Reflections from Jamaica

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Sophomore Charlotte Gallagher (left) enjoying a game with local school children.

Name: Charlotte Gallagher
Institution: Moravian College
Year: Sophomore
First time participant in Jamaica Service Trip.

This trip has inspired me and allowed me to get a different perspective on how other parts of the world live. I will be going home with a greater appreciation for the things I have, and hopefully I'll be able to apply what I've learned and seen here in my every day life.  I would definitely encourage more people to get involved with service and helping others, which I will continue to do as well.

Junior Brett Rentzheimer enjoying the Jamaican landscape.

Name: Brett Rentzheimer
Institution: Moravian College
Year: Junior
First time participant in Jamaica Service Trip.

Jamaica has truly been beautiful so far; the atmosphere and people are wonderful.  The friendly citizens of the country welcome you to this amazing place.  The school children are well-behaved and address one with manners not seen most places.  Sports play an intricate part in society here, with soccer (football in the local dialect) and track being the primary activities.  The kids love hanging out with us at the work sites, and being involved in some of the hands-on work. The view is stunning with baby blue water, calm waves, and photo perfect beaches.

Day 3: A Time to Serve

Today began our service here in Jamaica.  Four teams headed out to help with projects around the area.  One team headed to Salem Primary School, one to Carmel Primary School, another to Bog Basic School, and the third to Miss Helen's house, a local woman who welcomed folk to paint her house in fresh colors.  Painting was the task of the day, along with enjoying the company of our Jamaican friends!

Beginning to paint Bog Basic School.
Playing with the children of Bog Basic School.
The Bog Basic School team.
Miss Helen's house ready to be painted.
Getting things organized.
The team at Miss Helen's house.
Proof of our labors.
Salem Primary & Junior High in Beeston Spring, Westmoreland.
Brightening up the walls of Salem.

Taking in the fruits of last year's Service Team's labors - an extension on the kitchen at Salem.

Later that evening, a few of us returned to Salem Primary & Junior High School to share in some activities with the children.  From sharing in new songs, activities exploring the theme of love, and a game of Huggie Bear, fun was had by all!

Teaching a new song to the children of Salem.

A game of Huggie Bear - mingle, mingle, mingle!

NOTE: Pictures from the team at Carmel to come...

Reflections from Jamaica

Moravian sophomores Emilie Bortz (left) and Alex Irwin (right) taking in the activities of Sports Day at a local school.

Name: Emilie Bortz
Institution: Moravian College
Year: Sophomore
First time participant in the Jamaica service trip.

If there's one thing I absolutely have to write about, it would have to be the island energy.  Everyone I meet is enthusiastic about our visits.  The community in Jamaica is so unlike home; everyone is a friend.  Even within our Moravian group, the island is getting to us. We feel energized.  Everyone is trying new foods, willing to take on all types of roles during projects, and soak up as much culture (and sun) as we can.  This is Jamaica time.  No fear!

Name: Alex Irwin
Institution: Moravian College
Year: Sophomore
First time participant in the Jamaica service trip.

This has been an incredible trip so far.  The people here are so kind and friendly.  I've gotten so used to the kindness of the Jamaicans that when we went to YS falls and saw Americas I was shocked that they did not say "Hi!" and wave to us!  Jamaica is so beautiful!  Everything is bright and vibrant here!  Helping the people here makes me so happy because they deserve it more than anyone.  I am so glad I decided to take this trip. I am finding myself here.

Day 2: Getting Acculturated

What better way to experience Jamaica then to do as Jamaicans do!  Our day began with a filling Jamaican breakfast of Ackee and Saltfish, eggs for the less adventurous eaters, and a wide array of Jamaican fruits. We then made our way up the mountain (including some rough terrain) to Salem Moravian Church in Beeston Spring, Westmoreland, where we participated in Sunday worship.  It was Harvest Sunday, and folks from the town made their way to the church bearing crops of all kinds - coconuts, sugar cane, various fruits, eggs, and homemade pastries.  All were presented and celebrated in the morning service.

Salem Moravian Church, Beeston Springs, Westmoreland, Jamaica.

God's Acre at Salem Moravian Church.
Harvest offerings.

The service was much longer than the 45 minutes to an hour many of us have come to know, with liturgy, readings, prayers, much joyful music, and the sermon delivered by a local Church of the Brethren preacher who joined us.  The Reverend Phyllis Smith-Seymour, the Moravian minister assigned to Salem (along with three other congregations and Camp Hope), led worship.  Our own Nick Roberts shared the Old Testament reading, and Bishop Hopeton Clennon offered some words of welcome along with the benediction.

The Reverend Phyllis Smith-Seymour leading worship.

Pastor Carlton, the guest preacher for the day, speaks with Jane Burcaw, Director of Administration for Moravian Theological Seminary.
Bishop Hopeton Clennon offers words of welcome and gratitude.
Moravian sophomore Nick Roberts shares a reading.

