Celebrating Jamaica Day

“Jamaica Day” was observed by the whole island this past Friday. It is a day to remember and celebrate Jamaica’s history (different than its independence day). Here is a little taste of how we celebrated it CCCD-style at Knockpatrick! Enjoy!

 

 

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Shift into High Gear

We’ve had a really good couple weeks here to settle in. I (Ben) have spent a lot of time with the other missionary here continuing to learn all the things that my job will entail. Krista has been in the classroom this week. God opened a door for her there with a need that they had. She is really excited to be there and to be using the skills and knowledge that she has in the school there. We really feel like this is becoming home. Tomorrow we will have been here 5 weeks already! Sometimes it seems like we have been here a long time and sometimes it seems like we just got here.

Students at the Knockpatrick School

I have spent a lot of time this week preparing for 2 weeks of short term missions teams. I have been going over materials and spreadsheets trying to make sure I don’t forget anything. I’m sure that once I get settled into doing teams I’ll get a lot better at the prep work. I’m excited to get to know another group of people and to begin taking a leadership role in leading teams. The first team will be here this Sunday! Things are going to continue to move fast!

A student at Knockpatrick

On February 29, Krista and I will be heading to the Montego Bay campus for a few weeks. The missionary there is in need of help and since we have a break in work teams we are going to go there to assist him. We are excited to get to know some of the people there. We have always loved the Montego Bay campus but since moving here we have grown to love the campus and the weather here in the mountains. It is going to be a little hotter there. Hopefully soon after we get there we can get some photos up of that campus and you can see what it looks like.

Something to pray about is our summer here. From the end of May to the middle of August we are going to have teams non-stop. We have one break of a week at the end of July. It’s going to be exciting having lots of people here but I know that working that long, everyday, is going to take it’s toll. I’m happy that Krista will be on break from teaching at school to help me.

So, things are going really well. We like it here and excited to be getting plugged in here. We’re looking forward to giving more updates soon. If you have any questions about what we do here or about CCCD, please e-mail me!

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Step by Step

Hello everyone! This has been another week of busywork and settling in! We finally got all of our official paperwork completed this week! We had to go to the local police station to register as alien residents, which helps them to know what area of the island we are actually living in. We got “yellow books” which we are supposed to guard with our lives! We also had to go to the tax office to get our tax registration numbers (even though we won’t be paying taxes to Jamaica…). We are so glad that all of those things are done and that we can focus more on ministry now! We also spent part of the week researching and checking out cars. We may be test driving a couple of them tomorrow. Please pray for us as we make this big financial decision! Ben and I are so grateful for all of your support and donations that even make it possible for us to buy a car. We are definitely looking forward to it. It will give us more freedom to go into town when we need to, and it will make it easier for me to drive to Knockpatrick.

Ben has spent a lot of time with Chad this week (the current team leader who is leaving in April/May). He has been showing Ben all of in’s and out’s of preparing for/leading teams and basically for running and overseeing all of the operations that happen at JDV. I spent a morning with them, too, this past week to learn about how to run the Tuck Shop. It is a little shop filled with souvenir-type items made by the villagers. We will be responsible for opening it up to teams and for paying the residents according to what they sell. Ben’s going to have lots on his plate! The nice part is that during the busiest summer season, school won’t be in session and I can help Ben out with various things. 🙂 Keep him in your prayers…that he won’t get too overwhelmed with information overload!

I am definitely looking forward to getting more involved in the school, now that a lot of our busywork is complete. We spent a morning at Knockpatrick last week, and I was able to meet some of the staff. Right now the principal and the campus manager are discussing the school’s needs and where I would fit in. I am hoping to hear from them soon, and once transportation gets easier, I will be spending more time there as things get figured out. Love and miss you all!

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Bushwhacking

Yesterday I headed into the woods of Jamaica to cut trees down in order to make fence posts. However it wasn’t that easy. We had to cut our way into the woods, through the vines and undergrowth.

We left early yesterday morning around 7:00. We threw a 5 gallon water cooler, a chainsaw, and some gas in the back of an old Toyota truck and headed out. I got to sit up front but a couple of the guys here at the village had to ride in the back. We drove about an hour, everything seems to take at least an hour in Jamaica, to some land that is owed by a friend of the Jamaican director of CCCD. We drove down a long, old, overgrown road, and he told us where to start cutting. We jumped out and starting “hacking” our way into the bush. Some people from another CCCD campus met us there as well. Lawrence, the construction manager for the village, was running the chainsaw, one of the guys, Ionda,  was using a machete to clear some paths, and Marvin and myself were hauling the logs out. It’s funny because as you move further and further in you realize that you are having to haul logs a lot longer than at the beginning and we were a lot more tired than we were when we started. Mr. Jones, CCCD’s Jamaican director, made us a Jamaica lunch of Yams, vegetables, and fish. I’m not a big fish fan but it was pretty good. It was cool, he threw the yams, whole, onto a fire and when they were done cooking he just cut off the charred parts and what was left was good to eat.

