It seems surreal to be sitting in the PVI apartment in Mandeville, Jamaica typing out the first official blog entry. If I close my eyes, I can recall the night at 2AM when I stumbled upon the Passionist Volunteers website. I had previously voiced my desire to journey to the island, but some obstacle always stood in my path. And now here was the answer right in front of me – and I found it “accidentally”. The time span between then and now seems much longer than 11 months. If I sat down and thought about it, I guess I never thought the day I flew down to Jamaica to begin my year of service would actually come; now that it has, I feel almost blissfully happy.
There have been a few moments that stood out more than others; moments that just made my heart want to shout out with joy. I work at a total of three schools: St. Joseph’s Basic School in Cross Keys, Bethel Christian School (which is in a town near Cross Keys), and Woodlands Primary School (also near Cross Keys). One day, while I was at Bethel Christian, one of my precious little kindergarteners named Gabby was sitting on my lap playing with my hair. She noticed my necklace (a gold rosary that my godmother gave me right before I came to Jamaica) and pointed out that Jesus was represented on the cross. She looked up at me and said, “Jesus had to die so He could enter our hearts.” Such a powerful statement from a 5 year old! I can’t really describe how I felt then, but I can say that I felt so much joy; joy for Gabby, joy for the sunny weather (which is a blessing during rainy season), and joy for getting to live in Jamaica.
A few weeks ago I was visiting with a woman in Cross Keys named Ms. Hannah. She’s well into her 90’s and still going strong. We talked about God, the “water falling from the sky” (rain), and how her family constantly checks in on her and calls her every night. Despite her children still being in the picture, she longs for visitors and will sometimes cry. It broke my heart to hear this. As I left, she gave me a big hug and said, “I love you!” Having only met Ms. Hannah once before, hearing her say she loved me made my heart grow three times bigger. I had a long walk to catch a taxi back to town, but somehow the distance (and the extremely hot weather) did not matter that afternoon. I had the love of a woman named Ms. Hannah. It’s like The Beatles say: “love is all you need”.