Pat.  She was attacked there and stabbed multiple times, and her husband was brutally murdered.  She couldn’t live there anymore, so she moved in to the hotel to take care of Mr. Allen. And she gave the house to church.  It is being used as a place to stay for a couple of men who are trying to get back on their feet.

We wind our way down the dirt path, around the corner, and through the bush.  We get out and walk down the lane to a nice little house on stilts with a broken front gate.  Neighbors come out of their homes to watch our parade.  Certainly they have never seen such a procession back here.

We brought paint brushes along in our suitcases and have collected some plastic jugs during the week to pour paint in to share around.  We try to get organized as to who will be where.  We are going to paint the outside of the house and two of the rooms inside.  The taller ones of us will paint up high, the shorter ones will get the lower places.  With 18 of us, you would think the job should go quickly.

The first thing that we find is that there is no ladder.  It’s going to be hard to get the top of the outside without any way to reach up there, especially since the house is up on concrete stilts.   Richard and Phil find some boards under the house, find a few nails here and there, and create a make shift hammer.  Voila, a ladder!  At least one person can paint the high places.  Until Phil puts Andrew on his shoulders.  Now we have two ladders.  Smart kids.

The paint is oil based and super sticky.  It’s messy and does not go on easily.  But after an hour and a half, much of the work is done.  We have run out of paint and decide to clean up and go.

At one point Bruce and I stand back in the middle of the painting and watch the kids laughing, working together, and having great time just a few short days since we came together as a team.  It’s been really fun to watch this group gel as a unit, not just becoming friends, but truly becoming a team.

They have worked very hard this week, and now we want to give the kids one more fun experience. We leave the house around lunchtime and head off to find the place where Nick and Phil got lunch the day that we picked up the rest of the team from Montego Bay.  It’s a roadside stand kind of place. We order and take our food on down to the Negril lighthouse where we eat on the ocean side.  Then we take them to the famous Rick’s CafĂ© to watch the cliff jumpers.

A few of us jump from the low platform into the ocean.  Nick is brave and jumps from the second to the highest platform.  We have fun watching the Jamaicans performing acrobatics into the water from 50 or 60 feet up.  Sometimes I can hardly watch.  I don’t want to see someone get hurt.

After a couple of hours at Rick’s, we go back to the hotel and all get in the pool.  It’s dark and late and the kids are mostly quiet.  Finally, I say what everyone is thinking.  We have to pack and up and leave in the morning.  But no one is ready to go home.  This place has started to feel like home and these people have become like family.  As I look around, several of the girls are crying.  Even the guys are visibly sad to be leaving.  More than a few tears are shed.

In the weeks before coming on this trip, I prayed every day for each person that would join us, that we would make a difference in Jamaica, that our group would have a special bond, and that each person’s faith would be strengthened.  I prayed for the Jamaicans we'd meet, and for direction in meeting the specific needs of the locals. And I prayed specifically that God would show Himself to Bruce and me to let us know we were following the right path in starting a children’s home.

God answered my prayers in ways I never expected.  We had an amazing week together in Jamaica, each one of us grew, had our faith strengthened, and we learned a lot.  We developed a special bond during our time together.  We knew we met some needs and touched some lives just like we were supposed to, but our lives were touched even more than we could ever have imagined.  God showed us things that we could have never dreamed of.

We left two simple tetherball poles, some ladies size 10 shoes, a little girl’s swimsuit, and more.  And we came home with important lessons we will never forget.

Before we left the island we were already planning our next trip back to Jamaica. Now, thanks to a ball on a string, Bruce and I know for certain that this is the place that God wants us to be, and we continue to plan for Journey Home Jamaica Children’s Home.  God was with us every step of the way and showed Himself to us more than once during our week in Jamaica. I prayed for Him to show up.  And did He ever. In many ways He didn’t just show up, He showed off.  

Mission team in Jamaica; Day 6

Sunday:  

This morning we went to church at the community center with Richard and Nicola.  We got there early so that we could help set up.  We had a wonderful worship service together, and then, once again, Nicola and several of the church ladies prepared us some lunch.  We ate and fellowshipped with our Jamaican friends.  They have been so generous to us.

After lunch we brought in all the of the clothes and shoes that we had brought along.  We had planned a community outreach clothing distribution for this afternoon.  We organized the clothes by men’s, women’s, and children’s sizes, and laid out all the shoes in rows on the stage.  People came in to the community center and sat in the chairs, waiting patiently.  One by one they filed by, taking only what they needed.  We helped them pick things out, until the last article of clothing was gone.  It was very orderly and organized.  And people were very thankful.  We reflected on how different this was than what we had experienced in Whitehouse.

