June 9, 2017

What a beautiful and eventful day it has been here in Jamaica. Sunday morning we woke up to one of my personal favorite meals here in Jamaica cooked by Pinto, the mission houses chef.  We were served cinnamon rolls, bacon, eggs, fresh pineapple and watermelon. After breakfast we all dressed in our Jamaican best and headed for church!

We arrived at church relatively early- as we were the only ones there for a couple of minutes.  We are not accustomed to this island time just yet. Shortly, people started coming in the doors and it wasn’t long until the church was packed full of people.

For the 2015 mission team, and myself, one of the biggest blessings was our re-connections with the church and the Tucker family.  When our team first came to church we began to see some of the same children that came to vacation bible school two years ago.  Not only did we recognize these kids, but they recognized us! One boy who I personally bonded with over vacation bible school with called me by name when he saw me! I can’t put into words the joy that overcame in our hearts that these small children remembered our presence from over two years ago!

After church and lunch we made a visit to the St. Mary’s infirmary.  Many people were touched and moved. We came to read scripture, pray, and give crosses to the residents there. Our hour there was very chaotic, but filled with love and praise! The people in that building loved God and showed it, especially when it came time to sing hymns. We loved talking to these people and hearing their background stories, and random knowledge! I felt as though everyone was very touched by our visit, especially Kelly Douglas. I asked her to tell us about her time at the infirmary.

“Today we went to the Infirmary. It is a home for mentally and physically disabled people that society has forgotten about because of their disability. The time there was so rewarding. They were so happy to see us. We sang songs with them and gave them cross necklaces. Some of us played dominoes with the residents and others read the bible to them. The joy we brought to those people was awesome. The joy they brought to us was so real. They didn’t want us to leave and we told them we were so glad for the visit. If we made one person happy or brought happiness to their day then today was a success.” -Kelly Douglas.

After our visit to the infirmary, we made a stop at the Tucker’s home.  This was a very touching moment for the 2015 Jamaica mission team.  We truly saw the house we built for this family turn into a home. Of course there were changes- the family had taken their old home and used it to add onto their new home. This family had taken very good care of the home we created for them. It was fully moved into and full of character and love. Many of the 2015 mission crew were very moved over seeing their old friends. I asked Mary Collins to say a few words about seeing the Tuckers again.

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“When we were here two years ago, as we walked up the hill for the last time, I was saddened to think we would never be with the Tuckers again. When we walked back down that hill, I was reminded of how beautiful the site was. As we came to the house, Mr. Tucker came out to greet us, then Mrs. Tucker came out and immediately offered us her beautiful smile. She looked at us and remembered us all. What a joy!! To know that in those few days, we cultivated a relationship that continues over the miles, and over two years. God is Good!!!!
When we went into the house and we saw how they had made “our little house” their home, it was amazing. I was not prepared for how emotional seeing what our group had done had changed the Tucker family’s life. We made some photos with Mrs. Tucker and once again made the trek up the hill. I had the same feeling as before.Yes, I was saddened to think that maybe I would never be with them again, but this time, I know that God is with the Tuckers and He is going to continue to bless them.” -Mary Collins.

With all of these events, it has left us worn out again! We plan for another busy day tomorrow as we start on the two different sites, and have opening night of vacation bible school.  We can’t wait to begin new and continue old friendships with these people!

In other news, we also do not have electric or water! Everyone is fine, but this may have an effect on the times I am able to update our blog! Bare with me and check back tomorrow! Thank you all for your love, encouragement, and prayers!

-Jaden B. Keeling