Though many of us hail from different walks, this was truly a cultural experience in a country in which separation of church and state has no meaning.  Schools, run and paid for by the government, are also Christian institutions. For many of us, participating in worship was a way of experiencing a different way of being.

Worship ended with the tasting of harvest fruits outside of the church, all proceeds benefiting the church.  We then made our way up to Reverend Phyllis' house for a Jamaican supper, complete with potato pudding, jack fish, and curried goat.  Trying so many new foods was in itself a cultural experience, and we went home with bellies full from the food, hearts full from the wonderful hospitality of the people we met, and heads full of much to ponder.

Folk gather to purchase the fruits of the harvest.
MTS alum Kelly Howard Brooks and her husband Keith enjoy some sugar cane.
Moravian junior Genevieve Chaleff  enjoys some fresh coconut.
Making our way to Reverend Phyllis' for lunch.

Our day ended with some time at a local beach (including the unwelcome presence of two sea urchins who made themselves known to a few of us), dinner, and some time to debrief on our experiences of the day.

Some sun and surf to end the day.
Getting buried in the beach experience!
Taking in the setting sun...

A good night's sleep was ahead of us, as we prepared for our first day of service in the morning.

Reflections from Jamaica

Monday, March 4, 2013

Kyle enjoying his second trip to Jamaica with the Moravian College Spring Break Service Trip.

Name: Kyle Stackhouse
College: Moravian College
Year/Position: Senior
Second time participating in the Jamaica service trip.

During my time here, my group worked on a site in Petersville, where we were painting both the inside and outside of a family's home.  It had been in the James family for at least three generations and we had the task of touching up three rooms, a porch, and the front of the house.  It was a hot day to work and all the group members felt this.  No matter the heat or the amount of work to do, everyone kept in good spirits by singing, joking, and telling stories.  The day seemed to pass by quickly and the amount of change thanks to our work was quite noticeable.  It’s days like these that bring you back to the projects you work on, but they also make you want to do so much more with the time you’re given. 

Being able to attend two service trips in Jamaica, I find so many new things during each new day.  I find that this trip is a chance to learn far more on a school break than I could ever learn anywhere else.  Every day, every assignment, every goal met is a great feel in and rewarding beyond words.

Craig with his newfound friend.

Name: Craig Bunting

College: Moravian College
Year/Position: Junior
First time participating in the Jamaica service trip.

My service trip in Jamaica has been a wonderful experience so far.  Not only have I had the opportunity to assist those in need by painting and tiling a classroom a various schools, but I have also had the privilege to interact with the children.  The second day I was here, we were at Hopeton's old house (where Pastor Phyllis now lives), and I met an eight-year old boy who was extremely shy.  I was able to see him at his school the following day when we went there to paint the exterior.  When I tapped him on the shoulder, he was so surprised and his eyes lit up with excitement.  I had an awesome time playing with him during his recess and after school.  He was very persistent in wanting me to be on his yellow team during his Sports Day.  When we showed up for Sports Day two days later, he surprised me with a hug and dragged me over to his teammates.  Overall, the bond that was made between the two of us has had a positive influence on me and has definitely made this Jamaica Service Trip extraordinary.

Day 1: Welcome to Jamaica, Mon. Irie!

After a sleepless night of travel from Bethlehem (Moravian folk) and Collegeville (Ursinus folk) to JFK in New York, we finally boarded our 6 a.m. flight to Montego Bay (MoBay), arriving around 10 a.m.  Though cloudy with some rain, the warmth of the Jamaican weather and people was welcome after the frigid temperatures up north.

The school bus ride to JFK.  Note the luggage stacked in the back.

On our trek, we brought along 23 suitcases of supplies, in addition to our personal luggage.  From paint rollers and brushes to toiletries to clothing to crayons and school supplies, these items will be used for service projects here and remain behind when we leave.

Our line of luggage filled with supplies.

We enjoyed our first meal on the island at the world famous Pork Pit.  Christian Rice tells us that this establishment is listed in 1000 Places to See Before You Die.  (Here's a link to find out more.  Unfortunately, our wireless is too slow to load the page! The food was, indeed, to die for, from jerk pork to jerk chicken to sausage and all the local fixins.  Our vegetarian friends enjoyed local cuisine from a place down the street, joining us around the grills for a filling lunch.

First meal in Jamaica!
Waiting to dig in...

Finally, we relaxed on the beach for a few hours (some of us sans sunscreen - ouch!), before making the trek up into the mountains to Camp Hope.

The beach at Montego Bay.
Enjoying the surf and sun!
On the way to Camp Hope...
We made it!
New Hope Moravian Church.
The view from the porch...not bad!
Nothing beats camp by the sea...
Check back for more updates on our time here, along with reflections from members of the team!