As we were cleaning up and getting ready to leave, Maxine came over to me and said that she hadn’t gotten any shoes.  We had been praying for Maxine all week because she had been having some problems with her feet, had a lot of pain, and it was hard for her to walk.  I felt really badly as Maxine had been such a friend and help to us this week.  I explained to her that I was sorry, but all of the shoes were gone.  I asked her what size she wore and told her that maybe I could send some back for her from home.  She said that she needed a size 10.  That’s a big shoe for a woman.  Who wears a size 10?  

We finished putting all the chairs away and locking up the building.  When we opened up the vans, there was one suitcase on the floor that had been forgotten under one of the seats.  How could we have missed that?  I opened it up.  Guess what was inside?  Yes, it was full of nothing but women’s size 10 shoes!  Expensive, cushiony, brand new shoes with all the support that Maxine would need for the foot troubles that she was having.  God knew her need.  And, in a round about way, helped us very specifically to fill it.

After we left the community center in the afternoon, we went back to change clothes.  We had a few hours before we needed to be back in the center of town to meet Pastors Richard and Nicola.  Since it was Sunday, we were going to join along with them on their weekly street evangelism.

The kids had been wanting to have some free time to swim in the ocean.  There are several places at the hotel where it is possible to jump off of the deck in to the water .  There is a ladder down into the ocean and steps to climb out.  Some of the kids wanted to jump off the 30 foot high lighthouse into the water.  So, we watched as they took turns jumping.  All of the brave ones jumped in.  They had a blast.  I took pictures.  This girl isn’t jumping from 30 feet high.  But I’m glad that they could have fun.

After they were all sufficiently tired, we changed clothes and made our way back in to town.  The kids were a little apprehensive about what we were going to be doing.  We met up with Richard and Nicola, and several others from the church.  We passed out some gospel tracts that I had brought along and Richard gave us instructions about how to talk to people.  We split up into groups and wandered around for about an hour.  A lot of great discussions were started.  Bruce and I were really impressed at how the kids walked right up to people, shared with them about Jesus, and invited them to church.  We heard so many stories about how people don’t have the right clothes to wear to church, or how they had sinned during the week so didn’t feel like they are worthy to go in to the church building.  Oy.  We have so much work to do to change that mindset.  These people desperately need to understand God’s grace!  It just breaks my heart.

We turned up a street to get out of the bustle of downtown.  When we got to the top of the hill, there was a soccer field.  Several of the girls in our group are soccer players, so they ran over and started kicking balls around with the Jamaican kids.  We struck up a conversation with a gal who said that she had been meaning to come back to church.  She said that she had been invited to church before and had attended Word to Life church in the past but hadn’t come recently.  She looked over at Bruce and I, pointed to us and smiled.  “You,” she said.  “You invited me to come to church a year ago!” Yes, we had talked to this same lady on the street last year on a hot Sunday evening.  We invited her to church.  When it was time to leave, she hugged us. “I’ll be in church next Sunday,” she promised.

When it was starting to get dark, we went back to our vans.  Normally she is not open on Sundays, but Miss Connie had opened up her restaurant especially for our group tonight.  Jenny’s Restaurant is named after her mom.  Miss Connie has been to Texas.  Jenny’s is a country joint, but with Jamaican food.  Nicola and Ms. Pat were there to help.  Miss Connie served us a wonderful meal complete with sorrel or beet juice, another first for many on the trip.  It was a really fun evening for us.

Mission team in Jamaica; Day 5

Saturday:  

This morning we were to head to the orphanage in Montego Bay that Bruce and I had visited on a previous trip - Robin’s Nest Children’s Home.  I had talked with the directors before coming and asked them what we could bring that the kids could use.  She gave me sizes of clothes and shoes that were needed.  We had brought along several suitcases just for Robin’s Nest.  We loaded up and started the hour and a half drive to MoBay.  I was a little concerned about how we would find it, as it is up the mountain and there are just no real road signs.

But somehow God led us to the right turn off, and we started the bouncy 30 minute ride up the bumpy and windy one-lane road.  Up, up, up the mountain we went, stopping for goats, cows and chickens to move out of our way.  Finally, from below we saw the buildings that are part of the orphanage and turned onto the steep, curving driveway.