We loaded up a coupel of trucks to bring some of the poles to one of the schools and at around 5:30 a big box truck showed up and we loaded it with poles. In total we cut around 350 poles yesterday, 200 of which came here to the village. We got home at a little after 7:00 and between at the scrapes, sweat, bug spray, and sunscreen, I look a sight. A shower felt pretty good.

It was a very hard day, but a very good day. I can say that I am glad that we only have to do this once a year. 🙂

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Welcome to JDV Video

Here is a quick video that we made this morning to show you around the campus here.

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Week 2 at JDV

Hey everybody! I thought that I would give a quick update. We still don’t have the internet at our house so it’s a little bit hard to update this site on a regular basis.

It has already been a busy week. We got a lot done already this week. Krista has been working with a team from Ohio this week at one of the schools. They are here this week to work with some of the students. Krista is working with them and is interpreting for them. Yesterday (Tuesday) Krista and I traveled down to Kingston to extend our visas. We got entry visas which allowed us to come into the the country and we needed to go to Kingston to get our passports stamped with a two year visa. They accepted our paperwork and this Friday we have to go back and pick up our newly stamped passports.

This week I have been working with Chad, the current missionary, on the day-to-day things here at the village. There is a lot more to my job than just leading work teams. Since a lot of the deaf here don’t have drivers license’s I will have to do a lot of driving. Every morning they need rides into town and from there they will either walk or get a taxi to their workplace. I have a lot of bookwork that has to be done for the village as well. That will take a little getting use to. I’m up for it.

Things overall are going really well. We are still putting our house together and we are hoping to post a video so that you can see what it looks like here. Thanks for all your prayers an support. There will be a monthly newsletter coming soon.

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Life So Far

The team working with Lawrence, the construction manager.

This is only our 4th full day on the island, but we have experienced so much already! If you read Ben’s last post, you can see that is has been pretty busy since we arrived. Ben’s first work team arrived on Saturday night, and he has been helping to supervise on their first “work day” today. The family that we are replacing on this campus has not left yet, so Ben is thankful to have some training from the current team leader, named Chad.

Ben supervising the team and getting pointers from Lawrence.

He seems to be enjoying his day today and is already developing into a great team leader through his interactions with them. (AND he drove for the first time today and did great! I was probably more tense than he was :).

We are getting more and more settled into our apartment and are trying to get used to all of the new sounds that surround us…insects buzzing, wind blowing (right now there is what they call the Christmas Breeze), babies crying, dogs barking, and the Deaf interacting.

Bedroom w/ two twins. A matress is on our wish list.

Living Room

Living Room

I’m sure we will be sleeping through all of these new noises soon…right now I get freaked out that every noise I hear is one of our rat traps going off. 🙂 (P.S. No rats yet! Only bugs (ew) and lizards (cute)). We are also trying to adjust to the mindset of water conservation. There is a cistern that feeds the apartment complex, and if it’s out before they deliver more, too bad! We are storing all of our food in the fridge because of the unavoidable ant “situation.” We have been fine with the adjustments we’ve had to make so far, and it surely does make one realize all of the luxuries we become so accustomed to in the U.S.!

Kitchen

We have had some very encouraging conversations and interactions with the deaf families we are living with, and Ben’s sign language is improving day after day. We have become the new favorites of the children who live here, and there are already ladies offering to teach me how to cook Jamaican food. Simone, a lady who teaches at Knockpatrick (where I will be going) has already been asking for my ideas on different teaching strategies. We know it will take time to develop deep relationships, but we are trying to start out on the right foot. I will have the opportunity to visit Knockpatrick a little this week, and I am looking forward to interacting with the kids and to see how I can serve them there. Right now we are trying to work out the logistics of my transportation to school (it’s about a 15-20 min drive), so prayers would be appreciated as we begin the car search! More pictures and updates to come…

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Recounting Day 1

It has been a very busy, interesting, tiring, “all of the above” last two days. After we woke up at 5:00 a.m. on Thursday after a rough night’s sleep, we realized that a couple of our bags were getting too heavy. We packed all of the stuff that we were going to take to Jamaica into 4 suitcases and a couple carry-on bags, and in order to do that, we needed to focus on essentials. So the thought of taking some things out was tough. We managed to find a few things to pull out, got packed up, and headed out around 5:45 with our friends Mike and Mallory (who we were living with).

On the way to the airport, we met some people at the Waffle House for breakfast. Now, I know what you’re thinking…“why on earth would someone eat at the Waffle House right before you spend the entire day on a plane?” But, it was the closest and easiest place so it was a somewhat logical choice for breakfast. J We met Krista’s parents there along with a number of other awesome friends and our missions pastor and high school pastor. It was so cool for us to see people who are very near and dear to us get up that early just to see us off! We had breakfast, and before we left, our mission pastor, Brad, prayed over us along with everyone who was there. It was tough saying “goodbye” to everyone. It never gets easier. We rode with our friends from there to the airport, and after a smooth check-in (our bags were actually a few pounds light!) we said some of the hardest “good-byes” to Krista’s parents and headed toward our gate.

