Hey all! A team that we have here right now sent out an email yesterday talking about their trip here and I thought that it provided some really go perspective on what teams do here and really why we are here as well. They talk and explain about why teams do the work the are doing. Very cool
Here it is:
So Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers in this world lord it over their people, and officials flaunt their authority over those under them. But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must be the slave of everyone else. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10.42-45; NLT)
All week, I’ve been reminded of the Upside-Down Kingdom of God. Those who are first will be last. Those who seek to be leaders, must serve and submit to others. There is no job too far “beneath” a servant of God, and there is no person too “small” to be used mightily by Him.
Our team has dug through hard clay and busted up rocks to dig holes for fence posts. We’ve shredded our arms, legs, and clothes on briars as long as our fingers clearing brush. We’ve been down on our hands and knees pulling weeds from a bean field preparing it for planting. We’ve shoveled cow manure and carried 5 gallon buckets of it to spread on that bean field as other members walked through it to plant those beans. We’ve washed dishes for ourselves and other members of the community here. We’ve held a string for a finish line in the hot sun for hours as Deaf students enjoyed a “Sports Day” of foot races (something like “Field Day”). We’ve allowed small, beautiful children climb all over us like jungle gyms as we visited a woman named Amanda in the home she provides for over 2 dozen children from birth to 11 who need families, but may never be adopted. We’ve completed tasks that are likely to provide at least 1 or 2 more full-time jobs, potentially enabling more men to provide a living for themselves and their families.
After another full day of hard work on Wednesday, the fence was completed and the new field will soon be plowed for planting. The bean field was completely prepared and planted. The greenhouse our team helped fund and began to construct was nearly completed, but there were complications with getting the plastic sheeting to cover it, so the next work team will have the joy of completing that task. Once this greenhouse is complete, the task of farming it, and the income from the produce grown in it, will likely add at least 1 full-time job for the Deaf. The home-goods store for which we brought 3 suitcases of self-care products (shampoo, soap, toilet paper, etc.) has been organized, and the Deaf have already begun to shop there, bringing in the equivalent of $120 already. $50 of that will remain in a cash bag for the store, but the remaining $70 will go immediately into a small-business-loan fund that will enable residents of JDV to start their own businesses like our new friend Cressmore. He has been purchasing chicks at $1 apiece, raising them and selling them at the going wholesale per-pound rate. He has 50 of these roasters currently, and hopes to soon add egg-layers to be able to sell (and eat) the eggs.
Wednesday night, our work team was incredibly blessed to enjoy a presentation by the “Hands of Praise” team, a group of our talented new friends (both adults and children) who worship God and present the Gospel through signing songs and drama. We were invited to return the favor by singing and signing “How He Loves”, by David Crowder. This is a song that our team had been practicing for a week or two and the Deaf (and I) were very impressed at how well they did. After the presentations, our new Deaf friends, Marvin and Ionda, stayed with us until bed-time, joking, laughing, and playing Phase 10. There seemed to be almost no language barrier at all!
This morning, the team (including Preston, who’d begun feeling much better on Wednesday, but was encouraged to still take it easy) traveled again to the Deaf school to watch the students’ Sports Day events. We found t-shirts in the 3 different colors of the 3 different houses of the school, Purple, Red, and Orange, so we split the team up evenly, engaged in a little friendly trash-talking, and cheered (visibly) loudly for our adopted teams! It was fun to see the kids run their relay races and succeed in something they obviously enjoyed very much and several of them remembered us from visiting the school on Tuesday, and attending their baptisms on Sunday. This clearly made them very happy to see us return and cheer for them!
After lunch, we relaxed for a short while, but then drove to visit the New Hope Children’s Home nearby. The children that Amanda (“Momma” to the little boys and girls there) cares for were beautiful little boys and girls. Little Sam never stopped talking from the time we arrived until we left, and even insisted that someone pray for our team. When we suggested that he pray for us, this little 7 year old Jamaican boy, living in a small home with 20+ other children prayed beautifully and earnestly for our protection and safety as we traveled and thanked God for our coming. We all were happy to hold these little boys and girls, some perfectly healthy, rambunctious, and talkative (like Sam). Some had significant developmental, neurological, or physical disorders, but all were clearly loved by Amanda, and clearly all loved her and the other volunteers in return. They wanted to be held, to ask me why my belly was so big, (“No, I don’t have a baby in there, I just probably eat too much.” “Too many cheeseburgers and pizzas?” “Yes. That’s right.”<– actual conversation with Sam and Noel) and to hang and climb all over the guys in our group. Please pray for Amanda and the children of New Hope Children’s Home. There are not many citizens of Jamaica who have “extra” with which to provide for additional children, and yet there are many children, far more than the 25 or so that Amanda cares for, who don’t have a family that can even provide for them. She has seen about 100 children adopted from her home in the past 25 years, but had to turn away a 1 week old baby last week for lack of space in her tiny house (some of us might feel cramped with just 2 children in that house!).
As we prepare for a day of recreation tomorrow, before coming home, I pray that God would truly re-create within each of us a sense of our true home. I pray that we would understand that we belong to a kingdom, and a family that extends beyond our hometowns (Toccoa or otherwise), and beyond our state or national borders, beyond our race or language differences. That we have family wherever there are children of God, and we can call home wherever God calls us to live. We have spent a good amount of time with the missionaries who work here at JDV, and I pray that the members of our work team will carry back with them a realization that they are each called to be missionaries. I pray that each of them stops wondering IF God is calling them to be missionaries, but WHERE He is calling them to call home, and to WHOM they will carries His Good News of Hope and Healing. Some of them will never have to leave the town in which their families live. Some will need passports when they travel to see their families. But I pray that ALL of them will live their lives on the mission to which they have been called, and will find ways to serve those around them in whatever way they are able, no matter how big, or how seemingly small.
Thank you for your partnership this week. Thank you for the lives YOU have touched with your prayers and gifts. I pray that somehow I am able to introduce you to the men, women, and children whose lives will never be the same because you helped me and my friends come to Jamaica Deaf Village this week.
In the Service of the Servant-King,