As we rounded the corner approaching the parking area, there standing right in the middle of the drive was a little boy holding a long rope up in the air and with the other hand, was batting a ball attached to the other end.  This little boy had a sparkling new tetherball!  I turned to look at Bruce. His eyes were open wide in amazement.  And there, behind the little boy, was an old tire leaning up against the fence.  Everything we needed to build a tetherball pole was in plain sight, staring right at us, in front of the children’s home.

We climbed out of the vans and went in to find the director.  After our tour of the bright, clean and beautiful orphanage filled with little ones, I told our guide about the boy in the driveway, that we had an extra pole and a bag of cement along, and asked her if it would be okay if we made them a tetherball pole.  “Of course!”  she said.  “You know, I don’t know where that ball came from, actually.  He found it this morning in a bucket and asked me if he could play with it.  I’ve never seen it before today.”  We just smiled.  All sixteen of us knew exactly where that tetherball came from.

While the guys and Jama were putting together the tetherball pole, I helped orchestrate some cleaning projects at the home.  We decided that we wanted the kids to be able to serve those who serve the kids.  So, they swept, mopped, washed and cleaned.  As they were working on the chores, I unpacked the suitcases full of clothes and shoes that we had brought along.

On the day before we left home, I had a basket of clothes come into our resale store.  There was a swimsuit in that basket that I couldn’t sell, but something told me to buy it anyway and take it along. It wasn’t one of the things that Robin’s Nest had asked for, but somehow I felt like I needed to take it. My suitcases were already packed.  So I took the swimsuit home and stuffed it in my carry on bag.

As we were pulling things out at Robin’s Nest, the director took the swimsuit out, held it up, and said, “Oh, this is perfect! I just saw that the swimsuit that Sue has been wearing is way too small. It is a size 4T.  She needs a size 10/12.”  Oh my goodness, I thought, that is small!  She called Sue over and handed it to her.  A few minutes later, Sue came out to model her new swimsuit.  It fit her perfectly. She did a little dance in front of me, hugged me, and ran off to the pool.  All I could think was, yay God!

After our team got done with their cleaning, several of the girls changed and got in the pool with the kids at the orphanage.  They swam and splashed and played.  A few of the girls stayed inside and did crafts with the kids.  Several got books and had kids on their laps, reading to them.

We ate lunch at the orphanage and when it was nap time, it was time for us to go.  We piled back in to go back down, down, down the mountain.

We got back in to Negril and stopped at Rock Cliff for dinner.  It was earlier today and when we got there, dinner wasn’t quite ready.  We walked through the grass toward the ocean where we could watch the sunset.  The sunsets in Negril are, in my opinion, the most beautiful on the entire planet.  Really, you should see them.

As we stood there watching the sun go down, one of the girls turned around with an “ah-ha” look on her face.  She looked at the others in the group, and then, it was almost as if I could see the lightbulbs go off for each one of the kids at the exact same time.

She walked over to me and said excitedly, “Jen, why don’t you guys buy this place and use it for the ministry?  You could have the orphanage here!”  Bruce and I looked at each other and smiled.  Yes, that’s kind of what we had been thinking since the day we dropped Ms. Pat off and she puzzled us with her words, then we saw the hotel from the ocean later and realized that we had seen this same place two years before from next door.  The kids all started to buzz with excitement.  Bruce and I decided that we would try to talk to Mr. Allen sometime and see what he had to say about that.  But tonight, he was no where to be found.

We wandered around a little before it got too dark to see.  We ate our dinner and went back to our hotel for some playing in the swimming pool before bed.  Bruce and I contemplated the discussion about Rock Cliff...what if? 

Mission team in Jamaica; Day 4

Friday:

Today we had planned a fun day at YS Falls.  We ate our Jamaican breakfast buffet of eggs, toast, fruit and juice, and then made out way to the vans for the drive to the falls.  When we got there, we took the jitney tractor to the falls.

A couple of the girls camped out by the swimming pool.  Some of us climbed the falls.  And others hung out in the cold spring fed pool at the bottom.  A bunch of us took advantage of the zip line through the rain forest canopy, which was exciting.  Bruce and few of the kids jumped off the rope swing into the deep water in one of the pools of the falls, climbing back up the ladder over and over again.  After everyone had their fill, we climbed on the tractors back to the parking lot, got our hungry group something to eat, and then went back to Negril.

Driving in Jamaica always seems to take longer than you plan for.  We got back to town just in time for the community game night that we had planned at the church.  When we got there, we set up some tables and chairs, Richard turned on some music, and people started to file in.

