I know for you, our readers, that our posts just quietly and unceremoniously quit showing up. For us in Jamaica, however, our blog posting ended in sparks and fireworks - literally!
Friday turned out to be a rather blustery day after an otherwise calm, windless week. That morning we headed down to the soccer field to get a team picture with a backdrop of beautiful banana trees, the water of the bay and our new cornrows. (One of the school dogs, Jake, also felt he needed to be in the photo.) As we were smiling at the camera, a crack like a gunshot echoed from behind the school building and we saw a shower of sparks erupt from the power lines. We ran back to the school to warn everyone as the high-tension fireworks continued.
Ms Russell, the school principal, ran back behind the building to make sure nothing had caught fire and saw a neighbor on top of the fence trying to disconnect a wire with a big branch. It seems he had been stealing electricity from the school and wanted to get rid of the evidence before the power company got there.
In the end, we were without power for several hours and it seems that 2 microwaves, at least 1 window air-conditioner and the modem at our house didn't survive the surge. Loss of the modem meant no emails or blog entries. Ms. Russell called the authorities but I don't know what happened to the man who was syphoning off electricity, but at least he wasn't electricuted.
Friday was my (Jennifer's) birthday and the team gave me a beautiful figurine of 3 children learning to sign "Jesus Loves Me" and the school gave me a nice CCCD book bag. There was also birthday cake and many well-wishes. We joined the teachers for a season of prayer that morning; it was a beautiful time of reflection, of unity, and of importuning as we asked God to provide for CCCD's great needs. Financially, things are very difficult for them right now. Kingston has become so violent that some of the teachers said they stopped going to church at night because they were afraid they wouldn't arrive back home. Please pray for CCCD, for these teachers that are giving so much of themselves, and seriously consider sponsoring a child so they had be assured enough food to eat.
Friday afternoon after the teachers went home, our team went down to the "Hip Strip" or the tourist section of Montego Bay. We did some shopping and then went back to the beach at Doctor's Cave. From there we rented a small glass-bottom boat that took us out to the reef and 4 of us (Sammie, Janice, Quita and I) went snorkeling. It was like being in Finding Nemo! It was really amazing. Sammie said that was something she could scratch off her bucket list and Jen thought it was a fabulous birthday! Personally, I was reminded of Job 38 when God recounts His amazing creation:
"Who shut up the sea behind doors when it burst forth from the womb, when I fixed limits for it and set its doors and bars in place, when I said, 'This far you may come and no farther; here is where your proud waves halt'? Have you journeyed to the springs of the sea or walked in the recesses of the deep? Have you comprehended the vast expanses of the earth? Tell me, if you know all this."
When I mentioned this passage in the boat ride back, I said, "Job had no way of seeing what we just saw when he heard God say that!" and Sammie replied, "Yeah, but I'm sure Jonah saw the whole thing on his way down!"
That night we went to a very nice dinner at Marguerite's right on the water. It was a huge contrast to how we'd been eating, to suddenly have a wine glass, a bread plate and way too much silverware, but we thoroughly enjoyed the meal. We took Ms. Russell with us and enjoyed our time. From the balcony, we saw a sting ray swim by in the shallows, he was really beautiful.
But there we also learned that God never stops working! This was supposed to be "time off" but God's work never takes a vacation. The hostess at the restaurant was an absolutely gorgeous and classy young woman, and Janice asked her if she'd ever done any modeling. She modestly answered that she was a contestant in the Miss Jamaica pageant that was coming up soon. We started a conversation with her, and in the end she was excited about the prospect of adopting CCCD as the charity she could support from her platform.
Saturday we were able to take our time getting packed and heading to the airport and we had a long but uneventful flight home. (Uneventful is a good thing!) This fit the criteria for what I think is a perfect trip: Before I left I was happy to go, I happy to be there while I was there, and when it was time to leave I was happy to go home. Stil, it was hard to say goodbye to Andicea and Ms. Russell and the other friendships we'd built. I pray we all can keep in touch with our friends as fellow teachers and sisters in Christ.
Please continue to pray for the team as we transition back to life at home. I'm starting a new chapter in my life as my best friends had a baby while I was gone (little Summerlyn is still in the NICU, please continue to pray) and I will start a new teaching position and a new subject in the fall. Laura and her family are trying to get all the pieces in place to move to Arkansas where Dirk will pastor a church. Most importantly, pray for CCCD, that God would provide for them financially, that He would strengthen them over the summer, and that they would remember what they've learned during the training so it can benefit their students.
Thanks for reading! We'll try to get some pictures available to you.