Cortney Celebrates Heroes Day in Jamaica!

In the PVI program, we are allotted one day a week for our day off or our rest day, and after figuring out everyone’s schedules with work and the cars, we then chose which day we wanted to consistently keep as our day off.  Out of the eight of us, I am the only one who has chosen Monday as my rest day for the week.  However, this past Monday (October 19th) my seven roommates, along with 98% of the island joined me on my day off to celebrate National Heroes’ Day.  This holiday was completely foreign to me until just a few weeks ago when I started hearing more and more mention of it – kids were getting excited that they got days off from school, adults were looking forward to get a day off from work, and all Jamaicans were open to explaining what the day truly celebrated.  I learned that Heroes’ Day is a day to celebrate the seven heroes of the country – seven Jamaican people who impacted the country in the most positive ways.  Most were involved in politics or they helped in the process of abolishing slavery, but all left a lasting footprint on this beautiful country – something worth celebrating.  

 

Anyway, I chose to celebrate this holiday with the kids and families in Albion Gully, which is the community (in the gully of a mountain) where I do home visits, an after-school program, and where I hold a weekly youth group.  I rarely get to spend a lot of time with all of the kids together without having a planned agenda so I thought that this holiday would be a great excuse to visit with them and to simply have fun.  Courtney – one of my roommates and close friends – decided to join me too so she could see where and who I was working with so we hopped in our van and needless to say, the adventure began.  The day started off pretty normal – we were happily greeted by the women and kids in the first yard; some of the men proudly explained the different heroes that were being celebrated that day; we shelled some peas and shared laughter with Susan; we did a few more home visits; and then we gathered the kids together to head down to the cave.  The cave is even further into the mountain than the community itself so the kids don’t go there often as it’s a decent walk and could be dangerous if journeyed alone.  However, because there has been so much talk about it the past few weeks, I decided it was time to make a trip there.  It was absolutely wonderful!  It was exciting to see the kids in a new light – they were leading me and I had to put my trust in them.  Needless to say, they tried to trick me and jokingly lead me astray here and there; but they had my back at all times.  At one point, Krissy (one of my favorite little girls) said, “Miss, be careful.  There’s a hole right by your foot and if you step in it, you’ll fall into that cave.  Now I know I’m little and pretty weak, but I would still try to save you and hold on because that’s the right thing to do!”  We didn’t stay too long once the kids realized that the bats were not pleased that we were making their home a little touring ground, but it was still worth the trip.  They then ran back to their homes to get bathed and changed to go on a little outing that I had pre-planned.

 

While everyone was getting ready, I looked at my phone and saw that I had a missed call.  It turned out that Emma – one of my other roommates whom I was planning to meet up with in her community for a holiday party – suddenly got sick and was no longer able to be in her community.  Court and I brainstormed.  There was no way I wasn’t going to take my kids somewhere after all of the build-up for this trip.  Plus, an outing is a celebration in itself to these kids.  After piling people in the van, we decided to take them to a Heroes’ Day party in Courtney’s community, Brae’s River.  It wasn’t ideal in that it was 45 minutes away, but it was a perfect way for me to see who and where she was working and it solved our predicament so it worked.  When we first arrived, not much was happening as it had just finished downpouring and Jamaicans refuse to go out in the rain, even a slight drizzle.  Eventually, though, we had our kids jumping in the bouncy house and riding what was seemingly the most terrifying “ferris wheel” that I have ever seen.  They were snacking on cotton candy and popcorn and simply being kids.  Even the “toughest” boy cracked a smile and waved as he was at the top of the ferris wheel.  That in itself was enough to make my day.  Time passed and we piled back into the van to head back home.  Surprisingly, this was my favorite part.  Not because we were heading home, but because of what ensued on the way home – everyone was full of sugar and high on energy that we all found ourselves singing to the radio.  As we got closer and closer to home, the singing got louder and louder.  At one point, I turned around to see Little Leo (a two-year-old) along with eight others singing Thinking Out Loud at the top of their lungs with the biggest smiles on their faces.  Tears filled my eyes as joy exploded from our van.  The singing then turned into a game – we would sing and Krissy or Tanisha would yell out things like, “If you had the best day ever, scream yes!” or “If you’ve ever been in love, scream yeah!”  Now, joy was literally exploding from our van – our singing and shrieking could be heard from miles away, I’m sure.  Once we made our way down into Albion Gully (with Courtney’s incredible driving skills), we ended the night with a cookie cake.  Many thank you’s, hugs, and laughter were shared before we finally made our way back home.  Heroes’ Day was a success.  It was a day to celebrate Jamaica’s national heroes; but even more so, it was a day to celebrate my little heroes that I have the privilege of getting to be with throughout this entire year.

Learning Matthew Ch. 7, “God Will Provide” by Caitlin Day

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.”

Matthew 7:7-8

 

God Will Provide

 

           I’ve been living in Jamaica for roughly two and a half months and I often feel like a broken record. Whether it’s telling my friends and family back home how my life in Jamaica is going or simply during my day to day conversations. For example, phrases like “Good Morning” as I walk into town past the constant flow of children walking to school, or saying “mi soon come” as people in my mission sites recognize me and call for me as I arrive. I would have to say my favorite phrase to say is “wah gwan” which is how I greet someone I know, or saying “lata” to say goodbye, just because I think it makes me look cool.  However, there is one phrase that I have found myself often saying that has nothing to do with daily conversation. “God will provide.”

            God will provide. God has provided for me throughout my life in both big and small ways. During orientation, while attempting to make an icebox cake for a birthday with a fellow community member, it appeared as though we wouldn’t have enough cream to make a cake large enough to feed us all. I remember smacking the table and saying God will provide and all of a sudden the half of cream that we had sectioned off for the second layer of the cake seemed to never stop coming out of the bowl. Or the time when I was making jerk sauce for our community meal and it looked like there was no way that it would be enough sauce to season all of the chicken. I said “God will provide don’t worry,” and there was enough sauce leftover to dip our homemade tortillas in. The time I was making icing for a cake for my youth group and it wouldn’t set, yes you guessed it right, “God will provide” and the icing set. There seems to be a “loaves and fishes” theme in my life where God has provided for me in the kitchen. However, He has also provided for me throughout the emotional rollercoaster that has been my first two and a half months in Jamaica.

            When I was nervous about beginning work in my church community or actually getting kids to show up for my youth group, God provided. God provided me with members of the church that welcomed me with open arms and accompanied me to my other mission sites. He also provided me with more youth than I was expecting and youth that I couldn’t imagine not having in my life now.  As I patiently (or not so patiently) waited for my temporary Physical Therapy license to be approved so that I could fully begin at my mission sites, God provided. God provided me with the opportunity to get to know my patients on a more personal level and see what their needs truly are. The day that I cried practically the entire hour taxi ride home, God provided. God provided community members that listened, that cared, that shared God’s love, and that lifted me up. The day that a few of us went to the beach for some much needed R&R and the forecast called for rain, God provided. God provided rain for those in the local communities that very much needed it during this drought and kept the little area of the beach that we were on as dry as could be. God provides the most spectacular views of the whole valley as I travel down Spur Tree road to my mission sites and amazing sunsets from the comfort of the couch every evening. God provides gorgeous smiles and beautiful singing voices as I try to surprise new friends at the Infirmary. God provides laughter and energy as I get to know my youth every week.

Most of all, God provides comfort and joy as I continue on this new journey in life.