We had brought American games along to play with our new Jamaican friends.  Some of the girls taught a group of kids how to play Uno in the middle of the floor, a couple of intense games of chess were going on in one corner, and Bruce and Philip had a fierce ladder ball competition going in another part of the room.  We blew up some balloons that became an instant hit with both kids and adults.

Nicola, Ms. Pat and a few other ladies made us some wonderful authentic Jamaican snacks.  The music was loud, the atmosphere was fun, and the food was delicious.  We made many new friends that night and shared a little of both American and Jamaican cultures.  We played until very late and we were all exhausted!

Mission team in Jamaica; Day 3

Thursday:

Today was to be a work day to finish up what we could to clean up Spring Garden.  We ate a leisurely breakfast and took off when everyone was ready.  Shorty and Marvin were there to meet us and we got right to work.  Everyone kind of knew what their job was from the day before.  We hauled and burned trash.  We raked and cut and trimmed.  We cleaned out the inside of the buildings and swept the floors.  We discovered that the driveway continued on in a circle where we originally thought that it just stopped.  Nick uncovered an outdoor bathroom that had been completely covered with overgrown vegetation.  It was hard work, but it was fun doing it together.

Shorty and Marvin had prepared lunch for us again.  This time it was curried goat with rice and peas along with breadfruit and pumpkin taken right from the property.  Everyone enjoyed it and some even went back for seconds.  

After we had done all the cleaning up that we thought we could accomplish, we asked Shorty and Marvin to take us on a hike to the spring.  We walked down the lane and up the road toward the spring that gives this place its name.  As we walked, our tour guides told us about the different Jamaican fruits and trees along the way.  When we came to the spring, we climbed down the slippery little path to where the water comes right out of the mountain.  The kids splashed in it and cooled off, we all filled our water bottles back up, and climbed back up the steep rocky hill to the road.  I prayed that no one would slip or sprain an ankle.

On our way back, we turned down Lynette’s lane.  She greeted us and showed us around her place a little. Marvin and Shorty took the kids over to one of the large coconut trees.  Shorty shimmied up to the top, picked a couple of huge coconuts, and threw them back down to the boys.  Marvin cut the top off with his machete and we passed them around.  Meanwhile, Lynette took us over to her apple tree. It was heavy with fruit.  We picked some Jamaican apples and shared them around.  Everyone had an apple or two.  They are so different than the apples that are grown in the US, almost more like a pear. We all enjoyed the apples and drinking the fresh coconut milk.  Tori even fed apples to some wandering goats as they were passing by.

It was late afternoon when we went back to the hotel to get cleaned up and then to Rock Cliff again for dinner.  When we got there, it wasn’t quite as dark yet as when we had been there the night before.  We could see a little more of the state of disrepair of the hotel and grounds.  Even though we didn’t venture far from our tables, we could see that there were several buildings, an empty pool and a rickety gazebo off toward the ocean.  The candles were lit again and we sat down to eat.  We talked about the day and shared a devotion after our meal.

Ms. Pat is a good cook.  We helped her clean up and thanked her for our meal before heading back for a swim before bed.

Mission team in Jamaica; Day 2

Wednesday:  

Since it was taking way too long to order food individually, I had arranged for the hotel to have a breakfast buffet for us for the rest of our stay.  Richard took a cab and met us at the hotel.  We all ate together, and then left early for the Gertie McKenzie primary school.

We found the tiny little road off the main highway and turned up toward the school.  There was no place to park our vans, so we just stopped on the hill with the parking brake securely in place. I hoped that the neither of the vans rolled down the steep hill.  We piled out and nervously made our way in to the one room schoolhouse.

I found the principal, Mrs. Spencer, and we introduced ourselves.  She asked us if we would do a devotion with the kids and sing some songs.  So, we gathered around the outside of the room.  More than 50 cute little faces stared back at us.

A couple of the girls on our team prayed, and others came up with camp songs to sing that they thought the kids could try to follow along with.  It was hot, the kids were squirmy, and they didn’t know any of our American songs.  Our efforts were bombing quickly and we were losing their attention.  So, I suggested that maybe we just play with them instead.  And so we did.

I took a couple of our kids along with me back to the vans and we gathered up all of the candy, toys, books and games that we had brought along to share with the school.  I had packed a wiffle ball and bat in Bruce’s suitcase that I had planned to leave at the school, but at the last second, I opened the van door back up and put it back away.  Maybe that’s for someone else, I thought.  Some of the kids colored in the classroom, some played games, and some played ball in the yard.  Everyone was busy and having fun.  

