Posted by: meganblair | March 28, 2013

Jamaica: Church and Schools

We started the week at Black River Baptist Church, where we worshiped on Sunday and helped with Sunday School. We also did an outreach program at the church that night. The Pastor, Audley Black, has been invaluable to our church, helping us get connected in Jamaica and organize the details of our trips.

During the week, we led the morning devotion at Cokes View Primary School and Petersfield Primary. This time was only about 20 to 30 minutes, but we were able to lead the kids in songs and do a brief skit about the resurrection, and our pastor presented the Gospel message. We also presented the principals with some T-shirts and balls as gifts. The kids were eager to touch us and shake our hands.

We briefly visited the Jamaica Christian School for the Deaf, where we were brought to tears by the great faith of the staff. The families of many of the children don’t have the resources to provide an education for their deaf child, and in the Jamaican culture, deaf people are often treated as outcasts. The students live at the school, so caring for the kids is a 24/7 ministry for the staff. The school, operating on prayers and donations, provides for the basic needs of the students and instills in them a sense of worth and God’s love in addition to providing them with an education.

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Posted by: meganblair | March 28, 2013

Jamaica: Garland Hall Orphanage

We visited Garland Hall Orphanage in Anchovy. There were 29 kids, ages 11 to 15, living in a small house. There was one bedroom for the girls and one for the boys, and both were packed with bunk beds. Each child had a single plastic storage tote for their clothes and belongings, and it held all their possessions. One girl grabbed my arm as soon as we walked in the door. Others were much more detached. We did songs and crafts with them.

We brought a gift bag for each child at the orphanage. Beforehand, we had purchased a set of pajamas, toiletries, bed sheets and school supplies, and added labeled the bags with the kids’ names. Before we left for the orphanage, I felt God nudging me with an opportunity to tell the kids about his grace using the gifts as an illustration. The rest of the group encouraged me to share, even though I was a bit hesitant. This is the message I was able to share with the kids:

Do you know what the Bible says in John 3:16? (Many of them did, and recited the verse with me!) “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” We did nothing to earn God’s love, or his promise of eternity with him, but because God is good and full of grace, he is happy to give it to us anyway if we believe in him. What’s more is that he calls each of us by name and says, “You are mine.” The Bible also says we love because he first loved us. Because of all the love God gives us, we love others, because we are all his children. So we would like to share these gifts with each of you as a sign of God’s free gift to us, and of our love for you.

We all handed out the bags, and it was such a privilege to watch the kids’ eyes light up when we called their name and handed them their gift. When we arrived, we were saddened to learn that a new girl had just arrived at the orphanage, and we didn’t have a bag for her. We tried to console her and explain that we would send a package when we returned home, but tears ran down her face nonetheless. But when we had passed out all the bags, we also found out that another girl wasn’t staying there any more, so the new girl was able to receive a bag after all. We were humbled to watch her sorrow turn to joy before our eyes!

Garland Hall Orphanage

Garland Hall Orphanage

Posted by: meganblair | March 28, 2013

Jamaica: West Haven Children’s Home

We spent a few hours at West Haven Children’s Home, an orphanage for disabled children. These children are desperate for love. They were waiting at the doors of our bus as we stepped off, and they instantly hugged us, grabbed our hands, and led us to their favorite spots. At one point, two girls had each of my hands, and each was pulling in a different direction. My heart broke that I couldn’t spend time with each and every one of those kids and communicate to them that they are God’s children and so special to him.

We also helped feed some of the more severely handicapped children who were unable to feed themselves. This was hard, but as I was feeding one girl, I remembered thinking about Matthew 25:40: “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’” I could feel compassion well up inside me, and I knew it was just a small portion of the love God has for his children.

(Keep reading…)

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