Our first plane was a pretty small one. We were seated in the last section, section 4, and it was only the 10th row. We flew for about 40 minutes to Charlotte, N.C., and there we met up with Marc White, the president of CCCD. After a quick bite to eat, we were on a plane headed to Jamaica!

I hadn’t been back to Jamaica for 6 years, but I started to recall more and more about the island as we were flying in. The mountains look a lot like the Smokies but bumpier (for lack of a better word)… The water is exactly like you would picture it if you thought of a Caribbean island… The airport in Montego Bay is right on the ocean. We arrived early and had to wait for a gate to open. As soon as we walked in the airport, we were hit with the smell of Jamaica. Now Jamaica doesn’t necessarily smell bad, but it does have a distinct odor to it. It’s hard to describe, but once you come here you’ll smell it too. J We had a pretty smooth time going through customs and immigration. They didn’t ask too many questions. We found our bags and headed out…

As with most touristy countries, you are bombarded with people trying to help you with your bags or find you a taxi (in exchange for a tip). We told them that we didn’t need any help and just wrestled our luggage to the curb and into the back of a waiting van.

On the way to the Jamaican Deaf Village (JDV), where we live, we made a “quick” stop at CCCD’s school in Montego Bay. I say “quick” because it ended up taking a little over an hour. We didn’t have a problem with it. It was good to meet some new people and to see that campus where we have spent a few spring breaks working. We headed back toward the airport, grabbed a bite to eat at Wendy’s, and headed to JDV.

The road to the village was exactly how I remembered it. L O N G! It is only around 60-70 miles, but because of all the traffic and curves (and potholes) it takes 3 hours! I started out trying to pay attention to the roads because I know that someday soon I will have to make this drive. But, near the end of the trip I had given up. Krista and I were exhausted almost as soon as the drive began and it was dark anyway.

When we got to the village we hauled all our stuff down to the apartment, introduced ourselves to a few people, and went to bed, suitcases still full.

It’s hard to describe what I was feeling or am still feeling. We didn’t really have a whole lot of time to process any of this. We have been running since Thursday morning and haven’t really stopped. Friday we made a trip downtown Mandeville to pick up a few things and only had about an hour to sit before we headed out to another school campus (Knockpatrick, where Krista will be commuting) to meet some more people. It’s been busy, but we’re SO excited to be here and to begin our ministry.

It’s going to be a great first week! More updates and PICTURES to come!

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So long U.S.A.

I think that we’re ready. We have all 4 of our suitcases packed full and at just under 50 pounds. It’s extremely expensive if our bags are over 50 pounds so hopefully we’re not scrambling to try and shed weight tomorrow morning. It’s kind of crazy that we have been able to fit everything that we need in these 4 suitcases. You really have to look at what you “need” and what you don’t need.

Tomorrow morning we are meeting whoever is interested at the Waffle House by the airport tomorrow from 6:00-7:00 before our flight. It will be good to see friends and family and it will be hard saying “goodbye” but Krista and I are really looking forward to beginning our work in Jamaica. It has been a long time in the making. We have been living with friends and family for the last 2 and a half months and it will be good to have a place of our own.

We hope to update this website as soon as possible. Hopefully we’ll have pictures of our apartment and of the campus for you all to see. Thanks for you prayers in advance as we travel.

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Saying “Goodbye” to Michigan

It has been a very emotional week for Krista and me. Looking back, we felt like we said some “good” goodbyes. It is a bittersweet thing for sure. We knew that it would be, but it is different once you begin to say your “goodbye.”

Krista and her good friend Laura

We have said “goodbye” to most of our families and friends in Michigan. We have been all over trying to spend as much time with people as we can, and even though we couldn’t spend as much time with everyone as we wanted too, I hope that everyone knows how much they mean to us and how important they are to us. It is so easy for me to get caught up in this whole process and begin to think, “is this all really going to be worth it?” Today Krista and I watched Louie Giglio give the last message at passion 2012 online, and it put some things into perspective for me. Louie said “Let your only fear be to live an insignificant life,”  and it reminded me that God has significant purposes for calling us to Jamaica. God can use all of us in significant ways no matter where we are or what we do for a living, if we allow Him to work through us. And that’s WAY more exciting than living an ordinary life!

Last Beukema family photo for a while

Last Haddix family photo for a while

 

This last week in the US is going to be full of emotions and “goodbyes”, but ultimately for us, the thought of new things, new journeys, and the excitement of being able to live a significant life makes it all worth it. Jesus said to count the cost of following Him. As scary as that statement can be, I know that if I touch one life, whatever “cost” it might have, it will be worth it. That puts our entire journey into perspective.

We are ready for what God has for us…

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