While the girls were playing with the kids, the guys - and Jama - got right to work. They mixed the cement with water from a big black water tank on the side of the building and a broken shovel they found nearby.  One of the school teachers asked if we had brought along a tire to put the pole in so that it could be moved around instead of sticking it permanently in the ground.  Nope, we hadn’t thought of that.  After some searching, an old tire was found in a neighbor’s yard.  When we asked if we could have it for the school, he agreed. "Yah, mon. No problem," he said with a smile.  So the guys filled the tire with cement, and propped up the pole in the middle with blocks until the wet cement dried in the sun.  In the meantime, the school boys played with the tetherball, hanging it from a tree, threading it through the fence, and tossing it around.

We read books, played catch and ran around with the kids until after lunch and we were all exhausted. They were all so cute in their green and white uniforms! Saying good-bye to our new little friends was hard, but it was time to head off for the days’ next adventure.  As we drove away, we took one last look at the tetherball pole and prayed it would be fun and bring joy to the kids who would use it.

Our next stop was Spring Garden.  It was only a few minutes past the school.  We wound around through the countryside, through the hidden cane field, down the lane and to the property where our friends, Shorty and Marvin were expecting us.

When we got out, I realized that I was going to borrow some rakes and other tools from our hotel.  I had completely forgotten to grab them and put them in the van.  So, we surveyed the situation, found some old tools laying around here and there, rakes with broken handles, borrowed one or two from Lynette next door, and just made due with what we had.  The kids had all brought along work gloves and clippers.  And Richard had brought a couple of machetes.  We got right to the task of cleaning up the trash out of the large building and cutting back the over growth from all around.

As we were walking around the property, a young girl emerged from the house carrying a little boy. Shorty introduced her to me as his girlfriend.  Apparently, she and her son, Alex, had been inside taking an afternoon nap.  Our youth group girls were immediately taken little Alex, who was probably about 3 years old.  Alex picked up an orange from the ground and handed it to Marah.  Then he found a long stick and held it up next to his ear.  He wanted to play baseball.  They tossed the orange back and forth.  I didn't have to wait long for the answer to who the wiffle ball and bat were for that I had held back from the school earlier.  Alex had no toys or books there at all.  We got a few things out of the back of the van - the ball and bat included - and several of the girls started playing baseball with Alex.  Perfect.

Meanwhile, Shorty and Marvin were making lunch for us.  They prepared a brown stew chicken and rice in the outdoor kitchen over an open fire.  We all got a plate and sat around on the ground to eat. It was delicious.  After we finished eating, it was getting pretty late in the day and was starting to rain.  We were under the trees, hot and tired, and most of us didn’t really care about getting a little wet.  But we decided to call it a day and head back to the hotel.  The girls said their good-byes to little Alex, and we all piled back in the vans.

By the time we got back to the hotel, it had stopped raining.  We all jumped in to the pool to cool off, changed clothes, and went to Rock Cliff where Ms. Pat was to have dinner prepared for us.  By the time we got there around 6 pm, it was already dark.  Ms. Pat led us about 50 feet down a little overgrown path through the hotel buildings to a section of grass in the middle of the property.  I hadn’t anticipated that it would get dark so early.  Ms. Pat had set out some tables on the grass and had set them up quite nicely, covering them with tablecloths and had candles burning in the middle. It was kind of peaceful to listen to the sound of the ocean in the distance and sit quietly in the dark after a long day.    

As she was finishing up dinner, we started to talk about our experiences of the day.  It was a little tough to get the kids to open up.  I’m not sure if they were just tired, or why they were all acting so shy but no one wanted to talk.  Although we were a group that didn’t know each other very well, we had gotten together several times at home.

Ms. Pat served us a wonderful dinner and we all ate until we were stuffed.  I read a short devotional by candle light, and we walked back down the narrow path to the vans to go back home.  It had been a long day and full day.

Picking up a mission team

Tuesday:  

We all have breakfast together in the restaurant and we join the kids in the pool for a little while. Then Bruce and I leave instructions with them to stay put on the property, not to get too much sun, order lunch from the restaurant when they are hungry, and to call us from the front desk if they need anything.  We have to go back to Montego Bay to the airport to pick up the team.  It’s more than a little nerve racking to leave all six of our kids alone at a hotel all day in a foreign country all day when we are going to be an hour and a half away.  But, four of the six are over 18, they are all responsible, and we trust them to make good decisions and watch out for each other.

