Our recent trip to Jamaica was one of renewing dear friendships. I consider so many of my friends from Harmons, Jamaica as my 2nd family. When we arrived, it was as if we had never left. That feeling of comfort, of arriving back home, came instantly. I was saddened though as one of my dear family members, Sammy, had passed on since our last visit. I found myself grieving the lack of his earthly presence, the sound of his voice, the smile on his face. I missed him gracing me with a pet name (nickname) for our visit.
Quite humorously, the first thing I mentioned while journaling about our visit was the care and nurturing of my coffee addiction. Needless to say, I was overjoyed when I learned that they had begun roasting their own coffee right where we were staying, so each morning was begun with a cup of freshly roasted, freshly brewed, very native Jamaican coffee. Roll that glorious bean footage:
Jamaica is full of beautiful wonders, the Doctor Birds, the flora and fauna. The fruit trees are always in glorious display. I love to recall the sights, but the smells of Jamaica are what truly linger. With every turn I was infused with a new smell, very pungent, very pronounced, some divinely sweet, others I would categorize as distinctly odd. Even the earth evokes a greater sense of earthiness by it’s smell, richer, heavier than I am accustomed to. I feel a greater connection to nature in Jamaica, perhaps because everything is fresh, different and therefore I stop to linger on the details.
The little town in which we stay has no running water. Electricity is available, but few people have jobs and therefore no electricity. Take our unemployment rate in the U.S. and flip it to approximate the employment rate in Harmons and surrounding areas. I am once again reminded of the blessing it is to have an indoor toilet and and sink and faucet with running water. The Harmony House, our home away from home, has water trucked in, so we did not have to go without during our stay, but most of the locals do not have this luxury. The cooking is also done outside over a fire when it is not raining both to keep the heat out and because there is not much room in most homes. Occasionally some have a separate kitchen like this:
There are nicer homes in the area, but among those construction is a slow process sometimes taking years. They build as the money comes in.
One woman invited me into her home where she lived with her 4 yr old daughter and another couple, friends of hers. The room we entered was the tiny kitchen that was used when it rained. I thought I would fall through the floor. The remaining 2 rooms were tiny bedrooms in which there was truly no privacy. And in that house I left my heart.
The organization that brought us to Jamaica is Won By One to Jamaica. They regularly bring missions teams to this area to build relationships and build homes. I am so pleased with what is becoming of the town in connection with Won By One. The locals are employed by the Harmony House to clean, cook, build, and to provide food for the missions teams. Several local men head up the construction teams when the missions groups help build the houses. Also, a couple large greenhouses have been built with more to come which employ the locals. The produce is sold to the hotel industry on the coasts which reduces import costs for the hotels and provides solid jobs for the workers in the greenhouses; win, win. In this town and the surrounding area, I see progress being made; I see hope.
The greatest aspect of growth that I’ve seen in this town is that of brotherly love. My first trip 10 yrs ago I noticed the children beating on each other, fighting, calling names. There seemed to be a disharmony, an imbalance. The fathers of the children did not seem to be involved in the lives of their “baby mommas” or their own children. Although I still see many lone mothers raising their children, I also have noticed that more couples are marrying. And although I did see a few outbursts of violence among the children, it was a much more rare occurrence. The love of God prevails. This love is becoming something very real and tangible to the locals and the missions groups as their lives collide. All who engage are transformed.