New post from missionary Erin Mackenzie

New post from missionary Erin Mackenzie

The “J” Team

Posted: 05 Nov 2019 09:31 AM PST

Disregard this looooooong overdue post about the team I was with in Jamaica the last week of October if you’re not prepared for an excessive amount of photos. The 11 servants from St. John’s Lutheran Church in Grand Haven, MI, otherwise known as “The “J” Team,” were not only a delight to host but apparently photogenic, too!

The team minus Vicar Ben who arrived late plus the members of Faith Lutheran Church in downtown Kingston after worship on Sunday. 
A jerk and curried pork lunch (plan B after realizing the night before that the place I had lined up for dinner closes at 4pm on Sundays…) was just the fuel this crew needed to attack a few chores around the Ministry Centre:

cleaning up chipped driveway tile; 
library organization, phase 1; 

and shed clean-up.

Some of us took a field trip downtown to the Parade Gardens Community Center, home of Parade Gardens Lutheran School (PGLS), to scout out Monday’s project (see below)…and re-stack lumber so it wouldn’t warp. 

Goal = build partition walls to enclose the area pictured as a classroom. 

The partition building crew: Henry, team leader Tim, and Norman, who we learned is a Muslim. Pray that the Holy Spirit would work through his involvement with this and future short-term teams to bring him to the knowledge of the one, true faith. 

David [an electrician by trade] had his work cut out for him; there were no lights in the sanctuary, church bathroom, sacristy, or tool room. 

The expression “grow like a weed” is 100% accurate. Vicar Ben and Lauren eradicated (down to pouring kerosene on the roots) an enormous bush that wasn’t there when I left in June. 
This Lutheran Hour Ministries banner that Ancella intends to replace with a new one was hanging sadly from the porch window. She got the biggest smile on her face when she walked up and saw how (with her permission) we had rigged it up on the exterior fence. 

I learned a week or so before the group arrived that Monday was a public holiday (National Heroes Day). Inconvenient though it was that hardware and grocery stores were closed, we had some sweet helpers who were off school…

…and ample time to give them both plenty of one-on-one attention (practicing a craft that we later scrapped as too advanced for the littles at PGLS). 

Lutheran school administrator Laura and Vicar Ben planning their approach for giving the teachers at PGLS a crash training course in Lutheran doctrine. 
One of the things I most adored about the St. John’s team was that they were truly “sent” by their congregation and its parochial school. The team members were the representatives on the ground, but untold others generously supported their fundraisers, prayed for them, and followed them on social media. Monday night, they read letters of encouragement written by 1st/2nd and 7th/8th grade students. 
Tuesday marked the first outreach activities on the part of a Jamaica short-term team – healthy lunch for the kids at PGLS (Pinterest-inspired sandwich kebabs gave the kids variety and nutrition and the cook a day off) and the aforementioned teacher training. Both activities would be repeated the next day. 

Who knew we’d be painting the Ministry Centre this week? Not me!

A REAL group picture after Bible study at Faith on Tuesday. Area Facilitator Charles St-Onge took us through the book of Jude; I’ve never heard it explained like he did!
Who knew we’d be roofing the shed this week? Not me!

Deaf Can! Coffee has become a routine stop when hosting guests in Jamaica, but this team was treated to an unprecedented presentation by some of the remarkable student leaders who help make the operation happen. 

All of us headed to PGLS early on Thursday to spend the day with the kids (Pastor Obot requested that their faces not be posted online, so you’ll have to trust me that their goofy smiles were adorable). We were treated to the sight of the nearly completed partition walls when we walked in!

Running over our game plan. 

Vicar Ben prepping a tracing activity we sent each child home with. 

“Father Abraham” led by the men of St. John’s. 

The Ministry Centre is getting more and more indistinguishable from the first time I laid eyes on it! I’m with the group in that it’d look pretty sharp to letter a Bible verse along the white trim. Suggestions?

Organization makes my heart happy. 

I posted a picture of the tool room in a previous post, but you can SEE the tools now!
W capped off the week with a full-day excursion to Dunn’s River Falls in Ocho Rios. I could have done without the accompanying videographer, but climbing UP a waterfall was cool, and easier than it sounds. 

Jerk burgers for all! The Ocho Rios Jerk Centre came recommended by our bus driver, Lenny, and Food Network’s Guy Fieri.
I left Jamaica the same day as the group – Saturday – but wasn’t homebound just yet. Rather, I took Intercaribbean Airways for the first time (it should always take 1:10 and not require a layover in Miami to get from island to island!) and went to Santo Domingo to lend support to Ozama’s outdoor Reformation celebration featuring two Baptisms and seven confirmations. More on that in a subsequent post. Ample time in airports this week should expedite me pumping out a few in short order.  
Until next time, blessings!