We have rented a second van so that there is enough room for all 16 of us to get around this week. We stop on the way to Montego Bay to pick up Richard because he is going to be the driver of the second van this week.  I’m the planner and the navigator.  I’m not interested in driving on the wrong side of the road, dodging dogs and donkeys and bicycles.  Bruce and Richard can drive.  I’ll just give instructions and directions.  That’s what I do best.

We talk with Richard all the way to Montego Bay.  He tells us his story of growing up in MoBay, going through school, meeting Nicola at church, getting a scholarship to attend seminary in Tennessee, and then Nicola getting a scholarship and following him there.  Both of them were ordained in the United States.  They are an awesome couple and we feel so blessed that God has connected us with them.

As Richard tells us about life in Montego Bay and the secondary schools that he attended, he tells us about a dancing and singing group that was there and some of the guys that he met during that time in his life.  As we talk, we realize that he is talking about Troy, our friend from Whitehouse!  Richard and Troy knew each other.  Is this a small island or what?  Only 2.7 million people.  I’m pretty sure that we must have connections with most of them by now!

We arrive at the airport in plenty of time, get our van rented and prepare to wait for our friends outside the door. All of the sudden Bruce pokes me in the side and takes off.  Where is he going? And then I see. Oh my gosh, it’s Troy!  He is waiting to pick up some friends to come from the United States and take them back to Whitehouse!  We exchange stories, Richard and Troy talk a little and get reacquainted, and a few minutes later, our team walks through the doors with Troy’s friends right behind.  Yes, they were even on the same plane.  Coincidence?  Naw...

We greet our youth group, but don’t see Jama or Tori.  Apparently Tori’s tickets had the correct flight information on them, but had been issued for the wrong day.  Jama scrambled to figure out how to get her on a plane and rerouted, but she would not arrive for another 45 minutes.  Jama was sitting inside waiting for Tori before going through customs.  Tori had not traveled much in the past, had never flown before, and certainly never  been outside of the country.  Jama didn’t want her to have to go through customs alone.  Oh no.  What a disaster.  We haven’t even started the trip and I’ve already lost one of the kids.  I’m responsible for all these people.  Did I make a mistake thinking that I could bring a group to Jamaica?

An hour later, Jama and Tori emerged from the terminal.  Poor Jama just looked frazzled and exhausted.  Tori, however, was all smiles. She had her first adventure, made friends on the plane, talked to someone else standing in line, and probably felt like she conquered the world!

We loaded everyone up in the vans, took them to Scotchies for their first jerk chicken, and then made a stop at the Ace True Value hardware store in Montego Bay.  One of the projects that we wanted to do this week was to build some playground equipment at a local primary school.  We didn’t have the time to plan or to raise the money to do a big project, so Jama suggested that we put up a tetherball pole. We could deflate a tether ball and take it in one of our suitcases, then buy the rest of the supplies there. Simple enough. So, we stopped to get the poles and the cement for the project.  While Richard and Bruce were getting what we needed, I walked around the store with the kids.

Bruce motioned me over to pay, since I’m the one with the money.  Apparently steel poles only come in 20 foot sections but they were willing to cut it for us.  So, now we had two pieces. He said, “I just have this feeling that we should buy a second bag of cement. I’m not sure why, but maybe we will find someone else who will want another tetherball pole.”  Really?  But we only had one ball along and I wasn’t sure where we could pick up another one. He felt pretty strongly about it though, so since a second bag of cement was only a few dollars, I gave in.

We loaded up our supplies in the van, everyone got comfortable, and we started the hour long drive back to the hotel in Negril.  Most of our passengers feel asleep instantly.

When we got back to the hotel, we found our kids in the pool and pink with sunburn.  What happened to stay out of the sun?  Nick and Phil had taken a long walk down the street to find something to eat. They found a great place, they said, and brought back food for the others that all the kids raved about. They made friends with a Jamaican on the street and Nick bought his CD.  What happened to stay on the property and order from the restaurant?  Well, they had their own adventure that day.  Together. Besides a little sunburn, they were all fine.

By now all our newcomers were well rested from their nap on the road.  We showed the group to their rooms where they all changed into swim suits.  We had some snacks on the pool deck, let everyone swim for a little while, talked about our upcoming week, and then had a devotion in the pool in the dark.  We were all tired, but safe, together and happy.